The Annual Sam Nakis Lecture

Please join us for the next Sam Nakis Memorial Lecture

Saving Greece’s Cultural Heritage.  The Restoration and Protection of Byzantine Churches and ancient Monuments in the Peloponnese
by Dr. Evangelia Militsi-Kechagia, Greek Ministry of Culture

Thursday, April 12, 2018, 7:00 p.m. reception, 7:30 p.m. lecture
Millennium Student Center, Century Room A

The lecture
In this lecture,Dr. Evangelia Militsi-Kechagia,Director of Antiquities of Messenia, highlights the struggle to protect Greece’s cultural heritage in a period of crisis. Because Messenia is one of the most sensitive and culturally rich areas of Greece, the work of the Greek Ministry of Culture in this region includes a wide range of monuments, from prehistoric palaces to Byzantine and post-Byzantine castles, churches, and monasteries. Thanks to the truly heroic efforts by archaeologists, conservators, architects, civil engineers, and craftsmen, a large program of restoration has been conducted between 2011 and 2017. Dr. Militsi-Kechagia will talk about this work from the perspective of someone who is on the front line of the struggle to protect so many monuments with limited resources. This work has not only saved these monuments for future generations, but also produced new evidence that has transformed the cultural map of the region and allowed us to understand better the local and regional history of Greece.

The speaker
Dr. Evangelia Militsi-Kechagia was born in Kalamata. She studied history and archaeology at the University of Athens, where she received her B.A. and Ph.D., with a specialization in Byzantine Archaeology, especially Early Christian Sculpture. She has served in the Archaeological Service of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture as Curator of the Dodecanese and Thessaly and, since 2011 Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of
Messenia. In her capacity as Director of this Ephorate she carried out an extensive program of restoration and rehabilitation of numerous ancient monuments. Her main research interests concern early and middle Byzantine sculpture and early Christian architecture, settlements, small finds and topography, especially in the Dodecanese and  the Peloponnese, on which she has published 15 scholarly articles. She is a member of  the Christian Archaeological Society, the Central Archaeological Council of the Hellenic  Ministry of Culture, and the Local Archaeological Council of the Peloponnese.


“The Impact of Thermopylae on our Modern World”. The Dr. Nicholas Matsakis Memorial Lecture, October 30, 7.30 pm

The Dr. Nicholas Matsakis Memorial Lecture:
“The Impact of Thermopylae on our Modern World”
Elias Matsakis
Monday, October 30, 2017
7 p.m. reception; 7:30 p.m. lecture
Century Room A, Millennium Student Center
University of Missouri-St. Louis

Herodotus’ description of the Battle of Thermopylae launched the study of history. The details of his narrative were validated by the 1939 archaeological discovery of the final resting place of Leonidas, and transformed the story of Thermopolae from myth to historical fact. The Spartans’ stand against overwhelming odds transformed western understanding of the true nature of heroism. After explaining the heroic themes and dramatic choices that comprise Herodotus’ desription of that battle, Mr. Matsakis will fast forward to the 20th century and describe how, 2500 years later, the example of the Spartans in 490 BC emboldened the Greeks to take a similar stand in World War II, and later empowered freedom movements that have shaped our modern world.

Elias Matsakis
Elias Matsakis received his B.A., with honors, from University of Chicago in 1971 and his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1974.  Mr. Matsakis is listed inThe Best Lawyers in AmericaWho’s Who In American Law and as “Super Lawyer” by the Leading Lawyers Network.  Mr. Matsakis serves on the Advisory Committee to the Hellenic Government-Karakas Family Foundation Professorship in Greek Studies and on the board of directors for the Foundation For Greek Studies and the University of Illinois Chicago.
Sponsored by International Studies and Programs, University of Missouri-St. Louis, The Hellenic Government-Karakas Family Foundation Professorship in Greek Studies, and The Karakas Family Foundation Alliance for the Advancement of Hellenic Studies
A parking permit is required for all visitors to UMSL. To request your free permit,
click here or call 314-516-7299.

