Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Layers of History (2004) by Hatto Fischer


Athens 2004

@ Poiein kai Pprattein

Layers of History



There took place in Volos, Greece the International Congress: “The Lands of the Aegean and the Black Sea: from the Argonaut Expedition to Black Sea Co-operation”, Oct. 21 – 23, 2004 – a most appropriate place since presumed to be the departure point of the Argonauts. 1

The conference was held at the University of Thessaly in Volos but not at the premises to be seen when entering the city by car or bus from Athens and just before the bus terminal. That part of the University is housed in former shipyard buildings. It underlines a city policy aiming to convert former industrial buildings for new use. Some of these conversions were made possible by EU funding e.g. the URBAN program used to restore former industrial buildings, the outstanding example being the former brick factory of Tsalapatas now designated to house the new museum of industrial heritage. Another Article 10 ERDF EU project led by the City of Volos was CIED (‘Cultural Innovation and Economic Development’) aiming to bridge the gap between culture and economic development by refining planning practices and move towards ‘good practices’ when it comes to the city having to negotiate with potential ‘inward investors’.

Rather the other part of the University of Thessaly was used, namely the Papastratos building of the University of Thessaly. It lies directly at that turning point where the boulevard ends and the park begins around the corner. People can take a walk from the old part of the city, past the Fish market near the main harbour and pass by Municipal Hall which is located across the street in one of the typical buildings of the area: an architecture combining stone and wood. From there the walk continues towards the passenger port. People walk all along the long boulevard beside the harbour stretching as far as the eye can see towards the opening of the bay.

On the harbour side of that boulevard freshly renovated for the Olympic Games in August 2004, there are numerous sail boats moored; on the other side, there exists one café next to the other. They occupy completely from beginning to end the house front. Only few breaks exist where two impressive buildings stand: that of the National Bank of Greece and at the very end where the university is located. The latter consists of two modernized buildings with a glass tower linking the two wings.

Already a glance from the sea side through the windows on the first floor indicates a different world. Students sit inside in a badly lit cafeteria and seem to prefer that place rather than mingling with the crowd outside.

Once inside the building – it can be entered from the sea side but also from one of the main roads passing by at the front of the building – one confronts a typical university place. Besides the steel and glass of the front hall, there are scraps of paper everywhere outlining fast faded disputes. It continues with outdated posters: left-overs from former campaigns waged by perhaps the Anarchists or other student groups. Some of them are pasted against the pillars. Up the stairs to the cafeteria bearded or unshaven male students make their way. In one corner five of them discuss things which seem unrelated to the immediate world. And in the cafeteria I sense a similar student atmosphere as it prevailed in the so-called ‘Cacao-bunker’ at Heidelberg University in 1972 when studying there philosophy. Such indifference to appearance marks a stark contrast to the outside world.

The students seem consciously to stay inside as if they wish to delineate themselves from the crowd outside. Often that crowd oscillates between music and watching football matches on high profile TV screens. It makes one wonder whether bridges can be built with this future generation, in order to overcome the gaps in society between those having studied and those just wishing another taste of life. In the end, both groups might end up facing limited choices in which café to sit in.

Hence it was a bit strange to hold the International Congress in such a place given the kind of atmosphere which greeted the visitors and speakers of the Congress. Indeed, by getting to know the various venues that exist in Volos, this has to be categorized as a place which is not frequently visited by many people from Volos and thus left to the students. However, for the evening reception they had put up already in this strange entry hall tables draped in white. Some waiters were hustling already to have everything prepared.

To get to the Gianis Kordatos Amphitheatre, a modern auditorium with the latest equipment and surprisingly clean when compared to the entry hall, and where the Congress took place, the guests and visitors of the Congress had to descend a few steps and go past the reception desk. There they were greeted with friendly smiles by the staff of the organizational committee and could receive earphones to hear translations, if needed. At the same time, when registering, everyone received the Congress folder containing an impressive book about the stories of the Argonauts.

In the lands of the Argonauts: departure

The book about the Argonauts contains the ode by Pindar. It is a remarkable poetic celebration of the feat performed by the Argonauts.

In viewing the land around Volos as being the place of departure in Ancient Times, there comes to mind following association:


Remote lands heard about by the waves

their messages transmitted by sea shells

brought to land by the fishermen

leave space for mythology to grow

like a tree in the sea spending shade for fishes

and mermaids who tempt sailors passing by.


The Argos boat used by the Argonauts was a special constructed one for 50 oarsmen - Pindar mentions in his ode that number. There existed then no such trees that were long enough to allow the ship be built in one piece. A new boat construction technique had to be invented especially for the expedition to happen. They knew without the extra power stemming from more oarsmen the ship would not be able to pass some dangerous currents and make it to the Black Sea.

The mythology surrounding the Argonauts in their search of the 'Golden Fleece' has instilled some awe and influenced the thinking of the ancestors about lands existing at the 'end of the world'. There is the interesting interpretation by Seferis. He speaks about the Argonauts as if condemned to endless rowing with only the back of the man in front to look at. Everything ends in silence. There is not even a whisper to be heard nor a sound from oars left dipping in the water - the eternal burial grounds.

And then there is a special poem by Giorgos Seferis, one the great poets of Greece.

The Argonauts

And the soul

Should know itself

For in the glance

Upon also a soul:

For then we saw stranger, enemy, him in the mirror.


Brave people were his companions, they did not complain

About the attempts nor about the thirst nor about

the coldness,

They conducted themselves according to the trees and waves

Which accept the wind and the rain

Accept without resistance night and sun

And who remain consistent despite all changes.

They were courageous people, through entire days

They sweat on the rowing bench, eyes lowered

Did they fetch their breath in rhythm

And their blood pumped in the obedient skin.

Sometimes they sang as well, their eyes lowered

As we rounded the deserted island with

the wild figs

westwards, beyond the cape of the dogs

and their bellows.

Should recognize itself, so it says

And the oars dipped into the gold of the sea

With the sinking sun

Many capes were left behind,

many islands, the sea

which lead to another sea, seagulls

and seals

sometimes the women bemoaned the misery

of their lost children

and others raced and searched for Alexander

and for the lost fame in the depths of Asia.

We anchored at the coast filled with

night smell

with sounds of birds and water prints of that

remaining in the hands

The memory of the great happiness.

But the voyage did not end.

Their soul become one with the rowing ropes

And with the stern look of the bow

With the furrows of the oars

With the water which broke their picture

into pieces

the companions terminated one after the other,

lowered eyes. Their oars

Marked the places where they slept ashore.


No one remembers them. Justice.



Remarkable is that Seferis talks about the ‘soul’ being attached to the boat, in order to give wings to that desire for a ‘voyage of all voyages’. It is a remarkable departure marked by songs but which no one seems to remember nowadays. Here then go together fate and loss of authentic cultural heritage. The fact that no one remembers them truly prompts the Greek poet Seferis to titillate this as being ‘justice’.

If nothing is left to remember, then the notion of justice has to be taken to mean literally not to base judgements on memory or recollection of the past. As expression of philosophy of law, it amounts to a reputation of any claims from the past. Cultural heritage may not be used to make land claims in the present – a important manifestation of legal thought if taken seriously. Seferis seems to suggest that too many go astray over and again if they venture like those voyagers into unknown territories and lay claim to what does not belong to anyone, lest to the ones who wish to hold power over the interpretation of such myths.

What filters through the ages is not a sense of belonging but rather a strange feeling as if something has gone astray: lost to the winds forever even though similar desires for such voyages from which no one shall ever return continues to affect man's motivation. Travel into outer space has become in the 21st century the new territory to be discovered even though its sheer endlessness stretches beyond man's capacity to imagine what lies out or up there in the sky often named as well heaven but which derives from 'cosmos' the sense for the universe.

