The island of Makronissos has been declared an archaeological site by a unanimous decision of the Central Archaeological Council.
The recommendation was made by the Cyclades Antiquities Ephorate that has been conducting excavations on and around the island the last few years.
According to the Culture Tourism announcement on Thursday: “Makronissos, already known as the site of tragic moments of modern Greek history, has been protected by the Greek state since 1989.
The island of Makronissos was Greece’s political prison for leftists from the 1940s to the 1970s, equivalent to the prison of Alkatraz. However the people that were sent there were not murderers, thugs, or criminals.
Many Greeks who had fought to liberate their country from German occupation during World War II, were tortured and killed by their countrymen because of their political beliefs.
In 1946, communists were sent to Makronissos island off the coast of Attika between the town of Lavrion and the island of Kea.
The plan was to recondition these ‘bad’ Greeks into model citizens. Even though they had taken part in the national resistance against the Germans, they were considered ‘enemies of the state’ and ‘traitors’. Most men were left on the island to be abused and tortured.
Today, Makronissos is deserted, but the memory is alive in those who lived through the torture and cruelty. While the Greek Islands make us think of swimming, sun, and nights in the tavernas, this island reminds us that there is another side and that man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man is present.
On Thursday it was declared a historic site and the remains of the camps, where the exiles were housed, were declared protected buildings. However, following extended excavations conducted by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in the area of Makronissos, five ancient shipwrecks dating back to the mid-Hellenistic and the post-Roman era were discovered.
The first traces of human presence on Makronissos date back to 4,000 BC, while the first settlement was founded at the location Provata, in the west part of the island, during the early Bronze Age.
The ministry said that “The many different archaeological finds and locations spread all over the island, both in its interior and along its shores, is something that is linked to the island’s rich supply of metals and also with its crucial geographic position in the Aegean”.