Mr. and Mrs. Cincinnatus in Athens, Thessaloniki, and Spetses


Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and a former director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2007-2012), here writes extensively about a Greek couple, Anastasios and Ellie Adossides, once prominent and influential at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, but now largely forgotten.

If ever a husband and wife deserved special honors from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (hereafter, the ASCSA or the School), it would be Anastasios and Ellie Hatzilazarou Adossides.  Both Anastasios and Ellie spent most of their lives in the public eye, in the service of Greece, and, in his case, also of the ASCSA.  Yet neither is commemorated at our Kolonaki campus, despite the fact that Anastasios and Ellie protected it, and he ultimately gave his life for the School.   On Anastasios’s death in 1942, his dear friends from the Athenian Agora Excavations and Athens College, Homer Thompson, Lucy Talcott, and Homer Davis, wrote:

“There can be no substitute for the autobiography that modesty forbade [ Anastasios] writing, the book which might more than any other have interpreted to Europe and to America the Greece of the last quarter-century (The Philhellene 2: 3-4, pp. 3-5).”  

The three continued: “The American Minister to Greece [Lincoln MacVeagh], himself a New Englander, has called Adossides the most conscientious person he has ever known, and claims that no New England conscience ever approached his.” From the Greek side, Eleutherios Venizelos said publicly of Anastasios that in his political career he had met very few men of equal courage and frankness. 

G. Dorys, Abdul-Hamid intime, Paris 1901.

Both Anastasios and Ellie led exciting lives in tumultuous times, lives of a sort that are difficult today to imagine.  Anastasios, born in 1873 into a distinguished Ottoman family, began his adventures as a young man in Constantinople.  His father served the Porte both as Prince of Samos and as Governor of Crete.  His troubles began in 1901, when, while working as a journalist, he published under the pen name “Georges Dorys” a scathing biography of the Ottoman sultan titled Abdul-Hamid intime.  Anastasios was home when a trusted Albanian servant informed him that police had surrounded the house.  Dressed in the uniform of a French officer he managed to escape by a back door. Then, with help from relatives in the Russian consulate, he made his way to a French ship anchored in the harbor, only to learn there was cholera on board.  

Paradoxically, cholera was his salvation.  The police were afraid to board. When the shipboard doctor became ill, he assumed his duties, and, after quarantine in Marseille, he resumed his career as a journalist in Paris.  

In 1907, Adossides married Ellie, whom he had met in Athens. Ellie had been born in Thessaloniki in 1878 into a noble family, was tutored at home, and subsequently was sent to school in Germany and Switzerland.  Her own adventures began when her life became intertwined in the politics of Eleftherios Venizelos and his Liberal movement.

Ellie and Anastasios Adossides, Paris 1910s. Source: Adosidoy 2016.

The American School as an Athenian Institution

The roles played by Anastasios and Ellie in the history of the ASCSA reflect the embeddedness of our institution in the social and political life of Athens in the years before and after WW I. Despite noble principles, the ASCSA had been slow to become an Athenian institution, rather than one that served an American clientele in Athens.  The School had been founded on the model of similar colonial institutions, its goal to emulate German and French schools in Athens, to make its mark as a cultural powerhouse, and to train American post-graduate Classics students. 

It was not until the directorship of Bert Hodge Hill and the chairmanship of Edward Capps that the ASCSA began to think about repaying Greece for the hospitality that it had then already enjoyed for more than a quarter-century. One must, in fact, look closely to find references to Greeks, (other than the ancients) in the early history of the ASCSA. As anyone who reads Lord’s A History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 1882-1942: An Intercollegiate Project will know, that book is largely a triumphalist narrative in praise of American men. Women are scarce, Blacks nearly absent. Greeks, wraithlike, fade in and out.  Lord similarly attributed the success of the ASCSA to its three-pronged administration, power shared between a director in Athens, the Managing Committee, and a Board of Trustees (p. vii).  

But Greek friends on the ground also played important roles, as did U.S. diplomats. That is clear. The School interacted with important figures in Athenian political and archaeological circles in its early years, and these relationships are signs of what was to come.  Prime Minister Charilaos Trikoupis together with Foreign Minister Stephanos Dragoumis (father of Ion, and subject of this fall’s exhibition, “Ion Dragoumis: Between East and West,” by the Archives Department of the ASCSA in the Makrygiannis Wing of the Gennadius Library) made possible a gift of land in Kolonaki where the Main Building of the School was built.  Support from Reverend Michael Kalopothakes (1825-1911), the American educated founder of the Evangelical Church in Athens, and his family was critical in the early days, especially in the years before the Kolonaki campus was established. (About the Kalopothakes family, see also Jack L. Davis, “Archives from the Trash: The Multidimensional Annie Smith Peck, Mountaineer, Suffragette, Classicist.”)  The King and Queen of Greece were enthusiastic about the ASCSA and attended its first Open Meeting (1886-87).  So were Heinrich and Sophia Schliemann and Panagiotis (Panagis) Kavvadias, General Ephor of Antiquities and Secretary of the Archaeological Society at Athens, who was named honorary Professor of Archaeology at the ASCSA in 1891.  

These were important steps toward director William Watson Goodwin’s vision, as quoted by Lord (p. 36):

“I have felt that it was a good thing for the new school to make itself felt as a social power in Athens … If we had come here and simply gone to work quietly with our students and books, letting society alone, we would have been no more regarded than one of the missionary schools.”  

Such a mission was difficult to pursue with consistency, however, so long as directors in Athens were annual appointees.  All that would change with the arrival of Bert Hodge Hill, whose long term in office (1906-1927), coupled with the political acumen of Edward Capps, chairman of the Managing Committee, would build a complex network of social and political relations enmeshing the School and Greece, one that was enormously beneficial for both parties. Capps and Hill’s relationships with Anastasios and Ellie Adossides would, moreover, change the face of the ASCSA forever.  

The Adossides Family Travels North

When the Adossides family first entered the consciousness of the leadership of the ASCSA is unclear, but strong ties between them, Bert Hodge Hill, Edward Capps, and Carl Blegen were clearly created in the immediate wake of the First World War.[1] It was then that Capps led a mission of the American Red Cross (ARC) to provide aid to Eastern Macedonia, following the imposition of an unconditional truce between the Entente and Bulgaria.  Adossides was already known to Hill, and had already discussed the purchase of property north of Souidias (Speusippou at the time) with him, the land where Loring Hall and the Gennadius Library were eventually built (Hill to Adossides, 12/25 February 1918, a signed draft of letter in English, presumably sent in Greek) (ASCSA Archives, GenRec 101/1, folder 1).

Commissioner Edward Capps posing on the balcony of the ARC headquarters, 1918-1919. ASCSA Archives.

Venizelos had brought Greece into WW I indirectly by establishing a rival government in Thessaloniki, while King Constantine and the parliament in Athens maintained a position of neutrality. Anastasios, who had enjoyed the trust of Venizelos since meeting him first in Crete in 1908, was summoned to Thessaloniki in September 1916, where he soon assumed the post of Governor General of Macedonia. Ellie and her children had remained behind in Spetses in a rural sanctuary they had purchased in 1907 near Chora. This farm served as a family retreat until the Second World War, and was known to members of the ASCSA, who visited in the 1930s.



Back view of the Adossides farm on the island of Spetses, 1931. ASCSA Archives, Homer A. Thompson Papers (#1023).

