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Dr. Joseph De Cigalla (Dekigalla)

It is worth taking a brief look at the life and career of De Cigalla. A member of the Catholic community who had studied in Italy, he enjoyed great prestige and social standing and, in addition to his career as a doctor, he was also the most important local scholar known throughout Greece. He frequently wrote in Pandora, a journal with a varied content, on all kinds of subjects: literature, botany, medicine, geology, and frequently archaeology. Acquainted with archaeological developments in northern Europe he also conducted excavations himself. De Cigalla enjoyed close relations with the Academies of Science in Paris and Vienna, to which he sent regular reports on geological phenomena and archaeological excavations, as did two other men of letters, Guillaume Delenda and Da Corogna. He was held in high esteem by his fellow islanders due to his generosity and scholarship. He followed the excavations on Therasia at close hand and wrote several articles about them for various journals. He was to be found everywhere, with geologists, ambassadors, and soldiers. He kept a diary of the volcano on his own initiative, since he realised the importance of recording every detail of the course of the volcanic activity. Fouqué 1 refers to De Cigalla as one of his main sources of information for the highly important early phases of the eruption, when there was no geologist present to monitor and record them. He formed and expressed an independent opinion on various issues, mainly archaeological, though also on other matters, such as the sequence and the nature of eruptions. His writing is charming and powerful 2.

Taken from the paper “Excavations on Thera and Therasia in the 19th Century: A Chronicle” by Iris Tzachili (Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete, Rethymnon, GR-741 00, Greece), published in the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 18.2 (2005) 231-257 . © The Fund for Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2005


  1. 1879: Santorin et ses éruptions
  2. 1866: Note sur la découverte de monuments anciens dans les îles de la baie de Santorin. Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des Sciences)