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Dr. John Camp II Named Niarchos Professor of Classics

Jul 22, 2009

Camp by a temple excavation site.Randolph-Macon president Robert R. Lindgren recently announced that Professor John Camp II, Ph.D., (classics) has been named the Niarchos Professor of Classics at the college.

“Given Dr. Camp’s worldwide reputation and expertise in the field of archaeology and Classical Studies, along with the prominence and reputation of the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, this professorship is one of high esteem,” said Lindgren.

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.

The project offers students the opportunity to participate in excavations in Athens, Greece. Each year, Camp travels with five of his students to the Agora, which once served as the center of economic, social and intellectual life. Since 1931, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens has directed the excavation of this important site.

Camp and his students—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. Students who participate in the excavation are known as Niarchos Summer Fellows, a distinguished honor among their peers.

Camp started working at the Agora in 1966, while a student at Harvard University, and he has returned there every year for the past 42 years. He began as an excavator, later became an assistant director and has served as director since 1994. “I became interested in archaeology and antiquity in the 4th grade, when I was ten,” says Camp. “It's a great field for people who like puzzles, and it has the attraction of allowing you to work outside and in interesting places while still requiring you to use your mind.”

Excavators are housed in apartments in Kolonaki on the slopes of Mount Lykavettos and they spend their weekdays excavating from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The opportunity to be involved in a “dig” is something that Molly Field ’04 will never forget. “Helping to excavate the Agora—the ancient equivalent to The Mall in Washington D.C.—was a once in a lifetime experience,” says Field. “Digging up traces of democracy gave me a whole new appreciation for the classical history I learned at Randolph-Macon.”

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 and in 1996 he joined the faculty of Randolph-Macon.