Professor Michael Cosmopoulos elected to the Royal Society of Canada

Greek Studies Professor Michael Cosmopoulos elected to Royal Society of Canada

Michael Cosmopoulos

Michael Cosmopoulos never imagined his work in archaeology would win him acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

“When you’re young and you’re starting out, you don’t think in those terms,” said Cosmopoulos, the Hellenic Government-Karakas Foundation Professor of Greek Studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “You just do what you find exciting, and archaeology is exciting to me. It’s my passion.”

But others have taken notice and recognized his contributions to the study of ancient Greek civilization in a career that now has spanned more than 30 years.

This month, the Royal Society of Canada became the latest group to do so when it elected him a fellow. He will receivewhat is said to be the highest honor a scholar can achieve in the arts, humanities and sciences in that country.

“Michael B. Cosmopoulos is an internationally known archaeologist and classicist whose pioneering and multi-disciplinary approaches have impacted deeply our knowledge of the Classical world,” read a press release from the Royal Society of Canada. “Through his sophisticated theoretical models and important archaeological excavations, he has developed new ways of understanding Greek religion (especially the origins of ancient mystery cults) and political history (especially the emergence of states and social complexity).”

Cosmopoulos’ election comes on the heels of his induction, last winter, to the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

“After this has happened, I’m very excited about it,” he said. “But it wasn’t part of the picture in the beginning.”

There was also surprise about his most recent honor because, though his first professorship after completing his PhD was at the University of Manitoba, he’s lived in the United States for the past 16 years.

“I look upon those years with nostalgia,” said Cosmopoulos, who was born and raised in Athens and first came to North America to pursue his doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis in 1985. “Canadians are wonderful, very warm and hospitable. Winnipeg was a great city – the snow aside.”

He has maintained connections in America’s northern neighbor, evaluating applications for Canadian funding agencies, assessing articles for Canadian scholarly publications and training Canadian students in the field.

Cosmopoulos directs the Iklaina Archaeological Project, which is funded through UMSL’s Greek professorship as well as through major grants from the National Endowment for the HumanitiesNational Science Foundation and National Geographic Society. He also teaches Greek history, culture, religion, technology, archaeology, art, language and mythology and organizes the activities of the Greek professorship.

The Iklaina site is a palace that dates to the time of the Trojan War, between 1500 B.C. and 1200 B.C. It’s believed to be one of the sites mentioned in Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, as one of the capitals of the Greek kings who fought in the war.

At Iklaina Cosmopoulos studies the processes of state formation in the western world.

“It’s an exciting case of mythology overlapping with history and archaeology,” Cosmopoulos said.

The discoveries that have been made there have transformed what had previously been believed about ancient Greek history. Cosmopoulos’ work has been featured prominently in the national and international press, including on PBSand the National Geographic Channel.

“I can’t say enough about the work that Michael’s done,” said colleague Patti Wright, associate professor of anthropology at UMSL. “We’ve had a number of students who have gone to his field school in the summer, and they love the experience. He’s also a prolific writer, who’s becoming really well known internationally and bolstering the name of our university in Europe and now in Canada.”

Cosmopoulos will be inducted, along with the other new fellows, at the Royal Society of Canada’s Induction and Awards Ceremony on Nov. 24 at the Fairmont Winnipeg Hotel.


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Schedule of events 2017-2018

The Annual George E. Mylonas Lecture
Lord of the Gold Rings: The Grave of the Griffin Warrior at Pylos
Dr. Sharon Stocker, University of Cincinnati
2 p.m., October 22, 2017, Saint Louis Art Museum
Co-sponsored by International Studies and Programs, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Hellenic Government-Karakas Family Foundation Professorship in Greek Studies, The Karakas Family Foundation Alliance for the Advancement of Hellenic Studies, The Classical Club St. Louis, the Department of Classics, and the Department of Art History and Archaeology, both in the College of Arts and Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

The Dr. Nicholas Matsakis Memorial Lecture
The Impact of Thermopylae on our Modern World
Mr. Elias Matsakis
7:30 p.m., October 30, 2017, Century Room A, Millennium Student Center

