Financing the Reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos

1946 marked the re-opening of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or School hereafter) in a country that had been devastated by war. In reading the official correspondence between the Greek Ministry of Education and the ASCSA, it becomes obvious that opening museums and the preservation of archaeological sites ranked highly on Greece’s list of priorities. With the launch of the Marshall Plan in 1947, Greece’s chances of success were also tightly connected with the development of tourism, and a large part of U.S. aid was streamlined in this direction.

“It is well known that travelers come to Greece chiefly for the purpose of seeing the ancient sites and visiting the museums of the country. In other words, the antiquities of Greece constitute a productive source of revenue capable of adding to the national treasury some 30 million dollars in the course of three years… No investment in the economy of Greece can match this for returns” wrote Oscar Broneer, Acting Director of the American School, on June 29th of 1948, in a petition of the School to the Industry Division of the Marshall plan for a $1,149,000 grant that would re-establish the Greek Archaeological Service.  

ASCSA AdmRec 804/6, folder 4

Carl W. Blegen, the excavator of many prehistoric sites in Greece who succeeded Broneer in the Directorship of the American School (1948-1949) and had served as Cultural Relations Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Athens in 1945-1946, also thought along the same lines. In an additional memorandum to the U.S. Ambassador in Athens, in August of 1948, Blegen underlined “the lamentable state of disrepair of the Greek museums,” which looked like empty shells (ASCSA AdmRec 804/6, folder 11). Blegen participated actively in meetings between the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) representatives and the Archaeological Service and helped with writing proposals. (The ECA was a U.S. government agency set up in 1948 to administer the Marshall Plan.) Since the American School could not receive direct funding from the Marshall plan, the only way to benefit from it was through collaboration with the Greek Government. The School hoped in this way to secure about $100,000 from the ECA through the Greek Government to supplement the cost of the construction of a museum that would store and display the growing number of finds from the Athenian Agora Excavations that had been accumulated since 1931. Before WW II, the School already had secured a grant of $150,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation to build a museum on the west side of the Agora.

The Stoa of Attalos today. ASCSA Agora Excavations. Photo: Craig Mauzy.

Forced by the War to abandon their plans for an Agora Museum, the Americans resumed work at the Athenian Agora in 1947, conducting excavations at the proposed site, in order to begin construction. The 5th and 4th century B.C. houses and industrial workshops that they found were considered too important to be covered up, and a new site for the museum had to be found. After considering every possible location in the Athenian Agora for the museum, the Americans, following Homer Thompson’s suggestion, came to the conclusion that “another and in many ways preferable alternative would be to restore the Stoa of Attalos and install in it the museum, workrooms, and offices…” (ASCSA Annual Report 1947-1948, p. 29).

The draft of a program agreement between the ECA and the Greek Ministries of Coordination and Education included figures for the preservation of 34 monuments, and the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos was first on the list.        


Unfortunately, the School’s appeal to the ECA of the Marshall plan met with limited success. Of the original request for $100,000 that the American School had hoped to secure in 1948, only $20,000 was granted for the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos. The rest was channeled to support the increased military needs of Greece. The Cold War had just begun.  By the end of 1949, the School had already spent some $26,000 excavating the Stoa, to prepare the ground for the foundations of the reconstructed building. “It would be unwise to start any of the building operations, however, until we have studies made by an engineer… We should not want to set up a part of the stoa and then be told that the foundations were inadequate…” wrote the new Director of the American School John (Jack) Caskey to Louis E. Lord, Chair of the Managing Committee on January 2, 1950 (ASCSA AdmRec 318/5, folder 1). After a period with Acting Directors serving one-year terms (1946-1949), the American School had just appointed Caskey as Director for a term of five years.     

The Stoa of Attalos before its reconstruction, 1952. ASCSA Agora Excavations.

At roughly the same time, there were two more significant changes in the leadership of the American School. The Chairmanship of the Managing Committee was filled by Charles H. Morgan, and this appointment, which would be extended by a further five years, led to one of the most distinguished and effective decades in the School’s history (Meritt 1984, p. 49).

The third change was the election of Ward Canaday, the Chairman of Willys-Overland Motors, as President of the Board of Trustees of the American School in 1949. Ward immediately invested all his energy and talent in the Agora project. (On Ward Canaday and his daughter Doreen Canaday Spitzer, see “They returned… but stay I did”: Doreen Canaday’s Experience of Interwar Greece.) The other significant participant in the project was Homer A. Thompson, Director of the Agora excavations, upon whose shoulders rested the successful execution of the reconstruction.

Jack Caskey, Charles Morgan, Ward Canaday, Homer Thompson, ca, 1955. ASCSA Archives.


By April of 1950, there was little hope that the ECA would continue funding the restoration of the Stoa of Attalos, despite John and Elizabeth Caskey’s efforts to lobby ECA officials in Athens. “The Paul Porters came to dinner with us the other evening. They were politely interested in our work and I hope to see more of them. I am told that Porter has not been too keen about the Museums and Monuments program, or about the whole muddled tourist campaign” Caskey wrote to Morgan on October 10, 1950. Paul Porter (1904-1975), who was responsible for the Marshall Plan aid program in Greece from 1949 to 1950, described the change in the goals and the character of the ECA as such: “We were like a peace-time factory converted to defense production” (Behram 2007, p. 303).

