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Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27.1 (20 14) 79-100
ISSN (Print) 0952-7648
ISSN (Online) 1743-1700
and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece
of Archaeology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK uk
study integrates the dominant archaeological discourse concerning use of the Classical past in defining
identity in Greece with a strand of ethnographic research on Greece's ojficial!J unacknowledged mi-
that has not found its way into the archaeological literature on Greece. The first part discusses how the
state has tried to deny the existence of ethnic alterities within its boundaries, often punishing those who
on advertising their non-Greek origins. One of the ways in which Hellenisation has been forced on these
is via an insistence that 'true' Greeks' origins lie in a Classical past. Those whose origins lie elsewhere
have been ejfective!J marginalised. The second part of the study focuses on the Greek-Albanian (Arvanitis)
minority. As a case study, two Arvanitic groups are compared, one Peloponnesian and one Boeotian. Boeotian
Arvanites have no monumental symbolic capital as a usable past employable within the wider national(istic)
discourse. In contrast, the Peloponnesian group has a monument linking them to an alternative (non-
Classical) past which they use to advertise their right to be considered 'proper' Greek citizens.
Keywords: Arvanites, Classical past, cultural hegemonisation, ethnic alterities, Greece, heritage
Prologue: Babel in Greece - Disconnected
Acts in Four Scenes
Scene 1:
Place: Athens. The time: 2 February 2001.
A Greek citizen was sentenced to 15 months in
jail for 'disseminating false information' which
could 'provoke public anxiety and give the
impression that there are minority problems in
Greece'. Sotiris Bletsas had distributed a leaflet
produced by an EU-linked body at an annual
gathering of Greek Vlachs, whose language is
related to Rumanian. It listed all the lesser-used
languages of Europe: in Greece, Arvanitika
(a form of Albanian), Aroumanian (Vlach),
Bulgarian (spoken by Moslem Pomal<S), Slav-
Macedonian and Turkish. In effect the court
ruled that claiming that any minority language-
groups existed in Greece was a lie. The judge
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stated that the court should not even be dis-
cussing the idea of the existence of non-Greek
languages in Greece (Baltsiotis and Embiricos
2001: 145-48).
Scene 2:
Place: Rodopi Criminal Court, Thrace, North-
ern Greece. The time: 26 January 1990.
Dr Ahmet SadU<:, a former parliamentarian and
community leader, was sentenced to 18 months'
imprisonment for disrupting public peace,
because he had described the Turkish-spealcing
Greek citizens of the region as Turlcish rather
than Greek The sentence was subsequently
upheld by the Court of Appeals and the Court
of Cassation (Areios Pagos) (European Court
of Human Rights 1996: especially section 11;
Human Rights Watch 1999: especially 11-14).
80 Forbes
Twenty years later, a US State Department
document on human rights in Greece indicated
concerns about the human rights of this minor-
ity, including that Turldsh-spealdng Greeks were
still legally barred from self-identifying as Turk-
ish, despite repeated European Court of Human
Rights decisions supporting their right to do so
(Wildleaks 2009: esp. paras. 1-3, 6).
Scene 3:
The place: Athens. The time: the summer of
An Athenian taxi-driver harangued me about a
scandal concerning the treatment of the Elgin
Marbles (ta Elyinia) by the British Museum. It
made me realise that in the many years I have
been visiting the Methana peninsula in the
northeastern Peloponnese (Figure 1), the issue
of the marbles has never been raised. Methanites
are Arvanites, a minority group belonging to
the Greek Orthodox faith which has existed in
Greece for many centuries, spealdng a form of
the Albanian language but seeing themselves as
unimpeachably Greek citizens.
Scene 4:
The place: the small town of Kranidhi in the
Southern Argo lid, part of the northeastern Pelo-
ponnese. The time: the mid-1980s.
While shopping for supplies for an archaeo-
logical project, I used a phrase in Arvanitika,
which was spoken in the area, although local
people never mentioned its existence to project
personnel. The response was enthusiastic, with
questions about how I knew any of the language
and how much I knew. In each successive shop
I entered I was greeted in Arvanitika: word had
spread rapidly! Once it was established that I
valued their minority identity, they were keen
to own it.


0 km 50 100
Figure 1. Methana: location map.
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Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece 81
This study is a contribution to the burgeoning
literature on the multivocality of ancient remains,
the contested discourses they engende1; and the
ecologies of power which they constitute. Incor-
porated in the discussion are aspects of debates
in archaeology, history and anthropology over
identity within Europe, especially the Mediter-
ranean lands, but also well beyond. The focus
is primarily identity's entanglement with the
material record, in the context of current debates
over multiple, alternative, and often competing
narratives concerning the past (e.g. Karakasidou
1997; Rountree 2003; Colwell-Chanthaphonh
2009; Stroulia and Sutton 2009; Herzfeld
2010; Meier 2013; Nildasson and Meier 2013;
Bawaya 2014), the origins of which may be seen
in historical debates relating to Hobsbawm and
Ranger's concept of invented traditions (1983),
and Anderson's concept of imagined communities
My explorations owe much to Herzfeld's
engagement with issues of national identity and
marginality in the context of Greek anthropol-
ogy and also more widely across the Mediter-
ranean and Europe as presented in Anthropology
through the Looking Glass (Herzfeld 1987, esp.
Chapter 1) and further developed, for example,
in Herzfeld 2002a. Particularly relevant here
is his observation that the nation-state is an
'imagined community' whose identity as prom-
ulgated by elites may not be shared by other citi-
zens (Herzfeld 2002b: 140). His expositions on
the complexities of competing claims to histori-
cal and material cultural 'heritage' demonstrate
the potential to use entangled themes of identity
and material culture to categorise not only those
who are considered to 'belong' but also to mar-
ginalise those who do not (e.g. Herzfeld 1991;
2009, esp. 227-28, 301-302).
In an age of global interactions, 'heritage' is
particularly entangled with a variety of contes-
tations over appropriations of the past and the
way traditions are invented, especially if tourist
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cash is involved (Herzfeld 1991, esp. 57-58,
144-47, 191-93, 226-28; 2009, esp. 227-33,
304-305, 310-11; Hodder 2003: 56). For exam-
ple, a fictitious Maya past created on a Hondu-
ran island brings in $50 million annually, but
devalues the pasts of the disadvantaged ethnic
minority original inhabitants (Bawaya 2014).
Another locus of a variety of contestations asso-
ciated with tourism is Malta: Sant Cassia (1999)
presents the multivocality of the town of Mdina
and its entanglement in contestation by elite
and other groups and organisations-includ-
ing the state-over ownership of its past in the
context of an economically dominating tour-
ist industry. A different aspect of contestation
over the Maltese past can be seen in Rountree's
(2003) discussion of mother-goddess tourism in
the islands' Neolithic temples.