The double sense of cultural heritage being rather limited if based only on myth and archaeological evidence has to be noted: they will not return to the land from which they have set out and those who may remain on that land will not retain the memory that there were some brave companions who had set out one day to seek those far away lands. Too much is forgotten.

Forgotten is not everything but the strange silence evokes more than a mathematical equation an image fleeting across the water in the bay until hovering still, so as if to await the return of the expedition ship like a dog for the Master to return. Homer describes that in the case of Odyssey and only his dog recognizes him immediately because of a certain smell and ring of tone in the voice. Brave listening is what may be needed but which outdistances the usual hearing capacities of the people.

Only some sounds remain, familiar enough and yet strange in their texture, since they remind about the songs no longer heard. Ritsos describes in a beautiful poem about the futility of war: mothers sing to their sons before they go to war songs of their fathers and when these soldiers return much later their mothers have died already and yet strange enough the girls they had left behind have become now all women who sing to them the songs their mothers used to. Indeetd, this passing on from generation to generation is not self understood for it depends upon who receives and is able to revive the old songs by reinventing them anew.

Collective memory about songs passed on from generation to generation may provide a key to another kind of understanding of cultural heritage.2 If that no longer exists once the voyage has begun and never ended, then retrospectively it may be understandable that there existed in the days preceding their departure much anxiety. For a society to give up some of its bravest companions to a voyage into such an unknown from which everyone knows they will never return, there must have been a reason for doing that: perhaps a heightened sense of anxiety about their security based on reasons brought by the winds or else what was washed ashore? Such anxiety would mean they knew no longer how they will survive and, therefore by the same token, they find themselves unable to answer the question as to why they exist. In such a situation something needs to be done to step out of such a crisis of meaning.

The emphasis upon only the ‘heroic’ part would not allow the perception of the crisis which kept everyone then spell-bounded, as if lamed by fear of the unknown. For the heroic part would only hide the shadows of that tale. It would silence anyone wishing to point the truth of that fateful expedition and instead demand from everyone continuing ‘as if they had returned after a successful expedition into the unknown’. Even though some made it back from Hades, including Odyssey, Homer shows that with such a myth goes a moral, in the case of Odyssey the reason that he was the only one who made it because his wife Penelope remained faithful as a woman and wife to him. That seems to suggest myth is based on the technique of evoking the impossible, in order to let the belief that some things are still possible despite all the human limitations which continue to prevail through all ages. It would be as inconclusive as hope is for the future but it may make something possible and therefore not end up in mere resignation of life. 3

There is repeated talk about Ancient Greece not knowing the ritual of human sacrifice, but to let brave companions set out on a voyage despite knowing that they will never return, that comes close to giving up some human beings for the sake of saving the rest. The voyage becomes more than just a mission. It is a metaphor for stepping outside the spell-bounded territory of the known to confront the unknown as the only place left to seek salvation from. Perhaps this is why in Ancient Greece the full meaning of tragedy became more explicit as writers started to explore all the shadows which were cast by the heroic feats projected upon man as derivative from the Gods while set out on these journeys into the unknown.

Of interest is that justice in the sense of Seferis means as well that no one shall remember where they have gone finally ashore. Only the oars will mark silently in the water the direction in which they might have gone. In this silence hovering over the water, in the bay, there come suddenly the seagulls. Their scream will be like a strange omen but nothing more. After they had touched down on the water briefly, if only to catch something, they would soar up again into the haze of light. No other traces they will leave behind just like those who existed and who went on a great voyage, and yet they left nothing behind that could remind of their existence. There is only the myth left. No one will come and weep for them. No one will call their names and demand from them anything. They cannot fulfil even a dream of justice a society may have after they left behind safe shores and since their departure have never really stepped ashore again. Only those oars point silently in that direction in which they might have gone.


Understanding the present

The International Congress takes place at a time when not only Greece, but the entire world has to rethink the structures that have helped societies and cities to survive over the ages. Alone the war in Afghanistan and Iraq in the aftermaths to September 11th have made it plain that survival on this globe is at great risk and peril to human lives. Elsewhere people do not die because of cluster bombs but due to HSV infections or people remaining too weak to cross over that dangerous poverty line and are, therefore, unable to care for themselves. Lack of good water is just one such example.

There are numerous other environmental challenges to be faced by both the cities and the regions in this world. Living close to the sea is no longer just a reason for existence as many fishermen can tell their fateful stories provided anyone is willing to listen. It has become a threat especially when there is a greater risk of still more disastrous oil spillages from occurring due to vested interests by ship owners who do not wish to comply to new safety standards as the EU Commission wishes to impose after recent accidents.

It is not merely the technical factor alone that has shifted the balance of survival in favour of global companies. The skills needed for organisational reasons out-demand more and more what a local level can fulfil or cope with. The pressure is too great and the sums of money needed to sustain even a much needed research process in order to stay ‘fit’, i.e. be competitive within the Information and Knowledge Society, as deemed possible by the European Union, risks leaving many local environments far behind.

The ability to adapt, culturally speaking, is a question of both the immediate in terms of what can be done to do more than just cope while the elongated time horizon is vanishing rapidly although needed if the future generations are to be prepared for such a new setting at work and in politics. The institutional solutions depend ever more so upon transparency and accountability, if integrity is to contribute towards the finding of the best possible solutions. The very lack thereof spells a bad omen as if signs known in Ancient Times have not been read or interpreted well enough to avoid similar or the same mistakes being made in the present.

Rather than advancing in that direction of a knowledgeable future to which cultural adaptation is possible, a rather weird world is marking a confusion between traditional institutional powers and global powers beyond the control of nation states. The latter seek to influence the direction in which the world is developing in. At all levels, favouritism plays its role but it is only one aspect that eludes fairness in hiring practice and in finding the best solutions. A much greater fault is a political belief that getting a job in the real economy is a much greater success than being engaged in terms of civic society to better conditions for all, employed and unemployed. The latter would be a practice of social justice, but as in the case of the Ancient myth, those who fail are easily forgotten. They leave no mark of their own, but without leaving behind traces they cannot shape their own destiny nor contribute to the history of mankind.

If all negative traits in this global world could only be countered by good and fair measures, then there might be a chance to limit all the back stabbing used as a method to get a job while denying the others any chance of success. In the end that amounts to a collective conspiracy against the truth of needing to work together in an open and rational manner. Instead the loss of perspectives gives way to all kinds of manipulations and propagations of only certain practices. In the end, solutions will be only for a few while they deprive, structurally and materially but also culturally speaking, all the others so that people have no longer real choices and meaningful alternatives.

As if not enough people do experience daily the extend to which corruption has become a wide spread practice with no one really knowing any answer to this phenomenon, except for seeking solutions at individual level and not caring for the rest as long as ‘money is coming into the own pocket’! The saying, I would be stupid not to evade paying taxes if all the others do it, reinforces but a common trend of everyone working no longer for the public good.

That then is not a reflection of the present or of the past, but a reminder that always such Congresses do take place in a specific context. However, only few will notice their true significance in terms of what people they managed to invite, in order to attract more attention to the city which hosts such a Congress. It has become already a well known strategy that such congresses serve one purpose, namely to promote the image of a city. In the best cases they do bring about learning effects which may ripple down eventually to the local population but it happens rarely. Still, such a congress can put the city for some new people on their personal maps. There is a marketing strategy behind such a hope. As a matter of fact, congresses have become a part of cultural tourism designed in such a way that if people come once to an unknown place, they might come again and bring other family members or friends with them. 

All that leaves open the crucial question, but what do the citizens of Volos get out of such a conference and what impact does it have once the different layers of history become visible as in the archaeological museum in Volos? It was the case when listening to the various lectures presented by archaeologists, social anthropologists, historians, demographic experts etc.. So without much without further ado, it is time to let the film of the Congress be shown.

