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Barbara Tsakirgis

Associate Professor of Classical and Mediterranean Studies and History of Art

In Memoriam 1954-2019

Barbara Tsakirgis is a classical archaeologist who specializes in the study of ancient Greek houses and households. She earned her B.A. (cum laude) from Yale University and her M.A. and PhD. from Princeton University, and as a graduate student she studied at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the American Numismatic Society.  Professor Tsakirgis was a long-time member of the excavation and research teams at the Hellenistic city of Morgantina in central Sicily and the Athenian Agora, the city center and marketplace of ancient Athens.  She has published widely on the elements of Greek houses and households, including the decorated pavements at Morgantina and the remains of the Greek and Roman houses excavated at both sites. 

Professor Tsakirgis held many positions in the Department of Classical Studies and in the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University. She served two terms as Chair of the department and previously served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies.  Professor Tsakirgis has been the Chair of the Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Science and the Secretary of the College Faculty.

Professor Tsakirgis taught many courses at Vanderbilt that took a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to classical antiquity.  Following her research interests in Greek architecture and urbanism, she has taught courses on Greek art, the Periklean period of fifth century Athens, and the institutions of the Greek city.  She also taught courses on Alexander the Great in history, art, and literature and the Trojan War in history, art, and literature. She frequently taught a first-year writing seminar on spectacle (drama and sports) in the Greek and Roman world.  In 2010 she taught 18 Vanderbilt students on-site in Greece.

Professor Tsakirgis served the larger scholarly community and lay public interested in archaeology in a number of ways.  She was a long-standing member of the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies, America’s first overseas research institution and was elected as vice-chair of the Managing Committee.  Professor Tsakirgis served two terms as an academic trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America and for twenty-six years headed the Nashville Society of the AIA. She also recently served on the AIA Committee for Archaeology in Higher Education.  Professor Tsakirgis has spoken across the country as a lecturer for the AIA and in 2008-2009 was the Joukowsky lecturer for the AIA. Professor Tsakirgis served as a member of the board of the Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park, the non-profit organization which supports and raises funds for programs held at Nashville’s Parthenon and central park.  In 2012, Professor Tsakirgis was named by Governor Bill Haslam to the Tennessee Archaeological Advisory Council.

Professor Tsakirgis has been the recipient of numerous research grants, and in 2012 she received a Franklin grant from the American Philosophical Society to support her research and publication of the houses excavated around the Athenian Agora.  With some of the funds she traveled to remote sites in Greece to research the houses comparable to the Athenian examples.