CULTURE

Stephen Miller, archaeologist known for work at Nemea, dies

stephen-miller-archaeologist-known-for-work-at-nemea-dies

American professor and archaeologist Stephen G. Miller, who devoted over three decades of his life to the excavation and promotion of the archaeological site of Ancient Nemea in the northeastern Peloponnese, has died. He was 79.

Born in Goshen, Indiana, in 1942, Miller became professor of archaeology at the University of California at Berkeley between 1973 and 2004, while serving as director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens from 1982 until 1987. 

In 1971, Miller was appointed director of excavations at Nemea and began work at the site two years later. His team uncovered the Sanctuary of Zeus and the ancient stadium, constructed around 330 BC.

In 1994, Miller founded the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games. The first contemporary games, international footraces open to all, were held two years later and then every four years.

He published several books and scholarly articles documenting his archaeological discoveries, including “Nemea II: The Early Hellenistic Stadium” (University of California Press 2001).

Miller was bestowed the Greek title of Grand Commander of the Order of Honor in 2005, while the country’s president at the time made him an honorary Greek citizen.

Following his retirement in 2004, Miller and his wife Effie divided their time between their two homes in Nemea and the US.

“He loved Greece, he adored Nemea and brought its treasures to light,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. “He felt a deep affection for the people and the culture of modern Greece,” he added, expressing his admiration for Miller’s “dedication to the universal values of classical Greece.”

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni expressed her grief. “With the loss of Stephen Miller, archaeological research has lost a great, dedicated scientist, while Greece has lost a great friend,” she said in a message, while praising the late archaeologist’s “scientific brilliance, humanity and progressive thinking.”

In a post on social media, Deputy Minister of Development and Investment Christos Dimas said: “We bid farewell to a great Greek archaeologist, Stephen Miller. He dedicated himself to Nemea, built the museum, [oversaw] the restoration of the Temple of Zeus at Nemea, taught thousands of students, inspired millions of people and was the reference point, the ambassador of Nemea around the world.”

“Very sad news about an American scholar who contributed greatly to the cultural ties between our countries (and California),” US Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt tweeted.

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Barefoot runners wearing tunics take part in a footrace in the ancient stadium of Nemea, southwest of Athens, June 11, 2016. [AP]