An article by Didier Kunz (L'utilisation des sites antiques à des fins commerciales divise la Grèce, April 19) for Le Monde describes the Greek government's new deal with the devil. The Greek Central Council of Archeology (KAS) has approved the sale of rights to film a worldwide commercial on the Acropolis, normally a zealously protected space these days (after centuries of terrible abuse), to the Philips Corporation. (Philips would not be getting something for nothing, since they donated materials for the new illumination of the site.) That is only the latest profit-minded decision (my translation):
Since the beginning of the year, this political shift has sparked a debate on the exploitation of ancient sites and their images for commercial ends. In January, the KAS agreed by a majority vote to grant the German car company BMV a permit to show its new cars on the parking lot that borders the Temple of Poseidon (5th c. BC) on the Sounion hill, famous for its sunsets. A representative of the leftist party (SYN), Athanasius Leventis, called out the Secretary of Culture, Petros Tatoulis, in Parliament, crying sacrilege. "We are extremely vigilant in our actions to protect our cultural heritage. However, that heritage constitutes, in our view, a development tool for our country," replied Mr. Tatoulis.The other abuses listed in the article include a Belgian cell phone company that used an image of the Erechtheion, on the Acropolis, in which one of the Caryatides was replaced by popular model Pis. That ad was called unacceptable, as was a request to use the Stoa of Attalos, at the foot of the Acropolis, for a luxury dinner hosted by Vodafone, although it was originally approved. This is apparently not enough for the government, since the Minister of Tourism, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has just come back from a trip to Hollywood, with the plan to form a government organization to offer "all encouragement possible" to foreign producers who want to film blockbusters in Greece. The most recent decision, in fact, was to agree to such a production, Elie Chouraqui's Ô Jérusalem, based on the bestseller by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins, to be filmed in the medieval city of Rhodes. The article's author speculates that this may be related to the Mayor of Rhodes's plan to reconstruct the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the lost seven wonders of the world.