A new museum in Northern Greece: the Siatista Historical Paleontological Collection, the first record of a stegodon in Europe and the making of the straight-tusked elephant.

The Historical Palaeontological Collection of Siatista (HPCS), housed in a school building in Siatista, Kozani, Macedonia in Greece, was studied by the authors during the summer of 2009. The collection was assembled by local people from 1902 onwards, under the initiative of Nikolaos Diamantopoulos. Anastasios Danas, a high school teacher at the Trampantzeion Gymnasium in Siatista, was the main collector and he founded the Siatista’s palaeontological collection in 1906. The recovered records of the collection are minimal and it is not always clear from which locality the fossils were collected. However, the archived documents indicate that all the fossils were collected in the larger region of Siatista.

Replica of the Pleistocene straight-tusked elephant, Elephas antiquus, the eyecatcher of the Siatista Museum

In 1972, Prof Ioannis Melentis, famous for his studies and publications on the fossil proboscideans of Greece, realised the importance of the collection and, in 1980, he became involved in the study and management of the collection, which was officially donated to the community of Siatista in 1994. The first exhibition was held in the Trampantzeion in 1982. In 2011, the collection was put on display in this beautiful building in Siatista, which was built in 1888. In a short time, it became one of the attractions of Siatista, telling the story of the large pachyderms that once roamed the northern parts of Greece.

Former Mayor of Siatista, Mr Kostas Kosmidis, with scale models (1 : 10) of extinct proboscideans, which once roamed the area around Siatista.

The exhibition of fossil proboscidean fossils from the HPCS is open to the public. A team of experts from the Aristotle University, Thessaloniki in Greece and from the Mammuthus Club International in The Netherlands started working in Siatista on the collections some years ago. These scientists are very active in the field of fossil proboscideans and have, along with others, have done a great deal of work on the mastodons that have been excavated since 1996 in the sand deposits of the Aliakmon River. For example, in a sandpit in Milia (see The Mastodon of Milia, in Issue 19 of Deposits), they unearthed the tusks of a very large mastodon, Mammut borsoni. These tusks have a length of over 5m, which is a Guinness World Record.

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