Back in January, I asked the question if privitization of the ancient Hellenis sites could save the country's national treasures. Stephen Miller, an American archaeologist who has spent the last four decades unearthing Nemea’s treasures suggested that it just might. In a detailed proposal sent to the government at the end of last year, he suggests letting private companies take over the development, promotion and security of certain under-exploited sites in exchange for a share of revenue generated from tourists. This would generate jobs and protect Greece’s vast archaeological wealth from the ravages of an economic crisis which has closed down ancient sites, shuttered museums and caused looting to surge.

The initial reaction to the proposal was not positive. The culture minister Panos Panagiotopoulos responded that, while he does not rule out greater private sector involvement in other areas, and says parliament recently passed a measure allowing tour companies to effectively rent out archaeological sites for an event or an out-of-hours visit. Businesses can now also shoot their commercials against the backdrop of Greece’s dramatic monuments:

“The cultural wealth, the legacy of this country, will remain under state control because it belongs to the Greek people.”

More reactions have been released since then. The Archaeology News Network reports that the Association of Greek Archaeologists issued a statement following the publication of a Time magazine article in which Miller promoted the privatization of under-used sites.

“Archaeological sites and the country’s monuments belong to the whole of society. The protection, promotion and management of these sites is the duty of the state, as stipulated in the Constitution and laws of this country. These sites embody our historic memory and conscience, they are not objects for negotiation with whatever investors, they are not up for privatization of available for any private firm or individual to make a profit.”

Miller, for his part, feels his words have been taken out of context, and do not deserve the backlash he has been getting. He insists had been talking only about abandoned sites that have been left to the mercy of vandals. In an interview, he said that:

“The only thing I can do so my statements are not misinterpreted is to publish my proposal on the Internet.” 

He proceeded to do so. The actual proposal made by the archaeologist can be found here for those interested. It's long, and detailed, and yes, indeed, it makes clear divides between used and underused sites. I would love to hear what all of you think about the proposal now it can be examined in its entirity. What are your thoughts? Still a bad idea? Or does it have potential?