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Christos Milionis


Christos N. Milionis was born in Athens in 1978. He studied Archaeology and History of Art at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (BA in 2002), and he received his MA (2006) and his PhD in Classical Archaeology (2020, under scholarship from the Greek State Scholarships Foundation [IKY]) from the same University.

He has worked as a temporary / contract archaeologist in various areas of Greece since 2002; he also has extensive experience (2001-2009) as a freelance and in-house text editor and writer. Currently (2023) he is employed both as a temporary archaeologist (for the Ephorate of Antiquities of Western Attica) and as a Professor-Advisor for the Hellenic Open University, teaching in the post-graduate program “Art-Cultural Heritage-Development Policies” (TEP).

His research interests include theoretical approaches to archaeology, excavation methodology, the history of archaeology, as well as issues on rescue/salvage and urban archaeology. His main topic of interest, though, is the impact of archaeology and its practitioners on modern societies, with an emphasis in Greece.

Archaeology and the State: more than meets the eye

The starting point for this presentation can be traced to the very text of the “Overview” section within the CAS’ call-for-papers (

“Moreover, state-supervised archaeology and state-run politics seem to work more closely than they should, not only in Southeastern Europe, as negative reactions towards critical heritage studies in some Western European countries show.”

The relationship between archaeology and the state is extremely intricate and multifaceted, yet probably underexplored, and the quote above reflects the current belief among our scientific community that this specific relationship is, in fact, a dipole: on one hand, the acknowledgement of the discipline’s role in the formation of cultural, national and collective identities in general (a field that has indeed been extensively studied in Europe – e.g. Hodder 1991; Diaz-Andreu and Champion 1996); on the other hand, the looming belief that all agents of archaeological practice are (or should be) impartial and ideally working in a vacuum, in order to achieve a coveted objectivity that will lead them to optimal results.

This internalistic (Moro-Abadía 2006) approach, though, comes to heads with many practical issues that rise specifically from the field of rescue / salvage archaeology, i.e. the archaeological research carried out in situations where antiquities are endangered, mostly because of changes taking place in the human and/or the natural environment, and mostly in the context of developmental activities. Since a state is responsible for the developmental policies within its country’s borders, and a state is also responsible for the “cultural heritage management” of the same geographical area, the clash of interests is unavoidable in many occasions.

In my PhD thesis (Milionis 2020), concerning the subject of rescue archaeology, I have argued that there are many factors that have influenced the evolution, the scope and the influence of many (if not all) state-supervised archaeologies, unrelated with the aforementioned dipole; that there is, in fact, a third pole, formed by many state decisions and policies that didn’t take in mind the role of state archaeology (only to create improbable impasses at some point in the future), and by the latter’s indecision to set trends and to propose long-term policies on the subject of cultural heritage.

In my presentation, I will use specific examples from many countries (mostly from Europe) to corroborate that argument, and I will especially emphasize on some aspects of the archaeological practice in modern Greece. Finally, I intend to prove that (especially) the state archaeologists should keep an open mind, an open eye and a keen ear in many discussions concerning subjects that seem irrelevant to the discipline at first glance; if not, there is a non-zero chance that the discipline is the one to become (partially) irrelevant in the future.