Archaeological Society of Athens

Table of Contents

Archaeological Society of Athens

The Archaeological Society of Athens (known as Εν Αθήναις Αρχαιολογική Εταιρεία in Greek, and romanized as En Athínais Archaiologikí Etaireía) is a distinguished independent scholarly organization. Often referred to as the Greek Archaeological Society, it was established in 1837 by Konstantinos Bellios, just a few years following the formation of the modern Greek State. Its primary objective is to promote and support archaeological excavations, the preservation, care, and exhibition of ancient artifacts in Greece.

The Archaeological Society of Athens stands as an autonomous archaeological institution comprising scholars, historians, and academics. Founded in 1837, it was conceived with the purpose of relocating, restoring, and reinstating the lost antiquities of Greece, which had been affected by the aftermath of the War of Independence.

The society’s involvement in archaeological projects and financial support is substantial. Notably, they played a vital role in uncovering fresh epigraphical evidence related to the sanctuary of the goddess Demeter within Eleusis. Moreover, they provided invaluable plans for the prehistoric settlement of Thorikos, which proved instrumental in the exploration of ancient ceramic materials and historical insights.

Archaeological Society of Athens

Formation

Region

Fields

Founder

President

Vice-president

Website

Headquarters

January 6th 1837

Athens, Greece

Archaeology

Konstantinos Bellios

Apostolos S. Georgiadis

Charalampos Rousos

https://www.archetai.gr/⊕

Panepistimiou 22, Athina 105 64, Greece

History

The Archaeological Society of Athens stands as a self-reliant and esteemed organization comprised of scholars, historians, and academics, with its origins tracing back to its establishment in 1837. Its primary objective was the relocation, restoration, and reassembly of Greek antiquities that had been displaced or lost in the aftermath of the War of Independence.

In collaboration with the Greek archaeologist Kyriakos Pittakis, the society was brought into being by its founder, Konstantinos Bellios. The inception of this independent entity involved a significant administrative effort. It commenced with the notification of the Minister of Education, Iakovakis Rizos Neroulos, and the Head of the Division of the Ministry of Education, Alexandros Rizos Rangavis. The foundational documents of the Archaeological Society of Athens were formally drafted in 1836, setting the stage for its establishment the following year.

This independent society, while separate from the government, received support from the state in the form of monetary contributions and the provision of archaeological publications. This collaborative effort expedited various activities, including excavations, restoration efforts, and the augmentation of ancient monuments. The overarching goal was the revitalization of neglected Greek artifacts and the advancement of scholarship. Notable projects included work in places like Eleusis and Thorikos, where neglected historical relics and academic research were given renewed attention and care, a testament to the society’s commitment to preserving Greece’s rich archaeological heritage.

Konstantinos Bellios, Founder of the Archaeological Society of Athens
Konstantinos Bellios, Founder of the Archaeological Society of Athens

Notable Members

Konstantinos Bellios: A Visionary Philanthropist

Konstantinos Bellios, hailing from Linotopi in the Kastoria Prefecture and of Aromanian descent, commenced his career in commerce and finance. Yet, his profound commitment to Greece’s resurgence, paired with his considerable wealth, steered him toward a philanthropic path. Following the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece, Bellios directed his resources to various causes and organizations dedicated to the nation’s reconstruction. Notably, in December 1837, his collaboration with Kyriakos Pittakis, the Director of the Greek Archaeological Service, led to the establishment and financing of the private Archaeological Society of Athens.

Stefanos Koumanoudis: Unearthing Greece’s Treasures

From 1859 to 1894, scholar and epigraphist Stefanos Koumanoudis assumed the role of Secretary within the society. Koumanoudis spearheaded extensive excavations in and around Athens, covering iconic sites such as Kermeikos, the Acropolis, and the Theatre of Dionysus. His archaeological endeavors extended beyond Athens into Attica, encompassing sites like Thorikos, Marathon, and Eleusis. His passion for discovery transcended regional boundaries, as he also delved into Boeotian locales, including Thespiae, Tangram, and Chaeronea. Koumanoudis’ explorations ventured even further, leading him to the Peloponnese, where he unearthed historical treasures in Mycenae, Epidaurus, Lakonia, and the Cyclades.

