by Sophia Oikonomou
The International Congress of Cretan Studies has become an important cultural event in Greece during the last 35 years focusing its interest on various aspects of Cretan life.
The first International Congress of Cretan Studies took place at Heraklion in September 1961. It was Andreas Kalokairinos together with a group of young intellectuals who planned and organised that first congress, the main interest of which was studies regarding the island of Crete. This same group of people had already succeeded in publishing the first periodical for Cretan studies, Kretika Chronika (the first issue appeared in 1947 and it is still being published). They also founded the Society of Cretan Historical Studies (EKIM) in 1951 and two years later the Historical Museum of Crete, one of the most important museums in Greece today.
Since then, eight successful congresses have been organised, one every five years in the capital cities of the prefectures of the island of Crete. Mainly EKIM together with other cultural societies of the island organise these congresses. The number of participants keeps growing as well as the number of papers given and of the pages of the congresses’ proceedings.
This year’s congress that took place in Heraklion and was organised by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies (EKIM), was attended by 350 participants from eighteen different countries and 290 papers had been delivered regarding archaeology, history, literature, language and folklore tradition of Crete.
The innovation at this congress was the appointment of a main theme which was “Private Life in Crete”. The appointment of a main theme was thought necessary for the congress to acquire a coherence since it presents an unavoidable heterogeneity because of the large number of participants and of the different periods of Cretan history covered. Most of the papers conformed to that direction.
The proceedings were divided as in the previous congresses in three sections which correspond with the three main periods of Cretan history : the prehistoric and ancient Greek period (section A’), the Byzantine and Venetian period (section B’) and the modern period (section C’).
Three keynote speeches on the main theme were given on the first day of the congress: “Everyday life in Minoan Times” by Professor Peter Warren (section A’), “Everyday life in Crete under Venetian rule: Existing research and prospects for the future” by Professor Chryssa Maltezou (section B’) and “Information on the everyday life of Cretans, drawn from unpublished material held by the Folklore Centre of the Academy of Athens” by Dr. G. Aikaterinidis (section C’).
The largest number of papers given were of section A’ and they referred to Minoan religion, script, architecture and ceramics. Presentations on undergoing excavations were very interesting as well as on activities and establishments of the Minoans outside Crete. In section B’ papers regarding Byzantine Crete and especially its architecture, iconography, pottery, inscriptions and literature were very important and stimulating, while the ones given on the Venetian period were many more in number. The identification of the first signed work of Domenico Theotokopoulos was the subject of one of the most impressive papers given in the congress. Section C’ presented the smaller number of papers regarding the study of literature and language.
This 1996 Congress was enriched with presentations by the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) on technology in archaeological and historical research: a)”Applications for Lasers in the Maintenance and Presentation of Monuments and Works of Art” by Professor K. Fotakis and Dr. B. Zaphiropoulos, b)”Cultural Information Systems” by Professor P. Constantopoulos. These presentations were enthusiastically welcomed by the audience of all three sections.
The participants of the congress and their companions had the opportunity to attend receptions and other activities: excursion to Piskopiano and tour of its Agricultural Museum, tour of the new exhibition rooms at the Historical Museum of Crete in Heraklion, excursion to Rethymnon and tour of the local Museum of History and Folklore, and excursion to Gortyna with a visit to the excavation at the Praetorium and the early Christian Basilica in Metropolis conducted by the archaeologists excavating there. In addition a performance of G. Chortatzis’ “Erophili” by the Municipal Regional Theatre of Crete directed by Spyros Evangelatos and a concert by the Polyphonia choral group entitled “Franciscus Leondariti and his Time” were two more activities offered.
Proceedings are expected to be published in two year’s time while the IX International Congress of Cretan Studies will be held in 2001 at Hagios Nikolaos or Ierapetra of Lassithi prefecture.
For further information on the congress and its proceedings you may contact:
The Society of Cretan Historical Studies (EKIM)
Historical Museum of Crete
Lysimahou Kalokairinou 7
71202 Heraklion Crete
Het VIIIste Internationale congres over Kretenzische Studiën, Heraklion Kreta, 9-14 september 1996
Elke vijf jaar wordt sinds 1961 dit internationale congres op Kreta georganiseerd. Dit jaar was er een innovatie in de vorm van een centraal thema: privéleven op Kreta. Er waren 350 deelnemers op dit congres. Over ongeveer twee jaar zullen de artikelen gepubliceerd worden, en in 2001 vindt het negende congres plaats in Hagios Nikolaos, of Ierapetra.