                              ΑΙΓΑΙΑΚΟΣ ΧΩΡΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΜΑΥΡΗ ΘΑΛΑΣΣΑ




The Aegean and the Euxine

From the Age of the Argonauts to Black Sea Co-operation Today


Opening of the International congress in Volos

The Congress opened Thursday evening, Oct. 21, 2004 in the Gianis Kordatos Amphitheatre, Papastratos Building of the University of Thessaly. A. Mazarakis-Ailian, Associate Prof. of Classical Archaeology and President of the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly spoke on behalf of the 7th scientific committee which had organized this very substantial Congress. In reference to the rich program for the next two days, several key points seem to stand out:

During the opening speeches the meaning of holding an International Congress became clear. The subject matters to be presented are not meant to be devoted merely to the myth of the Argonauts, but shall focus on what connections exist nowadays between the Aegean and the Black Sea. Furthermore, they shall be examined as to how can they be improved? Is it made possible by looking at ancient models as to what links existed then, in order to see if they can be revitalized? To all local politicians regardless of party affiliation, it appears to matter to them that there does take place in Volos such a Congress. In explaining why they supported this Congress, they seemed to subscribe as to what Aegli Dimoglou pointed out on behalf of the organisational committee and as director of the Municipal Centre for Historical Research and Documentation (D.I.K.I.), namely that the culture of a city - politismos - is linked to an economic life which supports certain expressions of life. With time they give way to developments that seem to point a way into the future. In the case of the Argonauts this meant the bringing together the best of navigation skills with new boat construction techniques, while the aspirations for such an extraordinary voyage were answered by the achievements of the Argonauts.

When listening to such opening speeches in the context of a Congress departing from the Argonauts, there comes to mind following question: ‘at what crucial time juncture finds itself the city of Volos to be in, now that the hosting of the Olympic Games (football games) are over? On the one hand the city was surprised by what potentialities completely unknown until recently surfaced to make possible this hosting of the Games, so that there is a quivering of excitement in the air when attempting to image what can be done in near future with such a potentiality. On the other hand, there is anxiety, indeed worry what if the survival question becomes so massive, that the city will not achieve what it had set out to do, namely to regain some regional importance on the basis of creating more viable economic structures by cultural and other means! To that has to be added the question, but if survival as a threat and not as a challenge becomes all too evident, and in the past the loss of the industrial production along with a disastrous earthquake brought about such a crisis, will the city be then prepared to send once again as they did with the Argonauts its best people abroad, in order to bring back ideas and goods that can inspire?

The answer to that question relates to seeing what is needed most, in order to be able to take the next step. Much seems to depend on identifying what is missing at the local level. There is, for instance, a lack of social and economic cohesion so that the city presents itself more as an abstract conglomerate rather than what would be a natural outcome of a flow of things. The degree of artificiality and therefore also the various forms of ugliness is too great as that any significant cultural imprint of a local character could make itself be felt in the streets and through the kind of life offered in Volos. Still, in response to that question, many shops, banks, hotels, port authority and the public administration are making efforts to improve public venues. All that seems to reflect a growing concern for the aesthetics or how a city presents itself safe that the city is still a wild place especially at its outer edges. Whether done by altering lights on buildings or creating passages for pedestrians by banning cars, or displaying public art at various places, there is going on some kind of noticeable beautification. However, it is still too early to tell what will be the outcome of this struggle to create a more pleasant and soothing atmosphere rather than leave many things fragmented, haphazardly put there or else left out while local people remain wondering if this is really the place in which children should grow up in? The real answer lies, of course, in the unknown as to whether the city has a future or not!

No city can achieve a satisfactory answer to the aesthetical challenge if its self governance leaves out the need to come to terms such as consistency in policy applications. The difference between success and failure will be reflected in the degree to which the local population retains an openness towards new developments while working out consistently a continuity of identity which has to span past and future so as to leave enough space in the present for new creative expressions. The latter leave marks for future generations to remember those times when people lived in the aftermaths of the Olympic Games 2004 for that indicates how new challenges were met but also new problems created due to neglect of some of the most obvious not merely local, but 'real' needs. There are artificial needs such as creating a football stadium on the outskirts of the city for the Olympic Games and which in turn requires a new ring road as if Volos wishes to become a megapolis while in reality there is no real basis to support such a development. It leads merely to over exploitation of natural and other resources while the consumption of space continues the negative trend of not safeguarding the country site from over building and wild spread of housing developments. It reflects a sad state of affairs as far as urban and regional planning is concerned with the mayors mainly wishing to build and to build best done by allowing building permissions where they should not be given. The only safeguard for environmental protection are the archaeological services but which come out of the conflicts highly bruised if not themselves corrupted over time. Here then is a major source of conflict between past and present with all the vindictive spirit that it creates when certain people do not get their way.

There has to be found always a balance between what is needed concretely and what can only be achieved through cultural adaptation not only to local and regional, but also to national and international developments. For instance, cars are not built in Greece but their design and quantity over dominate the Greek society. Use of the car goes at the expense of public transport and other means of transport since the car has become ‘the’ status symbol.

To strive for cultural independence at local level seems at the very least self contradictory, if not unresolvable, especially if public administration is transformed into an instrument by which concessions to the European Union becomes the rule. It is done in order to obtain EU funding. The structural fund has, however, misled the local administration. The usual case is that they attempt to implement a mix of projects given the various different EU funding programmes. In the end all managed at one and the same time by one development agency to sideline bureaucratic regulations insofar as they operate as semi private companies. Since each project requires co-financing not available to cover all the various projects being run at the same time, the coordination and management unit is forced to shift around resources, so as to pretend real work is being done although the missing resources in the other projects means not merely delay in payment but no real work is being done. All that is reflected in a reduction of  the real purchasing power indicated by the original budget having been approved when the project application was made but which is not available in real terms since the scheme of co-financing is greatly misused. Aside from using the same money to cover the holes of the various projects, the added European value is not realized due to many budgets attempting to get around real money needed by allowing contributions in kind.

There is a major reason for this fault line to manifest itself. For while economic integration progresses (customization might be a more appropriate term) proceeds at all fronts, and which has been accelerated in Greece with the introduction of the common currency of the EURO, the European Union leaves culture in a position making it unable to challenge the economic forces set free. This one sided balance in favour of the economy is fore mostly due to the member states retaining highest priority for culture due to the subsidiarity principle. It is in reality a relict of sovereignty, while in reality it sustains the nation state at the expense of real European integration.

The EU together with all member states could still define the cultural means by which to arrive at some conclusions on how to educate its citizens and no longer leave them binded to a single nation state with which they had to identify with if they wished to stay citizens of that state. Rather they need to be recognized as citizens of Europe. The difficulty is that the European Union is not a single state as such, and, therefore, does require culture, in order to fulfil the European dimension. That would affect equally local cultural identity formations since the notion of living in Europe rather than merely in Greece would alter perspectives for all, provided the movement of people has a higher priority than the movement of commodities and services as the bread winning part of the single European market. Citizens would have to be given a chance to become responsible to the common good of Europe. That this was not done says a lot about the subsequent failures of European integration at all levels. The best indication is that many in Europe are forgetting what the founding fathers of Europe set out to do, in order to overcome conflict and reasons for war between the various European countries. 

In the twenty-first century it is hardly possible to ignore at local level this vast difference between Europe acting as a kind of mediation between the European space and all kinds of outside pressures, including those linked to Globalization, and what Europe itself represents at local level, namely a far more removed and extremely centralized public administrative entity. Public policy under EU directives and regulations is being applied without any  real understanding as to what takes place and is needed at local level. Thus it does matter if a city gives in or not to those who would cry and complain too much about the new state of affairs but ignore conveniently the tremendous efforts of the EU undertakes by making available funds for good purposes to be realized at the local level. What prevents this good implementation is a special kind of corruption, namely the 'corruption of the mind'. The agreed upon commitment in theory is never followed through in practice.

