Thursday 1 April 2010

(T) Vergina/ Aigai: A Walk in the Traces of Alexander

A Virtual Museum and archaeological park at Aigai.

by Giota Sykka

It is time to leave behind outdated ideas that imagine that a museum is a building with tens of showcases and thousands of objects, presented to visitors, limiting them a passive tour. The example of something different comes from Aigai with an ensemble of interventions in the legendary necropolis, that offer the opportunity for a charming promenade between separated poles and with it the delight of discovery.

An open museum that unifies, protects and shows up all the monuments of this enormous archaeological site, of which but a small part has been excavated and only the royal tombs of the Philip II group are open to visit.

However the 200,000 visitors that arrive each year - despite the fact that neither profound interventions have been carried out nor has the site been arranged to take advantage of it - show that they "thirst" to learn any information concerning the ancient Macedonian metropolis and its protagonists.

These problems shall be taken care of by the Multicentered Museum of Aigai in which the public, through a grand open promenade shall walk amongst the monuments and the natural environment, will halt under roofing and will follow courses, will travel in the environment and the history and will be able to have a direct appreciation of the site where Philip II and his son Alexander lived, walked and were active.

The enthusiastic and active archaeologist Aggeliki Kottaridi, responsible for the study of all these interventions, a veritable master plan which defines the principles of all that will be carried out in the archaeological site, has other plans as well - as long as money can be found!

For example the Virtual Museum of Alexander the Great which will take us to the country where the Great general was born and raised, informing us of the roots of his dynasty and his great adventure, that continues to fascinate.

Greece, instead of participating in others programmes, by lending antiquities to exhibitions and allowing filming in its sites and museums, can advance in a responsible and defining way toward the veritable administration of its past and heritage: thus goes the argument of the archaeologist.

The Virtual Museum shall function on two levels: on the Internet through a portal, and in its natural environment, at the Museum of Aigai, through a hall of realistic imagery projections; As dr Kottaridi underlines "it was in Aigai that Philip II was murdered and Alexander the Great was proclaimed King, and it was from here that in the spring of 334 B.C. commenced - according to Arrian- with festivities and sacrifices to the Gods, the great expedition that changed the history of the world".

The work shall be a coordinated effort to gather all known sources, interpretations and approaches, aiming at the production and composition of cultural content concerning the life and work of Alexander the Great in the World's Culture. To avoid historical distortion and inexactitudes, but also to promote the idea of free and equal coexistence of different cultures: "In parallel it shall be a new beginning for intercultural contacts and exchanges with states of North Africa and Asia".

The plan was approved with congratulations by the Central Archaeological Council, which was also informed of the present image and problems of the archaeological site of Aigai.

Apart from the Royal group A and the Palace on which conservation work is being carried out, all the rest of the monuments and remains are crudely protected by roofing and metal plating. The interventions are minimal or non-existent. Of 450 tumuli few have been excavated, while the lack of fencing results in the accumulation of rubbish and waste. The access to the Palace and the burial group of the queens from the West is inadequate, as it does not correspond to the structure of the Ancient City, while the hellenistic grave group Heuzey-Mpellas and the Palaio-christian and Late Byzantine monuments are not connected to the rest of the site.

The stored treasures of the Royal Tombs, more than 30,000, remain unknown to the public, which cannot even buy an official Museum guide, as it has not yet been published!

This real lack of interventions on the site is covered by the plan, which adds pedestrian bridges, fencing, the planting of trees and plans, excavation of the tumuli, while allowing the public to watch on... So that a walk in the Aigai area shall really be charming.

Source: Kathimerini, 01.04.2010
Translation: ArchaeologyMatters

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