Cycladic Identity is the new initiative of the Museum of Cycladic Art, which aims to protect the cultural and natural heritage of the Cyclades and to preserve, restore and promote their unique identity. Focusing on Culture, Biodiversity and Intangible Heritage, the initiative serves as a platform for attracting and allocating resources to programs implemented by organizations active on the islands.
The initiative represents a natural evolution of the Museum of Cycladic Art’s many years of work. This is the Museum’s first organized effort to expand its mission to give back to the Cycladic islands, where the Cycladic civilization was born 5.000 years ago by supporting impactful projects. Recognizing Culture, Biodiversity and Intangible Heritage as structural elements of the Cycladic identity, the initiative seeks to create a lively dialogue with the local communities of the islands in order to map their needs and support programs aimed at preserving this identity.
The evaluation of the submitted proposals is carried out by the Scientific Committee of Cycladic Identity, which consists of four members with deep knowledge and understanding of the unique characteristics and needs of the Cyclades, due to their long-term professional activity in the field: Dr Demetrios Athanasoulis, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades, Dr Michael Boyd, Senior Research Affiliate, Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Demetres Karavellas, CEO of WWF Greece and Dr Angeliki Kosmopoulou, Archaeologist, Executive Director of the Athanasios C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation. The final selection of proposals involves the Advisory Committee of the initiative, which provides, since its inception, significant funding and contributes to the development of its strategy.
As stated by the President and CEO of the Museum of Cycladic Art,Sandra Marinopoulou: “The Museum of Cycladic Art would not exist without the Cycladic islands and their civilization. We wish our Museum to give back to the Cyclades, in a sustainable and meaningful way. That’s how the idea of the Cycladic Identity initiative was born. We feel that it is important to be part of the Cyclades, to protect them in order to preserve their Cycladic identity. Our goal is to stay close to local communities and to identify their needs. To be their supporters and their partners. Today, local societies are more vulnerable than ever to increased tourism, the abandonment of traditional customs and their rituals, but also climate change. Cycladic Identity seeks to provide the means and motivate the islanders to actively participate in the preservation of their own heritage. Its elements are what has shaped local communities from the past to the present and hold the potential to lead them to a sustainable future.”
At the beginning of its action, Cycladic Identity addressed an invitation to the representatives of the local government of the islands and presented its vision and operating mechanism to mayors, deputy mayors and councilors. The initiative also met and discussed with 34 organizations that it subsequently invited to participate in the call that opened at the beginning of the year. The submission deadline was February 20, 2023, and Cycladic Identity received 24 complete program applications, covering a total of 14 islands within the Cyclades. These applications were evaluated on the basis of a predetermined list of criteria by the members of the Scientific Committee and on March 31, 9 proposals were selected on 8 Cycladic islands, specifically Amorgos, Andros, Donoussa, Ios, Kea (2 programs), Mykonos, Paros, & Sikinos.
The programs are: “Ancient Quarries of Paros – Stability and accessibility of underground tunnels” by NGO “Paros Ancient Marble Quarries Park”, “Traditional water management practices in the central mountainous area of Andros: Recording, preservation, interpretation and promotion actions” by Andros Research Center, “Recounting and documenting the art of dry stone walling (xerolithia)” by the Municipal Enterprise for the Environmental Protection, Education and Development of Mykonos, “Recording traditional instrument players of Kea to safeguard, preserve and promote traditional music as intangible cultural heritage” by the Municipal Public Benefit Organization of Kea, “Development of a website for hosting, maintaining, and promoting the Oral History Archive of Donoussa” by POSEIDON Cultural and Environmental Association of Donoussa, “Listen to the story…” by the Center for the Study & Dissemination of Myths & Folktales (Kea), “Paths of Culture in Sikinos: Creation of a navigation and information application” by the Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Amorgos – Recording Traditions” by the Municipal Public Benefit Organization of Amorgos and “Cycladic Youth Gaze” by Cinemathesis (Ios). The implementation of these programs has begun and is monitored through reports and field visits for the in-person confirmation of the works. The next funding period covers the year 2024 and concerns proposals to be submitted under the second call sent to the organizations in September. The selected programs will be announced at the beginning of the new year.
DETAILED FOCUS AREAS OF CYCLADIC IDENTITY The culture encountered in the archaeological sites and historic structures, along with the unique biodiversity expressed in the local flora and fauna, as well as the rich heritage infiltrating everyday life on the Cycladic islands, constitute the connective tissue of the local communities and create a sense of common identity, the preservation, promotion, and transmission of which is of utmost importance to future generations. These three elements are the main axes that the Cycladic Identity initiative prioritizes.