The Leon and Johanna Spanos Performing Arts Event
Rebetiki Istoria
3 p.m., November 12, 2017, Lee Theater, Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center:

The Professor Diane Touliatos Endowed Annual Lecture in Greek Historical Studies
Ancient Greek Poetry and Byzantine Hymnography
Dr. Nick Giannoukakis, Allegheny Health Network and Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
7:30 p.m., January 18, 2018, Century Room A, Millennium Student Center

The Catherine Pelican Memorial Lecture in Greek Culture
Peoples of the Sea, Philistines, and the Greeks of the Bronze Age: View from the Recent Excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel
Professor Haskel Greenfield, University of Manitoba
7:30 p.m., March 15, 2018, Century Room A, Millennium Student Center

The Sam Nakis Annual Memorial Lecture in Greek Studies
Byzantine Monuments of Greece
Dr. Evangelia Militsi, Greek Ministry of Culture
April 2018

“I came here with gratitude for all that Greece has given to humanity through the ages”. Former President’s Barack Obama historic visit and tribute to Greece

In November 2016, the then President of the US Barack Obama made a historic visit to Greece.  His speech in Athens was a tribute to Greece, Democracy, and the deep connection between our two countries.

Read about the visit in the latest issue Aegean Airlines’ Blue Magazine (courtesy of Ms. Tassoula Eptakili and Blue Magazine): OBAMABLUE MAGAZINE

The tradition of US presidents visiting the cradle of democracy goes back to Dwight D. Eisenhower.  We look forward to this tradition continuing with the current and future US Presidents.

March 9: Join us in welcoming to the Greek Professoship His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios

His Eminence, Archibishop Demetrios, Geron of America, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, will be coming to UMSL to deliver the annual Diane Touliatos Lecture in Greek Historical Studies.  Archibishop Demetrios will speak on:

“Greek Language: A Catalyst for Cultures?”

The lecture will be held at 7 pm at Century Rooms A and B, Millennium Student Center.  Pre-lecture reception at 6.30 pm.


Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America was born Demetrios Trakatellis in Thessaloniki, Greece on February 1, 1928. In 1950 he graduated with distinction from the University of Athens School of Theology.  In 1960 he was ordained a deacon, and in 1964 a priest.

He was elected Bishop of Vresthena in 1967, an auxiliary bishop to the Archbishop of Athens with the primary responsibility for the theological education of the clergy. From 1965 to 1971, on scholarship from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, he studied New Testament and Christian Origins and was awarded a Ph.D. “with distinction” in 1972.  After receiving this degree, he returned to his ecclesiastical position in the Archdiocese of Athens and undertook responsibilities for the theological education of the clergy, ministry among the youth, and other duties related to theological conferences in Greece and abroad.

In 1968, he was elected Metropolitan of Attika and Megaris, but he did not accept the post for reasons related to the canonical order of the Church and to the political conditions in Greece at that time.

Later, in 1977, he earned a second doctorate, namely a Th.D. in Theology from the University of Athens “with distinction.”  From 1983 to 1993, he served as the Distinguished Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Origins at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.  Serving as a faculty member for more than a decade, he taught many of America’s Greek Orthodox clergy.  He also taught at Harvard Divinity School as Visiting Professor of New Testament during the academic years of 1984 to 1985 and from 1988 to 1989.  On August 20, 1991 the Sacred Synod of the Church of Greece elevated the then Bishop Demetrios of Vresthena to a Titular Metropolitan of Vresthena with the simultaneous elevation of the Diocese of Vresthena to the rank of the Metropolis. After several years in the United States, he returned to Greece in 1993 to pursue full-time scholarly writing and research.  At the same time, he resumed his responsibilities at the Archdiocese of Athens.

Elected Archbishop of America on August 19, 1999 by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archbishop Demetrios was enthroned on September 18, 1999 at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City.  He leads a church of more than one and a half million Greek Orthodox Christians in the United States.

Contact:Bob Ell