I recently got back from a fortnight’s holiday in Crete. Christine and I stayed in a resort called Elounda which is near Agios Nikolaos at the eastern end of the island. The temperature was in the low 30s, the sea was warm and there was plenty of good food and wine, oh and some fantastic antiquities if you like that sort of thing…
Elounda is the embarkation point for trips to Spinalonga, the leper colony made famous in Victoria Hislop’s novel The Island (2005). You can also go via Plaka which is a shorter journey. The boats ferry you across the bay and you have an hour to wander round the island to see the Venetian fortifications and the remains of the houses and other buildings used by those suffering from the disease and their carers. The island was inhabited up to the 1950s. Once sent to Spinalonga the patients did not see their families again.
Wandering amongst the restored and derelict buildings was moving. Some of the buildings house interpretation panels and in one instance there were exhibits.
What caught my eye was a display of iron nails of post medieval date because there are some similar examples from Antalya in Turkey in the Ancient Worlds displays in Ian Panter’s section, where we talk about conservation and the circumstances in which some materials may be preserved.
We selected some iron nails from Antalya in Turkey to go in this section in order to extend the date range and geographical range of the displays. They are thought to be 17th or 18th century. A tiny piece of textiles had been preserved on one of the iron nails. Corrosion products from the iron had helped preserve the organic textile which usually rots away in damp conditions in the earth. I couldn’t get close enough to the nails to see if they had any textile fragments on their surface but it was a nice reminder of the displays back at the Museum. And it’s a good excuse to share some photos of the beautiful island of Crete.