Saturday 27 March 2010

(T) “Battle” for Vergina

Disaccords and different approaches of archaeologists concerning the Palace of Aigai and the dating of the walls.

It may be almost two and half thousand years, but even on the ruins of the walls, of the Palace and the Theatre of ancient Aigai (Vergina) disaccord and battles are still raging, no longer with armies or aiming at power, but with scientific papers and approaches of archaeologists concerning the dating, the value and the interpretation of the finds at Vergina.

Photo: Ethnos

The 23rd meeting on the Archaeological Work in Macedonia and Thrace, which ended last Saturday in Thessaloniki, was the cause to openly reveal the disaccord.

The first disagreements was expressed concerning the paper delivered by Angeliki Kottaridi, head of the Museum of Vergina, concerning the Palace of Aigai.

Presenting new data concerning its destruction she supported that Philip, “to demonstrate the idea of his enlightened rule, needed a palace that would combine the functions of the political agora and the sacred Acropolis of a democratic state and thus the idea of the Palace of Aigai was born, an archetype for those of the Hellenistic world; in todays terms a building combining the functions of the Assembly, the Supreme Court, the Pentagon and the Presidential Palace…”

Photo: Ethnos

This conclusion, however, was the reason that strong objections were voiced and questions were raised by professors Demetris Pantermalis and Michalis Tiverios, but also by mrs Kottaridis’ own colleague in the same Archaeological Ephorate (17th), Pavlos Chrysostomou.

The question was discussed in a more lively manner in the breaks of the meeting, and those opposing the view supported that “it is not possible that the Presidential Palace of the time was in Aigai when the capital had already been moved to Pella, where the Palace covered 60.000 sq. m.”

The next clash was over…the walls of Vergina. The professor Panagiotis Faklaris presented for the first time the results of his research concerning the walls, saying that they “were built during a single phase, and that was during the reign of Kassander”.

This conclusion was the reason for an “attack” against mr Faklaris by mrs Kottaridi, who declared that she, during research on a different part of the wall, located remains from phases that are much more ancient, dating even from the reign of Perdikkas.

Mr Faklaris “counterattacked”, saying that mrs Kottaridi “invaded and while there dug” in his sector, while he only got to see “the final sweepings”. My research had all the necessary permits and was done in all legality, answered mrs Kottaridi.

Mr Faklaris, however, in his paper did not name the town that was protected by the impressive walls and towers that he discovered. When questioned by Ethnos if it was Aigai, he answered characteristically “I know not”, insisting on his opinion, that he has supported for many years, that Vergina was not the site of the ancient capital of the Macedonians but some other city.

Ethnos asked mr Tiverios, who declared that in his opinion “the wall that mr Faklaris showed us is of the time of Kassander, but this does not exclude the existence at another point of a more ancient wall, but nothing of all this does not differentiate the estimation that the city is indeed Aigai”.

Finally the professor Giorgos Velenis put forward that “the idea that the theatre in Vergina was constructed with clay row of seats must definitely be abandoned and it is logic to assume that it had rows of seats of solid wooden blocks, which reached the veranda of the Palace of Aigai”, which also was used as a gynaikonitis (women’s quarters) for the presentations.

Professor Stella Drougou, who has published the theatre of Vergina with different conclusions, restrained herself to the comment: “I do not know if women watched the theatre. In any case I was not there”.

Source: Ethnos, 15.03.2010

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