The Cyclades stand between Europe and Asia, a position that ultimately defined their natural evolution. The islands hosted civilizations and monuments of all eras, acting as a precious anchorage for every period. In this plain and at times barren landscape, one of the greatest prehistoric civilizations developed in the 3rd millennium BC, the Cycladic Civilization. In the Byzantine and post- Byzantine periods, the Cyclades experienced a significant boom with the construction of important monuments. Prehistoric settlements, monuments of historical times, castles, forts and walls of all eras, Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches and monastic complexes, neoclassical buildings, windmills, fountains and dovecotes are some of the elements that make the Cyclades a unique treasure in the heart of the Aegean Sea.
The Cyclades are a living evolution laboratory. They are home to an impressive array of biotopes, including Natura 2000 areas. These biotopes range from sandy beaches and rocky shores, grasslands, marshes, lagoons, olive groves and vineyards, to Poseidonia meadows and coral reefs. They are habitats to a large number of species of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic- i.e. species that survived the adverse conditions of the area, developing special adaptations and prevailing in their ecosystems. In the relatively small area of land covered by the Cyclades, there are today more than 2,000 species of plants, of which at least 200 are endemic, rare bird species, thousands of marine organisms, including some of the rarest mammals of the Mediterranean.
Customs, social rituals, traditional practices, and arts of the Cyclades are a valuable part of their history and culture and have shaped, over time, their unique identity. The intangible heritage of the Cyclades includes a variety of elements that are either pervasive in the life of the place, or mark the calendar as occasions for festive gatherings, such as agri-food traditions, local products, distinctive crops, special architectural types, traditional musical instruments, constructions and crafts, festivals and much more.
DETAILED PRESENTATION OF THE NINE FUNDED PROGRAMS
“Intangible cultural heritage of Amorgos – Recording Traditions”
Organization: Municipal Public Benefit Organization of Amorgos
Program Duration: 1/5/2023-30/4/2024
Through interaction and cooperation with local organizations, youth, and women & groups, under the coordination of the Municipal Public Benefit Organization of Amorgos, the program aims at recording oral testimonies of elderly residents of the island in order to preserve the wealth of history and traditions.
Recording will be realized using modern methods, and will include testimonies of women and men in the villages of Amorgos (Tholaria, Lagadas, Potamos, Ormos Aigialis, Katapola, Vroutsi/Kamari, Arkesini, Kalofana, Kalotaritissa), covering the following topics:
1. Arts and Practices: Stone-building, basket weaving, dry farming and tobacco cultivation, baked raki (“psimeni”), traditional beverages.
2. Music and dance:
Musicians’ style and technique
Traditional instruments and their makers
3. Household and Social Life
Recordings will subsequently be organized and a documentary will be produced. The program includes the integration of short video projections at the Folklore Museum in Chora of Amorgos as part of educational activities.
Collaborating organizations: “Simonidis” Cultural Association, Athletic- Nautical- Cultural Association of Amorgos, “Ancient Vigla” Cultural and Environmental Association of Tholaria.
“Traditional water management practices in the central mountainous area of Andros: Recording, preservation, interpretation and promotion actions”
Organization: Center for Contemporary Research and Action for Andros, in short Andros Research Center
Program Duration: May 2023 – April 2024
The abundance of water is a defining feature of Andros, when compared to the rest of the Cyclades. Surface water management in Andros is an ancestral ritual process, a customary practice, which seems to be passed down from generation to generation linked to ownership. The so-called water rights are recorded and exercised in Andros, to this day. Climate change makes water an even more precious resource than ever before. In recent years, limited rainfall and increased temperatures show the significant risks of water shortages, demonstrated in increased fires, but also the death of several hardy trees even in mountainous areas of Andros. Considering all of the above, it was deemed vital to study, document and creatively communicate the aquatic wealth of Andros, a valuable timeless resource, and its traditional management practices, to a variety of audiences.
The implementation of the above funded program will include:
Conducting fieldwork in the central massif, digitally recording all central water sources, cross-checking the recordings with maps from the Hellenic Military Geographical Service, documenting photographs, cataloging water points and providing indicative measurements of water supply per source
Conducting historical research using archival materials and collecting testimonies to document the water management practices of the irrigators (“potistades”) of Andros. This includes gathering information from community archives and undertaking a comprehensive recording, mapping, and study of the island’s wise and multifaceted water wealth management system.
Utilizing historical and field research to compile and submit a dossier for the registration of water management practices in Andros as an item in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Creating a digital tour utilizing the principles of heritage interpretation to communicate the water wealth of Andros and emphasize its importance for the island’s present. The tour aims at engaging residents and visitors, fostering environmental awareness and enriching the tourist offerings of Andros.
