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Pyrgiotissa Cultural Heritage Project and ARCHEM
Pyrgiotissa Cultural Heritage Project (PCHP) is co-directed by Andrew J. Koh (Brandeis University), Christoforos Vallianos (Director, Museum of Cretan Ethnology Research Centre), and Despoina Hatzi-Vallianou (Honorary Curator of Antiquities and President, Cultural Association of Mesara).
PCHP was founded in 2010 as a multi-disciplinary approach to studying and documenting the immensely rich cultural heritage of the western Mesara Plain on Crete from the beginnings of humanity to the present. Pyrgiotissa (peer-yee-OH-tees-sa), or towers, is the traditional name for the western region of the Mesara due to the existence of fortification towers since at least the Second Byzantine period (ca. 10th century) in this strategic and valuable area of Crete.
One of the first major projects of PCHP was to help in the restoration of the early 15th century chapel of Agios Georgios (St. George) in the small village of Mesiskle located in the southern foothills of Mt. Psilioritis (Ida). A local shepherd, Antonis Zacharioudakis, who as a young boy helped in the resistance against the Nazis during World War II and later fought as a volunteer in the Korean War, approached the Museum of Cretan Ethnology to seek help in fulfilling a vow he made in Korea to restore the chapel if he were to make it out alive. Over the past 55 years, Antonis has lovingly restored the chapel and its environs save for one final task.
PCHP is based at the Museum of Cretan Ethnology Research Centre (Vori, Crete) and Brandeis University (Waltham, MA). Photos can be found here.
Brandeis Master's students in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies who are interested in this project should email Professor Andrew Koh (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.