Front view of Adossides’s villa in Spetses, as it is today (under different ownership). Source: Courtesy of Phokion Potamianos.

On Spetses, Ellie and her children found themselves increasingly threatened by anti-Venizelists in the fall of 1916. She felt particularly unsafe after police raided her house, and day after day waited, hoping her husband would find a way to bring the family north.  Finally, “one night with the moon shining in a clear sky, an unknown ship approached with its lights out. As it came closer, the silhouette of a destroyer was illuminated by moonlight.” Ellie rushed to the shore, shouting “Are you British or French?”  The ship was French and Anastasios was on board.  Ellie was given a half-hour to make the children ready, then the destroyer dodged blockades to reach Thessaloniki, “there where the Ethnos, with Venizelos at its head, ventured to create ‘Greater Greece’ of the two continents and five seas.“

The Bonds Are Forged 

Once in Thessaloniki, Ellie found herself organizing aid for Greek troops fighting with the French and British of the Entente. Then, after an armistice with Bulgaria in September 1918, she focused on supplying aid to those in eastern Macedonia and Thrace who had suffered greatly under the Bulgarian occupation.

The condition of Greek military hospitals was deplorable, and nurses were few. Venizelos’s government strove to rectify the problem, and he didn’t want to depend on allies for a solution. Ellie, her sister Eirini, and a Greek nurse trained in France, began to create trauma centers out of virtually nothing. By the start of May 1917, these field hospitals were ready for the major battle of Ravine, on the West Bank of the Axios River near Kilkis. The Allies emerged victors.  Ellie was there to witness.

Greek troops were poised to move against Austria next when Bulgaria agreed to an unconditional truce on September 19, 1918. Greece now confronted a different human catastrophe. The Bulgarian army left a trail of destruction in the wake of its retreat, while thousands of Greek hostages had been taken to Bulgaria as slave laborers.

Ellie called on Penelope Delta and the Greek Red Cross for help, and the American Red Cross soon followed, on the initiative of George Horton, American Consul in Thessaloniki. The French general in command of the Allied forces, Louis Franchet Espèrey, agreed that Ellie, Delta, and Alexander Zannas, Delta’s son-in-law, would travel to Bulgaria to examine the hostage situation. The group departed for Drama, the first leg of their journey, on November 1, 1918.

The American Red Cross, under the command of Capps, reached Thessaloniki by train a week later, on November 7, 1918.  On their arrival, Capps and Hill headed for the Villa Modiano, in the coastal strip of mansions east of the White Tower.  They were lodged there, while Blegen and others in the American group retreated to rooms that had been rented for them by the Serbian Commission of the American Red Cross.  Two days later the party had lunch at the Villa Modiano and Anastasios promised to provide a small steamer bound for Kavalla, one of his own automobiles, and six commandeered oxcarts.  On the 16th of November the Americans left for Kavalla on the SS. Hellespontos with 35 tons of supplies.   The following day, Capps and Major Barnes met Ellie and Zannas in Drama, and headed by train to Xanthi (Delta had fallen ill and stayed behind).  In Xanthi, at the railway station, the Greeks met resistance from the Bulgarian military. 

The Villa Zsolnay was used as the headquarters of the ARC in Kavala, 1918-1919. Source: Oakley et al. 1920.

The following day the Greek-American party presented its papers to the Bulgarian military governor of Xanthi, who repeatedly claimed that he could not guarantee the safety of the Greeks if they went further.  Major Barnes then exploded, thumped his fist on a table, and shouted: “I will telegraph President Wilson.”  Capps and his contingent set up relief headquarters by the train station in Xanthi, while Ellie and Zannas headed for Sofia, where they secured the release of a significant number of Greek hostages.  

The American Red Cross Mission continued to enjoy support from Anastasios throughout the remainder of its mission, dining again at the Villa Modiano on April 9, 1919, with Anastasios’s sister Hélène in attendance. 

The Villa Modiano in Thessaloniki, today.

Anastasios publicly proclaimed his appreciation for the help of the American Red Cross:  

“I desire to express to the American people the profound sentiments and unfailing gratitude of Greece and especially of the eastern Macedonian population for the magnificent work which the American Red Cross has done for our nation… Into Macedonia, which a traitor king had delivered to the Bulgarians, who in three years occupation starved, sacked, and robbed the inhabitants and left the country in desolation, the American Red Cross came as soon as she was delivered to bestow upon her kindness, security, and a new life (Adossides to the American Red Cross, published in the Washington Herald, May 26, 1919).

The Circle Is Unbroken  

The relationships born in Macedonia remained unbroken, even by death.  Accounts preserved in the Archives of the ASCSA not only record past friendships, but also challenge us to rethink our practices today.  

Ellie maintained warm ties with Blegen until the end.  As he was completing his publication of Pylos, she would write to him from a clinic in Kifissia. “I am going to send you a little article about my first meeting with Venizelos that I have written – it may interest you. I have almost finished dictating my memoirs and feel very much relieved that it is over. It seems that we have suffered the pains and pangs of authorship together – you say your big work nears completion – I certainly do not compare my efforts with yours. My kindest thoughts and wishes and greatly looking forward to your return and once more see my ray of sunshine coming through my door” (ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers, Ellie to Blegen, February 28, 1969, box 9, folder 1).  

Ellie’s memoirs were not, in the end, published until 2016, and then by her grandson under the title “Εξήντα χρόνια ελληνικής ζωής.”[2]

By a twist of fate, Capps was appointed by President Wilson as U.S. envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Greece and Montenegro, and served from 1920 to 1921. In that position, he continued to serve the interests of Greece, but particularly those of the Venizelists.  

Capps was also Minister when Prince Alexander suddenly died from an infected monkey-bite at Tatoi, the royal summer palace (October 25, 1920). The return to power of his father Constantine, who had been in exile since June 1918, led to a plebiscite that resulted in Venizelos’s fall from power in the autumn of 1920. Formal diplomatic relations between Greece and the United States were suspended on December 6, 1920.  Capps’s attitudes are clear from his memoranda to the U.S. State Department: he expressed sympathy for the government of Venizelos and antipathy towards Constantine and the government of Prime Minister Dimitris Rallis.  His main objective was to force the government of King Constantine to recognize legislation enacted under King Alexander. Only then should normal relations between the two countries be restored.  

Earlier in the fall of 1920, Capps had taken the brash action of summoning to Piraeus, without authorization from the U.S. State Department, a destroyer as a threat of force in the face of anti-Venizelist riots in Athens.  He had also been chastened by the State Department for improperly trying to influence Greek elections in Venizelos’s favor with an interview in a Greek newspaper.  

Capps was a recess appointment by Wilson, and he was not renewed by President Harding.  Yet, out of office, he continued to lobby for Greek and Venizelist affairs in the U.S., attempting to secure for Greece the $33,000,000 balance on a war loan negotiated with Venizelos (New York Times November 19, 1922).  

From 1923-1928, while Venizelos was out of power, Anastasios devoted himself tirelessly to the Refugee Settlement Commission as its Secretary, charged with accommodating the hundreds of thousands of Asia Minor Greeks arriving in the wake of the Treaty of Lausanne.  He found comfort at his farm on Spetses.  Anastasios had, in fact, come to imagine himself as a Greek Cincinnatus, according to Ellie, preferring a rural life except when called upon to serve his nation.  