Semni Karouzou: Pioneering Female Archaeologist

Semni Karouzou, who served as the Vice President of the society from 1975 to 1977, brought a pioneering spirit to her role. Born in Tripoli, Greece, Karouzou was a classical archaeologist and a graduate of the University of Athens. She specialized in the study of Greek ceramic material and took on the significant responsibility of curating the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, a museum founded by the society. Karouzou made history as the first woman to join the Greek Archaeological Service, embarking on excavations in diverse locations, including Crete, Euboea, Thessaly, and various others.

Noteworthy Members: Contributions to Archaeology

The Archaeological Society of Athens has been enriched by the involvement of several distinguished members:

  • Georgios Veltsos (1891-1980): A dedicated member of the Board (1924-1954), Vice President (1954-1968), and President (1968-1980).
  • Panagiotis Kavvadias (1850-1928): A valued Consultant (1886-1894) and Secretary (1895-1909, 1912-1920), also holding the position of General Inspector of Antiquities (1885-1909). He was a Professor of Archaeology at the University (1904-1922) and a Member of the Academy (1926).
  • Spyridon Phintiklis (1820-1894): Distinguished as a Member of the Board (1861-1862) and Vice President (1862-1894). He was a Professor of Greek Literature starting from October 5, 1863.
  • Christos Tsountas (1857-1934): Eminent member of the Board (1896-1909, 1918-1920, 1924-1926), Secretary (1909-1911), Ephor of Antiquities for the Society (1882) and the Archaeological Service (1883-1904). He held the position of Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University in Athens (1904-1924) and later in Thessaloniki (1927).

Services

Library


  • Director: Martin Schaefer.
  • Others: Matina Givalou,
  • Konstantinos Papoutsis

Accountant’s office


  • Elias Papaioannou,
  • Christoforos Spyridakis

Archive


  • Ioanna Ninou

Reception


  • Konstantinos Sakkas,
  • Christina Stefanidi

Board of Administration

President


  • Apostolos S. Georgiadis

Vice- President


  • Charalampos Rousos

Secretary General


  • Vasileios Ch. Petrakos

Members


  • Dora Vasilikou
  • Nikolaos Kaltsas
  • Chrysa Maltezou
  • Dionysios Minotos
  • Alexis Phylactopoulos
  • Lefteris Platon
  • Vasileios Sgoutas
  • Michalis Tiverios

The Archive of the Archaeological Society

The Wealth of the Archaeological Society’s Archive

The Archive of the Archaeological Society houses a treasure trove of historical and archaeological records from across Greece. This expansive collection comprises a variety of items, including personal diaries, sketches, and documents penned by renowned archaeologists whose works have been published by the organization.

Visual Archives: Preserving the Past in Images

Within the library’s visual archives, you’ll find an array of photographs and drawings that provide a unique window into the past. Notably, the collection includes early excavation photographs and negatives that serve as a vital record, preserving the state of monuments and artifacts as they appeared during excavation or prior to natural alterations. The archive of drawings showcases intricate sketches, ranging from the Pagassae Stelae to watercolors meticulously depicting the Acropolis sculptures by the talented Émile Gilliéron. Additionally, the Archive features Anastasios Orlando’s drawings, which add another layer of artistic insight. Furthermore, the collection houses topographic plans of archaeological sites, complete with stratigraphy and grids, enabling archaeologists like Kevin Clinton to engage in comprehensive assessments and explorations of entire sites and smaller areas.

Written Documents: A Chronicle of Excavations

The written records in the archive are invaluable, including excavation notebooks and various forms of documentation. The excavation notebooks are a meticulous daily record of each excavation’s phases, detailing the trenches, precise locations, and the depths at which artifacts were unearthed. The Archive’s systematic organization extends to other important documents, such as the handwritten columns of the Ephorate and the Council, records from the Archaeological Council, and catalogues from museums. The individual archives, like those of archaeologist Panagiotis Eustratiadis, dating from 1864-1894, comprise 37 folders brimming with the history of the Archaeological Society.

Publications: A Rich Literary Legacy

The Library of the Archaeological Society of Athens is a repository of knowledge, home to a variety of publications, including:

1. The series “Vivliotheke tes en Athenais Archaiologikes Hetaireias”
2. The journal Praktika tes en Athenais Archaiologikes Hetaireias
3. The journal Archaiologike Ephemeris
4. The journal To Ergon tes en Athenais Archaiologikes Hetaireias
5. The journal “O Mentor”

Donors: Supporting the Preservation of Heritage

The Archive and Library owe their existence and continued enrichment to the generous contributions of several esteemed donors, including the Ministry of Culture, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the National Bank of Greece, the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, the Costas and Eleni Ouranis Foundation, the Petros Haris Foundation, the Psychas Foundation, the Academy of Athens, and the Paul & Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation. Their support underscores the importance of preserving and sharing Greece’s rich archaeological heritage.

