Introduction : Belgian Excavations at Sissi – the need of a research center
Since 2007, the Belgian School at Athens has been excavating at Sissi, a coastal village about 40 km east of Iraklion, capital of the Greek Island of Crete. Sissi is part of a single community with Vrachasi and since the Kallikrat’s reform in 2011, both depend on the municipality of Ayios Nikolaos, about 20 km east.
During the previous campaigns we were graciously allowed to process our finds and to restore some of the objects at the dighouse of the French School at Malia. Some of our finds are also stored at Malia (Fig. 1) whereas the best ones are or will be on display in the Ayios Nikolaos museum. Most material, however, is deposited in a storeroom in Ayios Nikolaos which we share with the Prinitiatikos Pyrgos project of the Irish School at Athens. This situation is rather difficult: there is no room at Ayios Nikolaos to process and study our finds and we cannot store our material at Malia, nor can we use the French dighouse according to our own scientific needs and calendar.
After discussion with the Greek Archaeological Service as well as the local community and after having explored other possibilities, we have taken the initiative during the Summer of 2011 to propose to the local council of Vrachasi as well as to the municipal council of Ayios Nikolaos that the municipality cede to us the Old School at Vrachasi for a long period to be transformed into a study and research centre, primarily for the Belgian excavations at Sissi but also for potential other projects within the region (e.g. Anavlochos).