August 20, 2021
This month, we’re delighted to spotlight AIA Society Trustee and Richmond Society Program Coordinator Arthur Cassanos. Art, as he’s more commonly known, has been involved with the Richmond Society since the 1980s. A retired lawyer, he’s an ancient history aficionado and a former oar crew member on a trireme replica.
We asked Art some questions about how he got involved with the AIA and we’re excited for you to read his words!
What interests you about archaeology?
As long as I can remember I had an interest in ancient history. In the 1960s, American Heritage made a series of children’s books, the Horizon Caravel series, for older pre-teens and young teens, which I devoured; I particularly remember their book on Alexander the Great. At the end of the 60s and into the early 70s, politics, and the war in Vietnam consumed my interest. While I was at law school in the late 70s, I had little time for recreational reading, but once I was employed in the early 80s I resumed my interest in books on history.
How did you find out about the AIA?
I started going to the Richmond Society’s archaeology lectures. Our President at the time was my mentor, Gertrude Howland. I have been told she was the AIA’s first Society Trustee and that the position was in fact created for her to have a seat on the Governing Board, but I haven’t verified that this information is correct yet. In 1992 and 1993, I was a member of the oar crew of the Olympias, a trireme replica operated by The Trireme Trust and owned by the Hellenic Navy. On July 27, 1992, I spent my 40th birthday pulling an oar on the Olympias, and was in fact permitted to operate the steering oars for a brief time on our voyage to Corinth (photo below).
What made you decide to get more involved with the Richmond Society?
In 1994, the President of The Trireme Trust, USA, Ford Weiskittel, came to Richmond to speak to our AIA Society. He stayed with me, and I mentioned after that I thought his talk had been poorly advertised. After I said that, I immediately found myself on the Richmond Society’s Board in charge of publicity. I have been a member of that Board ever since, first as Publicity Chair, then as Vice President, President, and now in my current position of Program Chair. In 2007, I was fortunate enough to work on an excavation at the Roman Fort of Sanisera in Menorca, Spain.