Anastasios Adossides with young Homer Thompson in Spetses, 1931. Thompson would later become Director of the Athenian Agora Excavations in 1947. ASCSA Archives, Homer A. Thompson Papers (#1026).

Anastasios resigned from the Refugee Settlement Commission early in 1929 after accepting Capps’s offer that he become business manager for the Agora Excavations.  Venizelos was back in power.   Adossides’s contribution to the Agora Excavations is well-known.  Sylvie Dumont has recently written (Vrysaki, p. 64):  “It is undeniable that from the moment the School secured the services of Anastasios Adossides in 1928 the expropriation process accelerated. The completion of negotiations can be attributed in large part to his relationship to Eleutherios Venizelos.” 

His friends from the Agora wrote in The Philhellene (p. 4): “Adossides’ devotion to the Agora was the more remarkable in that he had no very deep personal interest either in the process of exploration or in its artistic and historical products.  He found his satisfaction partly out of an intellectual conviction that the job was worth doing, and partly out of watching the pleasure of his colleagues, for which he was in so large a measure responsible.”  His success lay in convincing Venizelos of the worth of the project, informally already in 1928 in the course of a visit by Venizelos and Konstantinos Gondikas, Minister of Education, to the Adossides farm on Spetses (ASCSA Archives, ADM REC 202/1, Folder 8, Adossides to Capps, October 30, 1928).

Eleutherios Venizelos, Ellie and Anastasios Adossides in Spetses, 1928. Source: Adosidoy 2016.

By 1939, as the principal work of expropriating properties in the Agora neared completion and war loomed in Europe, Capps, in his final year as Chairman of the Managing Committee, made another proposal: he offered Anastasios a position as business manager for the entire school — a job he assumed in May, 1940. He moved his base to Kolonaki.  Meanwhile, when the Italian invasion of Greece was announced in the fall of 1940, and soldiers were mobilized on Spetses, Ellie left with them for Epirus. As an agent of the Greek Red Cross, she, principally with her sister Eirini and her daughter Bessie, established field hospitals at the Albanian front.  The ASCSA provided supplies and the ambulance “Iaso,” driven by Rodney Young, a story told by Susan Heuck Allen in her book Classical Spies through the eyes of Ellie’s daughter-in-law Clio.  

Bessie Adossides in Spetses, 1931. ASCSA Archives, Homer A. Thompson Papers (#0284).

From 1940-1942, Anastasios devoted himself 100% to the welfare of the ASCSA (in what was meant to be a half-time job).  He put financial accounts in order, looked to secure insurance for the School’s buildings, and saw to the protection against theft of property in Kolonaki, Corinth, and the Agora. In the early months of the Nazi occupation Anastasios took great satisfaction in selling Decauville railway track at Corinth to the German army at twice market value — particularly when he learned that, at Philippi, the German army had simply confiscated it from the French School (ASCSA Archives, ADM REC 804/5, folder 5, Adossides to Lord, October 12, 1941).

As conditions under the Occupation worsened, Anastasios continued to send detailed reports to America, reports that were positively Thucydidean: “As for next winter, which will probably not bring the end of the war, we dare not think of it, because the general opinion is that the majority of the Greek people will not live to see it … even the well-to-do are now in want. I often happen to meet old friends in the street and [do] not welcome them at first, they are so changed and emaciated from want of food. Many of these, rich and poor, who get swollen and die of avitaminosis (ASCSA Archives, ADM REC 804/5, folder 1, Adossides to Lord, March 9, 1942).”  

Since returning from the Epirote front, Ellie had been working at the Marasleion School, in an impromptu hospital established for wounded soldiers, and to shelter Cretans whom the Germans would not allow to be repatriated.  

1942 was a annus horribilis for the Adossides family. Their daughter Bessie was condemned to death by the Italians (she later was pardoned).  Their son Kostakis (Clio’s husband) died in a plane crash in Gaza. Their son Alexandros was taken hostage by EAM, the communist National Liberation Party of Greece.  

Anastasios and Ellie Adossides with their eldest son Kostakis, early 1910s. Source: Adosidoy 2016.

The couple continued to care for others.  Anastasios opened a soup kitchen for School employees with food contributed by the Red Cross.  But perhaps Ellie and Anastasios’s greatest accomplishment occurred in the summer of 1942.  Through their connections with the Red Cross, they safeguarded the Kolonaki property of both the American and British schools from confiscation by installing Swedish and Swiss Red Cross contingents in their properties.  

A letter from Gorham P. Stevens and Eugene Vanderpool to Louis Lord announced Anastasios’s death on October 9, 1942, at Evangelismos Hospital.  He had long suffered from advanced diabetes and a stomach ulcer, both aggravated by malnutrition.  He had chosen not to live at the School and instead walked to Kolonaki from his home in Psychiko.  Among his last words were instructions for the continued welfare of the ASCSA.  

Anastasios was honored in the 1950s with a bench in the Agora and an olive tree (see J. Levine, The Agora Benches). He and Ellie deserve more.    

The Adossides bench in the Athenian Agora (before and after cleaning). Photo: Judith Levine.

An Athenian American School Today  

Director Goodwin wrote: “I have felt that it was a good thing for the new school to make itself felt as a social power in Athens …”.  What contributions can and should the ASCSA make to Greece today?  It would be a gross understatement to say that much has changed since 1918.  The ASCSA would hardly be in a position to contribute significant aid in the case of a civil emergency, as it did in 1918-1919 and 1939-1940.  It thus seems good from time to time to rethink our relationship with Greece: What do we do that repays the generosity our host, its successive governments, and its citizens have displayed toward the ASCSA for nearly a century and a half?

With the passing of Capps’s generation, the ASCSA increasingly distanced itself from Greek politics, both during the rule of the junta in the late 1960s and in the turbulent years of the reborn democracy, when anti-Americanism ran rampant. The foreign schools were still being attacked in the early 1980s on the grounds that they were colonial outposts.  Nor is possible to imagine the ASCSA as a voice in Greek politics today, and that seems for the best.

In the wake of WW I, however, there were already those who believed the School could play a role in the promotion of worldwide peace, and the ASCSA today serves that function still.  In 1919, the “International Institute of Education,” which recently celebrated its centennial, brought Greek students to the U.S. and supported lectures by Americans at the University of Athens. An annually appointed professor at the ASCSA was intended to contribute to this program.  Today the School continues to play a role in similar cultural exchanges through its participation in the Fulbright Program, in the Council of Overseas Research Centers, through its own Coulson-Cross program of fellowships for Greek and Turkish scholars, and in education more generally through the Association of American Colleges of Greece.

Thankfully, 140 years after its foundation, the ASCSA’s longstanding mission as cultural provider has also found common ground with its commitment to serve Greece and its people, and its doors have been opened to a broader constituency. The Internet in particular has allowed the ASCSA to share the resources of its libraries, excavations, and archives, not only with its members and others in North America, but with Greek scholars, students, and laity. Large parts of its collections, including records from the Athenian Agora excavations, are now freely available online. Both of its physical libraries have been accessible to scholars of all nationalities for nearly four decades. The Wiener Laboratory of the ASCSA is providing scholarships and facilities to young Greek scholars, regardless of their institutional affiliation. Many of the School’s publications are available online.  Its journal, Hesperia, has Greeks on its advisory board and is receptive to submissions from scholars who are neither Americans nor ASCSA members.