Politically speaking, it does matter what forces fight out what options at local level and still retain a sober enough analysis, in order to gain and to retain some regional importance. In the case of Volos, so the thought of local politicians, it may be achieved by becoming again an important linkage to the countries located around the Black Sea and to those countries which make up a part of the Balkan region. Certainly this Congress can inform as to what goes on in this region at the various and different levels. If Volos strives, therefore, to give a signal that it desires a development in that direction, this congress may well set the tone and pace of future development. It will be based on archaeological and historical evidence while looking at contemporary discussions about developments based on linkages by way of the sea.

No city can be outwardly orientated if the local level does not have already sufficient interests to sustain such elements in its immediate surroundings. This is said in reference to Thomas Mann who was disappointed in his city, namely Hamburg, after returning from Exile after Second World War. He discovered that the local level lacked worldliness. The world is inhabited by numerous or countless people with different interests, complex histories and longings only to be understood through many discussions, events and experiences. A city must be able to reflect this multi-cultural aspects, if it is to stay in tune with the rest of the world.

Indeed, what would happen if a local world remains provincial and cut off from the rest of the world due to applying only insular measures and thereby favouring for any king of significant job only local people? To define really what are local interests is not at all self-understood. A good example is what happened in the famous dispute between Hogarth favouring that only local artists get the public commissions while Reynolds wished to bring to London artists from Italy so as to advance in artistic expression. This kind of conflict is constantly repeated almost everywhere and any time not only at local, but likewise at national level. If not resolved properly, it leads automatically to cultural discrimination. There will be always the ones who will argue in favour of using local people, in order to maintain the local character as they also know better than anyone else what are the local factors, but they reveal thereby only an adherence to a closed market principles by means of favouritism and clientism. In the final end, that stifles all kinds of chances for further development of local workers, artists, administrators etc. provided they allow themselves to be challenged by outsiders who may have a greater love and sympathy for the city than the ones used to what is happening over and again at local level. 

These endless local conflicts of interest are the outcome of a permanent neglect of the most pertinent thing, namely how to identify sources of conflicts and ways of settle them before they block everything else. A proper identification is needed since many local disputes are an outcome of indecisions and/or of postponement of crucial decisions. The less than satisfactory solutions accepted as the best possible outcome under such circumstances is a compromise no one can live with. It provokes in turn weak local governance based on decisions which cannot be really justified and which are in reality just an admittance that there are no validated answers to the challenges ahead. Rather they reaffirm that the local level can hardly cope with the international pressure, never mind relinquish bad practices like not honouring agreements of payments. One of the biggest fault lines in this entire matter is a lack in the 'morality of payment'. Work being done without having a clue when being paid, if at all and what sum compared to the original agreed upon, is something unbelievable, but it exists as a permenant excuse of how things are done at local and even at other levels. The delays in payment are mainly due to a wish to be more clever by playing always out the ‘local’ factor instead of developing further in the direction of sound financial management based on not mere intentions and promises, but on fulfilling deeper commitments in time. Only then can there be expected a real outcome along with a sound learning process, so as to know how to improve upon things in future.

For instance, it is quite crucial if needs can be identified which cannot be provided for by local resources or given any satisfactory answer from within the local cultural. Again this would involve a very precise identification process of culture as resource when it comes to use local needs as prime orientation. But the disturbance can be felt whenever the crucial question is asked but what are the local needs. The answer given in most cases is very telling, for a concrete reply is evaded and instead the suggestion is given: "ask the people what they think. The local people."

Once a cultural measure for understanding needs of a locality is derived from a critical review of both ancient and recent history, the key question becomes how to relate consciously to the modern relationship between economy and culture being shaped by quite different factors than in the past? One can ask: "what disturbances are felt nowadays in this relationship?" Michael D. Higgins, Ireland's former Minister of Culture, would say, that culture has been pushed to the margin and is no longer a key element when it comes to formulate and to implement policy. Consequently too many forms of alienation mark human relationships nowadays. If this is true, then something has to be done to overcome the neglect of culture and in so doing counter all forms of alienation not by stroking further the fire of local feelings as if wishing to match local patriotism with a general nationalist attitude, but to become authentic and open for further going questioning of one’s own self-understanding as human being, citizen, traveller through time zones and emotional experiences.

In applying cultural measures, memories and other meanings are evoked. It can be nostalgic viewpoint insofar as looking back to the past, but by reviewing even the poem of Sefiris about the Argonauts, it may evoke further going thoughts and feelings, if it was better then or else if there is at risk to repeat but the same mistakes? The latter may well cumulate in its entirety into the making of a new Greek tragedy, if these symptoms of a crisis at a local level are overlooked at national level. That is a real risk in a country like Greece since highly centralized and run by an elite not in tune at all with the local level, but far more educated abroad and therefore affected by quite other models of success. The making of a post colonial model in Greece is, therefore, the best way to enter one crisis after another while the cultural imprint of those who survive well the next crisis will be but once again blend together the private with the public as if one individual can determine the flow of things. This cultural illusion has been restored over and again with rich ship owners making their own imprint upon society but silencing the true public in the process. It means someone like Lambrakis and his Megaron cultural complex can be compared by over enthusiastic politicians with the Acropolis of the modern era when in reality such a highly exaggerated point misses the point of how many were involved in constructing the Acropolis but not the Megaron in Athens.

Certainly the most crucial thing to be dealt with by any society is change. Greece in particular has been going through a rapid transition from a donkey driven local economy to one seeking linkages with global developments. What kind of cultural and specifically social change this entails, is not clear especially if the future is more than just uncertain due to a common lack of consistent policy applications within the given framework of law. Greek law is most progressive but only on paper. A common saying perceives the Greek law being like a Swiss cheese, that is full of holes.

All societies search for answers in how to reconcile local with international developments. The answers given by a way of life adopted leads on to missing out on the crucial changes needed in the reproduction side. Usually that is left to traditional family patters of reproduction when in fact organisations and institutions are needed in multiple forms, if society is to cope with all the changes. The very lack of mediation by sound institutions means the local politicians will seek direct contact with the politicians at national level and exert whatever pressure they can to gain something for their specific locality. That same mistake is repeated by those politicians which go to the European level where they seek to satisfy only Greek interests. That is too narrow a definition of real needs which encompass all people of all walks of life.

When parents are asked what is the best education for their children, they wish merely to avoid the Greek education system which they consider to be too heavily influenced by the Greek Orthodox church and by the politics of the day. There is no real future perspective being given to those having to learn to grow up not only with a history full of myths and legends, but how to learn out of the mistakes which have been made in the past. If not, then tragedy shall repeat itself sooner or later despite some very intelligent and competent people emerging despite all of this out of the education system. 

In other words, if sound development is to be achieved, it will require such tremendous changes which are inconceivable to be achievable by one generation alone. Time matters for the real learning process to begin. By relating to different concepts of time as conveyed, for example, by archaeologists, society learns to understand what are really achievements and most importantly what can be destroyed over time, if grave mistakes are made due to vanity and not practical wisdom ruling.

Over and again great empires and cities came and went when looking into the historical mirror. Society confronts in this glance back in time the pitfalls and mistakes it wishes to avoid, if there is indeed such a thing as learning out of the past.

Something else the opening speeches stressed: what connects people around the Black Sea and the people in Volos to all these areas is the constant movement of people. There are different reasons for that: war, economic collapses, trade, adventurism. The common pain goes with being displaced: the diaspora of the Greeks a most telling tale with Greeks being spread everywhere: South Russia, Georgia, Romania. The Colchos image stands for this phenomenon: a demographic factor that has till the present brought with it the pain of people not living at their place of origin but somewhere else. How this matter is handled politically and overcome socially, that seems to be a huge challenge to society and its kind of culture depending among other factors upon how cultural heritage is defined. Cultural heritage as memory and reminder to where one belongs to should not be used to separate people but be perceived as source of common identity with all people. Here then lie the difficulties once cultural heritage is used to delineate the belonging of people.

