By Kostas Papadopoulos
Restoration Project Manager
The monument of Bassae impresses the visitors of the archeological site, as well as scientists, because of the particularly large percentage of original structural material that has been left in place since antiquity or restored in the early 20th century. Impressive, however, are also the geometric deformations and the extensive damage that presents the Temple, the most important of which are the strong differential subsidence of the foundations, the cracks and breakages in the stones and the large deviations of the vertical columns. All these problems, according to the prevailing theory, occurred primarily due to the vandalism of the building for obtaining the metal from the links between the stones (unknown during which time), and the failure of its foundation, which have significantly reduced the cohesion and the solidity of the monument, and pose serious risks to new damage in case of future strong earthquake. Hence, since the past decades there was concern about the conservation status of the monument within the relevant ministries and the scientific community.
The interest of the State led, initially, in a limited intervention by the Reconstruction Dpt. in 1965 and 1966, and, then, since the 1980s, launching systematic efforts for the maintenance and protection of the monument, under the administrative and scientific supervision of the Maintenance Committee of the Temple of Epicure Apollo (E.S.N.E.A.). These efforts are still underway, and the results so far can be divided into three periods, concurrent with the previous three decades. In the first period passive maintenance works has been mainly implemented, most importantly the enclosed canopy that was constructed in 1987 to protect the monument from environmental effects. In the decade that followed, some preparatory works have been carried on, such as the elaboration of basic rehabilitation, completion of studies for the 1st International Meeting for the restoration of the Temple in 1995, and the construction of the large roof for the industrial crane that surrounds the monument in 2000. 2001 marked the beginning of the restoration project, whose first stages concentrated in the Northern part of the monument. The main objectives of the project are to remove the geometric distortions of the building, and the strengthening of the mechanisms of defense against natural actions.
The task is very wide and complex, since it includes: downloading of the epistyles, removal of columns, disassembly of the sill stones and the upper layer of the foundation, fixing the foundation, restoring and maintenance of stones with simultaneous reinforcement of titanium components, resetting the columns and finally recovery, re-positioning and re-connection of the epistyles.
Until the autumn of 2012, the tangible results of the project were the complete restoration of the Northern side –with exception of restoring the epistyles, which occurred
within 2013- and structural restoration and conservation of stone extracted from the underlying parts of two Northern corner columns of the Eastern and Western side, while in progress is the disassembly of stones of the three Northern corner columns of the long sides.
The monument's restoration project is carried out under direct management by the Ministry of Culture, under the supervision of the Maintenance Committee and operates through the Archaeological Projects Management Fund. The project is mainly financed by EU funds and National resources and since June 2011 by the E.S.P.A. 2007-2013 funding scheme.