John K. Papadopoulos to be the next Director of the Excavations of the Athenian Agora

Published: June 30, 2021

The Department of Classics is pleased and proud to announce that John Papadopoulos, Distinguished Professor of Classics at UCLA, has been named the next Director of the Excavations of the Athenian Agora, at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, starting July 1, 2022. He will continue to teach at UCLA in the first half of the academic year, resuming his duties in Athens every spring and summer.

John Papadopoulos on the upper floor of the Athenian Agora (photo Jeff Vanderpool).

The excavations in the Athenian Agora, in the center of Athens and adjacent to the Acropolis, were initiated by the American School in 1931, and they uncovered not only the ancient commercial center of the city but also the very heart of the world’s first democracy. The project is one of the two long-term excavations of the American School and one of the most important archaeological endeavors in the world. Its student volunteers over the past 40 seasons have included undergraduates and graduate students from UCLA.

Professor Papadopoulos is a prolific scholar with vast experience in archaeological fieldwork. He received his BA, MA and PhD from the University of Sydney. After four years as the Deputy Director of the Australian Archaeological Institute and then teaching in Australia, he was hired as an Associate Curator of Antiquities at the Getty Museum in 1994. In 2002 he moved to his current position at UCLA. He is the author or editor of 13 books, more than 105 articles, and some 50 book reviews. He has directed 16 completed PhD dissertations with another three in progress, and he has served on 28 other PhD committees.

Professor Papadopoulos gained excavation experience in Australia before joining the Torone excavations in 1979. As deputy director (1986-1995) he added geophysical and underwater survey components to the Torone excavations. From 1995 to 2001 he worked with a multinational team to repatriate and recontextualize artifacts looted from Francavilla Marittima (the extra-mural sanctuary of Sybaris in southern Italy), and from 2004-2008 he co-directed the excavation of a prehistoric tumulus at Lofkënd in Albania. Most recently, since 2012, he has co-directed excavations at ancient Methone in Pieria, northern Greece.

He has been an integral part of the team of scholars working on publication projects at the Agora since 1994, in particular on the Early Iron Age, for which two volumes have already appeared (Ceramicus Redivivus, 2003, and Agora XXXVI, 2017). His interests range from broad questions of the historical topography of Athens and the Agora to the scholars whose work we depend on so heavily. His work on the Piet de Jong paintings—curating an exhibition at the Benaki Museum in Athens and editing Greek and English editions of The Art of Antiquity, 2006—exemplifies this breadth of interest and intellectual curiosity, as well as his commitment to scholarly collaboration. Professor Papadopoulos also brings to his new position a strong record of securing funding from the NEH, the Loeb Classical Library, INSTAP, the Kress Foundation, the Australian Research Council, and elsewhere.

His record of service, both to UCLA and to the broader academic community is particularly noteworthy. He recently completed ten years as chair of the Archaeology Interdepartmental PhD program at UCLA, and just prior to that he chaired the Classics department at UCLA for a three-year term. He is an Academic Trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America and has served as an elected member of multiple committees of the Managing Committee of the American School since 2007.

Finally, John Papadopoulos is a much sought-after lecturer for all audiences. His presentations never fail to convey his passion for Greece and for archaeology. We look forward to his impact on the future of the Agora excavations as a center for scientific research and student learning.