Wabash Alumnus Stephen Miller In Olympic Limelight

by Jim Amidon

August 24, 2004

It's been a wild few months for Wabash alumnus Stephen Miller, Class of 1964. The archeologist has been front and center leading up to and throughout the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

Why?

Because Miller, a University of California-Berkeley classics professor, is one of the world's foremost experts on ancient Greek games. He is credited with discovering the site of the ancient games at Nemea, where he has gone for the last 32 years to excavate the site.

He has been interviewed on "The Today Show" as well as NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games. He was featured in The New York Times, and recently his book Ancient Greek Athletics (Yale University Press, $35) was reviewed in The New York Times Review of Books.

Among his many discoveries of the ancient games: the great equalizer was that most athletes competed naked; winners were showered with gifts, losers were sometimes flogged; and athletes often scribbled graffiti on the walls of the tunnel where they filed prior to competition.

On August 20, Miller was named the ABC News "Person of the Week" on the World News Tonight program.

Elizabeth Vargas wrote the Person of the Week segment:

"Every two years, at the time of the Nemean games, tens of thousands of people would come here, and gather, and have their athletic and religious festival," Miller said. "That, of course, is sort of the predecessor to our United Nations and particularly to our modern Olympics."

Miller's team has unearthed the stadium, complete with 2,300-year-old starting blocks. He also discovered the remains of a bath house and a hotel.

"There's always the excitement," said Miller. "You never know what's going to come out of the ground next. You know that you're the first human being in 2,000 years to touch an object that was made by man in your own past. That's a great thrill."

Miller is profiled in the upcoming issue of Wabash Magazine, due out in late September.

 

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