Opinion By Lucie Robson,
If the Antiquities Department is, as recent media reports hint, lackadaisical with its recording of some finds, I can almost hardly blame them.
Years ago, I did a series of reports on the history of Paphos which covered the era of the first settlers from what is now Greece to the end of British rule in 1960. I told the story through the rich ancient sites and architecture of each era.
One thing I learned is that there are so many sites that scores are not even popularly known about. The Persian siege remains and mysterious, pristine tombs located in a hillside close to Kouklia are just two that come to mind.
How can each of them and their contents be catalogued with a small local antiquities unit? Lord, one of my friends even has a glassed-off floor area on the ground floor of her apartment block which reveals some ancient remains. They’re everywhere!
On the whole, I found the local antiquities authorities helpful and accommodating as I researched each area. They gave me access permission where necessary and allowed me to snoop around. Plenty of well-trained archaeologists who clearly love the subject and are now manning some of the better-known sites in the ticket booths generously shared their knowledge with me and showed me remains I would never have found myself.
But, it also taught me, that there is always one member of antiquities staff who positively thinks they were there when Aphrodite’s Temple was being built and perhaps even directed its construction.
I have come across enough to have formed an opinion that this person is usually some sort of chief and their arrogance and high-horse attitude about their position is insufferable.
The feud between Paphos Municipality and the Department of Antiquities that has surfaced this week brought it all to mind again.
In the course of the building works in central Paphos, some more ancient remains have been uncovered. To cut a long red-tape story short, the ensuing wrangle over the time archaeologists would take to investigate versus the time spent paying for waiting for this to happen has resulted in Mayor Fedonas Fedonos accusing the unit staff of sticky fingers when it comes to some of the finds.
Antiquities Department Director Marina Solomidou-Ieronimidou has, rightly, taken umbrage about this and demanded proof from the mayor that her staff are thieves.
How this will pan out is another story, but two threats from one of the antiquities chiefs to get Fedonos arrested over trying to halt an archaeological dig for a few hours while cables were laid, reminded me of how pompous and obnoxious some of these antiquities officials can be.
Indeed, none of you antiquities staff were there when Aphrodite’s Temple was being built and neither did you direct its construction. Ancient sites and finds belong to the island. You merely have the privilege of being their custodian. Please don’t forget this.
Opinion By Lucie Robson,