What are modern-day philhellenes made of? Are they guided by the same values, are they devoted to Greece as that older generation of philhellenes who stood by the Greeks under difficult circumstances?
The new generation of philhellenes certainly differ in at least one way, which is welcome: They have an affection for our ancient as well as contemporary self, acknowledging the fact that the country that has a rich past and a dynamic future. Just like the three great archaeologists who were recently honored by President Katerina Sakellaropoulou in light of Philhellenism and International Solidarity Day, officially celebrated on April 19, the date that Lord Byron died in Messolonghi in 1824.
The Commander of the Order of the Phoenix medals were awarded to three distinguished American archaeologists: husband-and-wife team Dr Jack L. Davis and Dr Sharon R. Stocker of Cincinnati University, and director emeritus of the excavation at Ancient Corinth run by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Charles K. Williams.
In her comments, Sakellaropoulou said that the three archaeologists “not only contributed their knowledge, their passion and ruthless diligence to the case of archaeology. For them, the excavation adventure fulfilled the need of modern man to come into almost physical contact with the ancient Greek ideal and its aesthetic values. And along the way, working in a country where the traces of antiquity surface at every step, they came to love the place and its people.”
Davis and Stocker unearthed the Griffin Warrior Tomb during their 2015 dig at Nestor’s Palace in the area of Ancient Pylos and helped change the manner in which experts had until then understood Mycenaean and Minoan civilizations. Their dig brought to light one of the most important discoveries of the past 65 years, and a reward for them both in the scientific sense and emotionally, for their deep love of Greece. The sum of their excavations and their archaeological investigation in Nemea, Messene and on the island of Kea (Tzia), as well as their knowledge of the pre-history of the Aegean islands, resembles a precious contribution to Greek archaeology and the promotion of Greek culture around the globe.
Charles K. Williams, meanwhile, has spent a good 31 years digging in Greece. He is not only known for his outstanding work at Ancient Corinth. His philhellenism is reflected in his love for Greek customs, the people and rural life, as well as in his extended charity work, said Sakellaropoulou, who also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside Parliament to mark the day.