Business as usual? Byzantine road investigation underway
In recent months, hikers on the Byzantine road between Lefkes and Prodromos in Paros have noticed a disturbing sight: an excavator parked in the middle of the landmark road, next to a break in the stone wall. The Byzantine road, at one time the primary way to get in and out of Lefkes, is popular with tourists who enjoy hiking and history. The road is paved with marble stones and lined by picturesque stone walls. Its exact vintage is unknown.
On 31 March, Paros Life photographed the site, which is just west of the footbridge, about ten minutes east of Lefkes by foot. According to locals, the break is a few years old and the excavator is being used to cultivate adjacent fields. It’s unclear how or why the break appeared. Paros Life reported the matter to the authority responsible for Byzantine artefacts, a section of the national archaeological service in Athens. It was dubbed an official complaint.
According to a Lefkes resident, there have been dirt roads in those hills for years and in the old days, donkeys were used to carry olives and other cargo up the roads. Now the residents prefer to use motor vehicles. The excavator is an eyesore and should be removed, the resident said. Another resident said the broken wall should be repaired.
“For me, this road is an archaeological monument,” said the second resident. “You can’t just go in and smash everything down.”
Maria Triandafillou, president of the Lefkes community, said she was unaware of any meddling with the road and that any such work required the permission of the Byzantine authority in Athens.
On 15 April, Ikaterini Dellaporta, the head of the authority responsible for Byzantine artefacts, sent a notice to the Paros police stating that any meddling with the Byzantine road constitutes a violation of archaeological law 3028/02, and asking them to investigate. The Byzantine authority had no comment at press time about the status of the investigation. The excavator was still parked on the road as of 25 April.
Parts of the Byzantine path have been neglected, especially the section from the single-arch bridge to Prodromos, Giorgos Pavlakis, the president of the Federation of Parian Societies (OPAS), said in an interview. Bushes and branches have covered sections of the road, and tractors are reportedly using the road as a shortcut to adjoining plots of farmland, he said. The need for preserving Paros’s historical monuments, including the Byzantine trail, will be discussed at an OPAS meeting planned for 16 May in Athens, according to Pavlakis.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any information about the excavator or the break in the road.