Sunday, August 4, 2013


Polyxeni Adam-Veleni, Katerina Tzanavari (edd.), Δινήεσσα: τιμητικός τόμος για την Κατερίνα Ρωμιοπούλου. Έκδοση Αρχαιολογικού Μουσείου Θεσσαλονίκης / Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki publications, 18. Thessaloniki: Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, 2012. Pp. ix, 660. ISBN 9789609621090. €35.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Nassos Papalexandrou (

Version at BMCR home site

"Δινήεσσα" may be a bibliographer's nightmare but it is a felicitous title for a volume celebrating Katerina Romiopoulou's multiple and diverse contributions to the archaeology of Greece. In Homer the epithet qualifies the whirling movement of river waters.1 But the editors of this volume draw their inspiration from a powerful image of the stormy winter sea in Oppian's Halieutica (628-635).2 The metaphor is apt for encapsulating Romiopoulou's energy, her style of administration, and the passion she has always brought to her professional practice. The introductory contributions to the volume, crafted with love and humor by the two editors, as well as by Angelos Delivorrias and Konstantinos Tsakos, leave no doubt that like the open Mediterranean sea, Romiopoulou is a life force at once feared and loved like a goddess by her colleagues and friends.

Romiopoulou's work defies efforts at a brief sketch. Some highlights, however, are in order here. In the late seventies, she curated the first exhibition of the finds at Vergina/Aigai in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and organized a far-reaching traveling exhibit in numerous locations around the U.S. As curator of the sculpture collections in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Romiopoulou organized with sensibility and good taste no less than five galleries: the Epidaurus gallery is splendid, what is more important is her work on the four galleries dedicated to the sculptures of the Roman period (1990-1995), a seminal addition that concluded a project initiated after WWII by Christos and Semne Karouzou. Moreover, her numerous publications cover an admirably wide scope of expertise. To her we owe the publication of discoveries that have radically altered our knowledge of the archaeology and art history of northern Greece. The list is overwhelmingly rich. I emphasize here her monograph on the tumulus at Nicesiane (1991, in collaboration with G. Touratsoglou), her publication of the Late-Archaic through early Hellenistic cemetery at Mieza (2002), and last but not least, the monograph (along with B. Schmidt-Dounas) of the well-known Tomb of the Palmettes in Leukadia (2010, Beiheft in the AthMitt series). 3

This volume also is important as a document of the history of an important chapter—hitherto unexplored–in the development of the discipline of archaeology in modern Greece. Romiopoulou belongs to a generation of women-scholars/administrators to whom we owe the modernization of the practice of archaeology in the last few decades, either in the challenging horizons of fieldwork (rescue excavations) or within the labyrinthine networks of the state bureaucracy. 4 I mention, for example, Evi Touloupa, Angeliki Andreiomenou, Efi Sakellaraki, Fanouria Dakoronia, and Foteini Zapheiropoulou. In addition to fighting against the systemic gender biases in a predominantly male-dominated sector of the demosio (public sector), these scholars carved out respectable models for younger women working as public employees in the Archaeological Service of Greece. It is certainly no accident that a good number of the seventy contributors to this volume are young women archaeologists active in the Archaeological Service—many of whom were nurtured, nourished, and hardened under the tutelage, sometimes even tough love, of Romiopoulou's generation of women leaders in archaeology. I would not exaggerate, perhaps, if I propose that the current state of public archaeology in Greece is largely a female endeavor.

The contributions in this volume are organized in seven thematic units, all reflecting aspects of Romiopoulou's scholarly contributions. The prehistoric section of the book contains a mélange of publications of new finds or interpretations of well-known monuments. Chrysostomou, for example, publishes in detail the well-excavated evidence from an Early Iron Age cemetery of Edessa while Pappa analyses eating/cooking utensils from Neolithic Thermi in Central Macedonia and how these disclose the communal character of food preparation and consumption. In a different vein, Eliopoulos revisits the painted stele from Mycenae (NAM, Π 3256) convincingly proposing that the upper frieze was home to a sacrificial scene of Minoan type.