To bring out some common elements may, therefore, be the purpose of the Congress as it shows how the Aegean and the Black Sea have always been connected since the Argonauts set out on their expedition. Once one perceives the oars dipping as the boat gets under way and gathers speed, such reflections begin to touch upon a way of thinking when near the sea. In terms of the consciousness the Mediterranean cultures have developed a special dialogue with those countries situated around the Black Sea. It is an area rich in cultural meanings and stories outlining potentialities by which the modern risk of cultural blindness or neglect of culture per say can be overcome.

To study the area it would be useful to present the different maps which show how borders and linkages, locations of ports and cities mark the various trade routes and how things evolved over time. The congress will trace these development towards national states and therefore to the historical period starting in the 18th century and reaching from there into the present. In the archaeological perspective, it will look at the periods starting with the 16th century BC till the 5th and 4th BC - the classical age - and then touch only slightly upon what is called the Byzantine era.

Some metaphors shall be evoked to have an understanding of the land and of the sea. For boats are even taken over land to make the expedition happen, so the Argonauts as told by Pindar.

Findings that archaeologists deal with to reconstruct the past are ceramics, technology, architecture, outlay of settlements, fortifications, written materials and mythologies on display on vases and walls in the form of reliefs. These reliefs reflect a landscape made up of a tremendous dialogue between mountains and sea. Archaeologists will have to deal also with puzzling items: stones which have repeatedly three holes to create a face like image having two eyes and a nose.

But how to explain the images conjured up by these findings? How then to bring into public discussion the findings of the archaeologists? Of interest is that there already two different viewpoints prevail. The British archaeologists Dr. Alan Greaves from the University of Liverpool believes that no archaeologists will want his material be published on the Web. He explains this is a matter of copy right. Any archaeologist must aspire to publish his research findings first of all in hard copy, otherwise it goes unrecognised in the scientific community. Also he objects to making findings of his excavations be known to a larger audience. The reason he puts forth indicates an alarming state of affairs with regards to cultural heritage. It is the fear that once public attention is turned to rare findings, then the plunderers will come immediately. Looting for the sake of making a profit is more wide spread than what was recently the case in Iraq. It reflects the vulnerability of cultural heritage sites and what it means to have a global market willing to exploit everything if it has value and can be sold. As this touches upon the central question on how can cultural heritage be protected, if not through active promotion, the stand taken by Dr. Alan Greaves is of crucial importance as it evokes also a resistance against use of modern communication tools.

Quite a different approach is taken by archaeologist A. Mazarakis-Ainian, president of the department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology at the University of Thessaly. He does not mind publication on the web. He has his own website and puts materials on it one month after some findings have been discovered. He does not mind if another scientist takes one item and publishes something on it, for he will not have the same approach as himself, given the fact that he has started to dig at that place for the past.

The congress reveals already at its outset an interesting access to cultural heritage and above all there is a reminder that the community of archaeologists, anthropologists and historians need to discuss these findings in a broader context. They cannot remain in isolation for society needs to learn out of the developments in the past. This then is not merely a matter of what viewpoints shall prevail when it comes to publication versus to making things available on the internet, but also what epistemological order and use of terminology can be used to locate the common root of our cultural characteristics and thereby local and European identity.


Person speaking Materials presented by speakers at Congress Comments for possible coverage







9.30 – 9.50

Christos Dumas,

Professor emeritus, U. of Athens

What did the Argonauts bring back from Colchis?


In his lecture he focused on small details made visible by incredible archaeological findings. For instance, he shows images of a relief on vases depicting animals fleeing. In another example he begins to tell a small story: here one can see a hawk ready to take off as indicated by him lifting the feet. Beside him is a small bird. Christos Dumas images a little story to be interpreted. He thinks it is replication of some kind of initiation just as when a mother bird teaches the little ones how to fly. Above all Christos Dumas makes an astonishing assertion: he wants these findings and their images to be looked at with innocent eyes i.e. free from sexual connotations. As if he has learned to fear an over-interpretation going in the wrong direction and reinforced by misguided psychoanalytical projections upon the past. This may touch upon an enormous difficult way of looking upon the past for how to avoid resorting to such interpretations and not use ready-made categories to designate complexes still existing nowadays in our psyche and to which we wish to give archaic names e.g. Oedipus complex?

He makes one important remark about the development of the Cycladic art over the ages: over time the motif disappears and with it certain connotations; in the end only two circles or rather a ‘concentric symbol’ remains. There is an inner and an outer circle to be seen. The inner circle is marked left and right on the inside with two concentric halves. He believes this refers to the ‘pomegranate fruit’. Homer mentions it. It becomes ‘the’ symbol of the 14th and 13th B.C.

Such concentric symbols are used on vases for ritual performances, and they are only accessible to the elite. The ‘pomegranate fruit’ is both as a real fruit and as a symbol a sign of social status. The very significance of that fruit is that while being hard on the outside, it is soft and red like blood in the inside. Furthermore the fruit can be kept over a long time. Both the many seeds and its redness make the fruit into a ready symbol of fruitfulness. Nowadays the use of this fruit can still be observed at Greek weddings when smashing the fruit on the ground. According to mythology, it was Pluto who gave the fruit to Demeter.

Both pears and pomegranates are dry fruits. Their introduction into the Aegean can be traced back to early Bronze age – to the Pontis and the contacts they enjoyed at their time. Altogether this symbol is exemplified by the voyage of the Argonauts and what they aspired to bring back in order to enhance symbols of fruitfulness and of a higher status in the eyes of everyone than ever before.



What do listeners of a radio program about the Argonauts image they brought back? What versions of stories are told, and to whom, in order to create through the listeners a kind of society that will exist throughout the ages and continue to pass on the same knowledge and wisdom to future generations? But how to tell which of the stories are truer than others and can there ever be shed any light of truth upon what is being told? How does the speaker explain the myth surrounding the ‘Golden Fleece’? Was it really an expedition or something else? Certainly the fact that the boat was constructed in such a way as to get through difficult passages due to counter currents (they constructed an extra longer boat so as to increase the speed of the boat as well as the power in terms of men rowing, and remarkable was that all men were free men, not slaves), meant voyages going farther than the previous ones became possible. By going on the expedition, they could test the validity of boat in terms of construction and navigation demands but also abilities. With such a boat they took a leap forward. No wonder that the new boat affected many in mind and body. New things were possible in transport and trade.


9.50 – 10.10

Dr. Vassiliki Adrymi, director of the 13th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Mythical Iolkos and the Argonauts

how to explain the term ‘Iolkos’ and what viewpoints are reflected at official policy level when it comes to preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Will there be some demystification of the myth due to findings that contradict the overall myth and its narrative? How do archaeologists reconstruct the past and with what aim do they propose further research in areas of inquiry still in the dark due to not knowing too much how people lived back then.

What is the current situation in Greece when it comes to understanding the link between cultural policy and archaeological research, especially if the prime minister has made himself minister of culture due to the Olympics but without understanding culture and cultural needs.

This critical note can be understood best that not everything goes well inside of the Ministries. Directors have no longer the power to sign anything. There is a transition and once again Greece is exposed to the ‘continuity of discontinuity’ (Agrafiotis).


10.10 – 10.30

Prof. Hayat Erkanal,

Ankara University

The cultural and economic relations of the Izmir region with the Eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus during the Prehistory period

In a time when Turkey’s negation for EU entry has been formally announced, the ties between Greece and Turkey take on an ever greater value. Since 1999 when the earthquakes in both Turkey and Greece have brought the people together and thereby refuted images of hatred of the others, cultural bridges helping to improve relationships have been constructed in numerous ways.

An interesting question for the lecturer shall be whether the model existing then still applies in the same way to today’s realities or what modification over time has altered the model of cooperation as it existed in prehistoric times?

Here the key question shall be in reference to Prof. Baeck about the Mediterranean tradition of integrating the economy into the culture so that the ‘economy’ was equal to the household, whether this holds true and how it affected relationships then.




