For archeologist Stephen Miller the revival of the Nemean Games every four years at the ancient stadium he uncovered is an emotional event.
“Already in June we had 140 people who were registered to run. Then came the big crunch with the banks closing and all of that and it stopped – just froze. And our visitations at the museum fell 80 percent for almost a month. But then they came back and they’re coming back very strong now and we’re well over 200 runners,” Miller said.
Asked if Greece is back in the game, Miller said the country has not reached its full potential. “Greece has so much going for it but is doesn’t utilize it. I made that little promotion how you should use antiquities to promote ancient Greece and modern Greece. I really believe it’s true,” said the bespectacled archeologist, who has been heading the Nemea excavations in the Peloponnese since 1974.
Miller had to struggle to keep the Nemea Museum and archeological ground open because the lack of guards, an issue he raised two years ago.
“What happened this year was as of the first of April, 16 new guards were hired – well 2 gardeners and one housekeeper – but a lot of new personnel and that meant we could keep the site open from eight in the morning till eight in the evening, seven days a week. And over the year, from the first of April, the rate of people coming has gone up over 35 percent,” Miller said.
“In other words, if you make the investment in personnel you’ll get a return on it and that’s what I hope the lesson is. But unfortunately these people who were hired, their contracts end at the end of October and we just don’t know what will happen.”
The Nemean Games take place before the Olympic Games. “It gives us a charge,” Miller said.
But he added that unlike the Olympic Games, the Nemean Games are for everyone. As noted by the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games (http://nemeangames.org) their “goal is the participation, on the ancient earth of Greece, of anyone and everyone, in games that will revive the spirit of the Olympics. We will achieve this by reliving authentic ancient athletic customs in the ancient stadium of Nemea”.