The historic section opens with a paper addressing new evidence about topography and urbanism in Thessaloniki, Maroneia, Abdera, and Stryme. The group of essays on pottery, vase painting, and painting constitutes the largest number of contributions. It is a treasure trove for specialists in this field and could easily stand on its own as a separate specialized volume. Several articles deal with the production and circulation of pottery in the North Aegean, especially in areas Romiopoulou spent a great deal of time excavating and researching. Others add to ongoing discussions and debates. Simantoni-Bournia, for example, draws from the rich evidence of her excavations at Iria, Naxos, in order to clarify the production of Naxian workshops in the Archaic period. Several articles deal with iconographic themes of Athenian black- and red-figure vase painting (Bosnakis, Vivliodetis, Chatzidimitriou).

Specialists will certainly appreciate Kavvadias' careful combination of archival and archaeological evidence for reconstructing the contents of a classical tomb at Athens-Gouva illicitly excavated during the thirties. Two white-ground lekythoi by the Sabouroff Painter are displayed in the Vlastos collection gallery of the National Museum, Athens.5 Kavvadias cogently shows that this group also included a third lekythos, now at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (inv. no. 51.11.4). Kavvadias persuasively argues that the iconographic themes of the three lekythoi read together constitute a visual biography exalting the kleos of a young male heroically fallen in battle.

Of equal interest is Avronidaki's focus on a Boiotian red-figure kantharos in the National Museum, Athens (no. 12264). The two sides of the vase depict a particularly Boiotian conception of Herakles as a "mythical model"(230: "μυθικό πρότυπο"): the young hero in front of an altar is juxtaposed with his mature self seated on his lion's skin. Both renditions add one more element, a Sotadean kantharos? in the background that Avronidaki reads as an attribute loaned from Athenian iconography. Avronidaki shows that this vase is part of a wider corpus that constitute the oeuvre of an individual she names "the Painter of Athens 12264"—a rather odd name for a Boiotian maker of vases.

Another important Boiotian find is the subject of an exemplary publication by V. Sabetai who adds to Andreiomenou's numerous publications of evidence from Akraiphia. This is an early fourth century BCE grave of a young female carefully excavated during the reconstruction of the main Athens-Thessaloniki highway. She was laid to rest with a Bulas amphoriskos bearing a painted garland of myrtle blooms, a black-glazed cup, a bronze mirror, and a cosmetic strigil. A humble wreath of clay beads around her head was in the shape of myrtle blooms and fruit, enabling Sabetai to argue that this young woman was conceptualized as a bride at the moment of her death. The thorough osteological analysis of the skeletal material (by A. Lagia) points to the age (18-25) of the deceased and the probable cause of death (infection of impacted wisdom tooth). Overall, Sabetai's publication offers valuable evidence for reconstructing the social lives of young women in ancient Boiotia.

Scholars of ancient Greek sculpture will find valuable studies in the next section. Four articles present important unpublished materials from N. Greece (Malama, Lilimpaki-Akamati, Schmidt-Dounas, Koukouvou), whereas the rest publish sculptures from Proerna near Lamia (Leventi on a statue of Demeter), Kassopi in Hepeiros (Katsikoudis on groups of honorary statues), Dioskouroi-reliefs from Sparta (Tsouli), Roman sarcophagi from Cretan Lissos (Katakis), and the grave stele of Fausta and Myrenes from Attica (Karapanagiotou). It is very hard to single out any of these articles here. Romiopoulou, who has been active researching Amphipolis, will be pleased that scholars will use this volume to access Malama's publication of the exquisite funerary stele of Gelon (discovered in 2000). Combining Ionic (e.g. the arched epistyle) and Attic elements, this stele is crowned by an impressively idiosyncratic sphinx (p. 366, fig. 9).

