Ar­chae­ol­o­gists wrap up phase one of restora­tion works on Despotiko

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY IOTA SYKKA

The boat that con­nects An­tiparos to the islet of Despotiko, off the eastern Aegean is­land’s western coast, sails on a daily ba­sis, car­ry­ing ar­chae­ol­o­gists, ar­chi­tects, con­ser­va­tion­ists and mar­ble ma­sons, as well as the nec­es­sary ma­te­rial to com­plete the first phase of the restora­tion of the sanc­tu­ary’s Ar­chaic tem­ple and the hes­tia­to­rion (din­ing hall).

The works, which also in­volve restor­ing other build­ings within the sanc­tu­ary, be­gan af­ter the Cen­tral Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Coun­cil (KAS) gave the green light. One of the many chal­lenges is trans­port­ing heavy ma­te­ri­als and tools to and on the tiny is­land.

New stone ma­te­rial has al­ready been added to the length of the sty­lo­bate (the plat­form of the tem­ple) in the porch of the hes­tia­to­rion, on which a colon­nade of eight col­umns rested. Its to­tal length is 17 me­ters, of which 7 me­ters was miss­ing. A copy of a mar­ble col­umn drum has been placed on the sty­lo­bate of the hes­tia­to­rion, on top of which the re­main­ing an­cient parts will be po­si­tioned. The re­con­struc­tion of a wall on the north­ern side of the tem­ple – which had been all but de­stroyed – has been com­pleted with the use of mod­ern and an­cient struc­tural ma­te­rial, while the pro­gram fore­sees the fill­ing in of a sig­nif­i­cant part of the tem­ple’s sty­lo­bate, among other things.

The team work­ing on Despotiko is led by di­rec­tor of ex­ca­va­tions Yian­nis Koura­gios, ar­chae­ol­o­gist Cor­nelia Daifa, ar­chi­tect Gouliel­mos Ores­tidis and con­ser­va­tion­ist Gior­gos Karam­palis.

Over the past 18 years, ar­chae­ol­o­gists have un­earthed 15 struc­tures – two of which were dis­cov­ered this year – and a num­ber of stun­ning finds dat­ing to the proto-Cy­cladic years, the Geo­met­ric and Hel­lenis­tic pe­ri­ods up to the late Mid­dle Ages. These have rede­fined our un­der­stand­ing of wor­ship habits in the Cy­clades dur­ing the Geo­met­ric and Ar­chaic pe­riod.

The restora­tion and con­ser­va­tion pro­gram is backed by Thana­sis and Ma­rina Marti­nou. The restora­tion and the earth­quake haz­ard stud­ies are funded by the AG Leven­tis Foun­da­tion. The ex­ca­va­tion works are fi­nanced by the Kanel­lopou­los Foun­da­tion, the Min­istry of Ship­ping and Is­land Pol­icy and the In­ter­na­tional Cen­ter for Hel­lenic and Mediter­ranean Stud­ies (DIKEMES). Pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als and lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions have also sup­ported the ef­fort.

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