The Ancient Diolkos is a well known technical construction of antiquity. Built around 600 B.C., it permitted ships to be carried over the Isthmus of Corinth and it has been called “the world’s first known railway”.
Excavations of its western end, conducted between 1956 and 1962, brought to light a majestic road with a width ranging from 3,5 to almost six metres and numerous interesting details.
The initial part of the monument was consequently left to the mercy of the wake of the boats passing through Corinth Canal. No measures were taken to protect the monument; quests for its salvation were ignored.
In 1985, with the monument heavily eroded, an obligation of the Canal Company for a conservation study was passed over. In 1999, the Ministry failed to give direct answers to formal questions submitted by members of the parliament. A Justice enquiry, moved about the same time by a citizen’s report, had no visible outcome.
In recent times, the preparations for a future restoration study were presented as the only “token” for the interest of the relevant services.
An international appeal to the Greek Prime Minister for the salvation and restoration of Diolkos without further delay, has already received signatures originating from 52 countries. This appeal, as well as the renewed interest of the Justice Authorities, seem to have brought about some result, with the recent mobilization of the Direction for the Restoration of Ancient Monuments for Diolkos.
Nevertheless, the modern history of Diolkos is so unbelievably burdened, and the distress of the monument is so continuous, that the news of some service been interested is not enough. The international appeal will thus be continued, until specific actions are undertaken to put an end to the modern-times passion of this unique monument.