Greeks' use of their ancient past for political
purposes and as cultural capital has been the
subject of numerous publications in archaeol-
ogy and anthropology over the last two decades
(e.g. Hamilalds and Yalouri 1996; Sutton 1998:
173-78; Stewart 2003; Hamilalds 2007). Arguing
that feelings of national identity need material
traces from the past, with archaeology as west-
ern modernity's official device for producing a
nation's materiality of the past, Hamilalds (2007:
vii) asks: 'How do different social actors (from
the nation-state, to intellectuals, to diverse social
groups, including "others" of the nation) deploy
antiquity in general and material antiquities in
particular, in constructing their own versions of
national imagination and in pursuing various
agendas at the same time?' Here 'antiquities' and
'antiquity' are almost entirely the Classical past
of Greece (Hamilalds 2007: 7), used by govern-
mental and other Greek elites as a hegemonising
rhetoric. While the presence of Minoan imagery
in the procession at the start of the Athens
Olympics (Hamilalds 2007: 3-5) might be
considered a counterbalance to this view, the
82 Forbes
'official' line in heavily prescribed history books
in Greek schools mostly favours the rise of Hel-
lenism: for the Bronze Age the primary focus
seems to be on Mycenaeans as the first Hellenes
(Hamilalds 2003) rather than the non-Greek
The 'others' of the nation in the quotation
above are political 'others'-communists and left-
ists, for example-who have striven to establish
themselves as an alternative hegemonising elite,
thus also employing the Classical past as symbolic
capital (Hamilalds 2007: 291). The first part of
this article, however, explores the existence of
other 'others', whose 'otherness' the Greek state
officially denies (e.g. Scenes 1 and 2 above),
despite their existence in their present locations
for centuries before the formation of the modern
Greek state, and despite their relationship to the
Greek past. The term which I use for these others
is 'ethnic minorities'. According to the United
Nations, the term 'minority', as used in its
human rights system, 'usually refers to national
or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities,
pursuant to the United Nations Minorities
Declaration'. Further, '[a]ll States have one or
more minority groups within their national
territories, characterised by their own national,
ethnic, linguistic or religious identity, which
differs from that of the majority population'
(United Nations 2010: 2). The UN has defined
a minority as:
[a] group numerically inferior to the rest of
the population of a State, in a non-dominant
position, whose members-being nation-
als of the State-possess ethnic, religious or
linguistic characteristics differing from those
of the rest of the population and show, if
only implicitly, a sense of solidarity, directed
towards preserving their culture, traditions,
religion or language.
(Capotorti and United Nations 1979: para.
568, quoted in United Nations 2010: 2)
This definition states dearly that members of
such minority groups, including ethnic minori-
ties, have the same nationality or national
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identity as that of the majority, despite
standard' origins. The modern Greek
ethnos, however, has significantly different
notations indicating, in a formal sense,
and nationality. My experience has been
many Greeks who meet the English term
minority' assume that it automatically
groups who claim a nationality or national
tity other than Greek. They therefore
the discussion of indigenous ethnic ....... v .. .,,c
in Greece to be highly contentious.
Madianou (1999: 413), for example, -..... ~ u u u r
one such group, deliberately does not
them as an ethnic minority, repeatedly
the terms 'marginal' and 'marginalised' u ' ' ' ' ' ~
While these minorities, or parts of them,
often marginalised, this term is not
appropriate in the present context. Despite
potential for mixed messages, therefore, I
use the phrase 'ethnic minority' in this
since I cannot think of a better English
tive-but with the understanding that it
not signifY any alternative national identity
e.g. Magliveras 2013: 152-53).
For the purposes of this study of
alterity, contestation and the identification
alternative significant pasts, Gefou-.u,uuuv
(1999) discussion is particularly relevant.
notes that identity among these minority
munities 'should be understood not as an
that can be defined outright, but rather as
ongoing process whereby relations of power,
authority, and authenticity are negotiated
formulated within particular social and political
contexts' (Gefou-Madianou 1999: 414). Using
this approach, I shall discuss how the use of
particular monument as validation of a
nity's social worth is part of the group's u1a.1v".J.-
cal process of negotiating its identity with
it views as a culturally and politically uvJ.lUll<IUl
Other, which in turn views members of the
community as culturally, ethnically and morally
inferior Others.
A substantial literature on diverse ethnic
regional Others in Greece has appeared over the
Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece 83
two decades (e.g. Pollis 1992; Karalcasidou
Stavros 1995; Sasse 1998; Brunnbauer
1999; Gefou-Madianou 1999; Hart 1999; Kretsi
Bintliff 2003; Herzfeld 2003; Demetriou
Livanios 2006; Magliveras 2009; Lawrence
I; also several in Tsitselilds 2008: 29 n. 2). In
discussions, Herzfeld touches en passant
the existence of officially unacknowledged
in Greece (e.g. Herzfeld 1987: 33,
2002a: 906), noting in particular that the
official line emphasises the lack of any diversity:
the Italian state, by contrast, is able to accommo-
date a rich array of minority cultural life, includ-
ing some minority-language media (Herzfeld
2003: 286). He has not, however, substantially
developed this issue in the context of contested
The aim of this study, therefore, is to examine
the issue, arguing that the use of the Classical past
as a major element in contemporary mainstream
Greek identity has effectively marginalised com-
munities whose ethnic origins link them to other
pasts. The second part of the article is therefore
a case-study examining the relationships of two
communities of the Arvanitic minority to their
local pasts. One of these communities prefers to
avoid linldng itself to archaeological sites from
its recent past, for fear of arousing prejudice
from the 'mainstream' population. The other
links itself to non-Classical alternative monu-
mentalities1 to self-identifY members as worthy
citizens, while simultaneously maintaining their
distinctive identity and engaging in apparent
small symbolic acts of contestation against the
hegemonising centre.
It is widely acknowledged that the Western
idealisation of modern Greeks' origins in Clas-
sical antiquity has been central to the modern
Greek state since its foundation, being rapidly
indigenised by Greeks themselves (e.g. McNeal
1991; Hamilalds 2007: vii, 287-301). Regularly
used in designs on postage stamps and currency
(Gounaris 2003), and used repeatedly by the
dictator Metaxas in the 1930s (Carabott 2003;
Hamilalds 2007: 169-204), it was used again in
The Fund fur MediterraneanArchaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
campaigns to support Greece during World War
II (Hamilalds and Yalouri 1996: 119), and is the
primary focus of Greece's school history-books
(Hamilalds 2003). It has likewise been central
to the campaign for the return of the Elgin (or
Parthenon) marbles to Greece (Scene 3 above).
Scholars have noted the ubiquitous use of the
Classical past in everyday life, in the negotiation
of power among different social groups, and in
the attempts of authorities to legitimise their
existence (e. g. Hamilalds and Yalouri 1996;
Sutton 1998; Hamilalds 2007). Stewart (2003:
485) recounts numerous Greek comments on his
own country's lack of history, and the memorable
statement: 'when we were developing math-
ematics, the English were still hanging off trees'.
