Green Energy and Greek Archaeology

In the Middle and Lower Nile Valleys, green energy production has to be understood beyond hydropower, because the height differences of the water flow is insignificant and render the construction of dams technically inappropriate; because the dams withhold the silt of the river that guarantees the fertility of the narrow stretch of lands upon which the traditional local communities base their sustenance; because these traditional communities should be protected rather than eradicated, since they offer a sane alternative of modest local development instead of gigantic capitalistic investments for the profit of urban dwellers; because the cultural landscape of the Nile Valley constitute world heritage treasures that should be protected and promoted, not flooded and lost. Therefore, we have repeatedly urged the national and international decision-makers to stop the plans of the flooding of the Middle Nile Valley and turn to alternative forms of energy production, first and foremost solar power and wind power. And we believe that first and foremost among the people who stand against such policies should be the archaeologists, both because they have experienced life among the local communities under threat and because they can raise strong arguments against the dam implementations and in favor of the preservation of the cultural heritage.

In Greece, both development for the sake of urban life and dams for the sake of energy and water storage have caused a misbalance of the natural landscape and its stakeholders among the local communities. A characteristic recent example is the fight against the landfill for the rubbish of Athens to be opened in the area of the town of Keratea and in the neighborhood of an important archaeological site and an undisturbed natural landscape.

Nevertheless, Greece is experiencing severe financial crisis and one of the sectors that the government is contemplating to invest for the future of the young generations as well as of the entire country is the development of the technologies of alternative/green energy production. Naturally, wind and solar power are at the top of the priorities.

Paradoxically, one of the major opponents to such investments is the Central Archaeological Council! The reasons are presented as mainly aesthetic and refer to the potential threat that the installations for the solar panels or the wind mills could cause to the visitor of a given archaeological site, of which those installations would disrupt the view…

In some cases the idea might be correct, given the past of such absurd intervention in the surrounding landscape of important archaeological sites, like the example of the gigantic for the proportions of the Acropolis neighborhood new Acropolis Museum in Athens – which was, however, constructed with decisions taken by the Archaeological Council…

In most of the other cases, though, the esthetic argument is a sheer exaggeration! Professor Valavanis, for example, has recently shown more understanding to the fact that antiquities and green energy can co-exist if both sides co-operate for the optimal decision-making. Moreover, we believe that there are two further points that refute the reactions of the Archaeological Council:

– On the one hand, their insistence on the letter of the law shows a lack of imagination: think, for example, on the contrary out of the box and imagine wind mills perpetuating an ancient colonnade or recreating a temple peristyle; of solar panels mirroring a virtual reconstruction of a ruined space or projecting a tri-dimensional recreation of a site’s life in a given period or in various periods! Lots of money you might say? Well, if it is indeed an investment worth undertaking for the future of a country, let the archaeologists have a say in that too, for a future in the future of the past that, especially in Greece, we seem unable to have a present without…

– On the other hand, the argumentation on the basis of esthetic criteria is ideologically dangerous, since beauty is rather a subjective issue, while the whole matter of the classical esthetics, with a utopian (thus non-existing) purified space to promote the absolute beauty of the white marble skeletons of the Greek temples is a thorny topic that has been discussed, since the aphorisms of the dada period, recently too by various novelists of the last generation of Greek literature: Christos Chrysopoulos, Takis Theodoropoulos, Vassilis Gouroyannis (as presented in a fine critic by M. Theodosopoulou titled “Under the heavy shadow of the Parthenon” in Vivliothiki of Eleftherotypia, 21st of May 2011).

In conclusion, finding alternative ways of thinking to promote alternative energy sources and thus alter the failed capitalistic life-style should be a sine qua non for archaeologists.

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2 Responses to Green Energy and Greek Archaeology

  1. chirine nour says:

    “wind mills perpetuating an ancient colonnade or recreating a temple peristyle; of solar panels mirroring a virtual reconstruction of a ruined space or projecting a tri-dimensional recreation of a site’s life…”
    That’s a GREAT idea!!!!!
    Green art archeologie?

  2. ergamenis says:

    Got the idea from a suggestion I heard being discussed concerning the plans to demolish buildings around the new Acropolis museum in order to provide direct view to the Parthenon for the visitors of the museum… One architect had suggested to have a video projection of the view that they wished to obtain thus avoiding any demolition!
    L’imaginaiton au pouvoir ;-)

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