ESTABLISHMENT OF THE “SOCIETY OF MESSENIAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDIES” (SMAS).
The creation of a union under the title “Society of Messenian Archaelogical Studies” having its seat at the village of Mavromati, was first proposed by Petros Themelis and George Kouvelakis; Kouvelakis contributed essentially with his legal knowledge to the final form of the text and the various chapters of the Constitution. The proposition was promptly adopted by eminent citizens of Messenia who undersigned the Constitution and became the first members of the Society. The establishment of the society was officially approved by the relevant court of Kalamata in November 2, 1994 (decision no. 20/1994). For the management committee of the Society the following members were elected: Petros Themelis (president), Photis Kostopoulos (vice-president), Andreas Sarris (secretary), Vilma Apostolaki (treasurer), George Kouvelakis (member).
Aims of the Society, according to chapter (a) of the constitution are: 1. Support to the excavations of the Archaeological Society at Ancient Messene, 2. Promotion of restoration works on the monuments and the fortification walls, 3. Support to the enhancement of the whole archaeological site, 4. Care for the repair and function of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments of the area in and around the ancient city, such as the monastery called Andromonasteron”, the Samarina Church and the old monastery of Voulkhanos, 5. Promotion of historical and archaeological studies related to Ancient Messene, 6. Education of personnel to be specialized in the restoration of monuments, excavational techniques and conservation of movable finds. To the aims of the Society except funding are also included the scientific and personal support to its members, the organization of congresses, lectures, educational programs and exhibitions.
THE PROJECTS OF RESTORATION
During the years 1993 – 1997 a number of restoration and consolidation works were executed on the rectangular tower no. 17 situated to the NE of the Arcadian Gate. This restoration project (part of the 2nd “European Support Budget”) was carried out under the supervision and sponsorship of the General Secretariat of the Periphery of Peloponnese at Tripolis; it included expropriation of land and arrangement of the fields around the tower, amelioration and change of course of the main road passing through the Arcadian Gate, as well as construction of a new road leading to the tower terrace. It also included excavation of a group of funeral chambers brought to light outside the Gate. All these additional works were funded by the “I.F. Kostopoulos Foundation”.
In the course of the same restoration project the Main Entrance (Propylon B) to the sanctuary of Asklepios as well as the Ekklesiasterion (theatrical hall) were repaired and partly restored; a cover made of steel bars was constructed for the protection of the Artemis cult room (no. K) on the western wing of the Asklepeion; works aiming to the drainage of the site were also included in the project. Since 2002 a new project (3rd European Support Budget) for the restoration of monuments comprising works aiming to the enhancement of the huge archaeological site of Messene as well is now in progress and it will be completed in 2007. It is funded by the Ministry of Culture (25%) and by the European Community (75%). It actually deals with the unification of the various monuments in a well organized and protected archaeological park, with the restoration of the Arcadian Gate and the adjacent walls, the investigation and arrangement of the theater area, the restoration of the Stadium, the Gymnasium and the Mausoleum of the Saithidae family.