Discoveries towards Bronze Age Eleusis.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Eleusis: The Society’s Epigraphical Contributions

The Archaeological Society played a pivotal role in unearthing fresh epigraphical evidence linked to the sanctuary and worship of the goddess Demeter in Eleusis. Renowned academics undertook the task of re-editing 686 historical documents in a chronological sequence. This meticulous effort laid the foundation for future explorations into the socioeconomic history of Eleusis and the study of its polytheistic religious practices.

Kevin Clinton’s Dedication to Preserving History

Historian Kevin Clinton has been working in collaboration with the Archaeological Society of Athens since 1966, focusing on transcribing and archiving the Eleusinian Inscriptions etched into stone. The ancient site of Eleusis holds great significance as the sacred sanctuary of the fertility goddesses Demeter and Persephone, as well as the revered location for the annual Mysteries festival. Clinton’s extensive compilation of inscriptions is vividly showcased in Volume 1a, encompassing 686 inscriptions, and Volume 1b, which features 307 plates adorned with textual images. Each inscription is meticulously accompanied by a detailed description and contextual information, providing insights into their original placements.

Michael B. Cosmopoulos: Reconstructing Eleusis’ Past

Professor of Greek history, Michael B. Cosmopoulos, took a multi-faceted approach in his research. He leveraged the systematic excavations conducted by the Archaeological Society of Athens during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Combining these historical records with contemporary archaeological methods, Cosmopoulos offered a comprehensive assessment of the architecture, stratigraphy, and ceramics found in the Bronze Age settlement of Eleusis. His in-depth exploration of the society’s prior works, particularly those of Kevin Clinton, sparked fresh discussions on the archaeology of mystery cults and the formative stages of Greek sanctuaries.

Excavations in Thorikos

Unlocking the Secrets of Thorikos: The Archaeological Society’s Contributions

The Archaeological Society of Athens played a pivotal role in shedding light on the prehistoric settlement of Thorikos, providing essential plans that empowered historians and scholars to embark on new excavations within the city. Through collaborations with archaeologists and partnerships with other organizations, they not only facilitated the discovery of fresh insights but also aided in unearthing ancient ceramic material.

Nikolas Papadimitriou: Delving into Thorikos’ Ceramic Legacy

Archaeologist Nikolas Papadimitriou, specializing in Mediterranean history, delved into the rich repository of past excavation documentation within The Archive of the Archaeological Society. His research focused on the ceramic remnants found within the ancient city of Thorikos, a settlement that played a significant role in the formation of Archaic Athens and had been inhabited since the Neolithic Age.

The Pioneering Work of Valerios Stais

Thorikos had already been the subject of archaeological exploration in the late 19th century, with Valerios Stais, the director of the National Archaeological Society and a member of the Archaeological Society of Athens, leading the way in 1887. Supported by funding from the Archaeological Society of Athens in 1893, Stais conducted extensive excavations, investigating tholos tombs III and the habitation site situated atop Velatouri Hill. His meticulous work resulted in the creation of two comprehensive reports, shedding light on the artifacts, particularly pottery found in the tombs, as well as the two distinct phases of occupation in Thorikos—pre-Mycenaean and Mycenaean—within the inhabited site.

Nikolas Papadimitriou’s Insights: Theories on Thorikos’ Past

Drawing from the wealth of data documented by Valerios Stais, Nikolas Papadimitriou delved into the prehistoric pottery and used it as a foundation for his research. His study revolved around assessing the periods of occupation in Thorikos, allowing him to formulate theories regarding the city’s trade connections and prehistoric culture. By meticulously documenting chronological distributions and the materials uncovered, Papadimitriou presented evidence of Thorikos’ growing ties to the Aegean region and its increased participation in trade during the Mycenaean occupation. In essence, the prior excavation and documentation of Thorikos by Valerios Stais, a member of the Archaeological Society, paved the way for future exploration and a deeper understanding of this historically significant site.

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