10.30 – 11.00


If the discussion is to be directed at all three speakers, then what the Argonauts brought back, and how to demystify the myth in order to know what was left behind or exists still there, where they were, that can provide an interesting structure.



11.00 – 11.20



Follow-up of the three speakers

Follow-up of those persons who posed interesting questions.

First reaction from the audience and especially students attending











































Second Morning Session





11.20 – 11.40

Alan Graves

University of Liverpool

Archaic Greek Colonisation of the Black Sea

In terms of European history the question is if the term ‘colonisation’ is applicable to those times in which the men setting out had another understanding of themselves. When we refer to colonization then because the home land annexes other lands with people having another culture and tradition, way of doing things. Setting out to the Black Sea meant exactly what at that time? Important is the emphasis upon ‘Archaic Greek period’.


11.40 – 12.00

Prof. Gocha Tsetskhladze, University of Melbourne


Editor in Chief, Ancient West & East (Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden); Series Editor, Colloquia Pontica (Brill Academic Publishers); Editor in Chief, Dictionary of Black Sea Antiquities (Brill Academic Publishers); Editor, History Greek Colonisation (Brill Academic Publishers); Secretary General, International Organising Committee



Centre for Classics and Archaeology

The University of Melbourne

Victoria 3010


Tel. + 61 3 83445565

FAX+61 3 83444161

Email: g.tsetskhladze@unimelb.edu.au


Greeks in the Black Sea in the Archaic and Classical Periods: Colonisation, political and social institutions and acculturation



The paper will explore the general view of Greek penetration of the Black Sea area, the image of the Black Sea in Greek mythology, the process of Greek colonization, its reason and consequences, not only for the Greeks but for the local peoples of the Pontic area as well. The political and social institutions of the colonies will be discussed. The Classical period saw changes in the appearance of the Greek colonies, as well as new social, political and economic structures. The relationship between Greeks and local peoples will be explored, as well as the trading and cultural relationships between the colonists, local peoples and the Aegean region.



See above as it entails same thematic perspective but this time from a more general viewpoint. Words like penetration suggest indeed a colonization process was definitely going on or does this entail our projection upon the past by putting it into such a scheme of colonization?


12.00 – 12.20

Prof. Revaz Pauashvili and Dr. Vakhtang Licheli, Center for Archaeological Studies, Georgian Academy of Sciences


Georgian Academy of Sciences



How would they explain the current situation in Georgian?



Would it be interesting for students of archaeology to study there?



The Aegean region and Colchis – Early relations

Here the term ‘Colchis’ appears for the first time. Important to the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece, the people of Colchis had what culture, institutions, economic structures. What myth prevailed in association with them as a sort of projection upon a reputation they had gained over time.


12.20 – 12.40

Prof. Nicolay Ovtcharov

Archaelogical Institute of Sofia

The rock city of Perperikon – Thracian capital in the Rhodope massif

Another point of entry into that period of time: a rock city! Much can be imagined but the sense of time was always in the myth of the Argonauts a travel to the end of the world where time stands still. Thus, how did the people then measure time or what sense of orientation did they have when trying to locate themselves in terms of time, space and geopolitical position. It must provoke wonder to sense people living on that rock and from there looking down to the sea and feel safe. Once this had become the capital what other activities were added to the city and how long did it exist as a capital? In the imagination there is a place for hearing the water drop or when crossing barefooted the tiled floor on the way to catch a glimpse of man’s journey through history and his or her own imaginative memory of the future. To bestow upon that future some special gifts, that would be also the whisper of a prayer as Derrida would put it, when ‘we the people want to speak to the still unknown, the future time or the time which will come to exist in our midsts.’ Sensitivizing for the speeches and thoughts of these people might entail a search for stories and songs from those times and also tales about how inscriptions upon the rocks made sense once the light feel upon them at a certain angle. Holiness and sincerity would remember the authentic streak running through the population until it came to rest in the hands of a single woman whispering her thoughts like a prayer for the future.


12.40 – 13.00

Prof. Jan Bouzek, Charles University, Praga and Dr. L. Domaradzka,

Archaeological Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Science

Emporion Pistiros on the Hebros river

What is the reference here? In what language – archaic Greek? – has this been recorded?

The meaning of the Hebros river? It is quite unusual to here references to rivers since most of the people lived by the sea as transport route and connection. Only further inland the river takes on another meaning.

Can meanings thereof be dated as existing before Homer started to collect materials for his stories?


13.00 – 13.30














First Afternoon session





17.00 – 17.20

Prof. Michael Vickers. University of Oxford

Dr. Eminar Kakhidze.

Director of the Archaeological Museum of Batumi


Pichvnari: a Greek settlement in Colchis of the fifth century B.C.

Focal point: Colonisation in practice, in an area and time in which the archaic period was left behind and Classical Greece started to emerge. What influence did this have upon the settlement and what developments did this lead to on the basis of what knowledge, trade, agriculture and culture?

Could we say here the Mediterranean culture was transformed by being located in the Black Sea and thereby enriched but also weakened differently? What was, for example, the literacy level, the role of the theatre, the understanding of philosophy and what rituals for which Gods were followed in terms of pagan interpretations of religious rites instead of proper Rights and what was the main linkage to Ancient Greece in the Aegean: Volos, or Athens or superseded by a coalition of cities?

Archaeologists will denote the kings and the free men compared to the common people and who had not a royal burial place, but will they find that other rules prevailed in such settlement compared to what was the practice back home – if the colonization is taken to be an extension of the already known in till then unknown territories.









17.20 – 17.40

Dr. Dimitris Paleothodoros, University of Thessaly

The diffusion of Attic Red-Figured Pottery in the Black Sea region

Findings – drawings – evidence of a dissemination of culture whereby in the Argonaut book these potteries are depicted as vases showing the Argonauts



Nikos Tsaknis, Trophies of the Argonauts, Volos 2004












17.40 – 18.00

Dr. Mikhalt Treister, Freie University Berlin

4th century BC Bronze Hydriai of the’Patras Group’ in the North Pontic area

Does this mean, as referred to above, that other cities were involved, for what is the Patras group? One needs to know the map of the Greek city states and what would unify and divide them.

As this is one century later, we enter the great period of Athens but also the downfall due to the Peloponnesian war.

Now, Pericles took possession of a treasury meant for several city states and claimed it to be the property of Athens by putting it up on the Acropolis.

Since there are always riddles and mysteries surrounding certain kinships, loyalties, the social and religious clashes were not referred to so much as the conflict of interest touches interfaces between cities. To be born free meant to be a citizen of the city but what else worked in the background to attempt a larger unity?

There is reference to Delphi and to Olympia as well as to some common grounds in athletics and craftsmanship.

The artistic component stretches how far and what did it really comprise of as example of ‘learning to live a life worthwhile to remember or even to envision still in future times’.

Alone if these achievements precede the Roman Baths, then civilization meant then as perhaps still now a certain luxury, a refinement of taste, wine, flowers in the garden and above all knowing where your loyalties are or more important what identity to take one, what not.


18.00 –


Dr. Catherine Morgan,

Head of the Department of Classics, King’s College London

Attic pottery in the Taman peninsula, South Russia: What, When and Why?

Diffusion or dissemination – what cultural links are being created and how come all the way to South Russia: the stories of the Black Sea need to be told, they are not really known and still if one does not have a map – the ancient and the contemporary to compare – one does not understand territories linked to historical developments and how they shaped their own destinies over time. Pottery is what survives the ages and these findings give archaeologists in turn clues about life then but can we read and decipher really well those figurative speeches? What is a classical ambient and what techniques are connected with pottery since the story of the kilt is here most important. Also colours that come out of the fire still glowing red!


18.20 – 18.40



Since no discussion what are informal talks indicating how the Congress is going?