Sutton (1998: 173) records a comparable state-
ment. The exclusionary potential inherent in
this thinldng was demonstrated quite recently
in a statement by the leader of a right-wing
nationalist political party reported by the news-
paper Kathimerini (25 January 2010), concern-
ing a government initiative to grant citizenship
to Greek-born children of recent immigrants:
'Greece is saying "no" to this bill because it
does not want Hellenism to be diluted. Greece
belongs to its history: we were building the Par-
thenon when they were still living in trees'. This
sort of privileged ownership of the Classical past
also allows those at the centres of power to dif-
ferentiate 'proper' Greeks from Others (ethnic,
regional, political, etc.) in the Greek nation (e.g.
Hamilakis 2007: 205-42).
Less frequently discussed, however, is the real-
ity that the idea of a direct unbroken connection
between present-day Greeks and their ancient
past is an invented tradition (Hobsbawm 1983:
264; Gefou-Madianou 1999: 418; Anderson
2006: 42) originating not directly from Western
imposition, but in the rhetoric of high-status
Greeks in the 18th century, most of whom
were based outside of Greece. At a time when
Greece was still part of the Ottoman Empire,
the message that they presented to the West was
that the ancient Hellenic spirit and culture had
84 Forbes
continued unbroken from antiquity to their
own time and were desperate for liberation
from Turkish oppression. This invention was
to play a major role in the intellectual revival
of Greece both before and after Independence.
As part of their campaign, this group claimed
principal ownership of the Classical past, and at
the same time a symbolic superiority over other
Europeans (Gefou-Madianou 1999: 417-18;
Hamilalds 2007: 75-77). The corollary to the
last sentence-that ownership of the Classical
past automatically defines non-owners, within or
beyond Greece's borders, as inherently inferior-
lies at the heart of this study.
In keeping with its origins, the emphasis on
ownership of the Classical and Hellenistic past,
particularly its literary and material manifesta-
tions, as the entry key to modern Greek iden-
tity has meant that access to that knowledge
has been the privilege only of a well-educated
minority. Furthermore, the increasing emphasis
by the new state on use of the Greek language
also reflects at least as much an Ottoman elite
preference, rather than a Western dassicising
one, since before Independence Greek was
the language of the educated and commercial
elite throughout the Balkans. The designation
'Greek' was sometimes used as a marker of an
elite class rather than of ethnicity: peasants
spoke a variety of other languages (Livanios
2006: 45-46, 58). The discourse of Greek iden-
tity has thus suited more privileged members
of Greek society, but effectively marginalised
regional and ethnic alterities.
The dominant archaeological discourse char-
acterising the identity of the Greek nation as
based on imported Western ideals of ancient
Hellenic origins is thus too simplistic, failing to
consider the position of various ethnic and other
minorities within the Greek state. Two 'minor-
ity' groups, Moslems and Jews, are officially
recognised, but the existence of any minor-
ity groups based on alternative ethnicity has
been denied (Herzfeld 2002a: 906)-as dearly
evidenced by Scenes 1 and 2 above. This situa-
The Fund fur MediterraneanArchaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
tion continues Ottoman practice at the time
Greek Independence, which acknowledged
three separate 'peoples' (millets), based -...... "'''v
upon religion: Moslems, Jews and
'Nationality' based on modern concepts of
nicity, associated with separate languages
cultures, was not recognised (Vucinich
605; Abu Jaber 1967: 214; Goffman 2002:
The Greek state's poor record in the context
the rights of ethnic and religious alterities,
its emphasis on the Greek language (with
implied ancient roots), thus derives not fJUUliiJ:-
ily from imported Western values, but
Greece's previous history of isolation from the
West, latterly in a relatively privileged position
within the millet system of the Ottoman Empire
and formerly within the Byzantine Empire (Pol-
lis 1992: 171-73, 182; Livanios 2006: 53-54;
Tsitselikis 2008: 28).
E Pluribus Unum?
In 1829, with the modern Greek state emerg-
ing from the ruins of its War of Independence
from Ottoman Turkey, Prince Klemens Wenzel
von Metternich received a letter from Austria's
ambassador in London, which asked: 'What do
we mean by the Greeks?' Should they be defined
as an identifiable people, or as inhabitants of a
country or as co-religionists-i.e. members of
the Greek Orthodox Church? The geographi-
cal area which was approximately the area of
ancient Greece was part of the Middle Eastern
ethnic mosaic after centuries of Venetian and
Ottoman rule: heterogeneous, polyglot, multi-
ethnic and with three separate major religions:
Moslem, Jewish and Christian, with Chris-
tians being divided into an Orthodox majority
and a small but significant Catholic minority
(Livanios 2006: 43). Its peoples spoke many
languages: Italian (in some of the islands), Alba-
nian (throughout parts of the mainland and
in some of the islands), Vlach, Bulgarian and
Slavo-Macedonian (particularly in what is now
northern Greece), Turlcish and many different
Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece 85
dialects (Sasse 1998: 41; Livanios 2006;
2008: 28). This linguistic mix was
in Dimitrios Byzantios's Babylonia,
produced in 1836 (Byzantios 2003;
2008: 33). With a cast of linguisti-
diverse 'Greek' characters, including an
(Alvanos), it depicts the misunder-
between these characters resulting
their highly divergent forms of the Greek
As a result of this heterogeneity, the
'popular' Greek language (dhimotiki) which
after Independence was itself a deliber-
creation out of various contemporary forms
(Sasse 1998: 50).
It has been claimed that Greeks themselves
answered Metternich's question by emphasising
their roots as 'Hellenes' rather than as 'Romans'
(Romii), the latter term emphasising historical
links with Constantinople and the medieval
Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire. Thus, it
is suggested, they laid a primary stress on a
supposedly shared Greek language (McNeal
1991; Livanios 2006: 58). That this can also
be understood as a power-grab by an already
Greek-spealdng educated and mercantile elite
(Livanios 2006: 58) is generally ignored.
While archaeologists have regularly noted
the contribution of Greeks' ancient past to the
development of their national identity over the
last 180 years or so, an even greater emphasis
was placed on a nation unified by Greek as
the only recognised language (Livanios 2006:
58-59, 61). Even today, those citizens who
wish to valorise other languages in addition
to Greek are treated with severe intolerance
(Scenes 1 and 2 above; also below). The insist-
ence on legitimising only Greek also places a
strong secondary emphasis on membership of
the Greek Orthodox Church, since the church's
liturgy remains entirely in the linguistic form
of its origin in later antiquity and the medieval
period-though Livanios (2006) would see this
relationship the other way around, with Greek
Orthodoxy being the primary element. Those
of other faiths, which do not use Greek as their
The Fund for Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publlsbing Ltd, 2014
primary liturgical language-especially Roman
Catholics, Jews and Moslems-have likewise
been treated as second-class citizens (e.g. Stavros-
1995; Hart 1999; Kretsi 2002; Tsitselikis 2008).
Yet despite sometimes heavy-handed action
by the Greek state, and considerable levels of
discrimination by Greeks who consider them-
selves 'superior' (see e.g. Whitman 1990: 17-21),
non-Greek language groups still exist in Greece.
Certain monoglot Greek out-groups-e.g.