“Development of a website for hosting, maintaining, and promoting the Oral History Archive of Donoussa”
Organization: POSEIDON Cultural and Environmental Association of Donoussa
Program Duration: April 2023 – March 2024
Since 2007, in collaboration with the creative team Media Dell Arte, recording of interviews of the oldest residents of Donoussa has begun. These interviews are transcribed and archived creating the Donoussa Oral History Archive. The aim through these narratives is to recall the memory of the past and to give an image of everyday life, the experiences, the stories that compose this place, as lived by the locals themselves.
The Cycladic Identity funding will help develop a website for hosting the Oral History Archive of Donoussa (text, sound, photos, documents). More specifically, the website will feature recorded narratives along with transcribed text and photographs of the individuals. It will also include old photographs of the island and the Community Archive. Everything will be sorted according to section, category, subcategories and keywords. At its launch, the website will feature approximately 100 stories, 100 old photographs and 100 documents from the Community Archive. There will also be a genealogical tree tracing the history of Donoussa from its earliest inhabitants to the present day, a clearly marked map of the island with place names and characteristic words from the local Donoussian dialect, both current and obsolete. The aim of this website is to serve as a digital Ark, preserving all the elements that constitute the Donoussian identity (part of the broader Cycladic identity) and making the rare archival material accessible to all interested residents, friends of Donoussa and researchers in a simple and user-friendly manner, enabling them to utilize it and preventing it from being forgotten.
“Cycladic Youth Gaze”
Program Duration: May 2023 – April 2024
The program funded by Cycladic Identity consists of a cinematic educational workshop for secondary school students in Ios. It addresses an invitation to the teenagers of the island to get involved with the Fine Arts, in particular with the art of cinema and through specialized, audio-visual, experiential activities, to shoot a one-minute, single-shot video art piece each, in order to reveal the invisible side of their island by creating their own work of art, through a “mosaic” of recordings. The program’s activities include theoretical and technical training of the participants, shooting and editing of the produced material, and public presentation of the work. The program will foster the exploration of the island’s contemporary identity, its landmarks, local history, landscape architecture, art, and diverse perspectives beyond the academic framework. The video art will be showcased as a long durational installation in a selected public area of the island.
“Recording Traditional Instrument Players of Kea to safeguard, preserve and promote traditional music as intangible cultural heritage.”
Organization: Municipal Public Benefit Organization of Kea
Program Duration: 15/3-15/9/2023
The island of Kea has contributed to the traditional music of Greece by offering excellent instrumentalists and musicians, who have been influenced by both sea and land musical traditions. The funded program prioritizes the recording of the remaining traditional musicians of Kea who have developed a special and diverse way of playing, with the aim of recording, saving and promoting it. Within the framework of the program, high-fidelity recording, combined with high-quality filming and audio capture will be performed, for the creation of ten (10) standalone short documentaries featuring the remaining elderly instrument players of the island. These short documentaries will showcase their virtuoso playing, include brief personal interviews and explore their interpretation of specific songs, along with sharing old stories from celebrations and traditional festivals. Efforts will be made to record the instrumentalists in iconic landmarks of Kea. Special attention will be given to the selection of recording locations, ensuring that they not only meet production requirements but also showcase the diversity of sounds and biodiversity present in the environment. This approach will serve as a legacy for further study and promotion of these elements, while also raising questions, through the principles of acoustic ecology, about the overall degradation of the environment.
“Listen to the story…”
Organization: Center for the Study & Dissemination of Myths & Folktales
Program Duration: 1/5/2023-30/4/2024
The Cycladic Identity funded program addresses the need for acknowledging and creating awareness around the intangible cultural heritage of Kea in a contemporary and fun way, easy and accessible to younger as well as older people, combined with highlighting the natural environment, the built spaces with graphic features, and points of cultural interest. Implementation of the program includes the production of 20 podcast stories, featuring original musical compositions, inspired by the oral tradition and mythology of Kea. These stories will be available for anyone to listen to on their mobile phone or any other electronic device, such as a tablet, laptop, etc., by scanning a QR code that will direct them to the story’s link. The QR codes will be displayed on signs positioned in prominent locations across various public places. Oral tradition and the beautiful natural landscapes are interconnected and blend harmoniously, with each side accentuating the other. Natural landmarks and local architecture converge with the treasures of oral tradition, myths and fairy tales of the island, brought to life through the art of storytelling, forming a timeline that spans from ancient times to the present day.
The implementation stages of the program are summarized as follows:
Research, study, writing and editing texts.
Art editing, narration, recording, sound editing.
Original music composition, orchestration, performance.
Design, production and placement of signage.
Production of printed material, for promotion and advertising.