Second afternoon session






18.40 – 19.00

Iphigeneia Leventi,

Lecturer of the University of Thessaly

A Classical Relief from Pantikapaion (Kertch) and Eleusinian Cult in the Periphery of the Greek world

The approach taken to history through archaeology and therefore to Ancient Greece is of course a part of a reoccurring revival in Western Civilization when in times of war and pessimism Western societies need to be reminded of their roots.


In modern terms, culture is at the periphery and therefore Michael D. Higgins points out that ‘In from the Margin’ (Council of Europe Study with Rod Fisher involved) never became a conscious policy.


How then to reflect a classical relief given all the usual patterns of associations and misinterpretations which have lead to all kinds of Nationalism instead of a revitalization of European cultures?


Where does the bearer of man stand? Why uphold a shield when the Goddess speaks to thee? Is it a riddle or just the limits of man when he cannot stand the pain anymore?

(see Pindar’s poem)


19.00 – 19.20

Yvon Garlan,

Prof. emeritus, University of Rennes

Trade in amphorae in ancient Greece between the Aegean and the Black Sea in the Classical and Hellenistic periods

By dating now this period as a transition from the Classical to the Hellenistic one motive to be examined is the pantheism or pre-concepts of some kind of Nationalism. That is to say what is not well developed and becomes an attempt at unity while not dealing really with the complexity of man. For citizenship becomes exclusive. The stranger figures in almost all speeches.

There is the thesis about developments in writing making possible a new linguistic structure and thereby alters perception leading to the development towards the free standing sculpture: the three dimensional space configured as a more accurate reflection of the human being. But in Hellenism this figure reflects inner sentiments as outer reality is dominated by war and therefore clouds perceptions and judgements.


What other things mark that transition?


City instead of settlement


Gods and religious rituals




Reform process


Democracy versus other political forms


Universal Rights



19.20 –


Dr. Argyroula Intzesiloglou,

Director of the Archaeological Institute for Thessalonian Studies

“…wine is imported into Pontus from our parts, from Peparethos…”

Demosthenes, C. Lacritos, XXXV 35)



19.40 – 20.10


- followed by exhibition opening


What summary can be made after the first full day:

Structure of the Congress needs to be reviewed


What did different speakers highlight upon?


How do we approach such a past?

Has it any similarities with our present life?

Can we say here lies already the roots of using cultural heritage for nationalist purposes?







First Morning session

9.30 – 9.50

Prof. Ivan Rusev, Department of Balkan History, University of Varna 9000


Tel. 00359 52





The Eastern Question and the beginning of consular penetration into Bulgarian ports on the Black Sea (18th – 19th century)

There is a jump in the time sequence from 5 and 4th Century B.C. to 18th and 19th century A.D.

The term ‘penetration’ is used and this especially with regards to ‘ports’ (see project by Claude Richard and the special cultural composition in ports)

Another important question is when does the division between the West and the East mean literally also the Occident and the Orient.

Since Marco Polo or Goethe’s “Eastern Divan”, projections upon the East have been esoteric, full of erotic projections and distortion of real affinities and distances.

There is the famous saying by Foucault, anyone returning from there and after having crossed the Bosphorus, will come home confused.

The Balkans, the Far East, the Middle East etc. all seem to be put at a distance from Central Europe and what became known as the Western World.

The current discussion about Turkey’s entry into the EU focuses on a similar dilemma: no one knows any more who are the enlightened and progressive elements in Western Society and what would be a real reform so as to overcome the classical pitfalls of diplomacy resorting to the creation of an outer enemy in order to retain inner unity.

But before turning attention to Turkey, there is Bulgaria.








9.50 – 10.10

Dr. Shtelian Sterionov, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Centre for Population Studies


Str. Acad. G. Bontchev,

bl. 6, fl. 6

Sofia 1113

Tel. +359 2


GSM 98 444019





Demographic aspect of the Greek ethnic presence in the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast during the Bulgarian national revival period



The present research, based on the available source material in the Bulgarian and Greek archives, and after generalizing the available historiography on the problem, delineates the demographic dynamics of the ethnic Greek population that inhabited the North Bulgarian Black Sea coast during the Bulgarian National Revival.


Presentation will be in Greek language

The main stream of nationalism is the creation of a ‘we’-entity in terms of only certain people belonging to a specific territory. The blending of these two are described as unique characteristics so that they are set apart from those of other countries and their people. The cultural delineation of mankind had started a long time before the nation states started to be created in the wake of a Romanticism in which wake there followed adventurism and freedom fighters. Liberation meant overthrowing the repressive power but not realizing a larger unit in which world governance was envisioned in accordance with the universal Rights of man. It is hard to imagine such a solution (see Robert Payne in his discussion of the reasons for the failures behind Alexander the Great as being no philosophy ever going further than the polis, the city state and the definition of single citizenship.) By the 18th and 19th century Nationalism goes hand in hand with the state philosophy as expounded upon most explicitly by Hegel, but entailed already in Cavour, Hobbes, Adam Smith etc.

As a matter of fact, what convergence between archaeological findings,. Social anthropology and the history of political thought can be ascertained by these different contributions, given the background of European integration and expansion. If Hegel said the bourgeoisie state has no alternative to expansion, what is then the case of Europe today and how to review then the make-up of Nationalism and Nation States in the 18th and 19th century? What is Bulgaria’s modern self understanding at the verge of entry into the EU?


10.10 – 10.30

Andreas Lyberatos, research-historian, Associate of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Rethymno

Between war and trade: Remarks on the political constitution and social composition of the Christian Orthodox Community of Varna (19th century)

Interesting for it touches upon the interrelationship of war and trade with so often the contradiction not realized by anyone involved at that time in both. In the Ancient Times the Olympic Truce was a method to let through goods at least during that time while the reasons for war around those times have been little researched.

One may also be reminded of Stefan Zweig’s account about th fall of Constantinople and the loss of the Orthodox supremacy in the East. This happened already in the 15th century. How do Orthodox Communities survive through the ages and still retain today their identities and special understandings of communities?

Varna is an interesting focal point as well: what can be learned about Varna through this lecture?



10.30 –


Assoc. Prof. Varban Todorov,

The Institute of Balkan Studies, Bulgaria

The fate of Varna’s antiquities. An episode of Greek-Bulgarian relations at the end of the 19th century

How does it complement the lecture above and add to our knowledge about Varna? What Greek-Bulgarian relations exist?


10.50 - 11.10

Assoc. Prof. Paraskeva Konortas, University of Thessaly

The Greek-Orthodox element in Eastern Rumelia (late 19th – early 20th century: Demographic approximations)

Principal of Identification is the Orthodox religion till today, but how does it manifest itself in developments since 19th century?


11.10 –


Discussion + break until 12.00





Second Morning Session





12.00 – 12.20

Prof. Olga Cicanci, University of Bucharest School of Archaeonomy, Romania

Relations between the Black Sea and Aegean regions through the Greek Diaspora from the Romanian territories (17th – 19th century)

Here the highlights linked to a tragedy in the making and why suddenly the term ‘diaspora’ emerged after all the movement in Ancient Times and the coming back and forth of people.

Where does the term originate from? Does it mean only being dispelled from your home land or does it mean being abroad, outside the home land, and this without any clear affinity to and therefore state protection by the home land?

Unifying elements are religion and language, but is that enough to create a binding cultural element?

Often stress is put upon the common cultures of the Mediterranean countries but does the same apply to the countries of the Black Sea? Can it be said that they have a common history?

Where is the thread in the Congress when tracing things back to the times of the Argonauts but now focusing much more on the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and what evictions of people developments in those times provoked and caused.


In looking at the Rumanian territory, when did this state emerge and how would its development be characterized?







12.20 – 12.40

Prof. Anton Beziris, Dean of Navigation Faculty, Romania

Hellenic Settlements and Ports on the East Coast of the Black Sea. The present territory of Romania: Tomis (Constanta).

