John Camp II
John Camp II, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor in Classics, was invited
to present a lecture at the Embassy of Greece in Washington, D.C.
Camp presented “The Archaeology of Democracy: Excavations in the Athenian Agora”
on Thursday, September 23, 2010.
“The Agora of Athens, a large public square, is where the concept of democracy was
first invented and practiced, starting in 507 BC,” explains Camp. “Excavations have
uncovered the ancient government buildings (senate, archives, bureau of standards,
mint, law-courts, and magistrates’ offices) that lined the meeting place, along
with hundreds of small objects used in running the democracy. This lecture will
discuss the history of democracy based on these excavations and the ways in which
the ancient and modern versions differed and how they were surprisingly similar.”
In 2009, Camp was named the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor in Classics. The
Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation is an international philanthropic organization that
supports charitable activities in four primary areas: arts and culture, education,
health and medicine, and social welfare. Within each program category, the Foundation
supports initiatives that feature strong leadership and sound management and can
demonstrate a tangible impact over time. The Foundation fosters the exchange and
collaboration among recipient institutions by supporting a broad range of organizations
across its target program areas in locations around the world.
Each year, Camp travels to the Agora with R-MC students, known as Stavros Niarchos
Foundation Summer Fellows, who, along with undergraduate and graduate students from
around the world, work for eight weeks at the site, sifting through history and
honing their archaeological skills. Since 1931, the American School of Classical
Studies at Athens has directed the excavation of this important site. Camp started
working at the Agora in 1966, while a student at Harvard University, and he has
returned there every year for the past 43 years. He began as an excavator, later
became an assistant director and has served as director since 1994.
Camp was the Mellon Professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens
from 1985-1996 and continues to teach there. He earned his B.A. from Harvard University
and his M.A. and Ph.D. in classical archaeology from Princeton University. He joined
the faculty at Randolph-Macon in 1996.