Meet Our Lecturers

Dimitri Nakassis is Associate Professor with the Department of Classics, University of Toronto, and holds his degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D. and M.A.), and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (B.A.).  His areas of specialization include Greek archaeology, especially the Late Bronze Age, Linear B  and early writing systems, and survey archaeology.  Professor Nakassis is co-director for the Western Argolid Regional Project, and his recent publications include KE-RA-ME-JA: Studies Presented to Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, co-editor, (Prehistory Monographs 46, INSTAP, 2014), and Individuals and Society in Mycenaean Pylos (Mnemosyne Supplements, History and Archaeology of Classical Antiquity 358, 2013).

Professor Nakassis has been named a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Fellow for his work on transforming our understanding of prehistoric Greek Societies.

Michael C. Nelson is Associate Professor of Art History at Queens College, City University of New York.  He holds his degrees from the University of Toronto (Ph.D. and MA), and the University of Minnesota, and his areas of specialization are Bronze Age Aegean Architecture, and Greek and Roman architecture.  Professor Nelson is Co-Director and Architect for the excavations at Omrit in Israel, and his current publication projects include The Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit, Volume 1: The Architecture (E.J. Brill, USA, 2015) and “The Architecture of the Palace of Nestor” in The Minnesota Pylos Project: 1990 – 1998 (Oxford: Archaeopress/British Archaeological Reports, 2015).


Dr. Neyland is the Head of the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the U.S. Navy's Naval History and Heritage Command.  He holds his degrees from Texas A&M University, and his areas of specialization are underwater archaeology, naval archaeology, and historical archaeology; his extensive fieldwork includes serving as Director of the recovery operations for the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, of the excavation of John Paul Jones' birthplace, and of the survey and excavation of the War of 1812 ship U.S.S. Scorpion.

After eighteen years at Franklin College, seventeen as President and one as Chancellor, Dr. Erik Nielsen stepped down in May 2013, having been accorded the title of President Emeritus.

Franklin College, now Franklin University, is a fully accredited, (MSCHE, and Swiss Univ. Comm.) baccalaureate and MSc granting American institution of higher learning, located in Lugano, Switzerland. It is the only foreign institution to be recognized as a Swiss University by the Swiss University Commission. Prior to accepting this post Dr. Nielsen had served variously as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of Art History at the University of Evansville (Indiana), Dean of Humanities and Arts at Trinity University (Texas), Director of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (Stanford University) and Chair of the Department of Classics at Bowdoin College (Maine). He received his B.A. and M.A. in Classics from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his Ph.D. in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College (Philadelphia).

The recipient of numerous archeological and administrative grants, Dr. Nielsen has remained active in undergraduate teaching in the U.S. and abroad throughout his administrative career. He has directed two doctoral dissertations, one for Bryn Mawr College and one for Brown University. He has been a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada. In addition he has directed and/or co-directed an on-going archeological excavation in Italy (Poggio Civitate) for the past forty years. He is an Elected Foreign Member of the Istituto Nazionale di Studi Etruschi ed Italici. Dr. Nielsen has served as Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Etruscan Foundation (USA) and serves on the Editorial Board for the archaeological journal, Etruscan Studies. He has been a consultant to Time-Life publications for their archaeological series on the Etruscans. He was involved in the design and renovation of an archaeological museum outside the city of Siena to house material from his excavation. He curated an exhibition of artifacts from the site for the Exhibition, “I Principi di Murlo”, sponsored by the Banca del Gottardo, Lugano and dislayed in the Galleria Gottardo, Lugano, June 2006- August 2006.

The site of Murlo has produced one of the earliest monumental buildings uncovered in Italy to date. The complex, situated on top of a hill, in the heart of Tuscany consists of a series of buildings, which date to the seventh and sixth century B.C. The site is best known for its remarkable architectural terracotta roof decorations as well as its wealth of luxury items, associated with the inhabitants. For 49 years the excavation has served as a training ground for young, international scholars of archaeology, Classics and related disciplines, many of whom are currently working in the field. Material from the site has been incorporated in archaeological exhibitions around the world.

Dr. Nielsen has served as president of the American Association of International Colleges and Universities (AAICU), and for six years was a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Until this year he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce, Lugano. While in Switzerland, he was elected as President of Rotary International, (Lugano Lago), the first foreign member elected to the club and its first non - Swiss President. Upon stepping down he was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow. Dr. Nielsen was elected as a Legate of the “Lega del Chianti”, an organization with an 800 year history, and he is an elected member of the Savile Club, London. In May, 2014 Dr. Nielsen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Franklin University for his contributions to higher education and for bringing his institution to university status in Switzerland. He currently serves as a Senior Consultant in Higher Education for the consulting firm, Kaludis Consulting, in Washington DC.

