The following text summarizes the work of the Parrhasian Heritage Park initiative conducted during summer 2012. A full color version of the brochure with Greek and English text, photographs and maps can be downloaded here.
The Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos - Park Planning Efforts 2012
Heritage Park Funding
2012 has seen many changes to funding of heritage management initiatives in the European Union, with the merging or closing of many important granting agencies. New approaches need to be adopted to qualify for future heritage management grants including application via the formation of an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) or by by targeting grants that touch upon a diverse array of research areas.
The Parrhasain Heritage Park planning efforts have focused on creating support from a broad- based alliance that highlight the diversity found within the park. The alliance is also comprised of committees representing these diverse areas and works together as a single entity, for which the creation of an NGO is recommended as part of future planning efforts.
During the summer of 2012 efforts continued toward the creation of the Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos as Greece’s first large scale cultural heritage park. Civic and community leaders working together with the Ministry of Culture and the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project, under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, made progress towards the greater Park concept.
Meetings with local community and civic groups in Arcadia and in Athens continued to build the political and social framework for the creation of the Park. One meeting in particular was held in Athens on June 22, a meeting of the Greater Lykosouras Society at which the society pledged support for the Park and asked to take a leadership role in its creation.
On July 20, at the celebration of Profitis Elias on the southern peak of Mt. Lykaion, by invitation of Father Stamatis, an update on the progress of the Park was given to the assembled group by D.G. Romano. The opening of a portion of the Trail of Zeus from Ano Karyes to the hippodrome at the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion was undertaken and completed this past summer. We also held a public meeting in Megalopolis in order to discuss the progress that has been made in the past 12 months.
Under the direction of D.G. Romano, M.E. Voyatzis, M. Davison and X. Valle, four students, D. Gruberg, D. Maxwell, P. Playdon, and M. Pihokker together with T. Xristeas, President of the village of Xastanochoroi, the study and design of the trail, the trail creation, and the installation of trail signs were all completed.
Grassroots WiFi Networks
The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project and its related initiative, the Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos, have had many technical challenges over the past seven years. In particular, both projects have had the need for Internet connectivity for participating students and scholars working in the field but have had great difficulty providing a reliable, cost effective solution.
In 2010, discussions started with a group that provides academic institutions with high-speed Internet connectivity in the European Union. Dante, Géant2 and the Greek division GRNET, have been discussing approaches to provide connectivity to the rugged and remote location of Mt. Lykaion. Although many plans were discussed, nothing was implemented due to logistical, financial, and political considerations.
In 2012, the Mayor of Megalopolis, Dr. Takis Bouras, independently implemented a wireless network in the NE quadrant of the Parrhasian Heritage Park, surrounding the archaeological site of Mt. Lykaion originating from the town hall in Megalopolis. With the generous assistance of Mr. Elias Angelopoulos, this grassroots initiative now provides free Internet access to the Greek community in seven villages and covers 70 square kilometers. The villages include Ano Karyes, Xastanochoroi, Isioma Karyon, Lykaio, Vastas, and Isari, all linked with the city of Megalopolis. An independent initiative such as this strengthens the project’s relationship with the Greek community and also provides appropriate infrastructure for future enhancement with our EU colleagues at GRNET, Dante, and Géant2.
The Parrhasian Heritage Research Center
As our plans for the proposed Parrhasian Heritage Research Center continue to evolve, David Romano and Ximena Valle had the opportunity this past summer to meet with Dr Takis Bouras, Mayor of Megalopolis, along with engineers and officials to discuss a possible site for the Research Center. Also discussed were recent upgrades to building codes and new guidelines for the design and construction of sustainable buildings in Greece.
Printed on May 9th of this year, the new guidelines fit very well with our vision for the research center, a building that would be self-sustaining, sited to obtain maximum benefit from both sun and wind, and that would serve to educate and promote sustainable means and methods of construction.
As planned, the research center will be a hub for the development of the Park, and as such, its location must meet several prerequisites – accessibility, proximity to other archaeological sites as well as to the future archaeological Museum in Megalopolis, and facilities to accommodate its visitors. The proposed site would provide the space required for the current planed program and supported activities. The 4,500 square foot (420 square meter) center would include a research lab, preservation and photography lab, three offices, a classroom and event space, a library, and living spaces for 6 – 8 scholars.
A location in Megalopolis has been proposed for the construction of this building and negotiations are currently underway for obtaining this site. Our donor to the Parrhasian Heritage Research Center, Ms. Annette Merle-Smith, visited Megalopolis this summer, met with the Mayor Dr. Takis Bouras, and was taken on a tour to the possible location of the Research Center in Megalopolis. Subsequently other places in Megalopolis have been suggested as possible locations for the construction of the Research Center.
We continue to receive enthusiastic support from the Mayor’s office in Megalopolis and from our partners in Greece. Together, we look forward to construction of the Research Center as a common place for community outreach, international collaboration, education, and research that is essential to our work.
Second Parrhasian Field School 2012
Trail Building in the Park
This year the field school included local residents and American graduate students working together to create a new trail in the Parrhasian Heritage Park. Over a period of three weeks the team built a section of the Trail of Zeus, a new trail that will, when completed, run around the base of Mount Lykaion. One of the objectives of the second Parrhasian Heritage Field School was to teach community planning and heritage park management. This brought together Greek and US scholars, professionals, and students to learn principles of park planning and to share ideas and better understand the Parrhasian landscape. The conclusion of the field school was the opening of the second trail of the park, from the village of Ano Karyes to the Hippodrome area of the Sanctuary of Zeus. Community leaders as well as local political dignitaries took part in the trail opening.
As anticipated, this summer afforded the opportunity to install the first signs for the Parrhasian Heritage Park. Working with a Greek company, a total of five signs were installed on rail ties supplied by the local Mayor’s office. The trailheads and wayfinding signs installed along the Trail of Zeus are part of a larger overall Park system of signs which will be installed in following years.
Future Park Planning
Future trail planning efforts will focus on completing the two inaugural trails, The Trail of Zeus and the Trail of Pan. These trails will connect to a network of trails around Mt Lykaion that will link the villages of Neda, Ano Karyes, and Kotilion. In addition, it is hoped a trail from the Ancient City of Trapezous that will link to the Ash Altar at the southern summit of Mt Lykaion can be restored.
A comprehensive program for adding signs to trails is being developed, and will be implemented next year. Currently funds are being raised for the construction of signs for the two inaugural trails. As the trails begin to be used by locals and guests of the park accommodations will be needed. To this end, planning will begin for villages to provide housing, wilderness huts in remote areas, and camping facilities in the region, to create a world class visitor experience for those wanting to enjoy the Parrhasian landscape.
As the park develops the framework planning for park infrastructure will continue to develop. There will also be events and programs, promoted by the local citizens as part of their cultural identity. We continue to seek to include interested villages, communities and civic leaders from Elis and Messenia as well as from Arcadia to fulfill the promise of the Parrhasian Heritage Park, which includes aspects of all three prefectures.