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Renowned archaeologist Petros Themelis, who restored Ancient Messene, dies

Petros Themelis, one of the most prominent Greek archaeologists who headed the excavation and restoration of the vast site of Ancient Messene since 1987 has died, aged 87.

He spent his last few days in the ICU of the hospital in Kalamata.

Themelis was born in 1936 in Thessaloniki and studied at the Experimental School of the University of Thessaloniki.

He received his bachelor degree in History and Archaeology from the University of Thessaloniki and he received his PhD from the Archaeological Institute of the University of Munich with his thesis on“Early Greek Funerary Monuments” in 1972. The thesis was published by the Zabern Verlag publishing house in Mainz in 1976.

He carried out excavations in Akovitika of Messinia (1969), Epitalio in Ileia (1966-1968), Kallio in Fokida (1976-1980) and Eretria (1974-1985).

From 1980 to 1984, he was head of the Ephorate of Paleoanthropology and Speleology, while from 1984 to 2004 he was a professor of Classical Archeology at the Department of History and Archeology of the University of Crete in Rethymno.

In 1986, the Archaeological Society at Athens assigned him the excavations and restoration of the site of Ancient Messene in the Peloponnese, a work that continued until his death. Themelis has written numerous monographs and articles relating to the site.

In January 2005 he was awarded the golden Commander of the Order of Phoenix medal by President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos for his teaching, scientific and excavation work.