Lorenzo Nigro (Rome 1967), MA, PhD, Associated Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology (since 2002), is the Coordinator of the Oriental Section of the Department of Sciences of Antiquities of Rome “La Sapienza” University (Faculty of Letters and Philosophy). He has participated in several archaeological expeditions in the Near East and the Mediterranean (among which the most renowned are Tell Mardikh/Ebla, in Syria, in 1989-1997, and Tell es-Sultan/Jericho in Palestine as co-director, in 1997-2000). He is presently the Director of Rome “La Sapienza” Expedition to Motya (a Phoenician city in Western Sicily), and the Director of Rome “La Sapienza” Expedition to Palestine & Jordan, which is carrying on systematic excavations at Tell es-Sultan/ancient Jericho in Palestine, where excavations were resumed in 2009, and at the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC) fortified city, previously unknown, of Khirbet al-Batrawy (2005-2011), in the northern district of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Lorenzo Nigro is a skilled field archaeologist with a wide experience of Levantine and Mediterranean archaeology. He has written 13 monographs on the archaeology of Palestine (Palatial Architecture, Jericho and Jerusalem), Syria, and the reports of excavations at Motya, Khirbet al-Batrawy and Jericho, and more than 150 articles on Levantine, Phoenician, Mesopotamian and Egyptian archaeology and art history, ranging from palatial and temple architecture, pottery chronology, Levantine and Iranian metallurgy, Sumerian and Akkadian art, Phoenician stratified ceramics, history of excavations, etc.  He is founder and Editor of two series of monographs: Rome “La Sapienza” Studies on the Archaeology of Palestine & Transjordan (ROSAPAT; 7 volumes) and Quaderni di Archeologia Fenicio Punica (QAFP, 6 volumes, including excavations reports Mozia X, Mozia XI, Mozia XII, Mozia XIII).  He has taught in the Lateran University (Rome, 1996-2000) and he has been Invited Professor of Biblical Archaeology at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Rome, 2000-2006). 

Dr. Nigro has been the Curator of the Near Eastern Department (Reparto Antichità Orientali - Museo Gregoriano Egizio/Egyptian Museum) of the Vatican Museums (1998-2005), gaining deep experience in restoration, management and development of archaeological heritage.  He took part in and organized numerous international congresses, conferences and workshops, among which are the First International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (1ICAANE, Roma 1998); the international Conferences held in Jericho in February 2005 and April 2008 by the Palestinian MOTA-DACH and Rome “La Sapienza” University on “Archaeology, sustainable development and tourist valorisation of the archaeological site of Tell es-Sultan/ancient Jericho”. He was a member of the steering Committee of the Sixth International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East held in Rome in May 5th - 10th 2008 (6ICAAN); of the congress “Lebanon Symposium” devoted to the enhancement of Lebanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, held in Beirut in November 5th-9th 2008; and of the “Second Lebanon Symposium”, October 2012).  He is a member of the Counsel for the International Relationships of Rome “La Sapienza” University.

Dr. Nigro received the “St. Damasus Scholar” Award by the Carsten Niebhur Institute of Archaeology of Copenhagen University as “Young Archaeologist” in 1999 for the excavations at Jericho. In 2010, due to the discovery of the Palace of the Copper Axes in Khirbet al-Batrawy, he received the “Premio Provincia Capitale 2010” and the “Premio Colosseo 2010” awards, as an Italian/Roman who distinguished himself abroad, and the “Sapienza Ricerca 2010” award, as outstanding researcher of Rome “La Sapienza” University.  In 2011 he was awarded National Funds for Relevant Researches (PRIN) for the topic “The Seven Plagues: Catastrophes, Earthquakes, Inundations, Famine, Epidemies, and War in Palestine and Egypt during Pre-Classical periods: an overview of historical and archaeological sources”.

Lorenzo Nigro is presently experimenting with new approaches on the archaeology of the Mediterranean on the island of Motya, where he coordinates an interdisciplinary Laboratory of emerging sciences applied to innovate archaeology with the use of drones, sensor nodes, 3D simulators, etc.

His motto is: “patience, prudence and perseverance”.

Lorenzo NIgro is an AIA Kress Lecturer for 2015/2016


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