Works to cover altar site suspended

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An Athens court on Friday ordered the temporary suspension of railway works aimed at covering up a significant archaeological find in Monastiraki, central Athens, until a verdict is issued on an injunction brought against the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) and the Culture and Finance ministries by a citizens’ group. 

Members of the Citizens’ Initiative for the Rescue and Promotion of the Altar of the Twelve Gods want the site to be cleared and protected. 

Regional councilor Costas Diakos is backing the citizens’ group and Friday expressed the readiness of local authorities to finance the showcasing of the monument. 

Another legal suit has been lodged with the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. 

Representatives of the citizens’ initiative have stressed that they have no connection to the six protesters who were arrested on Thursday after trying to prevent railway tracks being laid over the site. 

The protesters  believe that if the Altar of the Twelve Gods is allowed to be buried again it will not only set a precedent but also form a black mark against Greek society and the attitude it takes toward its ancient heritage.

The protesters, whose action led to ISAP services being suspended for more than an hour on Thursday, faced an Athens prosecutor yesterday on charges of obstructing public transport. 

ISAP’s management has responded to the disruptive protest by taking legal action against the six protesters. A spokesperson for ISAP said the planned works on the railway tracks were crucial as the route serves some 90,000 commuters daily and “is ready to burst.” 

Most of the action that has been staged over the past two months in protest at the planned works on the site has involved self-professed “Dodecatheists,” worshippers of the 12 Olympian deities to whom the altar is dedicated. 

It remained unclear if the six people arrested on Thursday profess to be Dodecatheists (i.e. neo-Pagans). 

Source: ekathimerini [April 15, 2011]

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