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Posts Tagged ‘Asia Minor

Digging politics in the Aegean; The case of Ionia after WWI

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Symposium On Mediterranean Archaeology 2012

Florence, 03.03.2012 – Session 7 – 10.00 p.m.

Thematics: Conservation, preservation and archaeological site management | Restoration and Museology

St. John basilica, Ephesus: One of the projects of the Greek Archaeological Service in Asia Minor (26.07-18.09 1921 | 06.06-20.08 1922)

On May 15, 1919, the Greek army, on the side of the victorious Entente, landed in the area of Smyrna/Izmir, claiming the awarded lands of Asia Minor. The newly composed Greek government in the area had been swift to establish the Greek Archaeological Service of Asia Minor and fund a number of social and cultural activities; among them there was a considerable number of archaeological projects (surveys, excavations, restorations, creation of local museums etc.), aiming to solidify the Greek identity of the local populations.

Even though ‘archaeological projects’ are well known in conflict processes of occupation/liberation warfare, the interlinked Greco-Turkish history contains a number of conspicuous cases of archaeological heritage ‘management’ relating to both Greek and Turkish monuments. This paper, part of an on-going project, is focusing on the Greek archaeological projects in the occupied/liberated land of Ionia, examining practical methods of site management and dialectics employed, in comparison to these that followed the Turkish War of Independence, from the other side.

What is more, it looks at some of the contemporary intersecting networks of practices and ideas concerning archaeology; The use of heritage for formulating national and local identities or attempts to manipulate ‘foreign’ cultural heritage, submit steadily nowadays, to contemporary uses of tourist destinations that accommodate a great number of international tourists, unaware of the thick palimpsest of relations and contested history. Could this be a post-modern pattern of ameliorating trauma or could places like Ephesus and Nysa form the basis of more nuanced interpretations based on archaeology, that may actually commence a dialogue, from a cultural point of view?

Stelios Lekakis, MA, PhD c.

Archaeologist / ARM Consultant

Excavating the land of Ionia (1919-1922)

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The Greek-Orthodox church in Nazilli-Turkey was set on fire by the Turkish forces before the advancing Greek army. The base of the altar (seen at the centre of the picture) was part of an inscribed column

The Greek-Orthodox church in Nazilli-Turkey was set on fire by the Turkish arny forces before the advancing Greek army. The base of the altar (seen at the centre of the picture) was part of an ancient inscribed column in second use.

Shortly after the landing of the Greek army in Smyrna/Izmir and while the soldiers were still on the move -giving decisive battles in Anatolia-, Greek archaeologists, endorsed by the (Greek) government of Asia Minor, sought to uncover the primordial past of Ionia, excavating and surveying Klazomenai, Ephesus, Nysa, Mastavra et al. Byzantine, Hellenistic and other antiquities partook in the liberating scheme and the (inwards and outwards) identity establishment project, serving at the same time the vision of the expanded Hellas (Μεγάλη Ιδέα).

This is -more or less- the thematic of the paper that I will be presenting in TAG 2008 – Southampton, later in December. It will be posted here later on, but for the time being here is the abstract together with the link of the session: Archaeologies of Military Occupation

Excavating the bouleuterion in Nysa. In the front view, the workers of the excavation (mostly Greeks and Turks convicts from the Smyrna prison).

Excavating the bouleuterion in Nysa. In the front view, possibly the workers of the excavation (Greeks and Turks convicts from the Smyrna prison).

Excavating the ‘occupied’ land of Ionia: Greek excavations in Asia Minor (1919-1922)

Stelios Lekakis (University of Athens)

After the end of WWI, Greece, who was on the side of the victorious Entente, was rewarded with lands in Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor, which had
belonged up until then to the defeated allies of the Central Powers: Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire respectively.

In 1919, the Greek army landed in the area around Smyrna/Izmir in order to ‘protect the Greek-Christian populations from the random attacks of Turkish guerrillas’. The newly created Greek government of Asia Minor organised and funded a number of cultural and social activities in the area in an attempt to solidify Greek identity and establish substructures for the final incorporation of the liberated lands into the Greek state. This paper, part of an on-going project, looks specifically at the archaeological excavations performed by the Greeks in the occupied/liberated land of Ionia and examines a number of multiple and intertwined political, social and scientific issues, such as the role of politicians and military men in the archaeological projects, the connection with archaeological projects in mainland Greece in this period and their role in identity building of the local populations, and the way in which the findings were interpreted by the Greek side. It will also examine the fate of the research and excavations after theTurkish War of Independence.

Excavatin the bouleuterion in Nysa

Excavating the bouleuterion in Nysa

Greek soldiers partaking in the surney and posing in front of the amphitheatre remnants at Mastavra

Greek soldiers partaking in the surney and posing in front of the amphitheatre remnants at Mastavra

Written by Stelios Lekakis

December 3, 2008 at 6:13 pm