A long-term vision for the ancient quarries tinted with realism.
The non-profit organisation “Paros Ancient Marble Quarries Park” was launched on 12 July 2022 with the aim to promote and support the protection of the ancient marble quarries and the creation of an archaeological and cultural park in Marathi. Six local associations were behind this initiative. The organisation acts in close consultation with them and with the relevant public authorities, notably the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Paros.
The organisation is driven by the ambition to overcome years of neglect of this unique monument and has a long-term vision of achieving its recognition as a World Heritage site. It is action-oriented rather than focused on expressing opinions and acknowledges that many, often small, steps will need to be taken by various public and other bodies and individuals to progressively achieve the goal of safeguarding the future of the ancient underground quarries and promoting them globally.
Since the launch event in July, we have made a start creating a website that brings together extensive information and knowledge about the protection and promotion of the ancient quarries, and we are making, albeit slow, progress in improving the signage of the archaeological area in Marathi.
Our Top Priorities
1- The stability of the underground galleries
This is of paramount importance, especially in the case of the Nymphs’ quarry, in some sections of which geotechnical instabilities have been detected, raising concerns about the stability of the galleries and the safety of visitors.
This matter is the exclusive responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and we are pleased that the necessary actions have started after a long period of preparatory work by the Ephorate of Cyclades Antiquities and ourselves. The first phase involves a 3D digital topographic survey and a geological investigation of the underground galleries by the National Technical University of Athens and is in progress with our practical support.
We are currently working on preparing the second phase, including the necessary fundraising. This is a crucial step as it will involve the assessment of the stability risks and will specify any necessary support to prop up sections of the galleries or other remedial measures. Both phases are expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
Photos from the field work at the ancient quarries of the team of professor V. Marinos from the National Technical University of Athens.
2- The issue of ownership
The underground quarries belong to the Greek state, but the surface land of the archaeological area is in different private ownerships. The expropriation of key parcels of land by the Ministry has been progressing very slowly.
During the summer, the ownership issue attracted considerable publicity due to the proposal of the company that operates the neighbouring quarries to acquire the parcel of land that includes the entrance to the Nymphs’ quarry. This proved controversial as many Parian organisations saw a conflict of interest in this company’s intervention, considering that its operation potentially poses risks to the stability of the underground galleries. In August, the Municipal Council resolved to pursue the option of the long-term leasing of the land as the most feasible solution.
Our organisation is in touch with all sides – Ministry, Municipality and private owners – to provide practical support, including through legal advice and fundraising, to break the deadlock and get the land into public ownership the soonest as possible.
3- The master plan
There is a clear need for an agreed strategic framework regarding creating the archaeological and cultural park in the designated archaeological area in Marathi. We have proposed to build on previous studies, extending and adapting them to make the underground quarries the main focus of the park and we envisage a participative process and extensive public consultation.
The General Strategic Plan (master plan) will determine the uses of land and buildings, the circulation scheme for pedestrians and vehicles, and will propose appropriate activities for the park as well as digital solutions. It will also establish the specifications of the sub-projects that are necessary for the creation of the park. The implementation of the plan, such as the opening of sections of underground galleries to visitors, the creation of a visitors’ centre, etc. will go hand-in-hand with the acquisition of property rights over land and buildings and securing the necessary funding.
We have done the preparatory work to launch this exercise and are working on obtaining the agreement of the Ministry of Culture and finalising the required funding from donors, hoping to kick off before the end of this year.
How can you help?
Everyone is invited to help the project of the ancient quarries with his.her enthusiasm, knowledge or financial support.
You are welcome to join us as “Friends” or “Members”.
Full members may be assigned specific responsibilities.
We are currently looking for:
- “Schools’ programme organiser”
- “Visits organiser”.
As a non-profit organisation, we depend on the financial contributions of our members and friends to cover the costs of ongoing activities such as travel expenses of specialist experts, minor improvements to the site to help the visitors and the further development of our website as the repository of knowledge for the ancient quarries. Donations can be made directly to our bank account – see HERE
More substantial amounts are needed to implement actions regarding the stability of the underground galleries, the ownership of the land, and the strategic plan for the archaeological and cultural park. Specifications and provisional budgets are available for these actions. All those who would like to discuss the possibility of a donation are welcome to get in touch with a board member.
Visit the archaeological area of the ancient quarries in Marathi
The next visit is planned for Saturday, 26 November, at 14:30, co-organised with the Friends of Paros & Antiparos.
Our next event for the Ancient Quarries: 27 November 2022 (provisional date)
We are planning a local event in Parikia on Sunday, 27 November, at 19:00 (provisional date) to inform and discuss with the local organisations and the people of Paros the efforts for safeguarding the ancient quarries and creating an archaeological and cultural park in Marathi. We expect to include a briefing on the progress of the geological investigation by Professor Vassilis Marinos and to exchange ideas on the master plan of the archaeological and cultural park before its launch.