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... clearing the topsoil at this part of the pathway, we uncovered a decent part of the nineteenth-century kalderimi. We also discovered that the fountain was established on top of a collapsed structure, tangentially linked with another dry-stone wall, a courtyard defining that long-forgotten private property buried beneath the public fountain and pathway ( Figure 5). Underneath the foundations of the twentieth-century wall attached to the fountain, we uncovered a copper coin of Sultan Abdulmecit I (1823-1861), thus establishing the approximate date for the ruination of the nineteenth-century courtyard. ...


... These important forest qualities of vakoúfika are the product of the spiritual values attached to them by the local communities, and the cognitive communal choice to continue respecting the pre-modern regulations up to the present (Marini Govigli et al. 2021). Furthermore, interdisciplinary research reveals that the depopulation of montane communities and the shift from the primary (agropastoral) economic sector to the tertiary (services), followed by the shift of focus from dwelling (sensu Ingold 1993) to gazing (sensu Urry 2002), has left many sacred trees unprotected and has even converted sacred trees to parking spots to accommodate tourists (Moudopoulos-Athanasiou, 2020a, 2022Stara et al. 2015). Consequently, there is an evident and direct link between the transformation of the communities of Zagori from the Early-Modern communal ways of managing the commons to the tourism-centered present and the decline of the knowledge about vakoúfika -although in many instances, as argued here, they are still very much alive in a region that is today part of the Northern Pindos National Park. ...
... Unfortunately, recent afforestation, resulting from the abandonment of arable land across the Mediterranean (Tomaz et al. 2013), and Zagori in particular (i.e., Moudopoulos-Athanasiou, 2020a, 2022Saratsi 2005), has led to a gradual decrease of sacred grove visibility. Vakoúfika merge with the young forests and are understood as a "natural" landscape, fitting the contemporary understanding of visitors abiding by the natural-cultural divide, nature being forests and culture the "traditional," aesthetically pleasing, montane settlements. ...
... Recent research combining Ottoman cadastres, oral history and landscape archaeology revealed that all contemporary inhabited villages of Zagori were established before the sixteenth century (Moudopoulos-Athanasiou 2022, excluding the çiftlik estates, which were dependent on monasteries and notable families). Yet, post-eighteenth-century émigré wealth from the Ottoman Balkans and Central Europe resulted in the complete rebuilding of the villages: new majestic churches and elite households emerged, leaving the pre-eighteenth-century built environment virtually untraceable (Dalkavoukis 1999;Filidou 2020;Moudopoulos-Athanasiou 2022). ...
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In recent years there is a growing interest in the “Sacred Forests” (vakoúfika) of Zagori in Northwest Greece. These are either groves or individual trees, dedicated to patron saints, protected through customary laws, communal regulations, religious excommunications, and supernatural narratives. For ca. 300 years they have represented the tangible reminders of rituals, beliefs, and pre-modern ways of managing the commons to an extent that they survive in the present. This article introduces archaeology into the interdisciplinary discourse revolving around vakoúfika. Through the concepts of dwelling, walking, and archaeological ethnography, I evaluate the concept of static “traditional” mountainous communities and focus on the changes that might have occurred to the rituals and beliefs associated with vakoúfika over the past centuries. The case study is the Sacred Forest of Băeasă (Vovousa), dedicated to St. Viniri and the associated rituals. In situ observations and especially the exploration of the role of two stones in the celebration reveal an archaeological layer to the pilgrim, in which the center of the ritual was the forest not its associated chapel.
The present essay addresses the different ways of walking in a cultural landscape as a tool to interpret its heritage. From the nineteenth-century travelers to the contemporary regional archaeological surveys, walking plays a crucial role in shaping our understanding of place. Past ways of walking archived in primary sources, contemporary interpretations of montane cultural landscapes, and the ways of walking in the present reveal different attitudes to heritage. This article investigates the region of Zagori in northwestern Greece as a case study to approach different walks, past and present, related both to remembering and forgetting, through the perspectives of dwelling, inhabiting, and gazing at the cultural landscape of Zagori.