Sarakatsani and Cretan villagers (Herzfeld 1987:
57-58; 1988: xi-xv, 34-38; 2003)-also prefer to
adopt alternative and/or parallel regional and/or
quasi-ethnic identities. Thus, local Cretan elites
have often ignored or downplayed a Classical
and particularly an Athenian Classical past, pref-
erentially focusing on Minoan and Byzantine
pasts (Herzfeld 1988: 34-36).
The Classical Past and Greek Identity: A
Recent Development?
As noted above, educated Greeks use Greece's
ancient past as a rhetorical resource, particu-
larly in facing the non-Greek world, and most
especially in situations of self-presentation, con-
testation and debate. My ethnographic experi-
ence in the early 1970s, however, tallcing to
a wide cross-section of working-class Greeks
with a limited education who visited the spa
on Methana, was otherwise. Many at that time
were uncomfortable with the idea of connect-
ing themselves with non-Christian (heathen,
polytheistic) roots, preferring to connect them-
selves to the greatness of the Christian Byzan-
tine Empire, stretching from Anatolia through
Greece northwards into the Balkans (see e.g.
Livanios 2006: 56-57).
Not all scholars believe that the present level
of emphasis on a Classical past as a crucial part
of Greek national identity has a particularly
long historical time depth. Gotsi (2000) sug-
gests that the special use of the Classical past
in national identity has been particularly pre-
cipitated by Greece's accession to the European
86 Forbes
Union in 1981. That new posltlon within a
union of states with very different cultures and
histories created a cultural anxiety over the pos-
sible effacement of Greece's distinctive culture
and history by a very different European homo-
geneity (Gotsi 2000: 92-93). One way of pre-
senting/performing Greeks' specialness to/over
other Europeans, therefore, has been to focus
attention particularly on their Classical herit-
age. It is almost certainly no coincidence that
the campaign to return the Elgin/Parthenon
marbles-the ultimate emphasiser of Greece's
unique and dominant cultural position within
Europe-started just two years after Greece
joined the EU.
Thus, while a relatively small
and well-educated sector of the population has
emphasised its roots in the Classical past since
the 19th century, the more widespread accept-
ance of those roots has resulted from a combina-
tion of a more assertive performance of Greek
specialness by government and a wider recogni-
tion of Greece's place within Europe.
Ethnic Alterity in Greece: Two Examples
With little room for ethnic alterity in the pre-
sent Greek state, how can some citizens engage
with an ancient Greek monumental past most
obviously located in Athens-on the Acropolis,
and in other high-profile monuments in the
-when their ethnic and/or regional
identities have little to connect them with that
past? Two linked publications exemplifY the way
in which discussions of Greek identity have so
far failed to recognise the existence of 'others'
whose identities do not focus directly on the
Classical Greek past.
Pantazatos (2010) discusses the case of Arvan-
ites in Boeotia. Bintliff (2003) had previously
discussed his ethical dilemma as an archae-
ologist in approaching the past of this eth-
nic group, whose communities are widespread
where he conducted fieldwork. While Bintliff
wished to publicise archaeological evidence of
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their ethnically differentiated past, the
inhabitants themselves did not wish to
it revealed: publicising it would invite
of the abuse and discrimination that they
previously suffered as minority group
bers (Bintliff 2003: 138-41; Pantazatos 201
99). As a philosopher discussing the ethics
this situation, Pantazatos argues that, from
viewpoint of 'stewardship', part of the
relationship of the Arvanitis community
its historical heritage is its right not to have
revealed (Pantazatos 2010: 99). Surprisingly,
ignores the ethical ramifications of the
why they must deny their own identity
their past, which might otherwise have
valorised: the abuse and discrimination, both as
official policy and unofficial behaviour, suttere:d
by generations of Arvanites.
Instead, Pantazatos (2010: 97-98)
terises Arvanites as a 'diaspora community';
although Bintliff himself never defines
as such. This definition, Silverstein (2005:
364-66) argues, problematises them as an
'immigrant community', racialising and exoti-
cising them. It implicitly suggests an element
of rootlessness, ignoring the fact that Arvanitic
communities were already established in the
area in the late medieval period, many centu-
ries before the foundation of the Greek state
(Bintliff 2003: 132-33), and instead implicitly
equates them with the late-20th-century Alba-
nian diaspora. In reality, they are better seen
as an indigenous population, as defined by the
International Labour Organization Indigenous
and Tribal Peoples Convention (International
Labour Organization 1989; see also Watldns
2005: 430). Watkins (2005: 441) highlights
the ethical problem of indigenous groups who,
for various reasons, prefer not to draw atten-
tion to themselves by relating themselves to
their archaeology. He suggests that their silence
may not reflect lack of interest in their past(s),
but past lack of concern by those at the power-
centres of the archaeological establishment for
engaging with these groups' alterities.
Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece 87
and Hamilalds (2003a: 9) are more
vm:pathc:tlc to the complexities of the Boeo-
situation. They emphasise the exclusion of
r v u n ~ ~ from the dominant national narrative
on Classical antiquity, the impact of xeno-
and racist attacks on recent immigrants
post-communist Albania, and the need of
to distinguish themselves from the
recent immigrant community. Bintliff, however,
also focuses on the resilience of Arvanitic ethnic
identity in the face of over a century of sustained
policies of total Hellenisation, including the
deliberate ethnic cleansing of their toponymic
landscapes, replacing indigenous toponyms with
sometimes highly inappropriate Greek names
(Bintliff 2003: 138-39). By contrast, Brown
and Hamilalds dwell primarily on the impact
of recent (illegal) immigration from Albania,
aligning themselves with the centralist line by
suggesting that as a foreign researcher Bintliff
was imposing his own 'ethnic' or 'minority' label
onto the Boeotian Arvanitis situation (Brown
and Hamilalds 2003a: 9). In fact, the exogenous
foreigner probably brings less cultural baggage
to the situation than Greek archaeologists who
have grown up within the dominant discourse
on the relationship of 'proper' Greeks to their
past. As Livanios (2006: 65-68) notes, these
'ethnic' labels were imposed in the later 19th
century by local political and religious elites who
strove to differentiate 'Greeks', 'Bulgarians', etc.
This ultimately resulted in the Second Balkan
War of 1913 and subsequently a tendency to
define intolerable 'ethnic' groups who spoke lan-
guages other than the nationally approved one.
The Northeastern Peloponnese
The inhabitants of the village of Kiladha, dose
to Kranidhi (Scene 4 above), do not consider
the ancient past of their most famous archaeo-
logical site-the Franchthi Cave, just across the
bay-to be important. Instead, they reminisce
about the cave in its recent past as a goatherd's
dwelling, and a location for parties and for
gathering a range of commodities (Stroulia and
The Fund for Mediterr.mean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
Sutton 2009: 124-25). Stroulia and Sutton
(2009: 126-27) link Kiladhiotes' amnesia of the
ancient world with the situation further north
in the eastern Peloponnese. The local inhabit-
ants near the famous ancient religious complex
of Nemea are largely indifferent to its remains:
while archaeologists value an archaeological past,
the local community prefers a much more recent
past of agricultural expansion (Stroulia and Sut-
ton 2009: 131). When the American excavators
of the ancient site first initiated re-enactments
of the ancient games there, there was very lit-
tle local participation. Significantly, in light of
the contention that Greeks' ancient heritage has
been appropriated primarily by more privileged
sectors of society, most of the contestants came
from Athens or the USA (Stroulia and Sutton
2009: 134).
