The Real Halia

Situated on the Aegean coast of Greece, ancient Halia enjoys a picturesque location beside a well-protected harbor about 60 miles/95 km southwest of Athens. In classical antiquity it was a small city-state of little note. Its name probably wasn’t exactly Halia, although it was something close. Scholars more correctly refer to it as Halieís.

Although its well-protected harbor attracted settlement as early as the Neolithic period, Halia enjoyed its greatest prosperity in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The site was then abandoned, probably in the early 3rd century BC, but it is far from clear why a once-thriving community so quickly disappeared as a political and economic entity. With minor exceptions the abandonment was permanent and resulted in near-ideal conditions for the archaeologists who excavated portions of the site in the 1960s and 1970s.


Today, the site faces an uncertain future. Over the past decade and in apparent contradiction of Greek law, holiday homes have been built within the site. The chronically underfunded Greek Archaeological Service has oversight responsibility, but protecting sites is complex and difficult. The situation has deteriorated in recent years due to the seemingly endless Greek “debt crisis,” although that does not absolve the authorities of blame in this case.

It’s disheartening to see this piece of Greece’s historical and archaeological heritage subjected to irretrievable damage. Unfortunately, there seems to be little that can be done about it, and that’s a damn shame.


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