It is with great sadness that the Byzantinist Society of Cyprus is announcing the death of Dr. Athanasios Papageorgiou, Director Emeritus of the Department of Antiquities and honorary member of our Society. Dr Papageorgiou was the Honorary President of the First Annual Conference on Byzantine and Medieval Studies (13-15 January 2017).
Athanasios Papageorgiou served his beloved homeland of Cyprus with virtue and passion. He was appointed Ephor of Ancient Monuments in 1962 at the Department of Antiquities of the newly established Republic of Cyprus. His previous Theological studies in Athens and graduate work in Paris, next to André Grabar και Paul Lemerle, equipped him with the scholarly breadth and skills in the study of Byzantine History and Art.
He worked with dedication and persistence to conserve and promote the monuments of Cyprus, while he focused with great care on the study of the Byzantine Heritage of the island. His contribution is vast and diverse; it cannot be assessed in one announcement. Indicatively, we mention the excavation of the basilicas at Agia Triada at Yialousa, Limeniotissa and Chrysopolitissa in Paphos, the basilica at the foothills of the Amathus acropolis. He also excavated the earlier phases of churches like Agios Spyridon in Tremethousha, Agios Heraklidios in Politiko, Agios Kyprianos in Menoiko and restored collapsed parts of buildings like the Virgin Apsinthiotissa on the Pentadaktylos. He led the conservation of Byzantine churches like the katholikon of the monastery of the Apostle Barnabas near Famagusta and the church of Agia Athanasia in Rizokarpaso and restored and uncovered the wall paintings in numerous other sites like at Agia Solomoni at Koma tou Yialou, Agios Antonios at Kelia and at Agia Paraskevi in Yeroskepou.
He played a chief role in the establishment of the Byzantine Museum of the Archbishop Makarios III Cultural Foundation in Nicosia and the Byzantine Museum of Paphos. After 1974, he made major contributions towards informing the international scientific and academic community about the destruction and looting of Cypriot Cultural Heritage, being the result of the Turkish invasion. He participated as an expert in numerous legal battles aiming at the return of stolen cultural treasures to Cyprus.
Athanasios Papageorgiou published over one hundred articles and studies on the history, the archaeology and the art of Cyprus. Among them, are his important monographs on the ICONS OF CYPRUS, the volume HOLY METROPOLIS OF PAPHOS, HISTORY AND ART, and his momentous work CHRISTIAN ART IN THE TURKISH-OCCUPIED PART OF CYPRUS.
Without any doubt, his scientific and scholarly work can only be described as immense and irreplaceable. He stood out for his humility, his direct and uncompromising character and importantly his strict adherence to principles and ethical values which guided him throughout his life. Moreover, he was generous and always available to help his younger peers and students with prudent advice and the depth of his knowledge. Athanasios Papageorgiou will remain ever present through his work, his publications and more importantly through his deep love and sincere concern for his cherished Cyprus.
The Byzantinist Society of Cyprus expresses its sincere and deep condolences to his children, grandchildren, and all other members of Dr. Papageorgiou’s family.