It is suggested that this landscape dissonance,
in which local inhabitants and archaeologists
see sites and their vicinities in completely dif-
ferent ways, is primarily the result of the ways
in which archaeologists-especially, though not
exclusively, non-Greeks-behave when excavat-
ing, and also when presenting and preserving
ancient sites (Stroulia and Sutton 2009: 127-
33). Not once, however, do the authors consider
the possible impact of both these communities'
Albanian-spealdng pasts (the original Albanian
names of both local villages have been expunged
in favour of Greek-sounding replacements) on
their relationship with ancient sites. This is not
surprising, since, as a result of their recent histo-
ries, members of these communities, although
valuing their origins, would not readily identifY
themselves as part of an 'improper Greek' minor-
ity to an exogenous observer (Scene 4 above). As
noted below, Arvanites tend to tal{e on multiple
identities, often identifYing as Greek when inter-
acting with outsiders, but asserting an Arvanitic
identity at a local level. In yet another Arvanitic
community not far from Nemea, ethnic alter-
ity status is a significant complicating factor in
its relationship to another important Classical
site (Deltsou 2009). Once again, therefore, it
88 Forbes
is important to recognise the officially unrecog-
nised 'otherness' of such Greeks and their local
pasts when discussing their relationships with
their archaeological landscapes.
Residents in the area around Nemea prefer to
place a high value on a local cave instead of the
archaeological site. Although it is linked in local
belief to the mythical Nemean lion killed by
Hercules (Stroulia and Sutton 2009: 126-27),
this is a natural feature. While the associated
myth might be ancient, it does not mal<e the
cave a Classical or Hellenistic site. Myths take
place outside of time, or rather in a homog-
enised past completely divorced from the 'real'
gradated time of historians and archaeologists,
and of archaeological remains (Forbes 2007:
207-12, 401; 2009: 101). For this reason, espe-
cially when associated with natural features,
themselves also outside of archaeologists' 'real'
time, they can be accommodated into local
identity whereas archaeological sites cannot.
Significantly, the Franchthi Cave also has
a mythical past, as its name i Kyklopa (the
Cyclops) attests (Stroulia and Sutton 2009:
125). When I excavated there, it was dear that
the myth of the Cyclops had real meaning
for the local workmen in a way that the finds
themselves did not. The situation is also similar
to that on Methana: Methanites largely ignore
the remains of the Classical and Hellenistic city,
preferring to focus on a large cave discovered in
1973 and the highest peal<, Khelona. The latter
feature is associated with a myth involving a
queen and an Egyptian ldng (Forbes 2007: 208-
10). The local inhabitants in these three areas,
therefore, focus not on archaeological remains,
but on natural features which have been given
added significance via their linkage to mythical
events divorced from archaeologists' time.
Arvanites: A Case Study in Ethnic Alterity
A Contradictory Identity
I turn now to a more in-depth consideration
of the Arvanites. As a group they have mostly
The Fund fur Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
merged well with the mainstream Greek-speal<-
ing population (e.g. Gefou-Madianou 1999:
413, 415-16; Bintliff 2003: 139-41; Magliveras
2013: 152-54). As Greek Orthodox Christians
they do not obviously differ from most other
Greeks. At the time of the Greek Revolution,
Greek-Albanian society was multi-stranded.
Arvanitika was spoken side-by-side with Greek
by upper-class inhabitants, as well as by ordinaty
farmers and sailors, and it was in the process of
becoming a literary, rather than a purely spoken,
language (Sasse 1998: 49).
A criticism of an earlier draft of this study
was that I seemed to consider Arvanites all to be
poorly educated peasants. Although my detailed
ethnographic analysis below relates to a rural
area, my ethnographic research has brought me
into contact with a range of Arvanitis profes-
sionals, especially but by no means exclusively
Methanites, and I have academic colleagues who
also claim an Arvanitic background. Arvanites
in many walks of life are happy to admit to that
identity when they feel safe to do so, one such
example being the parliamentarian Theodoros
Pangalos (Eleftherotypia 2002). Gefou-Madi-
anou, whose work is crucial here, notes that
the Arvanitic group that she met in Attica was
composed of university students and profession-
als. Younger people in particular were coming
together, playing and singing Arvanitic songs,
and dancing to them-acts which they admowl-
edged would have worried older residents who
were opposed to any expression of Arvanitic
culture (Gefou-Madianou 1999: 416). In fact, as
she mal<es abundantly dear (1999: 412-13), the
ideology of Arvanites as exclusively peasants is
that of Greece's elite (a term she uses repeatedly),
and is very much at odds with reality.
Albanian speal<ers may have settled in some
parts of Greece as early as the 9th century AD:
their presence is well documented in the 13th
and 14th centuries (Magliveras 2009: 15). By
the time of the Greek Revolution their commu-
nities were widespread on the Greek mainland
and some of the islands (Sasse 1998: 44-46).
Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece 89
Because of their large numbers in the Pelopon-
nese, both in the mountains and in the coastal
islands of Hydra, Spetses and Poros with their
vety substantial fleets, it has been argued that
they provided the main military muscle which
realised the nationalist dreams of the Ottoman
Greek merchant class in the Revolution (Law-
rence 2011: 37). A late 19th-centuty Turldsh
writer identified two main 'cinsiyd-a term
with a more limited meaning than 'nation' -in
Greece: Albanian and Greek (Boyar 2007: 50).
Despite their long history and positive con-
tribution to the Greek nation, since the mid-
dle of the 19th century Arvanitic populations
have been stigmatised by a predominantly
Athenian elite which sees itself as the 'purest
representatives' of the Greek national iden-
tity constructed in that century and which
has traditionally viewed Arvanites as culturally
degenerate, uncivilised, and marginal-a char-
acterisation still accepted by the Athenian popu-
lation at large (Gefou-Madianou 1999: 412-13
n. 2). Under Greece's long-standing Hellenisa-
tion policy towards unadmowledged linguistic
('ethnic') alterities, Arvanites were considered
particularly problematic in the later 19th and
early 20th centuries. In the mid- and later 19th
centuty, the Greek state's response to emerging
Albanian nationalism and the eventual forma-
tion of the Albanian state in 1913, and to claims
that Albanians had largely replaced the original
Greek population in late antiquity, was an
intensive campaign of linguistic Hellenisation
and assimilation (Sasse 1998: 51-52; Gefou-
Madianou 1999: 420). The use of Arvanitika
was particularly oppressively discouraged under
the Metaxas dictatorship (1936-40). In the
post-war period, further active and forcible
imposition of Greek occurred, especially under
the military junta (1967-74) (Sasse 1998: 55;
Gefou-Madianou 1999: 420-21). Nevertheless
Sasse (1998: 41) estimates that there are still
over 300 communities in Greece of identifiable
Arvanitic descent; Bintliff (personal communi-
cation) considers this an underestimate.
