Internationally renowned French archaeologist Jacqueline Girard Karageorghis has died, it was announced on Saturday. She was 85.
Karageorghis moved to Cyprus in the 1950s after completing her studies at the University of Lyon.
She married to the former director of the department of antiquities, Vassos Karageorghis in 1953 and together they had two children, Cleo and Andreas.
During her long and multifaceted professional career, she taught French, between 1963 and 1986, and was deputy education attaché at the French Educational Centre in Cyprus between 1986 and 1992.
She also collaborated with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation on a project named ‘Cultural Route of Aphrodite in Cyprus’ between 2002 and 2005.
Asked to establish the basis on which the CTO could develop a thematic tour of the island, the point was to encourage visitors to wander through layers of history and culture as they followed the footsteps of the worship of this great Goddess
“It’s quite ironic that I ended up on the island because I had always been interested in Greek culture ever since the time I was at school,” she said in an interview with the Cyprus Mail in 2008. “Common interests brought me and Vassos together and I was happy to start a life here.”
Giving birth to two children, Karageorghis was at first preoccupied with raising the kids while she also busied herself with her job as a French teacher.
“I still found the time to write a few articles on archaeology and eventually my old professor at Lyon University encouraged me to write my thesis,” she said.
In 1975 she completed a doctorate in history and archaeology on the subject of the ‘Great Goddess of Cyprus and her cult through the iconography from the Neolithic period to the 6th century BC.’
From that point onwards, she was fixated on the idea of Aphrodite and the legacy of the larger than life character, with a number of articles and books published since her thesis.
“I wanted to know why Cyprus is considered the island of Aphrodite. Most of us take the idea for granted and although Cypriots are very proud of the goddess they hardly know much about the history behind it all,” she said.
Karageorghis published numerous research papers, books, and articles and had received several honours.
She is survived by her husband and two children. No information concerning her funeral was immediately known.