In Memoriam: Barbara Tsakirgis, 1954-2019

Barbara Tsakirgis, professor emerita of classical studies and history of art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, died on January 16. She was 64 years old.

Dr. Tsakirgis first joined the Vanderbilt University faculty in 1984. She chaired the department of classical studies from 2005 to 2011. Her academic research focused on the complex relationship between private and public spaces and the experiences of households and communities in the ancient Mediterranean world. She also conducted extensive work with research and excavation teams in Morgantina, an ancient town in central Sicily, and at the Agora, the city center marketplace of ancient Athens.

In addition to teaching, Tsakirgis served many organizations related to her field. She was an academic trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America for six years, and led a delegation to the U.S. State Department to testify concerning the black market in international antiquities. In 2017, her dedication to the institute was recognized with the Martha and Artemis Joukowsky Distinguished Service Award. She was also the longtime coordinator of the institute’s Nashville Society.

“It is thanks to Barbara’s masterful teaching that Vanderbilt Classics has come to be recognized for its approach to the Greek and Roman antiquity from the integrated viewpoint of not just language and literature, but also objects and landscapes,” said Joseph L. Rife, associate professor and founding director of the Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies. “For Barbara, Sophocles and Plato are much richer with — and much poorer without — the Athenian Acropolis and Agora.”

Dr. Tsakirgis was a cum laude graduate of Yale University where she majored in classics. She also held a master’s degree and Ph.D. both from Princeton University.

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