New economic and social realities, rather than technological innovations, have, of course, been the force driving many of these changes. In recent decades, particularly since the entrance of Greece into the European Community, relations of power between Greece and the United States have become more balanced, and many patron-client relationships that once existed have collapsed or are rapidly becoming irrelevant. Greece does not now depend on the goodwill or mutual interests of the U.S. to defend its borders or, so much as it once did, to build its economy. In great part, such concerns powered the earlier networks that bound the ASCSA to Greek politicians and politics. At the same time, world-class archaeological research facilities now exist in Greece, in many cases setting Greek archaeologists on an equal or superior footing to their counterparts in North America. It is in this context that genuine academic and intellectual collaborations between scholars from the ASCSA and their Greek counterparts blossom.

The ASCSA will, I think, continue to redefine its place in the new world systems and global economies that inform 21st-century particularities. It is a strong, diverse institution, which has rich resources to share.  I like to think that would please Anastasios and Ellie.  


Adosidoy, Ellie A.  Εξήντα χρόνια ελληνικής ζωής, Morrisville, NC, 2016.

Allen, Susan.  Classical Spies: American Archaeologists with the OSS in World War II, Ann Arbor, 2013.

Davis, Jack L. “The American School of Classical Studies and the Politics of Volunteerism, in Philhellenism, Philanthropy, or Political Convenience? American Archaeology in Greece, edited by Jack L. Davis and Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan, Hesperia 82 (2103), pp. 15-48.

Dumont, Sylvie. Vrysaki: A Neighborhood Lost in Search of the Athenian Agora, Princeton, 2020.

Oakley, H. S., C. Barry, R. W. Adams, J. Lemon, and C. B. Gilmore. In Macedonia, Chicago 1920.

Sakka, Niki. “The Excavation of the Ancient Agora of Athens: The Politics of Commissioning and Managing the Project, in A Singular Antiquity: Archaeology and Hellenic Identity in Twentieth-Century Greece, edited by Dimitris Damaskos and Dimitris Plantzos, Athens, 2008, pp. 111-124.

United States Department of State/Papers Relating to Foreign Relations of the United States, vol. III, 1920, Greece, pp. 705-717 (=


[1] Anastasios’s sister, Eleni (Hélène) had married Frederick, a grand-nephew of Frank Calvert, U.S. consul at the Dardanelles in 1889, and she could have been known to Hill through his relations with the Schliemanns, Francis H. Bacon, George Horton, and Wilhelm Dӧrpfeld.  

[2] The preface is dated 1958, though from her letter to Blegen it seems that she was still writing in 1969.  No copy of her remembrance of Venizelos is preserved either in the ASCSA or in Cincinnati. Blegen died in 1972, two years after receiving her letter, in Evangelismos hospital where Anastasios had passed away three decades earlier, next to the School to which they were both devoted.  

On the Trail of the “German Model”: ASCSA and DAI, 1881-1918

Founded in 1881, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (hereafter ASCSA or the School) was the third foreign archaeological school to be established in Greece and followed the French and German models. For the first thirty years, the activities of the American School were closely intertwined with those of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens (DAI or German Institute hereafter) and the Austrian Archaeological Institute of Athens (Austrian Institute or Station hereafter).

Eloquent testimony to their informal relationship is found in the ASCSA Annual Reports (AR) from 1887 onwards, where the directors of the American School repeatedly extended their profound gratitude to Wilhelm Dӧrpfeld, Director of the German Institute (1887-1912), Paul Wolters, Second Secretary of the German Institute (1887-1900), and Adolf Wilhelm, Secretary of the Austrian Institute (1898-1905), for allowing American students to attend their weekly seminars and archaeological excursions. Only occasionally, would the ASCSA similarly express its gratitude to a French or British colleague.  In fact, the ASCSA relied so heavily on the German Institute that it delayed developing an independent academic program of its own until Dӧrpfeld stopped offering his lectures and tours in 1908.

In order to reconstruct the early decades of the School’s history and its relationship to the German Institute, in addition to the Annual Reports, I have also relied on a second type of primary source: personal correspondence and diaries.  Both are rare, however.  Unlike official documents that have a greater chance of survival (sometimes in more than one copy) the preservation of family correspondence is a matter of luck. Of the 200 men and women who attended the School’s academic program from 1881 to 1918, the outgoing letters of fewer than a dozen members have survived, and of those only the letters of few have found their way back to the School’s Archives.

By nature, each type of source provides the researcher with different kinds of information, even if both sources refer to the same people or events.  Official reports are formal and, to a certain extent, sanitized documents that deliver the governing body’s mindset. I, personally, find private correspondence a more insightful source, although it can be subjective and overstated; nevertheless, it is the best thing that a historian has at his/her disposal for reconstructing the past because its testimonies offer contemporary perspectives.  At a time when cell phones, text messages, and social media were not available, a letter was the only way for reporting one’s activities and also for expressing one’s feelings.  Glimpses, for example, at the private correspondence of Nellie M. Reed, student of the School in 1895-1896, reveal a continuous stream of informal American-German gatherings during that year, otherwise undocumented in the Annual Reports.

In 2016, I was invited to participate in a conference that explored the early history of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens. I used that event as an opportunity to study and re-write the “German chapter” in the history of the American School.[1]  The narrative explores the catalysts that brought these two groups together and asks: Was it simply the vibrant and charismatic personality of Dӧrpfeld, who for three decades dominated the archaeological community of Athens, that was responsible for the rapprochement of the two institutions in the closing decades of the 19th century, or did the School’s close ties with the German and Austrian institutes reflect a larger educational trend that prevailed in American academic circles in the second half of the 19th century?

Wilhelm Dӧrpfeld and Adolf Wilhelm in the Annual Reports

For many years the directors of the American School expressed their gratitude to Dӧrpfeld and Wilhelm for allowing the School’s students to attend their weekly lectures, as well as participate in the archaeological excursions that Dӧrpfeld led twice a year. “He began his lectures on Saturday, the 10th of last October, and invited us to attend that and all his later lectures on every Saturday through the autumn and winter. I need not state how precious was this privilege, and how stimulating and suggestive we have found his lectures” acknowledged Director Charles Waldstein in his AR for 1891-1892. Ten years later, Director Rufus B. Richardson, at the end of his ten-year directorship at the American School thanked Dӧrpfeld and Wilhelm, noting that “these eminent specialists have by their kindness and generosity become, for all practical purposes, members of our faculty.”  More than 15 years later, another director, Bert Hodge Hill would state in his Annual Report for 1908-1909:

“To hear him on Saturday afternoons has for so long been one of the great advantages of a student’s residence in Athens that it is difficult to conceive of the year’s work without his lectures. We shall wait long for another lecturer who can speak on the subject of Athenian topography with the authority, lucidity, and charm of Prof. Dӧrpfeld.”

Wilhelm Dörpfeld, 1900.

The American students were also required to attend the lectures of Adolf Wilhelm (1864-1950) of the Austrian Archaeological Station at the Epigraphical Museum.  “… and [he] invited our students to join him (along with several of the German students). This they did, and thus enjoyed the guidance of a scholar who has few equals in reading and explaining inscriptions,” reported Director Rufus B. Richardson in 1895. In fact, the Annual Professors of the American School would frequently give up their lectures at the Epigraphical Museum and surrender the field to Dr. Wilhelm “who was doing it better than I could hope to do” admitted J. R. S. Sterrett, one of the two visiting professors in 1896-1897. Four years later, in 1900-1901, the American students formed the largest part of Dr. Wilhelm’s class.

