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Protest and prayer to Museos for the altar of the Olympic gods

13 March 2011 / 22:03:24  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Proverbial repair of the Athens railway, which extends for more than two years is about to stumble again. About two months ago, archaeologists working in the company management of the railway ISAP found precious archaeological discovery in the section that passes through the ancient Athenian agora. 

Today over a thousand people gathered on the pedestrian promenade between Monastiraki and Thisio and protested against the intention of the management of ISAP to bury once again the altar of the 12 Olympic Gods, which was discovered by archaeologists. 

 "Today we are here to participate in the protest rally, organized by the civil movement for rescue and promotion of the altar of the 12 Gods to visitors. This is an initiative launched by citizens on the Internet against the possible burial of the altar because of the railway. 

This monument is of world importance and it is being threatened with burial. There are Greeks as well as foreigners participating in the protest. Mobilization online is very large and involved are not only citizens but also scientists. The goal is for the Greek to decide in favor of saving the altar," says for GRReporter Minas Papageorgiou from the organizational committee. 

According to Christos Panopoulos, also a member of the initiative for the rescue and promotion of the altar, there are other decisions that can be made regarding the railway, which will not lead to the burial of the altar. 

"Our goal is to exert pressure to find another solution, which will distinguish the whole region. The best solution we have heard so far is to remove all tracks to Petralona and the line in this area to become underground. This way all archaeological sites will be united. 

I mean, it is not just the altar. On the entire length of the track there are many discoveries that are of great importance. When archaeologists discovered the existence of this part of the altar, they said that "this is tantamount if we had found the ivory and gold statue of Pallas Athena”. I believe that excuses such as "no money" on the construction of underground line, as suggested by other people, are stupid. The specific discovery, and everything else that can be found, cannot be evaluated in money. They are priceless. Ultimately it could bring tourism revenues, especially if work is carried out on the identification of the entire region. 

The two metro stops are very close, so that someone can claim that getting to the region is interrupted. We also know that during the construction of the subway, in a very large area 4-5 stops were not opened and people had to take the bus. So I believe there can be no justification. 

From what we know from history, the altar was placed by the grandson of the tyrant Peisistratus who was a famous Athenian archon. It was the "navel" of Athens, from where distances were being measured. Most likely the altar of the 12 Gods was also an altar of compassion, which was a sanctuary as well. Around it there was fencing and whoever entered inside they could not be touched by anyone—in other words—this is the first legal sanctuary for what we know. 

In 1890, during the construction of the railway excavations were carried out and again in 1934, during the construction small part of the altar were found, which lay on the other side of the wall. Archaeologists did not believe that the rest of the alter will be discovered because they thought that it was destroyed during the first construction. 

We learned about the discovery in early February from an article in the newspaper Kathimerini. Otherwise, the railway management would have urgently buried the alter without anyone learning about it. In other words, first protested the archaeologists, then followed the article and thus we learned about the altar. Then we decided that we should do something to unite our voices with the archaeologists, for whom we do not even know if they have not had any problems from that announced of the discovery of the altar. We try to get in touch with them, but it is not possible. Maybe they do not want to be associated with the protests. However, our goal is common." 

Participating in the protest were seven organizations whose members believe in the ancient Greek Gods or in Greek religion, as they call it. At the foot of the altar in Thisio they sent out a plead. 

The enthusiasm of some to reach closer to the man who gave a tone to the crowd made them climb on the foundations of the temple of Apollo Patroos. Organizers of the protest, but also ministry staff explained that they cannot stand on the ancient ruins, but this did not prevent some participants to walk on them, “because I have to get there and participate." 

The protest ended after a visit to the small part of the altar, which is located outside the route of the railway, where believers in the Olympic Gods placed flowers and lit incense. 

The protest was not joined by archaeologists who reported the discovery of the altar. The fact that they prevented this burial caused quite relevant doubts that the estimated number of ancient findings throughout Greece, which get buried for financial or technical reasons, is hardly small.

Tags: Greece finds archeology petition alter Olympic Gods
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