Sparta one of the glorious city-states of ancient Greece does not really have the number of monuments one would expect to find. Have you ever wandered why? Romans, crusaders; the Venetian general Morozoni and Lord Elgin destroyed or stole many Greek treasures and ancient secrets but the list would not be complete without the name of Michele Fourmont.
No one demonstrated such greed, barbarism, ignorance, disrespect and hatred for the ancient Greek civilisation as abbe Michele Fourmont (1690-1746), envoy of King Luis XV of France. Fourmont surpasses Elgin in the amount of destruction caused and hatred towards the Greek civilisation. In trying to make himself favoured by the king of France and to ensure the exclusive access to the information collected from discovered scripts and monuments he decided to destroy all that he could so as to not leave any traces for future explorers. Fourmont, during his expedition in Sparta, Athens, Salamis, Megara and various other locations in the Peloponnese destroyed everything in his sight after he had documented his findings.
Fourmont confesses in a letter sent to Count Maurepas that he copied 1,500 ancient inscriptions (300 in Sparta) and brags about destroying them in order to avoid access to the information by any future travellers. In his letter Fourmont writes:
“For more than 30 days, 40 to 60 workers are, destroying the city of Sparta. I am still left with four towers to destroy. At the moment I am engaged with the destruction of the last ancient monuments of Sparta. You understand how happy I am. Mantinia, Stimfalia, Tegea, Nemea and Olympia are also worth annihilating. I have travelled extensively looking for ancient cities of this country and I have destroyed some of them. Amomg them are Trizina, Ermioni, Tiryns: half of the acropolis of Argos, Fliasia and Fenesia. For six weeks I have been busy with the total destruction of Sparta: destroying walls, temples and not leaving one stone on its place making the site unrecognisable in the future so that I can make it famous again.In this way I will give glory to my expeditions. Is that not something?”
In another part of his letter he writes about Sparta:
“‘Sparta is the fifth city I have destroyed. I am now working on the demolition of the deeper foundation of the temple of Apollo. I would destroy more temples if I was allowed to do so. The tower, I completely demolished.”
About the ancient city of Trizina:
“I have destroyed all that was left from the fortress and the temples”
He then demonstrates true barbarism by stating:
“I do not know of any travellers before me that dared to destroy towers and other large buildings”
Fourmont is responsible for the anhillition of ancient Sparta, Trizina and Ermioni. According to information provided by Fourmont, he paid 1,200 days of labour for the destruction of monuments. If Fourmont had not been called back to France he would have also destroyed ancient Olympia as planned.