The Kapodistrias Barracks Compound & Excavation Research in Byzantine Argos
The Exhibition begins at the ground floor of the west wing, where visitors are informed about the history of the Barracks compound and the excavation research into Byzantine Argos.
The compound of the barracks was built on the site of a pre-existing edifice of the 2nd Venetian period, which housed a covered market (bezesteni), a post office and an inn during the years of the 2nd Ottoman rule.
Its designation as the ‘Stratones Kapodistria’ (Kapodistrias Barracks) — the name by which it is widely known — stems from the years following the Greek Revolution of Independence (1828-1829), when Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of the newly founded Greek state, ordered that it be rebuilt to house the barracks for the Cavalry. At that stage, the compound was quadrangular, with an elevated large arched passage as its northern gate. The ground floor housed the stables for the horses, the first floor the soldiers’ quarters and the north wing the officers’ quarters and the command post.
In 1971 the barracks compound was acquired by the Municipality of Argos and, for several years, both the city’s authorities and citizens were considering tearing it down. In the end, the building was rescued thanks to the vigorous intervention of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, the Argos Cultural Association and a group of motivated citizens, and, in 1978, it was listed as a historical monument to be preserved.
The excavation research in Byzantine Argolis is chiefly focused on Argos, the largest urban centre of Argolis throughout the Byzantine era and up to the 14th century. In the beginning of the 20th century, the French Archaeological School began to research key parts of the ancient city, such as the Larisa Castle, the hill of Prophet Elias and the ancient Agora, while in the 1960s the Greek Archaeological Service made a powerful entrance in the field of archaeological research, conducting numerous rescue excavations.
A pivotal role in the study and promotion of the region’s Byzantine archaeological heritage, and especially that of Argos, was played by archaeologist Tasoula Oikonomou-Laniado (1956-1998). Hailing from Limnes Argolidas, she conducted significant excavations in Argos and the greater Argolis region, while her dissertation constitutes a prime source of knowledge regarding Early Byzantine Argos. At the same time, she fought for the rescue of Byzantine antiquities and envisioned the creation of a Byzantine Museum in the town of Argos. A large part of the museum’s exhibits are derived from her excavations.
In putting the findings of excavations to the best possible use, the Byzantine Museum of Argolis aspires to render the hitherto ‘invisible’ Byzantine heritage tangible to all, thus filling in the medieval links missing from the glorious historic chain of the Argolic land.