The Fund for Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
Official Greek rhetoric clearly differentiat-
ing Arvanites from modern Albanians (Alvani)
(e.g. Bintliff 2003: 139; Forbes 2009: 102)
only developed in the later 19th centuty as an
artefact of the state's Hellenisation policy. Previ-
ously, Arvanites and their language were simply
considered Albanian (Greek Helsinld Monitor
Minority Rights Group n.d.). In contrast to
official differentiation between Arvanites and
Albanian nationals, recent ethnographic studies
describe Albanian migrants being recognised
and accepted by Arvanitika-spealdng villagers
as culturally related (Athanassopoulou 2005;
Magliveras 2009; 2013). I have observed elderly
inhabitants on the Methana peninsula convers-
ing with Albanian migrants using Arvanitika in
preference to Greek
When I started conducting ethnographic stud-
ies and they knew I was sympathetic, Methanites
soon made me aware of their Arvanitic identity,
emphasising that they were better Greeks than
those from some other parts of Greece, whom
they considered uncivilised, badly-behaved and
violent. In Attica, while Arvanites highly value
their distinctive language, culture and origins,
directly challenging the dominant national dis-
course on 'true' Greek identity, they prefer to
hide it from non-Arvanites because of hostile
reactions (e.g. Gefou-Madianou 1999: 416).
Boeotian Arvanites whom Bintliff (2003) met
were also reticent about publicly disclosing and
monumentalising their alterity. Some Boeotian
communities, however, seem prepared to adver-
tise their Arvanitic heritage. A widely advertised
reconstruction of an Arvanitic wedding was
performed in the village ofMavrommati in June
2013, although the emphasis was on traditional
music and dances, not material remains.
ertheless, when I visited this village for the first
time in August 2013, those whom I met were
not interested in discussing their Arvanitic her-
itage with an unknown foreigner.
It is evident from these examples and the
substantial ethnographic and ethnolinguistic
literature on Greece's Arvanites that there is
90 Forbes
considerable variability in the readiness of people
in different Arvanitic communities to identify
themselves, which may sometimes be affected
by very short-term political considerations (e.g.
Gefou-Madianou 1999: 416). Thus, in one
Arvanitis mountain community in the Pelopon-
nese, some of the younger men present their
Arvanitis identity very publically as a means of
aggressively breaching cultural norms (Lawrence
2011: 40-41). Sasse (1998: 56-57), however,
notes very mixed attitudes towards the spealc-
ing of Arvanitika within Arvanitis populations,
especially in villages in Attica and Boeotia.
Gefou-Madianou (1999: 414) describes Arva-
nitic identity in Attica as Greek in a national
context, but Arvanitic in more localised con-
texts. Thus there is considerable variability in
Arvanites' readiness to self-identify, and they
can take on multiple identities. These depend
heavily on contingent factors, the specific social
contexts of encounters, the structural position of
the person being addressed, the spealcer's values
and the overall context, conversational and social
(Tsitsipis 2009; Magliveras 2013; see Scene 4
above, and also below).
The desire for an articulate Arvanitis voice
led to the foundation of a number of national
and regional Arvanitis associations. Founded in
1981, the primary aim of the Arvanitis League of
Greece, according to its former website (which
was on-line in August 2012, but is currently
unavailable; the site has come and gone over
the years), was to research the contribution of
Arvanites to Greece's history and to preserve
their language and traditional songs. Signifi-
cantly, while the website made no reference
to ancient physical or monumental evidence
of their origins, there was an emphasis on
the primeval origins of Arvanites' civilisation.
This seems to refer to a line of 20th-century
scholarship accepted by some Arvanites-and
also by a number of Albanian nationalists-
that the original ancestors of Albanians and of
Greece's Arvanites were the Pelasgians, a mythi-
cal race that the ancient Greeks believed inhab-
The Fund fOr Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
ited Greece before they arrived (Sasse 1998: 48,
55; de Rapper 2009). While those at the centres
of power have emphasised their millennia-long
ancestry from the Hellenes of ancient Greece
(Gefou-Madianou 1999: 419-20), Albanians are
now attempting to trump their cards historically
by linking themselves to the prestigious 'original'
inhabitants of Greece, older even than the Clas-
sical 'ancestors', who subsequently transferred
their civilisation to the Greeks, who are thus
represented as merely parvenu inhabitants of the
land (de Rapper 2009: 58-61).
Nevertheless, because of the stigma of their
non-Hellenic identity, Arvanites could not pub-
licly own their historical roots. The recent major
influx of ethnic Albanians following the collapse
of communism in 1991 has given Arvanites
further reasons not to acknowledge those roots
(Gefou-Madianou 1999: 416; Bintliff 2003:
138). Of all the migrant groups in Greece in the
1990s and early 2000s at least, ethnic Albanians
were the most visible, most reviled and most
particularly associated with criminality in Greek
social consciousness (Roughed 1997; Vidali
1999; Baldwin-Edwards 2004: 58-61).
Alterity and Alternative Monuments: Methana
In the face of the sorts of marginalisation dis-
cussed here, what sorts of material past(s) do
Methanites, as Arvanites, use to identify them-
selves as 'proper' Greeks? To most Methanites,
the impressive remains of the ancient city of
Methana were less important parts of their
cognitive maps of the landscape than the local
cave, the highest peale or the most recent volcano
(Forbes 2009: 101). Methanites' lack of interest
in Classical antiquities is broadly paralleled by
the situation in the Arvanitic village of Vasiliko
near Corinth, located on the site of the ancient
Greek city of Sikyon. Deltsou (2009: 181, 183)
notes that the issue of how or even whether
Vasilikariotes connect themselves to the ancient
Classical past on which their village stands is
complex. Villagers repeatedly stated that they,
or 'the village', had no interest in antiquities
Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece 91
(Deltsou 2009: 181, 187), yet they did not ignore
them. As incomes from agriculture declined, they
became aware of the need to develop the tourism
which might be connected with their ancient
site (see above on connections with tourism).
However, the local museum which, it was hoped,
would attract tourists and their cash, was closed
after earthqualce damage and remained so for
two decades. Many also noted that the Greek
Archaeological Service was currently not working
on 'their' site, whereas it was actively developing
nearby sites. Their viewpoint was technically cor-
rect, but ignored the existence of non-excavation
survey projects on the site in which the Archaeo-
logical Service was not the prime mover (e.g.
Lolos et al. 2007; Sarris et al. 2008; Lolos 2011).
Some Vasilikariotes used these concerns over the
lack of clear direct involvement in their site by
central governmental authorities to construct an
anti-hegemonic discourse based on feelings of
inferiority (Deltsou 2009: 181-84, 187).
