The disappointment of the Gaddafi government’s stewardship at Cyrene
An important Hellenic-Roman heritage site in eastern Libya, as recounted in a recent Kathemerini article by M. Abbas, reminded us of the planning that the Kommos Conservancy continues to invest in, towards producing a sustainable leveraged amenity for the Mesara in south central Crete. Where Shahaat, the neighboring town to the archaeological site of Cyrene has unaddressed short comings – the Cretan towns and villages of Pitsidia, Kamilari and Matala, near the Kommos archaeological site, offer the visitor plenty of good accommodation and restaurants.
Around the corner from Kommos lies the town of Matala which served as the Roman harbor for Gortyn. The beach restroom facilities there served as a model for the planned improvements at the Kommos site, as represented in the 2005 updated development plan. Combining changing room and toilet facilities, the design and construction are based on local materials and construction methods.
The Kommos site stands to benefit by its proximity to the provincial Roman capital at Gortyn, its beach location and the planning that has already taken place for visitor accommodation. The work plan for 2011 calls for fundraising and investment in additional planning to advance the regulatory approval based on the expanded schematic drawing to be evolved to design-development plans with accompanying estimate of probable cost.
The publication of a handbook by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, written by Joseph Shaw, the foremost expert scholar on the site, provides immediate access to a layperson tourist why the site of Kommos matters.
In 69 BC Crete and Cyrenaica (the coastal portion of eastern Libya) became a Roman senatorial province, the capital for which was city of Gortyn, some 20 km from Kommos in the Mesara. Existing archaeo-tourism at Gortyn could benefit by a visit to the beautiful sandy beach at Kommos and its existing bar resturant. The Romans adapted a Hellenic temple at Kommos and its interpretation can supplement the visitor’s Roman experience at Gortyn.
A Libyan national refocus on heritage tourism had recently begun when Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou met Colonel Gadaffi almost a year ago when he flew to the Libyan capital Tripoli and solicited vague promises of financial help during Greece’s economic crisis. In 2007 Saif Al Islam the second eldest son of Colonel Gadaffi announced a bold plan to invest £1.5 billion centered on the archaeology of Cyrene and according to Gulfnews.com “The aim is to make the area ecologically friendly, to provide jobs to the unskilled and uneducated local population, and to excavate more of the area, one of the most important and untouched Greek sites. Attractions include the Temple of Apollo and and the partly unexcavated Temple of Zeus.” Given that the country is undergoing a civil war these conservation and archaeological park development goals will be indefinitely delayed.
The Kommos Conservancy archaeological park plans are available to view on our web site. We continue to compete for the necessary grant funding and appreciate private contributions, of any amount, which would contribute to the planning, infrastructure development and interpretation, which are all critical for the sustainable development and conservation of the Kommos site’s archaeological record.
Click here for Greek language version of this blog