In their announcement the members of the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology of the University of Thessaly, its teachers, researchers, students and administrative staff mourn the sudden death of their colleague Yiannis Pikoulas, who taught at the department from the beginning of its operation in 1998, initially as a contract teacher, then as associate professor since 2001 and as professor after 2012.
“Yiannis Pikoulas was born in Athens in 1956. He was a graduate of the Department of History and Archaeology of the School of Philosophy of the National Kapodistrian University of Athens and received a doctorate in ancient history from the University of Ioannina. He taught in secondary education from 1986 to 1996 and always described himself as being primarily a “committed teacher”. From 1996 to 2001 he was a research associate of Ancient History at the Antiquities Research Centre of the National Research Foundation. During his tenure at the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, Yiannis Pikoulas nurtured generations of students, and numerous researchers also recognized as him as their teacher in everything connected with antiquity when studying with him ancient topography, road and path networks, fortifications as well as ancient Greek inscriptions, from the point of view of the historian and archaeologist. An internationally renowned historian, Yiannis Pikoulas was an archaeologist in the true sense of the word. He had an excellent knowledge of ancient Greek, of the texts, inscriptions, archaeological and numismatic data, and especially of the actual territory of ancient Greek cities and societies, both in the Peloponnese, from where he originated, as well as in Thessaly and Macedonia, with which he was also occupied in his research. His interests included agricultural production, and especially winemaking, but also war, two subjects he taught for a number of years. Just recently, he had turned his attention to Asia Minor and its archeological sites, and to the study of the Hellenistic world in its broadest sense, with trips to countries in Asia through which Alexander the Great had passed. He was a prolific writer, a tireless editor of important publications and conference minutes, publisher of the important Hόρος magazine, speaker at numerous conferences, and organizer of important scientific meetings.
As a colleague he was friendly with a highly developed sense of humour and with a few, but intense outbursts, which showed a special personality. As a teacher he was strict but fair, always surrounded by a relatively small but very loyal group of students, historians and archaeologists, who were willing to follow him on difficult mountain routes, but also to meet the diverse requirements of his courses. His greatest scientific legacy is the extremely extensive field research to locate and study the ancient road network in mainland Greece, as well as the army of students who follow in his footsteps tirelessly walking across the Greek countryside, collecting invaluable information on trails, mountain passes, fortifications, and identifying cities and towns on the map that we knew only from a passing reference by ancient writers.
“The Department extends its heartfelt condolences to his family and to all those who were with him during the four decades he faithfully served archaeology across its spectrum,” the statement concluded.
Lina Mendoni’s condolence message
“It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Yiannis Pikoulas, an exceptional scientist, who not only dedicated his work to the study of Historical Topography, but also, with his methodology and dedication, expanded the field of knowledge in archaeological research. As a founding member of the Hellenic Epigraphic Society and publisher of Hόρος magazine, he made a decisive contribution to the study of antiquity. Apart from being an excellent scientist, Yiannis was a charismatic teacher and very dear to all of us. His untimely death makes the loss even greater. Warm condolences to Eleni and the children” says Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni in her condolence message on the loss of Professor Yiannis Pikoulas.
The announcement by the Association of Greek Archaeologists
“Those of us who slowly began to get acquainted with the names of old, great archaeologists such as Threpsiadis, Keramopoulos, Arvanitopoulos, in the 80’s, and to realize that, among the monuments they had discovered and studied were the ancient roads, another name was beginning to “spring up” among them, claiming something of their fame, and continuing their work; to begin with, in the ancient roads of the Peloponnese and then in subsequent years, all over Greece.
It was not the name of one of our old colleagues from the “heroic” era; it was the name of Yiannis Pikoulas, a new historical researcher, who came to complete their work. Yiannis Pikoulas laid the theoretical foundations of the project from the beginning: he clarified the objectives of researching ancient roads, he arranged for the most detailed and thorough research in dating issues, he directly tackled issues of road construction and social matters related to the realizing of these works.
Through the work of Yiannis Pikoulas, the Historical Topography map of ancient Greece was incredibly enriched; it acquired a new meaning, research became interdisciplinary, a new perspective began to appear on the horizon. Yiannis Pikoulas “made archaeology of history and narrated archaeology”, expanding knowledge, potential and the field of research, the relationship of research with the people of the countryside. Ultimately broadening the view of the historian and archaeologist. All this was accomplished tirelessly and persistently.
His position at the University of Volos gave him the opportunity to pass on his knowledge to a wide circle of students and associates, with incredible friendliness and generosity. He was an inquiring and restless spirit, strictly scientific and affectionate with his pupils and students, helpful and easy going, he studied the ancient roads but also opened new roads with his work and as a person.
He was active up to the moment of his death ‒ and how could it have been otherwise with someone like Yiannis? Always on the move, always on the road to the new discovery, always claiming new knowledge and heights.
“We extend our warmest condolences to his beloved family, especially to his wife and dear colleague Eleni Kourinou, and assure them that we will never forget him. Yiannis will always be close to us with his work and his achievements which have already placed him at our science’s summit, an example to be imitated in these hard times experienced by monuments and archaeologists “concludes the announcement by the Association of Greek Archaeologists.