Adolf Wilhelm, 1931. ASCSA Archives, Francis H. Bacon Papers.

In addition to attending Dӧrpfeld’s Saturday talks and Wilhelm’s epigraphy courses, the students of the American School also had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Paul Wolters, the Deputy Secretary of the German Institute, lecturing on sculpture every other Wednesday (ASCSA Archives, Annual Report 1895-96, 22).  Wolters (1858-1936) was later appointed professor of archaeology at the University of Würzburg (1900-1908), and in 1908 he succeeded Adolf Furtwängler at the University of Munich.

“A Prophet Piercing the Future”: Private Accounts of Wilhelm Dӧrpfeld

The information one gets about Dӧrpfeld and the others from the Annual Reports reveals the School’s high regard both for their generosity to the students and the quality of these lectures.  From the private letters, we glean something very different, however.  We catch valuable glimpses of their personalities and physical appearance.

I was blown away by the amount of detail that went into one’s letters when distance was real and not virtual, photography was expensive, and indoor photography a process with unreliable results. These letters are a good source of information for studying the social fabric, interaction, and shifting relations among the members of the archaeological community in Athens, but only part of them has so far been transcribed. Unfortunately, reading, transcribing, and editing personal letters or diaries is a laborious and time-consuming task, and one that is usually not rewarded with instant gratification.

Nellie Marie Reed (1872-1957), a graduate of Cornell University, attended the ASCSA in 1895-1896. Twice a week she wrote long letters to her mother and brother about her life in Athens. It was her first time away from home, and she wanted to share with her family every moment of her Greek experience. In her case, it might well be said that each of her descriptions is worth a thousand images.

“Yesterday afternoon we all went to Dr. Dӧrpfeld’s lecture which lasted from 2-5 on the spot… He speaks exquisite German, clearly and slowly, and I was more than happy to be able to understand everything, though of course it was hard work and very tiring. He is a fine man, about medium height, a rather light moustache, an exceedingly pleasant face, and exceptionally beautiful hands” wrote Nellie to her mother on November 10, 1895.

Nellie M. Reed, ca. 1895. ASCSA Archives, Nellie M. Reed Papers.

No image could have portrayed Dӧrpfeld’s commanding presence better than another of her descriptions after having attended the Open Meeting of the German Institute: “He simply demolishes with one blow the opponents who hold different views and proves the strength of his own. He is magnificent in his simplicity and modesty” (Reed to her family, March 1, 1896). And when she writes to her mother that he “sounded like a prophet piercing the future,” I suspect that she was repeating verbatim the comments of some senior archaeologist (Reed to her family, December 15, 1895). Little did she know that many of Dӧrpfeld’s theories would eventually fail the test of time.

Simple, charming, and genius are three characterizations of Dӧrpfeld that are repeated in people’s private correspondence. Four years later, in 1899, a young Ida C. Thallon (she would later marry the School’s Director Bert Hodge Hill) would also describe Dӧrpfeld as “the loveliest, most charming man imaginable, as simple and unaffected as possible and you would never think from his manner that he is about the biggest celebrity in his line” (ASCSA Archives, Ida Thallon Hill Papers, box 3, folder 3, Thallon to her mother, November 6-7, 1899).

Ida Thallon, ca. 1899. ASCSA Archives, Ida Thallon Hill Papers.

It is also worth sharing the account of Theodore W. Heermance (1872-1905), who had attended Dӧrpfeld’s lectures first as a student, in 1894-1896, and almost a decade later, as a peer when he became Director of the American School (1903-1905). We do not have any descriptions from his student years but the one from 1903 is telling enough. After attending one of Dӧrpfeld’s lectures on the Old Athena temple, Heermance, still full of respect for the master, remarked in one of his letters:

“He did not finish, though he talked over 2 ½ hours. It was a masterly presentation of his argument, and yet I now count myself among his opponents having been converted from being an adherent a year ago… I was hoping he would have some new arguments…, but there was nothing he said yesterday which he has not already printed” (ASCSA Archives, Theodore W. Heermance Papers, box 2, folder 9, Heermance to his mother, January 18, 1903 (letter #27).

Theodore Woolsey Heermance, ca. 1903.

Heermance belonged to a new generation of American archaeologists ready to take the torch from Dӧrpfeld.  However, when he heard that Dӧrpfeld considered leaving Athens because he had been offered a position in the Berlin Museum, he admitted to his mother: “Athens without D. would hardly seem the same place. Everything has revolved about him as a center for so long” (ASCSA Archives, Theodore W. Heermance Papers, box 2, folder 9, Heermance to his mother, February 15, 1903 (letter #31).

Heermance would not live long enough -he died prematurely from typhoid fever in 1905- to see the “darling” of the American archaeological community falling off the pedestal after his retirement because of his growing intolerance to the views of younger scholars –such as William Bell Dinsmoor and their famed debate over the different phases of the Parthenon.

The Peloponnesian and Island Trips: Official and Private Accounts

Today the American School is famous for its vigorous on-site academic program which includes five archaeological excursions throughout Greece and one or two outside the country. What is not widely known is that the School did not really develop its independent academic program until the first decade of the 20th century, after Dӧrpfeld retired from lecturing in 1908. Although the directors of the School would lead small bike trips in the Greek countryside, the real excitement for the American students was to participate in Dӧrpfeld’s Peloponnesian tour and the more famous “Inselreise.”

“Nearly every member of the School proposes to share in part the tour conducted by him through Peloponnesus, and to take the whole of his Island Tour. As these tours occupy about a month, it may seem like breaking up the School, but it would be most unwise, in my judgment, to deter our students in any way from sharing this great privilege… I am most happy to have then all go, and shall go with them,” wrote director Richardson in his AR for 1894-1895.

What is also not mentioned in the official reports but comes up in the private letters is that women were discouraged by Dӧrpfeld from participating in the Peloponnesian trip because of its rough conditions which included sleeping in tents or poorly kept inns, but were encouraged to join the island trip because it offered boat cabins and hot meals.

Dӧrpfeld’s Peloponnesian Trip, ca. 1895. ASCSA Archives, Theodore W. Heermance Papers.

Ruth Emerson and Nellie Reed were among the 62 participants in the “Inselreise” of 1896. Ruth Emerson’s hand-drawn itinerary complements Nellie Reed’s account of the trip.  From Nellie’s descriptions, one gathers that the island trip attracted most of the archaeological and diplomatic community of Athens (although the French archaeologists almost never joined any of Dӧrpfeld’s trips), as well as members of the newly founded American School of Classical Studies in Rome. Even “Mr. Schliemann’s son Agamemnon took the trip” noted Nellie in one of her letters (Reed to her family, May 15, 1896).  We are very lucky to have these letters for without them we would have not known the extent, frequency, and composition of some of the American-German/Austrian social gatherings.  Attracting a younger crowd, these so-called “Kneipe evenings,” frequently included Hans von Fritze, Albert Schiff, and Wilhelm Wilberg (1872-1956), with whom Nellie appeared to have fallen in love (ASCSA Archives, Nellie M. Reed Papers, box 1, Reed to her family, May 16, 1896). Wilberg, an accomplished architect, would participate for many years in the Austrian excavations at Ephesus (1899-1908, 1911 and 1913), before becoming the Director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute at Athens (1912-1921).


