International Conference on Greece’s First Cultural Heritage Park.

An international scientific conference was held on May 31, 2019 at Cotsen Hall at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens with the title “Protecting and Promoting the Values of the Cultural and Natural Environment in the areas where Arcadia, Messenia and Elis Meet.” The meeting was sponsored by the Parrhasian Heritage Foundation, the School of Anthropology of the University of Arizona, and the American School of Classical Studies, in collaboration with the National Technical University of Athens and the University of Patras. The conference was organized by David Gilman Romano, President of the Parrhasian Heritage Foundation, together with a Scientific Committee that included Dr. Mary Voyatzis, Dr. Costas Cassios, Dr. Demetris Papakonstantinou, and Dr. Nota Pantzou. Click here for the conference poster.

Held under the aegis of the President of the Hellenic Republic, His Excellency Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, the conference was attended by President Pavlopoulos, as well as the General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, the General Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, the Administrator of the De-Centralized Administration of the Peloponnesos, Western Greece and the Ionian Islands, as well as other distinguished individuals from both Greece and abroad. The conference was introduced by Dr. Jenifer Neils, the Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Notable speakers included the Immediate past Director of the US National Park Service, Mr. Jon Jarvis, the former Assistant Director General for Culture, UNESCO, Dr. Francesco Bandarin, the US President of ITKI (International Traditional Knowledge Institute), Mr. Giuseppe Biagini, and Mr. Mark Davison, Boulder Open Spaces and Mountain Parks. The titles of the sessions included: “Setting Standards in the Management of Natural and Cultural Heritage”; “Protection and Management of Cultural Traditions, Natural Resources and Landscape Character, Archaeological and Historic Values”; “Heritage Parks: Past, Present and Future”, and a panel discussion, entitled “Next Steps for Heritage Parks in Greece.” Several of the talks concerned the progress towards the formal legal designation of the protected landscape.

The purpose of the conference was to discuss the area that has been proposed to become Greece’s first large scale cultural heritage park, the Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos, an area of 660 square kilometers in the west-central Peloponnesos. As an initiative of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project of the University of Arizona, this proposal has been underway since 2004. Talks were given by several University of Arizona faculty members: Mary Voyatzis from Anthropology and Classics, George Davis from Geoscience, and David Gilman Romano from Anthropology. Julia Juhasz, a Ph.D. student in Mediterranean Archaeology in the School of Anthropology, was able to attend and to assist at the meeting. The event was well-attended, included lively and productive discussion of various relevant topics, and has led to important steps towards the legal designation of the area as a protected landscape which will become a unique park in Europe and the world.

Photo: Speakers at the conference. Below: Map of Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos. Click here for a larger version of the map.