Nearly a year ago, I reported about an excavation conducted by the 9th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities at the Venizelos station in Thessaloniki brought to light a very well preserved 70-meter section of a marble-paved road, the remains of buildings dating back to the sixth to ninth centuries AD, as well as big public buildings of the 7th century; a rarity for the Byzantine world. Trouble was, the site of the find is part of a new subway tunnel and platform which are being built to transport 250,000 passengers daily, and thus decrease traffic congestion and air pollution in the city. This left the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) with a problem: were they going to clear the site in favour of the subway station, or scrap the subway station in favour of the finds?

Section of the Early Byzantine road at Venizelos station,
Thessaloniki Metro [Credit: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ]

A month after the discovery, there was news: they were going to temporarily remove the finds during the station's construction and then restore about 85 percent to 95 percent after the station is completed. The Archaeology News Network reports now that while the proposed idea may have been accepted, it was met with resistance of government officials:

"The issue had raised considerable controversy among local authorities, Attiko Metro and the Ministry of Culture, with the latter initially opting for the transfer of the antiquities to a different part of the city for maintenance and eventually, viewing."

It seems the removal of the antiquities from the construction site was suspended in July of last year following a decision reached by the Council of State.

Last Tuesday, a meeting was organized between KAS members and other officials to settle the issue. Six possible solutions regarding the future of the antiquities were discussed at the meeting with the a majority of KAS members opting for a combination of two of the proposals, both defined by the need to preserve the antiquities' unity.

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, who also attended Tuesday's meeting, is in favour of showcasing the antiquities within the metro station. He envisions a display which could be part of a larger showcase of the city's ancient heritage.