With Alexis we talked about the navigation techniques the Argonauts used. People living along coastal areas have always these amazing sailing and navigation skills. One wonders how they found their way. Naturally and at the same time ports were haven of safety from the sea and other dangers. They were pivot points and control centres along the transport routes.

One thing missing in the Congress is reference to the Italian Renaissance and the time when Italian cities dominated the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Venice, Genoa had for instance a set of ports under their auspices, traces of which can be found in Chania, Crete as elsewhere. These Venetian castles and other architectural features lay the groundwork for future ports and how they function. It would be of interest to know what cultural heritage in building port cities was preserved or destroyed after the 15th century and only some of it was regained much later on when cultural heritage took on a new value.

Also from Genoa it is known that the dialectic of capital was during economic recessions in ships while good trade meant re-investment in land and property. The fluctuation left an imprint upon the mentalities and thus they are not so inspirational to us now as where the people during the period of the Argonauts and leading up to Classical Greece. But if this is incorrect in terms of receptivity of both history and cultural heritage, then what stands in the way of such notions as what has been achieved until now on Rumanian territory?


12.40 –


Iakovos Aktsoglou, lecturer of Demokritos University of Trace

Information on the Province (vilayet) of Trabzon from its official Yearbook (Salname) for the year 1296 AH (AD 1879)

Given the questions above this might be like a case study. What existed at that time and why this specific year?

Germany had just become a nation (1871) and Greece was already one since 1821.

The industrial revolution was in full swing.

Technology began to be felt in everything, including transportation.



13.00 –




Which viewpoints will dominate in the discussion?

Will there be sufficient interest in Bulgaria, Rumania, Southern Russia?

Can the Western European glance of these countries be presented in what way?

Simon Mundy speaks in his history of Europe about different rivers feeding today’s cultural self-understanding, what would he say has governed over time the relationship between Europe and the Balkan countries – the countries of the Black Sea?

Given the impact of history and geopolitical location, why is the need for Modernism a far outcry from what is happening in reality? What are the ‘archaic’ and ‘orthodox’ structures that resist the transition to modernity and even if modern times are introduced, what is their cultural impact upon not only the way of life but on the models and assumptions used for negotiations.



First Afternoon session





17.00 –


Prof. Vasilis Kardasis,

University of Crete

Economic Activity and social behaviour of the Greeks in Southern Russia, 18th century – early 20th century

In reference to the anthropologist Michael Polanyi and also to the economic historian Baeck, a distinction between primitive, archaic and modern economies were made also in terms of complexity, distribution and decision carriers used to regulate the flow of economic goods.

When we speak about ‘social behaviour’ resulting out a peculiar way of trading, producing, selling of goods while attempting to govern in a certain way that is no publically accessible, then the kind of state created is not really democratic but based on elites, if not aristocrats, land owners, ship owners etc. As in Ancient Times, citizen of the polis was not everyone and therefore the political self understanding did not correspond to the culture of the Ancient Greek times activated by critical insights what would go wrong if not the proper measures for the tasks ahead . It would mean constantly reform processes were blocked or else circumvented or undermined to retain the old power formation, international pressure withstanding.



17.20 – 17.40

Evridiki Sifnaiou, research historian, NHRF and

Vasilis Kolonas, architect, Assoc. Prof., University of Thessaly

The Greek contribution to the building of Odessa

Focus on a specific achievement as representative of what are the inherent potentials of a society means showcasing culture, but how many resources does that cost at the neglect of so many other reforms needed in view of social plight and economic poverty.

What does Odessa stand for today?



17.40 – 18.00

Carmen Popescu, architectural historian, associate researcher “Andre Chastel” Laboratory, Paris IV – Sorbonne


Architectural historian


7, rue de la Mare

Paris 75020


Tel. 0033 0 1

431 50963




In search of roots: Romanian Black Sea Coast architecture in the interwar period



Departing from 1920 the architecture in Romania captures the Mediterranean spirit. It links the city with the production as inspired by a new tendency characterizing developments around the Black Sea. This production was brought to Greece in 1933 while at the same time it became known in their works as Greek configurations.

Does interwar period mean 20th century?

Principles of architecture then, and what is still preserved today, given all the destruction of cultural heritage, especially in terms of buildings.


18.00 – 18.20

Dr. Ada Dialla, researcher at University of Athens Historical Archive

Minority education and state policy: The Greeks of Southern Russia (late 19th century)

Again a special case is being examined but always under the guiding principle of the Greek diaspora and how they are treated in other states.

Education is a double issue: language and religion as the two key elements by which identity and linkage to the homeland is maintained. The question would be under what other influences this education has come? There is the movement towards socialist education or else other reform ideas were making their influence felt at the end of the 19th century, or is the educational idea still formed by the idea as to what allows the settling in a Greek community? Similar problems exist even today in the United States i.e. how Greek education is safeguarded and promoted in the Greek community centres and still under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Church. What about learning to live in another determined way, as Derrida would have put it? Can you foster integration in the respective other land and still maintain your cultural ties to Greece? Home country?

Education is certainly a tool!


18.20 – 18.40

Dr. Kira Kaurinkoski, member of the French School of Athens


Ecole francaise d’Athenes

Didotou 6,

Athens 10680



Tel. 003 0

210 3679954

697 6068170





From the former Soviet Union to Greece: Post-perestroika immigrants of Greek origin and their relationship with the nation.



1945 160 000 persons of Greek origin leave the Soviet Union for Greece.

They demand Greek citizenship. Special legislation was passed to facilitate their re-integration i.e. to obtain identity card.

1990 establishment of National Foundation for these Greeks (ΕΙΥΑΡΟΕ)

under the guidance of the Greek Foreign Ministry.

1990 ‘ 1999 efforts were made to settle these Greeks especially in Northern Greece.

Still, all measures taken fall under harsh criticism.

They are a heterogenous group (Pontiacs, refugees from Asia Minor, etc.)

In reflecting upon their history, traces back to Ancient Greece and to the turmoils they went through, she proposes to speak about their notions of Greek identity and what rapport they have with the Greek state.

In continuity of the thoughts expressed just above, many of the Greeks who ended up in the Soviet Union went there due to their Communist belief or later they fled the Civil War and its Aftermaths. There are different waves of immigrants connected to a political ideal which took shape in the minds of the Greeks especially of the Left and who had wanted to overcome the repressive structures in joining forces with the Communist Party. The mentalities of these people must be similar to what Peter Weiss describes in “Aesthetics of Resistance” and what is known from people who did return. There is literature about this and it gives an idea under what illusions but also idealism they attempted to transcend everything: state, family, the conflicts of the past all while becoming bitter rivals of not only the Right, but of people in their own ranks who they believed to have betrayed the cause while others who broker earlier with Communism took a very different perspective e.g. Camus and Sartre with the latter siding with Communism until 1956 when Hungary was invaded. Until Gorbatshov came there was still Prag 1968, the different outbreak in Hungary, Poland and finally in East Germany ending in 1989. The pain and the belief in man was something no one could bear any more. Manes Sperber calls it ‘the tear in the ocean’. Many disappeared or were frightened into silence.



18.40 –






19.10 / 19.30





19.30 – 20.15

Closure of proceedings

Scientific Committee members

V. Adrymi and P. Konortas




Exhibition in the new wing of the Archaeological Museum of Volos

Games and Sports in Ancient Thessaly”

To be reviewed extra also in terms of future outlooks of Volos after having been one of the five Olympic Cities during Athens 2004


See also the excellent publication of the

Trophies of the Argonauts” by Nikos Tsaknis








1 For further information about Volos see www.i-politismos.gr)

2 The same question applies also the Ancient Greek dramas; although their texts are preserved, no one knows really how they were spoken and therefore interpreted by the times when played for the first time.

3 It was Albert Camus who said “to hope is to resign and to live is not to resign”.

^ Top

« Greece | Ten steps out of the crisis by Hatto Fischer »