Cit­i­zens’ plat­form help­ing the coun­try to cap­i­tal­ize on its an­cient as­sets

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY NIKOS VATOPOULOS

Di­a­zoma, a cit­i­zens’ plat­form aimed at pro­tect­ing and pro­mot­ing an­cient Greek mon­u­ments, has come a long way since it was es­tab­lished in 2008 and is now look­ing to the fu­ture with re­in­forced con­fi­dence based on its win­ning com­bi­na­tion of dig­i­tal cul­ture and entrepreneurship. This was the main line of thought ex­pressed at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s sev­enth gen­eral assem­bly, which took place re­cently in Kam­mena Vourla, Cen­tral Greece, as the broader ge­o­graph­i­cal area came un­der the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s scru­tiny.

“This year the fo­cus is on entrepreneurship,” said Stavros Benos, the for­mer cul­ture min­is­ter who founded Di­a­zoma as a cit­i­zens’ move­ment with the ob­jec­tive of ben­e­fit­ing the coun­try as a whole. Di­a­zoma has grown to such an ex­tent that it is now help­ing to build syn­er­gies in the higher ech­e­lons of pri­vate ini­tia­tive: From ar­chae­ol­o­gists and sci­en­tists through in­sti­tu­tions, the ini­tia­tive is pro­mot­ing a de­vel­op­ment model for re­gions by fo­cus­ing on an­cient the­aters as well as ways to con­nect cul­ture, the en­vi­ron­ment, tourism, lo­cal so­ci­eties and Greek and in­ter­na­tional net­works. So far, the ef­forts have led to tan­gi­ble re­sults.

This is why this year’s assem­bly – the an­nual meet­ings tend to serve as mini-con­fer­ences for brain­storm­ing be­tween es­tab­lished sci­en­tists and young vi­sion­ar­ies – fo­cused on the fu­ture. The pre­vail­ing feel­ing among par­tic­i­pants was that the coun­try needs to be raised and to en­ter a pe­riod of growth.

At the meet­ing, Re­gional Gover­nor of Cen­tral Greece Costas Bakoyian­nis spoke of an “open­ing to­ward cul­ture” and the idea of an or­ganic con­nec­tion be­tween points of in­ter­est in dif­fer­ent re­gions.

Di­a­zoma com­pletes restora­tion stud­ies which are then pre­sented to state of­fi­cials, who in turn seek Euro­pean fund­ing for their re­al­iza­tion.

It is worth point­ing out that fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful pi­lot­ing of the ini­tia­tive’s Cul­tural Itin­er­ary for the An­cient The­aters of Epirus, a sim­i­lar route was de­vel­oped in the re­gion of Cen­tral Greece. The de­vel­op­ing net­work and the pos­si­bil­i­ties at­tached are not fo­cused ex­clu­sively on ar­chae­o­log­i­cal land­marks, such as Del­phi, but also around lesser-known ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ar­eas, such as Ere­tria, Thebes, Chaeronea and Or­chomenos, among oth­ers. These an­cient sites fig­ure on a cul­tural map which is fur­ther en­riched with more re­cent mon­u­ments, such as the Castle of Lamia, or beau­ti­ful land­scapes, such as those of Evry­ta­nia. Dur­ing the Di­a­zoma of­fi­cials’ four-day tour across Cen­tral Greece, the re­gion demon­strated its po­ten­tial as a tourist des­ti­na­tion, an area ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing pride, emo­tion and wealth.

While the restora­tion pro­ject for the an­cient Theater of Ere­tria is about to be sub­mit­ted to the Cen­tral Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Coun­cil (KAS), the im­pres­sive study re­gard­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Park of Or­chomenos is based on Di­a­zoma’s holis­tic ap­proach – also re­flected in the ini­tia­tive’s Ep­i­dau­rus pro­ject. This has to do with the fact that two of Greece’s lead­ing ar­chae­ol­o­gists, pro­fes­sors Vas­silis Lam­bri­noudakis and Pet­ros Themelis, are core mem­bers of Di­a­zoma.

The Or­chomenos pro­ject – the city was one of the wealth­i­est in an­tiq­uity – was pre­sented at the Athens Con­cert Hall to high ac­claim. The tril­ogy of mon­u­ments lo­cated in the vicin­ity – a 13th-cen­tury tomb mon­u­ment, a Hel­lenis­tic theater and the 9th-cen­tury Church of Pana­gia Skripou – are bound to change the broader area’s over­all char­ac­ter and fu­ture. The study for the Or­chomenos Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Park was car­ried out by Pleias Ar­chi­tects, headed by Dim­itris Dia­man­topou­los, while the theater’s restora­tion pro­ject was de­vel­oped by Themis Bil­lis and Maria Mag­nisali.

New con­nec­tions. The en­trance to the Myce­naean tomb of Minyas, leader of the Minyans, in Boeo­tia (Vi­o­tia), cen­tral Greece, dates to 1250 BC.

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