In the late 1980’s, I was working at the excavation of Hellenistic Halos, a heavily fortified port in southeastern Thessaly. Although I soon discovered that I lacked the qualities to be a good archaeologist, I usually enjoyed my work and the contact with the Greek people we met. For a couple of years I continued to exchange letters with a young girl who liked to improve her English. It was a good experience and I have returned to the place several times.
Whenever I went there, I found the place where the finds were kept, the small museum of Almyros, closed. During my two first visits, this was only to be expected, because the building had been destroyed by an earthquake. All carefully repaired objects had been damaged for a second time. But when I returned again, the new building was not open either. This happened several times: I passed through Almyros late in the afternoon, or on a Monday (when Greek museums are usually closed), or on a national holiday… Whatever the cause, I never saw the objects that I was longing to see.
This year, I finally saw what I had wanted to see for more than twenty years. Although the doors were closed, the fence was open, and we soon found the guard, who helped us. I had not expected to be lucky this time, because closing this small museum for good would make sense in a country that suffers heavily from the current economic crisis. It tells a lot about the love of modern Greeks for their past that they keep even the smallest museums open. I am very grateful.
The little museum has three rooms: one dedicated to the prehistory of southeastern Thessaly, one dedicated to Phthiotic Thebes, one dedicated to Hellenistic Halos. In the garden are some other finds, including a splendid Ottoman tombstone. Explanatory signs are very well executed, and if you want to know more, there’s a library.
I did not recognize any of the objects on display. Except for one coin. After more than twenty years, it is impossible to be certain, but this morning, I’d have sworn an oath that one of the coins in the museum was recovered from the soil by myself. Of course I am fooling myself in believing this, but at least it’s a nice thought that my clumsy activities have not been completely without merit. Happy, I said goodbye to the guard, walked to the central square of Almyros, and ordered a coffee in one of the bars I once used to visit.