Switzerland’s ambassador to Greece has spoken of the “intense collaboration” between the two countries when it comes to archaeology.
Speaking earlier this week Hans-Rudolf Hodel noted the close cooperation between Greece and Switzerland in archaeology during a presentation of the latest finds in an excavation undertaken by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (ESAG) on the island of Evia.
Speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) on the research, Hodel said “archaeology constitutes a privileged field of intense collaboration between the two countries”.
The envoy said Swiss archaeologists are concentrating on the island of Evia, where they have been unearthing and restoring the remains of Ancient Eretria since 1964.
ESAG works in close collaboration with the Greek archaeological authorities, which have been granting the school the requisite survey permits year after year and is the only permanent Swiss archaeological mission overseas.
The ambassador explained that what started as a simple “Greek-Swiss Archaeological Mission” was recognized by the Greek authorities in 1975 as the “Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece”.
Ever since, it is considered an archaeological research institute under Greek law and has undertaken intense survey and excavation activity for decades.
Besides the actual excavation works, ESAG’s mission includes publishing the results of all research conducted, preserving and unveiling archaeological finds and presenting them to the public.
What is more, every year the school welcomes a large number of researchers from Swiss universities, who thus get the opportunity to spend some time in Greece, working on research projects.
In 2016, ESAG conducted four research projects. In Eretria, a second excavation campaign focusing on the gymnasium site which brought to light the two forearms of the bronze statue of a young man found in a well, a discovery that is unique in the excavation history of Eretria to this day.
The director of ESAG, Karl Reber, presented the school’s fieldwork in 2017. There have been important developments in the exploration in progress on the Paleoekklisies site, near Amarynthos, where the sanctuary of goddess Artemis Amarysia is presumed to be located.
Excavations undertaken in cooperation with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Evia have uncovered a portico and a grand new building. This discovery seems to corroborate a previously formulated assumption that this is, indeed, the portico surrounding the space that formed the heart of the sanctuary.
In parallel to these activities, ESAG is supporting two other field surveys, performed by Swiss researchers from the University of Geneva.
The first one is the product of collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of West Attica, Piraeus and the Islands, and its goal is to study the evolution of human occupation over time in the Mazi Plain, in the borderlands between Attica and Boeotia.
The survey stretches over a surface of more than 2,500 acres and has revealed a wealth of archaeological finds, which have been documented and recorded.
The second is an underwater survey carried out in cooperation with the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in the Kiladha bay of Argolida. The goal here is to study sites and landscapes that were submerged when the sea level rose after the last glacial period.
Recently, fieldwork has focused on clearing and recording finds from an important half-submerged fortified site, dating back to the early Bronze Age.