Methanites connected themselves neither with
the glories of ancient monuments in Athens nor
with the ancient sites on their peninsula. Yet
they have considered themselves to be every bit
as Greek as all other Greek citizens, and much
better than some badly-behaved sections of the
nation. Their most significant heritage site con-
necting themselves to unimpeachable Greek-
ness has been the fortifications constructed by
the French philhellene Charles Fabvier on the
peninsula's isthmus during the War of Independ-
ence (Mee et al. 1997: 165-67). He considered
Methana an ideal defensive location in which to
train his force of international volunteers after it
had recently received a severe mauling in action
against Ottoman forces (StClair 1972: 291-92).
Few buildings are easily visible now, but the main
fortification remains readily identifiable (Figure
2). This structure is evidently the focus of con-
siderable nationalistic pride. A large painting of
the Greek national flag was placed there many
Figure 2. The Kastro Favierou: Charles Fabvier's Revolutionary War fortification on the Methana isthmus.
The Fund for MediterraneanArchaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
92 Forbes
Figure 3. Two Greek national flags prominently displayed on the Kastro Favierou.
years ago: the specific design was superseded in
1978. A second, slightly smaller version painted
nearby is evidently later, since it uses the current
design (Figure 3) (Army General Staff 2003;
Breschi n.d.). Another, much smaller, painting
of the Greek flag-yet another design-has been
painted inside a gun-slit (Figure 4).
Over the years that I have spent on their
peninsula, Methanites have regularly empha-
sised the importance of the Kastro Favierou (as
it is known), as a monument and a statement
of their community's contribution to mod-
ern Greece's foundation. During the Methana
Archaeological Survey the main fortification
was initially thought to be Venetian. Methanites
were very disappointed when I mentioned this
possibility: for them it was specifically as a War
of Independence monument that the ruins had
their full meaning.
The Fund fOr MediterraneanArchaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
There is only the one site of this era on the
peninsula, however. The lack of other sites of
this period on the peninsula is significant: some
40 years ago, during increased repression of
Arvanites by the military dictatorship, Metha-
nites felt it necessary to increase their links to
this nationally formative period by construct-
ing a second Revolutionary War monument in
the form of a memorial stele (Figure 5).
monument to the Revolutionary War fallen
Methana commemorates the leader of a
of Methanitis fighters, listing the uauu.ua1y
revered leaders with whom they were
and the battles in which they fought. It
records that he gave his life for the cause
independent Greece-the ultimate
sacrifice. The monument is associated with
church of Ayios Yeoryios, a focal point where
Methanites from all over the peninsula and
Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece
Greek flag-design used during the Revolutionary War, in a gun-slit of the Kastro Favierou.
expatriates from other parts of Greece, especially
Athens and Piraeus, gather in large numbers
every year for the national celebration of St
George's Day. This is the place which represents
pan-Methana feeling most intensely. The stele's
significance for Methanites seems to have grown
over time. Until the 1980s it was tucked away
on the margins of a large empty and dusty area
surrounding the church. The area has since been
landscaped and planted with trees: the stele
now has a prominent place much closer to the
church (Forbes 2007: 263-64, 370-74).
The significance of the fort for Methanites
also seems to have increased over time. In March
2013, a Methanitis journalist uploaded an article
in an online organ describing itself as the first
portal for Piraeus (the administrative centre for
Methana's region) and shipping matters (Atha-
nasiou 2013). He describes his participation in
The Fund for Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
the first ever flag-raising at the fort. He then
tells the fort's history, emphasising that this was_
where Greece's regular army was born, and the
central part it played during the War of Inde-
pendence: 'Methana in 1826 became the centre
of the struggle [for independence]'. He then
mentions the contingent ofMethanites and their
involvement in the Revolutionary War, specially
noting that the name of their leader, who made
the ultimate sacrifice, was Arvanitic.
While Methanites cannot connect them-
selves to this time through memory, there are
visible monumental reminders, original and
retro-constructed, via which they can associ-
ate themselves with the events which founded
the nation. Local patriotic pride and identity
as worthy Greek citizens, therefore, is clearly
focused on this aspect of Methanites' historical
heritage. These material links, not the ancient
94 Forbes

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Figure 5. Stele commemorating the leader of a Revo-
lutionary War band of Methanites, set up in
city ruins, connect Methanites to history and to
the Greek nation: they also demonstrate Metha-
nites' status as true patriots.
Finally, on a somewhat speculative note, I
return to Methanites' identity as thoroughly
Greek yet simultaneously in contestation with
those in the centres of power. The flag in Figure
4 seems inherently unofficial, being small and
semi-hidden in the embrasure of a gun-slit,
yet it may have considerable symbolic signifi-
cance, reflecting the entanglement of Metha-
nites' identity as 'others' with the overwhelming
specialness for rural Greeks of their topos, the
place where they live (Bernard 1976: 289). It
is one of several different designs in simulta-
neous use during the Revolution, but not the
one described in the provisional government's
The Fund fur MediterraneanArchaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
decree of 15 March 1822. Rather, it is a design
that was especially popular in the Pelopon-
nese, and which is frequently associated with
one of the greatest war leaders of the revolu-
tion, Theodhoros Kolokotronis (Army General
Staff 2003; Breschi 2003-5; Greeka n.d.; Megas
Odigos Ekpaidefieos n.d.). The connection to
Kolokotronis seems logical, since the war band
mentioned on the memorial stele served under
his nephew, Nikitaras.
However, although it might seem logical that
a Peloponnesian site of this period should be
associated with this flag design, I believe there
are messages of contestation in its appearance
here. Administratively spealcing, Methana and
the immediately adjoining parts of the Pelopon-
nese belong to Athens and Attica. They are thus
administratively disconnected from the rest of
the Peloponnese, to which they belong by all
geographical logic: local government policy
is dominated by the needs of the capital city,
with which Methanites feel they have little in
common. Secondly, Kolokotronis was a soldier,
rather than a politician. Although now seen as
one of the most influential individuals of the
Revolutionaty War, he is also renowned for
being regularly at loggerheads with the politi-
cians in the new Greek government. He is also
widely believed, as indicated by the metalitera-
ture of numerous Greek internet sites, to have
been an Arvanitis. In other words, while this lit-
tle graffito can be read superficially as a straight-
forward patriotic statement, it can also be read
as a minor act of contestation in advertising
simultaneously a regional and an ethnic alterity
in opposition to the centres of power in Athens.
Over the last two decades, archaeological dis-
cussion has tended to accept the message of
those at the centres of power in Greece that a
Classical and Hellenistic past is essential for a
'proper' Greek identity. This rhetoric serves to
problematise and marginalise certain groups of
Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece 95
'others' whose alternative identities-which do
not fit this particular past-have been the focus
of other scholars, primarily anthropologists and
legal specialists. I have attempted here to unite
these two strands of scholarship, in outlining
the nature of some of these alterities and the
way in which the dominant archaeological dis-
course has impacted on their identities. Since
there is far more to be said on such complex
issues than is possible here, I have focused on
one of the less visible 'others' of the nation,
the Arvanites, whose relationship with their
own unique material heritage has been recently
identified within the context of archaeological
research in Boeotia (Bintliff2003).
