A Cardiff archaeologist now holds the key to many of the secrets of ancient Greece.
Dr James Whitley will set the direction for British archaeological and other research in the country, when he takes up his new post as Director of the British School in Athens.
The role is one of the most prestigious appointments in British archaeology, and one that carries diplomatic status. The director's house is a well known landmark in the Greek capital.
The Cardiff University senior lecturer will act as an intermediary between the Greek government and academics, helping them obtain the appropriate consent for excavations, as well as developing the policy for research, putting together major interdisciplinary programmes, as well as smaller-scale projects.
"This is a great honour, and quite a surprise," said Dr Whitley. "Recent directors have been more senior academics, nearing retirement. As someone in his mid-40s, I am the youngest director for some time and honoured to follow such illustrious company."
Dr Whitley will be seconded to Athens for five years, accompanied by his wife Dr Christina Hatzimichael, from Kavala. in Greece, and baby daughter Isabella.
"This will be a challenging role for me, and a fascinating and rewarding experience for the whole family," he said.
The British School at Athens was founded in 1886, three years after Cardiff University, and has been responsible for many important excavations, including those at Knossos, Palaikastro in East Crete, and Sparta, which have been crucial to our understanding of the East Mediterranean in the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age.
"The School is an academic institution in its own right, and its work goes well beyond archaeology," said Dr Whitley. "Its library, hostel and common room are as likely to be filled with historians or anthropologists, as they are with experts on Mycenaean pottery."
Dr Whitley joined Cardiff University in 1990, and has now established a centre of expertise in Greek archaeology in the School of History and Archaeology. He takes up his post in Athens on October 1st.