The web portal Study in Greece is campaigning for the promotion and international visibility of Greek Universities and the comparative educational advantages of our country. In particular, the campaign focuses on the foreign language study programs that Greek Universities offer to Greek and international students. The initiative is supported by the General Secretariat of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In this context, a number of educational programs and actions are presented in detail on a regular basis, such as undergraduate and postgraduate programs, summer schools etc, to inform international students about the many foreign language options offered by Greek Universities.

Study in Greece interviewed Professor Manolis Manoledakis, Director of the MA in the Classical Archaeology and the Ancient History of Macedonia offered at the International Hellenic University (ΙΗU) about the program, its features and what it has to offer to international students.

Manolis Manoledakis is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the International Hellenic University in Thessaloniki. He is also the Dean of the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Economics. He has also taught at the University of Ioannina, the Democritus University of Thrace and the Hellenic Open University. He has participated in various research programs and is the director of the International Hellenic University’s excavation in Neo Rysio, Thessaloniki. He is also the creator and director of two post-graduate programs offered by the International Hellenic University, the MA in the Classical Archaeology and the Ancient History of Macedonia and the MA in Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean Studies.

Please, describe to us briefly the MA in the Classical Archaeology and the Ancient History of Macedonia, which is offered at the International Hellenic University.

The MA in the Classical Archaeology and the Ancient History of Macedonia Program is being offered by the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Economics of the International Hellenic University. The program considers the history and the archaeology of ancient Macedonia, covering the region of Macedonia and the Macedonians from the Mycenaean period until the Roman era. It is designed to provide a postgraduate level education in the archaeology, history, and culture in general of ancient Macedonia. It focuses on the acquisition of specialist knowledge on issues concerning public and private life and in general cultural issues (institutions, art, religion, dialects) in the province of Macedonia and the greater Hellenistic world. Moreover, it offers a holistic, in depth grounding in the study of ancient Macedonia and its cultural influence.

A most crucial benefit of the program is in my opinion the archaeological excavation of our University, which constitutes an elective course. The excavation takes place at Neo Rysio, 17 km from Thessaloniki, at a settlement that was inhabited between roughly 900 and 500 BC. In this systematic excavation, students have the opportunity to practice in a much promising archaeological site, the investigation of which offers significant information on a period of time that still remains quite dark in the wider area of Central Macedonia, due to the lack of concrete written and archaeological evidence.

Macedonia has been a multi-ethnic and multicultural territory located in the center of the southern Balkans with a vast and long history; but it has also been the field of particularly fierce ethnic conflicts several times. What does this program focus on highlighting the most?

The specific program is dedicated exclusively to antiquity. Thus issues like the so-called Macedonian Question, which you probably refer to, remain outside its scope. However, in antiquity as well, the area called Macedonia was indeed a multicultural region. We know that before the formation and expansion of the Macedonian Kingdom, Thracian tribes inhabited most of what know of as Central and Eastern Macedonia, while some centuries later, in the time of king Philip II, the kingdom expanded as far to the east as the Black Sea, thus including Thracian populations. On the other hand, in the Archaic period several Greek cities founded many colonies along the north Aegean coast, not to mention the indigenous populations that lived near the north-northwest borders of Macedon. What all this implies is that the area under study hosted different populations and cultures and one of the most important targets of our program is exactly to examine this diversity and the interactions on any level (art, religion, customs, commerce, politics) that it entailed.

Given that the program is exclusively taught in English, why should an international student choose it?

I must point out that there has never been a university program dedicated to the ancient Macedonia, not even in Greece. Our postgraduate program, launched in 2016, became the first such program worldwide; and it is interesting to observe that, seven years after its creation, this program remains the only one in the world with such a subject. Given the fact that the program is exclusively taught in English, an international student that is interested in the topic has every reason to chose it, all the more so since it is offered in the heart of Macedonia, with all the important archaeological sites and museums close to the University.

The peripheral areas of the Greek world have until recently gotten comparatively little attention. Particularly popular destinations included Olympia, Delfi, Knossos, Crete, and Athens. With the exception of the tomb of Vergina, which has consistently piqued tourists’ interest, how did the archeological sites of Macedonia come to be so significant?

I totally agree with you. Even in Greece, all university Schools of History and Archaeology lay much stress on the antiquities and the archaeological sites of the rest of Greece, dedicating only disproportionately and unjustifiably little time to Macedonia. However, we should keep in mind that Macedonia has played a highly significant role in the formation of ancient history and culture, in Greece and beyond. The globalization that was achieved through the expedition of Alexander the Great is a striking example, but one of the many. Let us not forget the impressive monumental painting and the Macedonian tombs, the terracotta figurines, the interesting institutions of the Macedonian Kingdom and many others.

And of course I strongly believe that archaeological sites like Vergina, which you mentioned, Dion, Pella, Amphipolis, Philippi and others are not in the slightest less important (in any sense) or less impressive than those at Olympia, Delfi, Knossos and the others in the rest of Greece.

Due to its strategic position at the crossroads of Western Balkans, do you believe that the International Hellenic University could attract more international students and how?

Absolutely. There is no doubt that, in order to achieve extroversion and attract more international students, Greek universities have to offer more English-speaking programs, dedicated on crucial scientific fields. The International Hellenic University, established in 2005, has been the first Greek university offering programs exclusively in English and I believe that the specific post-graduate program in the Classical Archaeology and the Ancient History of Macedonia is a good example of how Greece could attract more international students taking advantage not only of its geographical position but also of its culture, which is undoubtedly one of its strongest assets.

Tell us about the International Hellenic University’s faculties, culture, and ground-breaking research endeavors.

The International Hellenic University is today one of Greece’s biggest universities, with Schools and Departments in eight cities of Northern Greece. Two of them, those based in Thermi, Thessaloniki, which now comprise the University Centre of International Programs of Studies (UCIPS) of the International Hellenic University – among which our School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Economics – have been the first ones in Greece that offered post-graduate programs taught exclusively in English, fifteen years ago, as I already mentioned.

Since then, our School, as well as the UCIPS in general, has made many steps to develop as foremost research institution of Europe and has already attracted a strong international academic faculty and outstanding students from countries as diverse as Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, France, Georgia, German, Greece, Holland, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Libya, Lithuania, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, North Macedonia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, the USA and more.

This is achieved, among others, through the creation of programs on crucial academic fields, high-quality PhD programs, permanent research projects, such as the archaeological excavation of the University, where the students of this MA interested in archaeology are practiced, as well as participations in many significant research programs, including joint programs with foreign universities. The external evaluation of our postgraduate programs that took place some years ago offered to them the highest grade, highlighting our institution as worthy of merit. I think that all these factors should be considered by international students that would like to continue their studies in Greece.

Application deadline: October 15, 2023 or until places are filled

Read also via Greek News Agenda: SiG Masters | Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean Studies: Culture and International Relations at IHU

Intro image: Detail of the Alexander Mosaic by Carole Raddato via flickr