When the Nazis occupied Greece in 1940, pottery specialist Semni Karouzou (1897-1994) and her fellow Classical archaeologist husband Christos Karouzos (1900-1967) withdrew their membership of the German Archaeological Institute.  They were the only archaeologists in the country who did so.

Karouzou worked at sites across Greece spanning many periods and cultures, including Minoan Herakleion on Crete, Mycenean tombs in Argolid, and ancient Epidaurus. Her greatest legacy, however, was the ‘invisible service’ she did curating the pottery collections at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Semni Karouzou was made head of the National Museum Pottery Collection in 1933, a post she was to hold for thirty four years. Then, in March 1967, Karouzou was labeled a political dissident and forced out of the archaeological service along with her husband (the stress of which contributed to his fatal heart attack).

When Greece fell under the Regime of the Colonels in April 1967, Karouzou was banned from the National Museum and even from accessing her own research material.  So she snuck out of Greece and escaped to Italy on a boat.

In-between defying dictators and surviving civil war and famine, she published 20 books and more than 120 articles, which were internationally recognised as expanding our understanding of the Classical world.

You can read more about her life in Excavating Women.

post by Sam Hardy (@samarkeolog)

edited by Brenna

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