Arvanites evidently have very complex and vari-
able relationships with their own alternative iden-
tities and therefore their pasts, which have yet to
be fully explored. Nevertheless, in how they link
themselves to those pasts there seem to be clear
differences between Methanites, who have readily
valorised the 'specialness' of their place (physic-
cally and metaphorically) in the Greek past, and
Boeotian Arvanites. Although Bintliff (2003:
140-41) is not completely convinced that Boeo-
tian Arvanites were as unconcerned with valoris-
ing a past recently discovered via archaeological
survey as they would have liked him to believe,
they expressed no desire to connect themselves to
it. The past uncovered there, however, was one
primarily of sherd-concentrations, dots on maps,
etc.-essentially an academic one, only readily
accessible via a knowledge of the conventions
of archaeology, a lcind of knowledge generally
denied to all but a very few. There was no highly
visible monument to which Boeotian Arvanites
could link their historical identity. These remains
also largely date to a period between Alexander
the Great and the Greek Revolution, which is
generally not foregrounded in the national his-
torical imagination (Bintliff 2003: 137).
The two cases therefore are not directly com-
parable, because of differences in the lcinds of
pasts on offer. Boeotian Arvanites' past(s) were
not 'usable' (as defined by Brown and Hamilakis
The Fundfor Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
2003b) in a dialogical process with a culturally
and politically dominant Other, and could not
be presented without explicitly referencing their
ethnic alterity. In contrast, Methanites were able
to treat the two monuments discussed here as
symbolic capital because they linked them to a
past which was highly 'usable' in presenting the
specialness of their place within the context of a
sub-set of the dominant discourse of the Greek
national imagination. Part of that 'usability'
relates to the monuments' multivocality. Its his-
torical context is meaningful without reference
to any alterity status. Yet it can simultaneously be
a reminder of their Arvanitic origins and also act
as the focus for minor acts of contestation which
remind Methanites of their regional Pelopon-
nesian heritage in opposition to those dominant
Others in the capital.
Some of the ideas in this article lie in an invited
lecture given at the Joulwwsky Institute for
Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown
University in April 2009, and participation in
an Archaeological Ethnographies Workshop on
the island of Poros, Greece in May 2009. My
warmest thanks to the Joukowsky Institute,
and especially Omiir Harmanah, for the first
invitation and to Yannis Hamilalcis and Aris
Anagnostopoulos for the second. This article was
written whi1e I was a Visiting Professor at Aarhus
University, Denmark: warm thanks are also due
to that university and especially the Institute for
History and Area Studies for the invitation to
such a pleasant and fruitful research environ-
ment. Thanks for encouraging and helpful com-
ments on an earlier draft are also due to John
Bintliff, Lin Foxhall and Omiir Harmanah:
likewise to JMA's reviewers, for their insights
and advice. Particular thanks are due to Linos
Papachristou for his kind permission to publish
the illustrations in Figures 3 and 4. None of the
above is in any way responsible for any infelicities
in this work, nor the views expressed therein.
96 Forbes
This article is dedicated to the memory of
Chris Mee, who contributed so much to Meth-
ana archaeology.
About the Author
Hamish Forbes recently retired as Associate
Professor and Reader in Anthropological Archae-
ology in the Department of Archaeology at Not-
tingham University and is currently an Associate
of that university. His research interests primar-
ily involve the integration of ethnographic and
archaeological approaches in the Mediterranean
region, particularly Greece. His main focus is on
social issues, and environmental concerns relat-
ing to agriculture, pastoralism and the meanings
of landscapes. He is the author of Meaning and
Identity in a Greek Landscape: An Archaeological
Ethnography (Cambridge University Press, 2007),
and 'Off-site scatters and the manuring hypothe-
sis in Greek survey archaeology: an ethnographic
approach', Hesperia 82 (2013) 551-94.
1. 'Monumentality', a term widely used in archae-
ology but rarely defined, relates to items of
material culture, normally though not exclu-
sively immobile and of substantial size, which
have important cultural resonance, normally
associated in some way with memory.
2. One anonymous reviewer commented on the
way in which Melina Mercouri, who started
the campaign for the return of the marbles,
appealed to 'base instincts within Greek society'.
3. This is not to deny the importance of sites such
as Olympia and Delphi within the national
imagination, but the hegemonisation of the
discourse on identity by mostly Athenian elites
means that the rhetoric focuses on Athens.
4. An advert for the event can be seen at sites
including aliartaios (http:/ I aliartio. blogspot.
co. uk/20 13/06/blog-post_65l.html), Leon-
tari Thivon (http:/ lleontari-thivon.blogspot. and palo,
The Fund fur Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
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Discussion and Debate
Reviewing Cyprian Broodbank's The Making of the Middle Sea: A History
of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical
World (London: Thames & Hudson, 2013)
Making in the Making
Cyprian Broodbank
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H OPY, UK
E-mail: c. uk
Most scholarly projects can surely claim several
different origin myths. In the case of my own
recent book, to which this issue of Journal of
Mediterranean Archaeology has dedicated such
generous reviewing space, the personal version
goes back a long way, at least to the year 2000,
when reading a newly emerged The Corrupting
Sea alongside my own simultaneously published
(if slighter) book on the early Cyclades made me
forcibly aware of the parallels between the two,
and the potentially greater antiquity of the world
that the former described. Those similarities owe
much to a convergence of belief in interaction-
ist perspectives (in my case inspired by Andrew
Sherratt), as well as to the social responses to the
challenges and opportunities of a risky environ-
ment identified by Paul Halstead, and last but
not least to a shared conviction in the central-
ity of islands to Mediterranean history-in my
instance a lifelong gift of my doctoral supervi-
sor, John Cherry. But a deeper, more directly
indebted root can be discerned too, going back
to Oxford in the early 1990s, and a series of
lectures by Nicholas Purcell dedicated to a
fundamental rethink of how the Mediterranean
The Fund for Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2014
islands operated, an experience that served as a
midwife to my own half-formulated thoughts.
And long before that, Peter Warren was the first
to introduce me, as a Master's student at Bristol,
to the idea ofBraudel as a gold standard of grand
historical endeavour.
All this meant that by the time several insti-
tutions (not least my then home, the UCL
Institute of Archaeology) furnished me with
a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take extensive
research leave, a complementary and more
coherent myth, less indulgently biographical,
and of the kind smiled upon more readily by
funding bodies, was being explicitly composed
in my mind and subsequently became realised
through writing. It focused on a vety simple
realisation that The Corrupting Sea and its pre-
decessors had inadvertently identified a gigantic,
unsolved Mediterranean problematic: how did
the distinctive, dynamic world of the Middle
Sea they had characterised and explored first
come into being, and how might an archaeol-
ogy armed with the full panoply of current
information and techniques (both by now far
more impressive than most later historians, I
http:/ / 0.1558/jmea.v27i1.1 01