“Recounting and documenting the art of dry stone walling (xerolithia)”
Organization: Municipal Enterprise for the Environmental Protection, Education and Development of Mykonos
Dry stones, also known as “terraces” are built “dry” and are located in the zonal lands of the settlement, since the beginning of the settlement’s creation. They help retain water and define ownership boundaries of plots. Dry stones in Mykonos are not used often, due to the gradual abandonment of crops. This gradual abandonment also led to the reduced bequeathal of the construction techniques from generation to generation. The program involves the creation of an online digital repository website documenting old craftsmen and dry stone construction techniques, along with a pilot dry stone workshop, in order to preserve and pass on to the next generations this example of intangible cultural heritage of the island. The main goal of the Cycladic Identity funded program is to create an open and continuously updated website for the documentation of dry stone and the traditional way of building them, by combining older, archival material (photos, files, drawings), but also recording the remaining craftsmen (film, sound recording). Secondly, a pilot “dry stone school” will be organized with the participation of traditional craftsmen and new artisans. The program will be realized in collaboration with the Urban Planning Research Lab of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), and will follow the below mentioned stages:
Search for and selection of old craftsmen and other long-time residents of Mykonos who can contribute their knowledge of traditional building methods.
Organization of a series of discussions/interviews, in order to record their experience, their accumulated knowledge, etc.
Systematic recording and filming by cultural and architectural scientists (graduates of related schools, researchers, etc.), as well as filming the techniques and the overall construction process by specialized staff.
Cataloging and editing the collected material and drawing conclusions based on the findings.
Identification of notable and representative examples of dry stone walls that are of particular interest/ visit/ photograph/ analyze/ comment.
Simultaneously, conduct of research and gathering of sources related to the topic of dry stone walling, including good practices.
Development of a website and entry of the aforementioned material.
Coordination of a pilot “dry stone school”, involving traditional craftsmen and young artisans, and publicly showcase the project.
“Ancient Quarries of Paros – Stability and accessibility of underground tunnels”
Organization: NGO “Paros Ancient Marble Quarries Park”
Program Duration: 15 weeks
The Ancient Marble Quarries of Paros in Marathi, and in particular the monuments of the underground mining tunnels (Nymphon and Panos quarries), are part of a cultural heritage of global importance. The Ancient Quarries operated from the 7th century BC onwards. During this period, the famous Parian marble, the so-called Paria Stone, was mined there, which was widely used in architecture and sculpture.
The well-preserved underground quarries of Nymphes and Panos were until recently accessible to visitors, in an otherwise unorganized archaeological site, but the emergence of stability problems in the rock mass, led the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades to fence the area and prohibit entry, for safety reasons.
The Cycladic Identity funding supports the implementation of the first stage of a series of studies and interventions in the Ancient Quarries of Paros, which aim at protecting and revealing their value, and reestablishing accessibility of visitors. More specifically, within the framework of the funded program, the following will be performed:
Inspection by a qualified geotechnical engineer to prioritize the assessment of locations with a high risk of failure. During the inspection, qualitative and quantitative data will be collected regarding the characteristics of the rock mass and its fractures (dimensions, inclinations, etc.), enabling subsequent analysis and evaluation of this data.
Analysis and evaluation of the characteristics of critical locations to determine the positions where immediate rescue interventions may be required. The type of interventions (materials, structure) will be determined, along with a detailed dimensioning of the required support elements (metal beams and columns). The necessary drawings will also be prepared. An additional estimate and budget for the rescue interventions will be prepared, considering the special conditions involved in transporting materials and working within the tunnels.
Preparation of the study for the program of instrumental monitoring. The locations for proposing the installation of acceleration and displacement recording instruments will be determined to monitor the long-term behavior of the rock mass and ensure control over human activities in the area that could potentially impact its stability.
The above actions will be implemented by a team of scientists, led by Dr D. Egglezos (Civil Geotechnical Engineer) and his collaborators Ath. Kontizas and Em. Tzannidakis, Civil Engineers, and An. Gontzes, Geologist, under the general supervision of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades
“Paths of Culture in Sikinos: Creation of a navigation and information application”
Organization: Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ELLET)
Program Duration: 15 May 2023- 15 May 2024
The networks of paths in the Cycladic islands are part of the cultural heritage and unique character of the area. The paths were created with great effort and sense of aesthetics by their inhabitants over the centuries. The funded program aims at creating the application “Sikinos Paths”. The network of paths in Sikinos was implemented by the “Paths of Culture” program and the “Sustainable Aegean” program of ELLET, in 2011. It includes 7 marked routes from 1.4 to 14.3 km in length, with a total development of 56 km, covering the largest part of the island and including the most important places of interest.
In order to facilitate/maximize access to the app, key signs on the Sikinos paths network will be updated to include the QR code that leads to the app. The app will be freely available on Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, ensuring accessibility to a larger group of users and contributing to the promotion of the island.
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