He arrived in Greece in the ’70s as a young archaeologist aspiring to bring to light the kingdom of legendary Ulysses or, at least, the palaces of King Phillip of Macedon. Destiny, however, and the University of California at Berkeley, led Dr. Stephen G. Miller to Nemea in the Peloponnese, southern Greece, where he unearthed the ancient stadium of the Nemean Panhellenic Games.
In an interview with ANA-MPA’s “Greek Diaspora” magazine, Miller said the excavation was carried out very cautiously, and frequently with bare hands.
“The first time I visited Greece I felt a sense of national identity,” he said, adding: “I felt that I’ve always belonged here and will belong here forever.”
Dr. Miler recently spent nine months at the site, despite the fact that he is no longer the director of the excavations. Moreover, he has played a decisive role in the revival of the Nemean Games in their ancient form. Participating athletes are obligated to wear attire similar to those worn by their fellow athletes during antiquity.
“I believe that this re-enactment and revival of the ancient Nemean Games makes us all feel a part of this magnificent Greek history,” he says.
Referring to propaganda attempts following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia to cast doubt on the Hellenic nature of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, he said the ancient Greeks of the 7th century BC considered the Macedons as fellow Hellenes, adding that “their Greek identity is obvious given that the inscriptions of the ancient Macedons were written in Greek”.
Furthermore, based on the archaeological findings, the Macedonians participated in the Games of Nemea as one of the Greek tribes and this is an indisputable fact.
Turning to another subject, he said the New Acropolis Museum is exceptional, and stressed that the British Museum no longer has any excuse to keep in London the Parthenon Marbles, “the epitome of ancient perfection, the cornerstone of Western civilisation, of beauty and symmetry.”
“If my hand was missing, wouldn’t I ask for it back? The answer is self-evident,” he continued.
He stated that isolated sculptures such as the Aphrodite of Milos (Venus di Milo) or the Nike of Samothrace would continue to be on display at the Louvre, or other such artifacts in museums throughout the world, in order to showcase the perfection of the ancient Greek spirit.
“But the Parthenon Marbles must be returned to their home, to be housed in the New Acropolis Museum, to complete their historic whole,” he added.
Calleva seems to be an awfully interesting dig … last time we heard about it, it was about the ‘puppy skin’ trade. Now we hear of Boudicca’s possible involvement there:
Professor Michael Fulford said that 13 years of excavations at Calleva had revealed evidence of the first gridded Iron Age town in Britain.
The site also bears the scars of possible early Roman military occupation, and evidence of later, widespread burning and destruction.
This suggests the site could have been destroyed at the hands of Boudicca.
Queen Boudicca waged war against the Romans in Britain from 60 AD after the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and confiscated the property of the leading tribesmen.
Boudicca’s warriors successfully defeated the Roman Ninth Legion and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, then at Colchester. They went on to destroy London and Verulamium (St Albans).
Thousands were killed. Finally, Boudicca was defeated by a Roman army led by Paulinus. Many Britons were killed and Boudicca is thought to have poisoned herself to avoid capture.
The site of the battle, and of Boudicca’s death, are unknown.
Professor Fulford said that in excavations at Silchester they had found evidence of a major military occupation at Calleva (now called Silchester) in 40 AD, then destruction between 60 and 80 AD, including wells that were filled in at this time and burned buildings.
“The settlement is completely wiped out somewhere between 60 AD and 80 AD, and it starts again in 70 AD,” he said.
Although Calleva is not mentioned in historical sources concerning Boudicca, it is known that she waged war at St Albans and London, just 50 mile away.
“Winchester became an important military location for the Romans and so was Silchester,” said Professor Fulford, urging more people interested in Roman history to learn about the site.
“There’s more to see at Silchester than there is at Winchester.”
The University of Reading’s Department of Archaeology has been excavating and researching a central area of Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) since 1997.
FWIW, one of the proposed sites (which has been in the news) for Boudicca’s final battle is Rugby …
More previous coverage:
- Rethinking Calleva Atrebatum (October, 2007)
ante diem iii kalendas maias
- ludi Florales … a.k.a. Floralia (day 3) — a festival originally ordered in response to an interpretation of the Sybilline books in 238 B.C., it fell into desuetude only to be revived in 173 B.C.; it was a general festival of drinking and other merriment in honour of Flora, who presided over (of course) flowers and their blossoms
- ca 65 A.D. — martyrdom of Torpes of Pisa
- 259 A.D. — martyrdom of Agapius at Citra (along with quite a few others)