The Lost Villages of Arcadia

Panagitsa (turned to from Gioussi) Τhe story of the "lost villages" in Arcadia, as well as in other regions of Greece,  is an interesting topic from the historic point of view. So what happened to the "lost" villages of Arcadia?

In the decade of 1830 the Austrian historian J.P.Fallmerayer formulated a theory on the Originality of the Modern Greeks. To make a long story short, according to his theory Modern Greeks were not the descendants of Ancient Greeks but they were Slavs!. One of his strongest arguments was that the villages of Peloponnese were having slavonic or turkish names. It is true that during the 5th and 6th century AD populations of slavonic origin started to move towards the Balkan Peninsula and a big and rather mass group of them settled in Peloponnese.

Everyone agrees now that all the Slavs of Peloponnese were "absorbed " by the Greek element and the Greek church played a very big role on this. But when Fallmerayer published his theory the newly established Greek State and the Professors of the University of Athens reacted with panic! The reason was that, when Fallmerayer published his book in Europe, the Greek part thought that they would affect the image of the country and the new state. Everyone would like to help the descendants of Plato and Aristotle but what if these descendants turned out to be Slavs! So they formed a committee under Constantinos Paparigopoulos, Professor of History at the Athenean University. Paparigopoulos dedicated himself to prove that Fallmerayer's theory was wrong.

This simple event had enormous affect upon the Greek Society who was seeking for its identity after 400 yeras of Turkish occupation. This event is even the beginning of the so - called " linguistic problem". Anyway, Paparigopoulos commitee changed some names of the villages of Epirus but they didnt do much work on Peloponnese.

At the beginning of the decade of 1930 under the influence of the recent tragic historical events and under the influence of the "generation of the Thirties" ( a group of poets and writters that brought fresh air in the Greek Letters ex Seferis) E. Venizelos, formed another commitee in order to rename the villages of Peloponnese. For example in 1931,  the gortinian village Dragomano changed its name to Kotilio! From 1931 - 1933 all the villages of Arcadia changed their names. Every single change was published as a law of the Greek State.

What were the criteria of choosing a new name for a village? First of all the ancient Greek history of the place , IF it existed any. For Arcadia, the "Guide to Greece" of Pausanias was the only (but great) help. For some cases the identification was not difficult. It was easy to match Tsipiana to Nestani or Dragomano to Kotilio. If they hadnt such a clue they translated the turkish or slavonic name to Greek! Arachova in slavonic means nut tree so, it turned into Karyes (nut tree in ancient Greek)! Or they picked - up a name related to the Greek Orthodox Church, as Giousi to Paragitsa.

Some other examples of Arcadian villages, whose names have been changed are: Ahouria (turkish name) turned to Stadion (Tegea), (I)Braimafenti (turkish name) turned to Episkopi (Tegea), (O)Martsaousi (turkish name) turned to Akra (Tegea), Piali (turkish name) turned to Alea (Tegea), Zeli turned to Kandalos (Tegea), Kapareli turned to Manthirea (Tegea), Glanitsia turned to Migdalia (Gortinia), Bedeni turned to Skopi (near Tripolis), Bezenikos turned to Blaherna, Granitsa turned to Nymphasia, Karnesi turned to Prassino, Toposta turned to Theoktisto, Kerpini turned to Monastra, Gartzenikos turned to Elati and Glogova turned to Drakovouni.

This is the brief story of the"lost" villages!

V. Efthimiopoulou, Α. Kostadinidis
Copyright 2001©

Last updated : 20/06/2002

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