Diary, 21/07/18 — Epirus

#pubarchMED will take me to the north of Greece too, and the case studies focus on archaeological heritage, but a short trip to Zagori made me think about posting some thoughts about the relation cultural-natural after realising some common issues and diferences between this amazing region of Greece and the area around my village.

Signs in Konitsa

 

The National Park “Aoos – Vikos” is located in the region of Epirus, close to the border with Albania. It has been a transit region for centuries, with a very rich history (and archaeology), but today the focus is on the Geopark—with its UNESCO label. As a natural area it is truly amazing, with big contrasts and hidden spectacular corners. Somehow it reminded me to Sierra de Francia, my own hometown in Spain, although the differences are huge. However, there was another interesting aspect to this visit that I would like to address here; management.

When we speak about archaeological heritage management, landscape is one of the main issues to take into account. However, landscape is usually understood in very different ways, and I still recall an episode trying to cut an oak in the edge of an excavation in my village that cost us a lot. It is not only the differences on legislation, but also in the ways culture and nature interact. If we consider traditional practices as part of the archaeological landscape, they have mostly been mowed in the name of protection. Sometimes in a very radical way that is affecting the survival itself of the protected landscape —for example in terms of forest management and fire prevention.

This is the case in Zagori from my perspective, but it is an issue I ‘cannot’ address from the project (through interviews) because it is not understood as an archaeological item and, so, not managed from the archaeological authority. Even the archaeology in the area has been little. But, the old management of communal forests, or the expected new management of fire prevention are not present in what should be a priority for the conservation of the geopark. What does UNESCO say? Maybe I can ask them… I should.

So, the reflection for these days has to do with the concept itself of archaeology (old debate) and the extent of archaeological management with its ties to other fields. New challenges!

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