Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Doxiadis: The Archaeology of WWII Destruction

We have started working on the book manuscript for the deserted village of Aigition/Strouza. This is the site that we have been surveying for the last four years, a village founded around 1850, with many houses built with remittances from the U.S. in the 1910, burned by the Germans in 1943 (its population taken into a concentration camp in Athens), reoccupied and abandoned slowly.

There is very little archaeological work on one of the most important phenomena in the Greek countryside, the burning of 1/4 of all standing Greek villages during World War II (according to the Nuremberg Trials: 1,600 out of 6,500). With all attention place on reconstruction and the scars of the Civil War, this is an archaeological chapter that has staid closed in Greece. One of the important figures in the documentation of destruction was Constantine Doxiadis, director of urban planning in Athens in 1937, and director of the reconstruction. Doxiadis is best known for his ekistics movement and his planning of major cities like Islamabad or, closer to my home, Philadelphia's Eastwick neighborhood.

One of the lesser known activities of Doxiadis are his documentation of villages. During the war, he served in the resistance and published the only underground architectural journal of occupied Greece. After the war, he became director of the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction, where he sent out architects throughout Greece to collect data on villages and architecture. This led to the publication of a series of pamphlets in English as "Series of Publications from the Undersecratary's Office for Reconstruction" in 1947. These publications coincide with Doxiadis' role as Greek representative at the United Nations International Conference of Housing, Planning and Reconstruction in San Francisco, etc. Reconstruction in Greece, of course, got wrapped up in the Marshall Plan and the Cold War, which gets us into tricky geopolitical waters.

In a 2010 conference "Front to Rear: Architecture during World War II" held at the IFA, Ioanna Theocharopoulou, urged us to reconsider "Constantinos A. Doxiadis: The War and the Archive," (watch the paper here). I love Theocharopoulou's thesis and I have followed up the publications. I would love to visit the Doxiadis archive in Athens in some future point. 

Destruction of Towns and Villages in Greece (Series of Publications from the Undersecratary's Office for Reconstruction No. 11, Athens: 1947) contains invaluable raw data, such as a location map of all destroyed villages, and detailed destruction maps for Attica, Piraeus, Chania, Kalavryta, Larissa, and the Corinth canal. These are ready to be georeferenced in GIS and taken into the field, so that we can initiate a systematic archaeology of crisis. The first thing I'd like to do is tackle Kalavryta, the best known of massacres (after perhaps Distomon).

I am working on an article with a wonderful team of collaborators on locating the refugee settlement of Washingtonia, founded in 1829 by Samuel Gridley Howe. David Pettergrew has published a post on the liberation of Corinth and I have promised to send him Doxiadis' map of the location spots of all the damage on the Corinth canal. He tells me that he already has other reports, and I'm curious if they two are consistent.

Below, I post the map of Kalavryta, in case anyone wants to get a GIS head-start.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States