John Rockefeller, Jr. as pictured in TIME Magazine, September 24, 1956.

The lack of interest that the U.S. government showed in the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos forced the School’s leadership to explore private sources of funding. Ward Canaday initiated this change of course by presenting a review of the Agora situation to lawyer and banker Winthrop W. Aldrich (1885-1974), in an effort to establish personal contact with John Rockefeller, Jr.  (Aldrich’s sister Abby had married John Rockefeller, Jr.). By November of 1950, Canaday had made contact with Dana S. Creel, Rockefeller’s representative. “The door remains open but the chain lock is still on” is how Charles Morgan described the Rockefeller situation to Jack Caskey in a letter dated November 20, 1950 (ASCSA AdmRec 318/5, folder 3). Rockefeller’s office had requested information about past and future costs both for the excavation and restoration of the Stoa, together with a schedule of work. Two months later, Morgan reported to Caskey after a meeting with Creel:

“…the door [to John Rockefeller] was still open but no further ajar… it is apparent that Mr. Rockefeller does not like to renew interest in an undertaking that he has previously considered closed.”

ASCSA AdmRec 318/5, folder 3, January 10, 1951

Nevertheless, the good news came a few months later. On May 15, 1951, Creel announced to Ward Canaday that Rockefeller had agreed to contribute financially to the Agora project: “While it was not Mr. Rockefeller’s thought to contribute further to the project, he believes… that it is highly desirable to complete the entire undertaking as quickly as possible in order to avoid any loss or deterioration in connection with the excavation or its findings and to realize the maximum educational value involved in the project.” Rockefeller donated a quarter-million dollars from his personal funds (rather than those of his Foundation) and guaranteed, once this sum was matched by the School, to add a dollar to every dollar secured elsewhere by the School by May 31, 1954, up to an overall total of $2,000,000 (ASCSA AdmRec 202/15, folder 1).  


To match Rockefeller’s gift, the School again approached the ECA whose officers suggested that the School stop playing the tourism card. They, instead, suggested that the School would have more of a chance if it supported a “Big Idea.” “I’m not very happy about using Human Freedom, International Peace, and phrases of that kind for acquiring money for any purpose… I think it true, however, that we ought to emphasize and dramatize a bigger idea than milking tourists of a few extra dollars” confided Caskey to Morgan on July 29, 1951 (ASCSA AdmRec 318/5, folder 4). For this reason, the School’s application to the ECA for $500,000 downplayed the tourism attraction, and instead emphasized the employment and training opportunities that the project would offer to Greeks. As to the “Big Idea,” the School chose to promote the Agora as the birthplace and symbol of democracy, as it had done in the past.

Despite all these changes, a month or so later, Roger D. Lapham (1883-1966), Chief of the ECA Mission to Greece, communicated to Canaday that there was little hope for funding. A change in America’s foreign policy towards Europe and Greece limited aid to projects of the highest military and economic priority (ASCSA Archives, Homer A. Thompson Papers, Box 109, folder 5, September 15, 1951).  Two months later, the U.S. would cancel the whole tourist program for Greece, as well as the program for museums and monuments.  

A second blow to the finances of the American School came from the Fulbright Foundation which had supported several fellows at the School since the inception of the program in 1948. In the spring of 1952, the Fulbright Foundation drastically reduced the number of fellowships that it granted to the ASCSA. In addition, the School was also rejected by the Ford Foundation (ASCSA AdmRec 318/5, folder 4, Caskey to Morgan, May 31, 1952). 

In contrast to its failures with U.S. funding agencies, the School’s appeals to affluent individuals were better received, and by 1952 it had secured the first $100,000 needed to match Rockefeller’s first quarter-million dollar gift. Canaday had inspired two more trustees to offer their support to the Agora project: Arthur Vining Davis (1867-1962) and John Nicholas Brown (1900-1979), whose great-grandfather had given his name to Brown University. But there were also signs of frustration on the School’s staff. So much effort had been put into securing funds for the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos and the continuation of the Agora excavations that all other work was effectively put on hold.  The Corinth excavations laid dormant, and the School had not recently embarked on any major field project with the exception of the excavations at Samothrace, annually funded by New York University. The need for a larger endowment, although vital, had also been set on a back burner.

In my opinion, the School cannot go on denying its other needs for five more years without serious damage to the whole organization. The plant must be kept more nearly up to date; the museum and records at Corinth must be put into shape; some new excavation should be undertaken… My admiration of the Agora dig and my devotion to the members of its staff are undiminished, but I honestly feel that we must soon stop channeling all our resources into that one enterprise” Caskey wrote to Morgan on July 15, 1952.