The amplitude and diversity of contributions in the remaining three sections of this volume can hardly be emphasized here. The section titled "Mikrotecnia" (453-562) includes a good number of original publications of various artifact types from Macedonia (Proskynetopoulou, Misailidou-Despotidou, Tsigarida, Stephani, Zographou, Pingiatoglou, Poulakakis). Delivorrias publishes a colorful terracotta statuette, which he views as a rare Boiotian riff on Pheidias' Athena Parthenos. Inspired by Romiopoulou's recent publication of the so-called Tomb of the Palmettes, Stefani publishes three fragmentary ivory revetments of a luxurious funerary couch from the antechamber of the so-called Tomb of Judgment at Leukadia (looted and collapsed already in antiquity, explored by Petsas in the '60s and re-excavated in 1998). One of them is depicts a sensuous maenad that Stefani convincingly compares with Ariadne on the Derveni krater (p. 512, figs 1-4, p. 513 fig. 5). The section concludes with two important publications, both dedicated to the late Roman period (Poulakakis, Katsioti). One is the product of rescue excavations in Veroia: a colorful mosaic studded like a carpet with geometric patterns dated to the 3d c CE. This find is an important testimony to the urban life of Veroia, and its publication stands as a wonderful example of the multifarious value of rescue excavations. Romiopoulou, a veteran of this type of work, will surely appreciate their continuation in the present and the future.

The penultimate thematic section focuses on cults and burial customs, mainly on Macedonia and in Northern Greece. Peristeri, for example, publishes a fragmentary relief depicting Pan (2nd c. CE), properly ithyphallic, playing the syrinx, his aulos in hand. It was found during the systematic excavation of a late Roman period rural sanctuary near Siderokastro in 2005.

The last section of this volume is the most variegated of the volume. Gatzolis and Psoma attribute to Sermylia (in Chalkidike) a silver coin with an equine protome on the obverse (mid 5th c. BCE). It was found in a grave at Thermi near Thessaloniki. Apostolakou and Tzifopoulos publish epigraphic documents from Crete. Sverkos revisits in detail a 1st century BCE Latin inscription from Melissochori near Thessaloniki, summarily published in the 1975 Chronicles of the Archaiologikon Deltion by Romiopoulou. This important document attests to the presence of freedmen of the gens Statiena (perhaps originally from Latium in Italy) in a strategic location near the Via Egnatia. Finally, Zoubaki draws from textual and material evidence in order to delineate the reciprocal relations between Italy and the western Peloponnese in the Hellenistic period.

This rich volume is a proper tribute to Romiopoulou and her generation. It is very carefully and elegantly produced and I have no doubt that it will appeal to many specialists of the archeology of Greece. It is a valuable research tool that offers an insightful gauge of the intensity, diversity, high quality, and seriousness of current archaeological research in Greece. I imagine it is comforting for Romiopoulou and others of her generation to see this work produced in the midst of the worst economic and social crisis in Greece since WWII. It was inevitable that the Archaeological Service would be a victim of this crisis, not least when a host of experienced archaeologists-cum-administrators were forced into early retirement—an insensible blow to the Greek Archaeological service, an impressively productive sector of government, which was least (if at all) touched by the political corruption and other scandals that have irreversibly wounded the fabric of Greek society.


1.   S. v. "δινηεις" in R. J. Cunliffe, A Lexicon of the Homeric Dialect (London 1924).
2.   OCD, 3d edition, eds. S. Hornblower, A. Spawforth (Oxford 1999), 1069.
3.   Romiopoulou's vita lists the publication of the necropolis at Amphipolis in press.
4.   On the first generation of Greek female archaeologists see M. Nikolaidou and D. Kokkinidou "Greek Women in Archaeology: An Untold Story," Excavating Women: A History of Women in European Archaeology, eds. M. Díaz- Andreu and M. Sørensen (London 1998) 229-58.
5.   Kavvadias and Anastasia Gadolou curated the installation of the Vlastos collection at the National Museum, Athens (see museum review by Papalexandrou in AJA 114 (2010) 550-51). ​

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