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The annual publication by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG – dedicated this year to the “National Archaeological Museum”, Greece’s oldest and largest museum – was officially presented on Friday 7 December 2007. The text, written by archaeologist and Museum Director Nikolaos Kaltsas, introduces and describes its collections, which represent the period from the Neolithic Age to Roman times with scholarly precision and narrative simplicity. This volume is the latest in the series of illustrated books of archaeological interest that have been produced in recent years and financed exclusively by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG under the general heading “The Museum Cycle”.
In his foreword to the book, Minister of Culture Mr Michalis Liapis states that this book could be construed as more of a need than a surprise and expresses his conviction that it will constitute a landmark publication about the ancient Greek civilisation, both in Greece and abroad. He declares: “The Ministry of Culture supports this significant effort to publicise our cultural heritage, as well as the great services offered by such private initiatives in promoting Greek culture.” Mr. Liapis likewise notes that the State will continue to provide valuable assistance to the National Archaeological Museum, in order that it may become an international academic and cultural centre.
“Self-evident and imperative” were the words used by Mrs Marianna Latsis to describe this year’s choice of subject, pointing out that “it is our national duty to promote our cultural heritage in every way.” In addition, Mrs Latsis announced completion of the digitisation programme that has made it possible for all books of archaeological interest that have been published on the initiative of the Foundation and EFG Eurobank up to 2006 to be made available in electronic form on the Internet (e-books). This programme was implemented with the cordial consent of the Ministry of Culture and the Central Archaeological Council. These valuable digital publications are already accessible to the public in the Electronic Library hosted by the Foundation on its website. The digital form of “The National Archaeological Museum” will be available on-line in the early months of 2008. As Mrs Latsis noted in particular: “This is a pioneering electronic guide to some of Greece’s most significant cultural sites. The enormous potential of digital technology and the bilingual presentation, in Greek and English, of most of our books have made us optimistic that thousands of art-loving surfers on the Internet will come into contact with the ancient Greek civilisation through these electronic anthologies. At the same time, educational systems in Greece and abroad have been enriched with another powerful tool which, although incapable of replacing the fascination and unique experience of physical contact with masterpieces of art, will certainly contribute to disseminating the knowledge and universality of the ancient Greek civilisation.”
Mrs Latsis declared in closing that “The publishing presence of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation constitutes an integral part of its multi-faceted activity, with the following main focal points: to promote scholarship, the learning society and social solidarity, to protect the environment and to publicise culture. Whether independently, or through its subsidiary Foundations in Greece and abroad, or through collaborations, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation will carry on and extend its work with Greece’s progress as its sole criterion.”
Mr. Nikos Nanopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of Eurobank EFG, referring to the book “The National Archaeological Museum”, declared that: “The creation of this work is a minimum expression of the need that we Greeks have always felt to participate in the permanent national effort to preserve and promote the unique and magnificent Greek civilisation. “The National Archaeological Museum is the crown of Greece’s museums, guardian of our history and culture, and narrator of the brilliant course of the Greeks, which is analysed and beautifully illustrated by the unique works of art surrounding us. And the book we are pleased to present to the public today contains an admirable depiction of just a few of the Museum’s many significant treasures.
“We believe that the scholarly and aesthetic excellence of this book pays the best possible homage to the tradition we have established, together with the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, of publishing an annual work of comparable quality about a museum or archaeological site in Greece. The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has been recognised internationally for its manifold contribution to the arts and scholarship and for its generous and many-faceted social action. These publishing initiatives constitute valuable capital in Eurobank’s multiple sponsorship programme, through which our banking group endeavours to make a creative contribution to the social and cultural life of our country.”
In her brief remarks, publisher Mrs Eirini Louvrou declared: “We approached this unique material, with the unrivalled wealth and variety of its forms, with respect, a sense of responsibility and always with the guidance of the author, archaeologist Nikos Kaltsas. Through his choices, which were accompanied by profound knowledge and love of his subject, he put together a panorama of the art and history of ancient Greece, conveying the spirit and charm of the National Archaeological Museum in the pages of this book.”
The author, archaeologist Nikolaos Kaltsas, said that the “long, significant and turbulent history of the National Museum and the antiquities hosted in the book we have in our hands today constitute a summary of the Museum’s content, with its most representative works depicted, including those to be exhibited next year.” In reference to writing the texts, he described it as “a great challenge, since the writer has to make this abundance that covers all of ancient art and culture both chronologically and geographically fit into a very small number of pages”, and that in the context of this constraint, “an effort was made to convey the spirit and most characteristic features of every age.” Concluding his remarks, he expressed the hope that the readers would “derive pleasure from this book and become better acquainted with the Museum and the past it houses, a past that is common to us all and ultimately part of ourselves.”
The publication of this new book, which numbers 456 pages, was coordinated by Mrs.Eirini Louvrou of OLKOS Publishers; the design and artistic supervision bears the signature of Dimitris Kalokyris, and the exhibits were photographed by Giannis Patrikianos.
This cloth-bound publication was printed by Fotolio & Typicon SA in 22,400 copies, in a 35 x 28 cm format. The colour separations were done by the studio of D. Plessas Ltd and binding by Stamou & Co.