On 25 and 26 June, a celebratory plaque will be unveiled at the ABEA industrial complex in Chania, Crete to recognise the vital contribution chemistry played to the regional development of the island. The event, organised by the Association of Greek Chemists will witness the unveiling of the plaque by EuChemS Vice-President David Cole-Hamilton and Secretary General Nineta Hrastelj on behalf of EuChemS.
Participants will be given a visit of the archaeological museum of Eleutherna, and will celebrate the unveiling of the plaque in an evening ceremony by the historical chimneys of the old factory.
Chania, Crete, which was still then part of the Ottoman Empire, was chosen by Alphonse Jules Deiss as the site of the industrial complex of ABEA. Deiss, a French chemist and businessman, threw himself into the pioneering project of producing and marketing Marseille-type soaps and related products, using olives and olive oil. Innovative chemical processes enabled the company to improve product quality and output, and turn the project into a successful venture. The first industrial site of its kind in the predominantly agrarian setting of Crete provided a vital contribution to the island’s early industrialisation and economic development. 130 years later, the factory remains as active as ever. The old factory is still partly standing, with its two imposing chimneys standing tall as reminders of the early applications of chemical innovation and experimentation.
The industrial complex was awarded the 2018 EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award at the regional level following the recommendations of the Landmark Selection Committee and the decision of the EuChemS Executive Board.
EuChemS put in place a Historical Landmarks Award programme in order to recognise and celebrate European sites that have a central role in the history of chemistry, whether at a European level or regionally. The first awardee of the programme, Ytterby mine in Sweden, was presented with the EuChemS plaque in April 2019.