The Inselreise of 1896. ASCSA Archives, Ruth Emerson Papers.

The itinerary of the Inselreise, 1896. ASCSA Archives, Ruth Emerson Papers.

To Ida Thallon, who took part in the Inselreise of 1900, we owe a wonderful description of Baron Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen (1864-1947), who was excavating at Thera. “[…] he is very rich and interested in archaeology and does it at his own expense… The baron is delightful, exactly like a man in a play or a book, but which I never thought really grew in ordinary life. Rather plump with a curly beard… He was the soul of hospitality; we had all sorts of good things to eat, sweet chocolate, loukoumi, biscuits, bottled soda and cognac, […] such a jovial funny man, we all are devoted to him. He has done fine work in his excavation and has just gotten under full swing for this season” (ASCSA Archives, Ida Thallon Hill Papers, box 3, folder 3, Thallon to her mother, May 8, 1900 [letter #77]).

Unlike Nellie, who was positively disposed to German culture, Ida was snobbish and critical of her German travel companions during both trips. In Olympia, she described them as “funny… with the most awful clothes and lack of collars and shaggy appearances, [as] queer as anything you ever saw”(ASCSA Archives, Ida Thallon Hill Papers, box 3, folder 3, Thallon to her mother, April 22, 1900 [letter #71]). As for the Germans of the Inselreise only Georg Karo (1872-1963) escaped Ida’s snide comments.  In presenting some of her fellow travelers to her mother Ida scribbled: “One Mr. Karo was born in Italy (German parents) but was more like an Englishman, spoke exactly like one without the suspicion of accent and acted and looked like one, a very brilliant man and knew lots; also a great ladies’ man” (ASCSA Archives, Ida Thallon Hill Papers, box 3, folder 3, Thallon to her mother, May 13, 1900 [letter #79]).

The Difficult 1910s

Georg Karo. Source: DAI Berlin, Archiv der Zentrale.

Karo with his cosmopolitan manners and fluency in languages would also favorably impress William Bell Dinsmoor’s young bride, Zillah. (About Zillah Pierce Dinsmoor (1886-1960), see also “Letters from a New Home: Early 20th Century Athens Through the Eyes of Zillah Dinsmoor.”) Her letters describe enjoyable lunches and elaborate multi-national dinners at the German Institute with Karo as host.[2] “Mr. Karo, of course, speaks anything and everything perfectly” admiringly noted Zillah to her mother on January 10th, 1912. (Suggested reading: “Expat Feasts in Athens on the Eve of the Balkan Wars.“) Zillah’s glowing reports of Karo’s social gatherings would, however, not last long. The day she heard about the sinking of the Lusitania, she refused with a sharp written rebuke to attend a dinner organized by Karo.  And he replied to the Dinsmoors that “henceforth he will have nothing to do with them.” He would recognize Dinsmoor in his scientific capacity but no further (ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers, box 4, diary no. 7, December 20, 1914 – August 7, 1915, entry for May 10, 1915).

Bert Hodge Hill and Carl W. Blegen, Director and Secretary of the School respectively, would continue, of all the staff and students of the foreign schools, to attend the open meetings of the German School during the Great War until 1916, when the Institute was entrusted to the Greek Ministry of Education (Marchand 1996, 248). “In the evening we all (except Swift) went down to German School to Karos [sic]. Only Germans there besides us” scribbled Blegen on his personal diary on January 26, 1915.  A month before, on Winkelmann’s day, Dec. 9, 1914, and a few months after Germany had gone into war with most European countries, the German Archaeological Institute had honored Bert Hodge Hill by making him a corresponding member (ASCSA Archives, Bert H. Hill Papers, box 33). Earlier in the year, Dinsmoor had also been elected a corresponding member of the Institute. Both Hill and Dinsmoor had no problem accepting and retaining their memberships “in spite of the October 3, 1914 ‘Aufruf an die Kulturwelt’, a very nationalistic manifesto, which was signed by many German academics” (Dyson 2016, 229).  Finally, as late as November 7, 1916, Blegen and Karo would meet at the National Archaeological Museum to compare sherds from Tiryns and Korakou (ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers, box 4, diary no. 9, November 1, 1916 – April 1, 1917, entry for November 7, 1916).

 “Germanophilia,” Independent Research, and the Expansion of Knowledge

Having examined the situation on the ground in Greece, I now would like to return to my original question: What was responsible for this remarkable phase of “Germanophilia” during the early decades of the ASCSA’s existence?  For starters, there can be no doubt that personal agency played a major role. Dӧrpfeld’s charismatic personality, his eloquence, and the ability to excite his audience are all well attested. To this we could add the loss of the Delphi excavation to the French in the early 1890s.  Losing Delphi appears to have nurtured some anti-French feelings among the members of the American School (Lord 1947, 58-62). (On losing the Delphi excavation, see “The American Dream to Excavate Delphi or How the Oracle Vexed the Americans (1879-1891).”)

Besides the obvious, what led me to look deeper into the issue of “Germanophilia” was the apparent ease with which the students of the American School attended Dӧrpfeld’s and Wilhelm’s lectures.  Profiling the School’s early directors and professors also produced interesting results. Of the first ten ASCSA directors, eight had spent anywhere from a semester to several years in Germany, and six had received their Ph.D. from a German university. The same is true for the first two chairs of the School’s Managing Committee, John Williams White (1881-1887), Professor at Harvard, and Thomas Day Seymour (1887-1901), Professor at Yale. (White spent several years in Germany (1871-1877) studying classics at the University of Berlin, while Seymour studied classical philology for two years (1870-1872) in Leipzig and Berlin.) Of the first seventeen annual visiting professors, I have evidence that twelve matriculated at German universities. There could well be more, as in the case of White whose German experience was suppressed in his American obituaries of 1917, as well as the fact that he had been honored by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1904.

ASCSA Directors and Annual Professors educated in Germany.

While trying to understand why so many American classicists were matriculating in Germany, and not in England or France, for example, I came across a significant body of literature concerning the “German Model” of education in America in the late 19th century.  And it was not just the long tradition and excellence of German universities in the field of classics that made Germany the main destination for young American classicists. There is evidence that “ultimately some nine or ten thousand Americans matriculated in German Universities between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the outbreak of the First World War” (Turner and Bernard 1993, 88, note 5).

In the decades after the American Civil War, higher education in the U.S. experienced profound change.  Before the War, American colleges resembled high schools where students learned classical languages, rhetoric, simple mathematics, and religion. Recitation tested by regular examinations was the primary method of teaching. For about three decades after the Civil War, American colleges frequently sent their presidents and faculty to Germany with one mission, to study the German University. Germany was considered the Camelot of erudition (Turner 1999, 26; McCaughey 1974, 264-265). (For a more recent study of the educational pilgrimages that Americans paid to Germany in the 19th century, see Werner 2013. Werner also discusses the practice of establishing well-connected American colonies in Germany, which allowed the U.S. students to study in more than one university). On many occasions, German universities would serve as extensions of the American ones, as is the case of the “Yale-Leipzig-Gӧttingen network” (Werner 2013, 6). In addition to bringing back Wissenschaft, the Americans imported from Germany the concept of independent research and the flexible curriculum. American educators, however, would take independent research one step further by creating the graduate school, which did not exist in the German universities of the 19th century, thus giving birth to a new type of school: the research university.

Although Johns Hopkins is usually credited as being the first research university in the United States, places like Cornell and the University of Michigan were the forerunners of reforms in American education (Turner and Bernard 1993). Even more important from my perspective, however, is the fact that modern historians of education such as James Turner and Lawrence Veysey identify the American School of Classical Studies as the first American research institute in the humanities (Turner 1999, 298, especially note 4).

Discovering Nero’s Inscription: A Case in Point

I would like to illustrate this dynamic with an example from Cornell University because one of my main sources for this paper, Nellie M. Reed, graduated from there.  Cornell’s first president and “perhaps the most significant of the university builders in the United States,” Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), was one of the biggest proponents of the new research university (Turner and Bernard 2000, 225).  The year Nellie was in Athens (1895-1896) there were two more people from Cornell in town: visiting professor Benjamin Ide Wheeler (1854-1927) and student Eugene Plumb Andrews (1866-1957). Wheeler was a Professor of Comparative Philology at Cornell and later became president of the University of California (1899-1919). He was also a product of the “German model,” having received his Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1885 after several years of study at German universities. Both Nellie and Eugene had taken many classes from him at Cornell, and Nellie Reed was thus an indirect product of the “German model,” which explains her deep admiration for the German/Austrian archaeological community of Athens. Andrews’s story is even more interesting because his academic work in 1895-1896 is proof of the new kind of scholarship that American universities were producing by the end of the 19th century.

Here is how Andrews described his experience with Dӧrpfeld that led to a major discovery:

“One cold afternoon in December [1895] a group of shivering men and women followed a lecturer in and out among the blocks of marble that strew the Acropolis of Athens… It was an illustrated lecture on the Parthenon, with the Parthenon itself for illustration—one of the outdoor archaeological lectures which Dr. Wilhelm Dӧrpfeld of the German Institute gives every Saturday afternoon during the winter… We were gathered before the east front of the temple. The large holes, explained the lecturer, once served to hold great metal shields in place against the marble… Between the shields groups of metal letters were fastened, as these nail-holes that dot the spaces show, but what the letters were, or what they spelled, is not known.”

Dӧrpfeld concluded his Parthenon lecture by saying that it was possible “to determine from the relative positions of the holes what the letters were, and thus to recover the inscription. Such things have been done, and it is time that this was done” (Andrews 1897).

The new desire for independent research that universities such as Cornell and research institutes such as the American School were imbuing in their students, combined with Dӧrpfeld’s keen observations led Andrews to take up the call and suspend himself from the east side of the Parthenon. From this rather precarious position, he discovered Emperor Nero’s effaced inscription, which shed new light on the history of Athens.

Eugene Andrews suspended from the east side of the Parthenon, 1896. Source: The Century Illustrated Magazine 54, 1897, p. 301.

Despite his remarkable discovery, Andrews never published the inscription because it was connected with Nero. “The inscription proved to be a dedication to Nero, whereat I’m much disgusted,” he wrote to his sister two days after having presented the results of his discovery to the Open Meeting of February 21st at the American School. Even half a century later, in 1952, Andrews would confide “I felt no elation at having torn from the Parthenon its shameful character” (Carroll 1982, 7). Finally, it was Sterling Dow who deciphered the remainder of the inscription from Andrews’s squeezes in 1972. (For a publication and commentary on the inscription, see Carroll 1982.)

Coming of Age

After 1900 one discerns a subtle shift in the curriculum vitae of the directors and professors of the American School, which no longer include years or even semesters in German Universities. Once the reformation of the American University created a series of new graduate schools, the flow of American students to German universities was significantly reduced.  They would still go to Germany but during sabbatical leaves, not while in graduate school. Already from the first decade of the 20th century, we see a new generation of American graduate students arriving in Athens, intellectually confident, and better prepared than their predecessors. Some, but not all, would attend the lectures of Rudolph Heberdey on Archaic Sculpture, Georg Karo on “Smaller Antiquities,” and Anton von Premerstein on Epigraphy.  And some would get bored:

“Once on shipboard, we joined a group of fourteen German scholars led by Dr. Karo, director of DAI, and Dr. Wilberg, Director of the Austrian School. I had earlier met most of these men in one way or another and so we often practiced exchanges of stilted conversation… On April 6, we landed at Candia and spent the whole day in the museum trying to concentrate on Karo’s painfully detailed discussions, mostly of vases and minor objects. By way of a change, on Monday Wilberg led us through the huge palace of Knossos, but his method proved nearly as boring…,” wrote one of the School’s students, Emerson H. Swift, in 1912-1913 (Swift 1975, 38).

By 1910 the American School had already built its own, independent academic program, and private testimonia attest to a growing tendency to interact more with the neighboring British School. In fact, it was Hill, not Karo, who would take over Dӧrpfeld’s Athenian walks and establish the American School’s own tradition of on-site lectures by the likes of Oscar Broneer, William Dinsmoor, and Eugene Vanderpool. Moreover, where in the 1890s the American School looked up to the German Institute for guidance, by the 1900s there were signs that the situation had reversed. In 1907, Dӧrpfeld after consulting with Karo announced to the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin that they had no objection to accepting women archaeologists in Athens following the successful paradigm of the American and British Schools, which not only accepted women into their academic program but even allowed them to direct excavations.[3] Two years later (1909-1910), Margarete Bieber would be one of the four recipients of the travel fellowship yearly awarded by the German Archaeological Institute for work in Greece and Italy (Bonfante 1996, 159).

Despite how the Dinsmoors reacted to the sinking of the Lusitania, there is no strong evidence in the School’s Archives to support the idea that WWI created a breach in the relations of the two institutions.  It is clear that Karo continued to enjoy the friendship of Hill and Blegen after the war. But their bond was one formed before the outbreak of the hostilities.  At the same time, there is also no evidence that the two institutions re-established their close, pre-war ties after 1918.  Charles Waldstein, the Jewish-American Director of the American School who had acquired his Ph.D. from Heidelberg and whose family had emigrated from Austria, would go as far as to change his name to Walston at the end of the Great War, so as not to be imagined a German.  Perhaps even more telling, when the American School organized its own island cruise in 1923, there were no German students or professors among the many participants, unlike the cruises of the 1890s and early 1900s. (See “All Aboard”. Cruising the Aegean in 1923.”)


I am most grateful to Ann Townsend and Mary Townsend Bartholomew, granddaughters of Nellie Reed, for depositing faithful transcriptions of Reed’s letters to her family at the ASCSA Archives in 2010. I also thank them for allowing me to quote from Nellie’s letters. Reed’s letters are an invaluable source of information for a period that is otherwise poorly represented in the School’s Archives.

[1] The paper was published in Die Abteilung Athen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts und die Aktivitäten Deutscher Archäologen in Griechenland 1874-1933, ed. K. Sporn and A. Kankeleit, Berlin 2019, pp. 253-267.

[2] For a thorough presentation of Karo’s life, Lindenlauf 2015; Additional information can be found in Marchand 1996, 244-245, 247-248, 254-255; Davis 2010; and “A Preamble to the Nazi Holocaust in Greece: Two Micro-Histories from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.”

[3] I thank Dr. Alexandra Kankeleit for sharing with me the letter that Dӧrpfeld addressed to the General Secretary of the Royal Archaeological Institute in Berlin (Kaiserlich Deutches Archäologisches Institut, Berlin), on February 25, 1907.


E. P. Andrews, 1897. “How a Riddle of the Parthenon was Unraveled,” The Century Magazine 54.2 (June 1897), 301-309.

L. Bonfante, 1996. “Bieber Margarete (1879-1978),” in Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology, ed. N. Thomson de Grummond, London, 159-160.

K. K. Carroll, 1982. “The Parthenon Inscription,” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Monographs 9, Durham, North Carolina.

J. L. Davis, 2010. “That Special Atmosphere Outside of National Boundaries. Three Jewish Directors and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens,” ASAtene 87, 133-145

S. L. Dyson, 1998. Ancient Marbles to American Shores. Classical Archaeology in the United States, Philadelphia.

A. Lindenlauf, 2015. “Georg Heinrich Karo: ‘Gelehrter und Verteidiger Deutschen Geistes’,” JdI 130, 259-354.

L. E. Lord, 1947. A History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1882-1942. An Intercollegiate Project, Cambridge, Mass.

S. L. Marchand, 1996. Down from Olympus. Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750-1970, Princeton.

R. A. McCaughey, 1974. “The Transformation of American Academic Life: Harvard University 1821-1892,” Perspectives in American History 8, 239-332.

V. Mitsopoulos-Leon, 2004. “Adolf Wilhelm und das Österreichische Archäologische Institut,” in Αττικαί Επιγραφαί. Πρακτικά συμποσίου εις μνήμην Adolf Wilhelm (1864-1950), ed. A. Matthaiou, Athens, 1-6.

E. H. Swift, 1975. Youthful Rambles on the Trail of the Classics, 1912-1915, Gilroy, California.

J. C. Turner, 1999. The Liberal Education of Charles Eliot Norton, Baltimore.

J. Turner – P. Bernard, 1993. “The ‘German Model’ and the Graduate School. The University of Michigan and the Origin of the American University,” History of Higher Education Annual 13, 69-98.

J. Turner – P. Bernard, 2000. “The German Model and the Graduate School. The University of Michigan and the Origin of the American University,” in The American College in the Nineteenth Century, ed. R. Geiger, Nashville, 221-241.

A. Werner, 2013. The Transatlantic World of Higher Education. Americans at German Universities, 1776-1914, New York.

The Agora Benches


Judith Robinson Levine has a high fashion design degree from Les Écoles de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris, France. She worked for 12 years in film and still photography in France as a stylist and a costume designer. Currently, she is a photo stylist specializing in package photography and, in her spare time, she does interior design and a variety of special projects for private clients and non-profits. She lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with her husband Daniel Levine, Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Arkansas, whom she has assisted during his ASCSA Summer Session directorships in Greece.

In 2008 Daniel and I spent spring semester in Greece. I spent a lot of time in the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or School hereafter) researching the history of the School’s Summer Sessions. In studying old logbooks and Annual Reports, I was fascinated by the WW II years and the story of Anastasios Adossides, Administrator and Business Manager of the Athenian Agora Excavations from 1931 to 1942. He and his wife Elie, who was active with the Red Cross, were responsible for making sure that the School was occupied by the Swiss and Swedish Red Cross commissions to Greece during the war; thus they ensured that the School’s property in Kolonaki could never be confiscated by the Germans (Meritt 1984, p. 17).

Jack Davis in an essay titled “The American School of Classical Studies and the Politics of Volunteerism” noted about Adossides and Edward Capps, Chair of the School’s Managing Committee: “The careers of two individuals exemplify the sorts of ties forged between ASCSA members and influential Greek statesmen, and the resulting benefits to the School. The first is Anastasios Adossides (1873–1942), administrator of Samos in 1914–1915, a member of the provisional government of Venizelos in Thessaloniki in 1917, governor of Macedonia in 1918–1919, prefect of the Cyclades and Samos in the early 1920s, and subsequently the business manager of the Athenian Agora and consultant to the ASCSA (1931–1942)… Their personal relationship was valuable to the School during the negotiations between the ASCSA and the Greek government that established the legal groundwork for the inception of excavations of the Athenian Agora in 1931” (Davis 2013, p. 16). Sylvie Dumont in her recent publication of Vrysaki: A Neighborhood Lost in Search for the Athenian Agora (Princeton 2020) has dedicated an entire chapter on Adossides’s role in the expropriation of the land where the ancient Agora once stood (pp. 63-73). Read the rest of this entry »

Is this Julia Ward Howe?


Curtis Runnels, Professor of Archaeology at Boston University and an expert in Palaeolithic archaeology in Greece, and his wife Priscilla Murray, an anthropologist and Classical archaeologist, here contribute to From the Archivist’s Notebook a story about the purchase of a miniature portrait of an elegant, young woman in an antique fair, their research to identify both the subject of the portrait and its creator, and, finally, their thrilling discovery.

Even from a distance, the small portrait of a beautiful young woman had a commanding presence. We bought the miniature watercolor on ivory (less than 10 by 8 cm) at an antique fair in Holliston, a town near Boston, Massachusetts, because the sitter was dressed a la Gréque with a Greek column in the background. The quality of the painting, which points to a very accomplished miniaturist, together with the appearance and accoutrements of the subject, suggest that the painting was an important commission by a socially prominent person. We loved the painting, and of course, we were intensely interested in the identity of the young woman.

Julia Ward Howe (?). Miniature on ivory, 3.9 x 3.1in. Curtis Runnels and Priscilla Murray Collection.

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Forgotten Friend of Skyros: Hazel D. Hansen (Part II)

As a young woman, Hazel Dorothy Hansen broke several glass ceilings. From a humble background –her father was a foundryman—she was admitted to Stanford University in 1916, at a time when the institution had severely limited the admission of women. In 1904, Mrs. Stanford became afraid of the increasing number of women enrolling at Stanford (by 1899 reaching almost 40% of the student population) and implemented a quota that restricted their numbers at the undergraduate level: for every woman at Stanford, there had to be three men. (See Sam Scott, “Why Jane Stanford Limited Women’s Enrollment to 500,” Stanford Magazine, Aug. 22, 2018.). Fortunately for a girl of modest means, Stanford remained tuition-free until 1920.

She broke the glass ceiling again when she chose a prehistoric topic for her dissertation (“Early Civilization in Thessaly”) that also required extensive surveying for sites on the Greek periphery.  In the 1920’s female graduate students at the American School had limited options when it came to field research. Apart from Alice Leslie Walker, who had been entrusted with the publication of its Neolithic pottery, Corinth remained a male domain, with Bert Hodge Hill and Carl W. Blegen controlling access to, and publication of, archaeological material. Hazel would have needed either to finance her own excavation, as Hetty Goldman and Walker had done in the 1910s, or to write an art history thesis based on material in museums. It was not until David R. Robinson began excavations at Olynthus and Edward Capps spearheaded the Athenian Agora Excavations that women were allowed to participate in the publication of (secondary) excavation material.

Hansen’s monthly report (March 1924) to the School’s Director, where she lists her trips, and also proudly claims that she discovered the prehistoric site of Μαγούλα Παλιάμπελα (“and not even mentioned by Mr. Wace”). ASCSA Archives, AdmRec 108/1, folder 5.

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