Brief note following-on from an item on a Greek newspaper.
The item refers to the private collection of a Greek newspaper editor who is hailed as a pioneer. Small problem is that he got a license for a private collection during the junta and is now donating thousands of artefacts to museums he selects. This makes no reference to his overall collection or how he has acquired these items. Indeed it seems ridiculous that he has received a series of accolades from the country’s archeological authorities.
My argument is simple: A. How can one build-up a collection without excavating or buying? Both being illegal under Greek legislation and therefore only possible if authorities have a double standard towards an ‘elite’. B. Volunteerism and ‘hobbyism’ in archeology are legitimate (and indeed desirable) if the purpose of discovery was an understanding of the past, historical roots and identity. In contemporary Greece this is not the case. Instead archeology is the domain of a clique of ‘professionals’ dedicated to the interests of their sector. For that reason contributions from ‘non-professionals’ is anathema and is strongly undermined. Archeologists claim a right as the ‘keepers of tradition’ but end-up stifling its investigation. The sector is moribound, stifling ideas or alternative interpretations.
Traditional archeology is closely bound to traditional ideas of a mythical past (see the work of Benedict Anderson ‘census-map-museum’ in constructing nationalism) and its practitioners are strongly embedded in the sterile reproduction and investigation of finds, rather than their reflective investigation. For Greek archeology to become an active research field, its practitioners cannot be members of a ‘religious order’ and the relevance of finds should not be deified and elevated to the domain of an ‘unattainable’ beauty/purity of the past. In simple terms archeology has to engage with society, the social sciences and a reflective philosophy of its role in society.
Article from Greek daily TO VIMA here:
and my reposte in Greek: