As I’ve mentioned in the past, heraldry isn’t one of the things that pops in one’s head when thinking about Greece. However, Greece a long a rich heraldic history.
Unfortunately, many people in Greece, even academics and members of the government are completely ignorant of heraldry. So, you might imagine how surprised I was to discover a database of images of herldry in the real world in Greece owned and maintained by the Greek Government!
The site is for a project called “Pandektis” and is “a digital thesaurus of primary sources for Greek History and Culture”, developed by the National Hellenic Research Foundation under the framework of a project mostly financed by the European Union called “Digital Greece“. The digitalization was carried out by the Hellenic National Documentation Center. It has a huge database of over 400 images of families and organizations that existed over the centuries in the lands that are now Greece.
It’s a wonderful site that can either be browsed or searched in both English and Greek. It even has a very informative map that shows where each image was taken from and also, a handy timeline of the age of each heraldic artefact.
The database covers everything heraldic in Greece from the 13th century all the way to 20th; the entire period of heraldry, from its inception to modern times!
Taken from the “general information” of the site:
While the first signs of the heraldic phenomenon are found in Western and Central Europe during the second quarter of the 12th century, in the region of Greece it makes it’s appearance rather late and on a lesser scale. In Greece the first heraldic remains, as detected through historical research, date from the 14th century, reach their peak in the next two centuries (15th and 16th) and continue up to the end of the 19th century, at a lower, but still significant level.
The Institute of Neohellenic Research, recognizing the importance of study of this phenomenon in Greek history, as well as the need to go beyond dilettantish approaches, has included in its research activities the systematic locating, inventorying, photographing and classifying of items, with the aim of creating a database of heraldic monuments of Greece. Our research has located more than 1,200 coats-of-arms and heraldic emblems so far. There are three main contributors to this total:
• The Latin-occupied Kyklades islands,
• the Dodecanese islands under the Knights Hospitallers and
• the Venetian-ruled areas (mainly Crete, the Ionian islands and the Peloponnese)
Lesser contributions derive from the Genovese presence (mainly in the NE Aegean Sea), the Catholic Church (which cuts across all the above) and, finally, the small group of Fanariotes.
At this stage, the database includes 443 records, 147 of which date from the 13th-15th centuries, 170 from the 16th-17th centuries, 105 from the 18th-19th centuries, and 21 from the 20th century. Geographically, the bulk of the records comes from the Aegean islands (258 records), but also represented are Crete (85 records), the Ionian Islands (44 records), Sterea Hellas (38 records) and the Peloponnese (18 records).
For each database record, the location of the monument, its identity, its date, a brief historical note, bibliographic references and a recent image are provided in separate fields.
Leonidas Kallivretakis has the scientific oversight of the project. In addition to him, Nikos Benos-Palmer, Evi Olympitou and, primarily, Kostis Kallivretakis did the field photography.
The URL to this most fascinating site is: http://pandektis.ekt.gr/dspace/handle/123456789/1