Here's one that was making the rounds last evening ... it's another piece (from the Chronicle) on Stephen Miller's (now retired) work at Nemea. Here's the incipit:

Classical archaeology is not a profession that offers combat pay, but perhaps it should.

One summer afternoon in 1980, as UC Berkeley Professor Stephen G. Miller sat with the window open in his office in Ancient Nemea in Greece, international relations took on new meaning for him.

"I heard what sounded like a screaming mosquito going past the back of my head," Miller said. "I jumped to the floor, and two more shots came. There was a long silence, and I was finally able to get hold of the police in the next village. They came and found two of the bullets lodged in the wall."

Miller, who retired this summer from his chair in UC's department of classics, went to Nemea in 1973 to learn about the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, which was built between 330 and 320 B.C. on the foundations of an even earlier temple.

He didn't anticipate that his presence would tip a local election and that disgruntled farmers would shoot at him.

About 80 miles southwest of Athens on the Peloponnese, the area around ancient Nemea is fast becoming a notable Greek wine region, but 2,500 years ago it was inhabited only by sheep and shepherds. The land was swampy in winter and dry and dusty in summer.

Every two years, the valley filled with athletes and spectators, magicians, vendors and peddlers. The temple of Nemean Zeus was the religious centerpiece, where athletes and others offered sacrifice to the games' patron saint in what was one of the four sites of the ancient athletic games that came to be known as the Olympics.

Mind-set of farming village

In 1973, many Greeks in this agricultural region were wary of the American who had come to dig for evidence of the ancient culture.

"People nowadays accept it," Miller said, "but there were people initially who were very much opposed. This is a small agricultural village, and I thank my lucky stars I was raised in a small agricultural village in Indiana, because I could really understand the mind-set."

Miller said the village had some very poor families and a couple of wealthy families who owned lots of property. The males of the poor families would gather every morning and hope they would be picked up to work in the fields.

When Miller came, he hired these poor workers, and suddenly, instead of begging for work on a daily basis, they had regular jobs for four or five months each year.

"There were guys who were living in mud brick hovels who now have two- story modern houses with all the appliances and conveniences you could ask for, " he said. "A large part of that came from the resources they got working here at the excavation.

"The wealthy people resented it because I had usurped their labor force," Miller said.

Not only did the landowners no longer have all their poor workers, the workers were getting uppity.

Miller recalled how one night he overheard in a coffeehouse a story about one of his poorest workers. "Did you hear that old so-and-so is sending his daughter to nursing school? Who does he think he is, that little shepherd? Miller hires him and gives him these big ideas."

In 1979, the local mayoral election was run between two slates of candidates, the pro-Miller and the anti-Miller. The anti-Millers were the wealthier families. The pro-Miller slate was poor and left-wing, so the gossip was that Miller was a communist.

In 1980, a few months after the pro-Millers had won the local election, hard feelings still existed. Miller became the literal target for the anti- Miller frustration.

Miller is almost certain he knows who shot at him and who ordered the shooting. The police chief didn't have any evidence, but he knew a certain family was behind it. He called on the family and said, "Look, if anything happens to Miller -- I don't care if it's a bus in Berkeley that runs him down -- I'm coming for you guys.

"So there has been a major impact, and frankly, I'm proud of it."

Miller surveyed the Nemean plain 33 years ago and knew that somewhere beneath the dry surface he would discover the fourth site of the ancient Panhellenic games.

The UC professor would eventually lay bare an entire stadium and locker room area close to the nearly destroyed Temple of Nemean Zeus. Not everyone initially believed that a stadium was buried there, and some thought it not worth looking for.

"What I did not expect was the vaulted entrance tunnel," Miller said. "The greatest thrill, in terms of goose bumps, was the discovery of the tunnel. We realized early one morning in May 1978 that there was a tunnel that was preserved nearly complete." That proved that the ancient Greeks at the time of Alexander the Great (around 320 B.C.) knew how to build the vaulted arch.

"Then we began to see the graffiti on the walls of the tunnel and realize we had direct contact back to ancient athletes. It's given us a sense of the continuity of human endeavor."

... more.