ASCSA Archives, AdmRec 318/5, folder 5


By 1953, however, things were shaping up in all directions. Through private fund raising, the School had matched Rockefeller’s first quarter million, and Rockefeller handed over the second quarter-million. Trustee Arthur Vining Davis had pledged an additional $100,000 toward the completion of the Agora project. Most importantly, however, the recent devaluation of drachma by the Greek Government had effectively doubled the purchasing power of the dollar for all transactions. 1953 was thus a landmark year for the American School. After 6 years of hard work and with roughly $800,000 at hand, the School was finally ready to launch the reconstruction of the Stoa and enter a long period of stability.  Morgan sent a congratulatory note to Thompson: “Finally, heartiest congratulations on the culmination of the Stoa program. Without your original idea and your persistent faith and tenacity in the face of opposition from every quarter it never could have happened!” (ASCSA AdmRec 318/5, folder 5, May 20, 1953). [Suggested further reading: “That Unspeakable Stoa” and Sakka 2013 for an in-depth study of “the various meanings and values ascribed to the reconstruction process.”]

The Stoa of Attalos under construction, 1955. Photo: ASCSA, Agora Excavations.


The American School’s institutional history demonstrates the repeated difficulties it had in securing funds from U.S. philanthropic foundations in the immediate postwar years.  While its work and mission could inspire enlightened individuals like John Rockefeller, Jr. and Arthur Vining Davis, the School’s proposals failed to attract institutional support from Marshall Plan bureaucrats and the Rockefeller Foundation (it was John Rockefeller, not the Rockefeller Foundation, who funded the reconstruction of the Stoa).  Initial success with the Fulbright Foundation ended after a few years, while its early applications were at first rejected by the Ford Foundation.

The situation was best described by Caskey in his Annual Report for 1951-1952 (p. 20):

“… the policies of foundations have shifted largely from outright sums for endowment and special projects toward support of general programs usually of social or scientific rather humanistic character.”

Caskey was probably referring to the establishment of the National Science Foundation in 1950. The equivalent foundation for the humanities would not be established until 1965.

It is interesting to read in the official history of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) that there was much skepticism about the worthiness of appropriations like the ones that the Foundation granted to the American School before WW II (the School was given half a million dollars in the 1920s to raise its endowment and build Loring Hall, as well as $150,000 in 1935 to build the Agora museum). In 1937, the then Director of the Humanities Division of the RF, David H. Stevens (1885-1980) noted in an internal report concerning its humanities program:

“How was this program a credit to us? In having a sense of magnitude. In what way a discredit? By buttressing scholasticism and antiquarianism in our universities.”

Fosdyke 1989, p. 239

Another RF trustee, Jerome D. Greene (1874-1959), who was in favor of the humanities, also commented on “the snobbishness of the classical tradition” and the possibility that its support “was getting us facts but not necessarily followers” (Fosdyke 1989, p. 241).

Classics as practiced by a small number of graduates from ivy-league schools had a limited place in post-WW II America, where access to a university education was no longer considered a privilege but a right. Foundations such as the Rockefeller, the Ford, or the Fulbright were eager to support programs related to theater, radio, and television studies, as well as language and area studies, with an emphasis on Latin America and the Far East. Humanities were no longer identified with the study of the past. In postwar America, there would be no boundaries between past, present, and future.

“It is sad that the F[ord] F[oundation] is not interested in us as we are. The Fulbright people have shown the same tendency… As I have told you, there has been an increasing tendency, among the Fulbright students especially, to have “a year abroad” and concentrate on the area (if not the language) at the expense of the subject matter itself… This is bad for the School and bad for Classical Studies… I am almost sure that a group of non-classicists in our midst would hasten the process of disintegration,” complained Caskey to Morgan in 1952.

ASCSA Archives, AdmRec 318/5, folder 4, May 31, 1952

It is a pity that the Ford Foundation’s rejection letter is not preserved in the ASCSA Archives, but, even without it, one understands that in the 1950s U.S. foundations were highly critical of the School’s unilateral focus on classical studies and its lack of interest in introducing more inclusive programs.  A major redirection in priorities did not come from the School, which continued to focus on the promotion of classics, but rather from the U.S. government and the philanthropic foundations themselves. In the early 1960s, an in-depth study by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) about the state of the humanities in America led to the creation in 1965, for the first time, of a national entity that would support humanities: The National Endowment for the Humanities. The ACLS Report of the Commission on the Humanities 1964 was based on studies presented by twenty-four organizations and institutions, including the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). Note that four of the members of the Committee who represented the AIA had close ties with the School (Alan Boegehold, Cedric Boulter, Robert Scranton, and John Young). Therefore, it is not accidental that the AIA report within the ACLS Report included a section concerning the financial support of American excavations in the Mediterranean and the Near East, with a special emphasis on the continuation of the Athenian Agora excavations which was described as ‘the exemplary dig of all time,” with a call to raise $4,000,000 for the completion of the project (ACLS Report, pp. 73-74). (For a thorough discussion of the ACLS report and the AIA’s support of excavations of “advanced civilizations,” see Dyson 1998, pp. 228-231, 258-261).

A year later, in 1966, after having been rejected in the past, the American School received $1 million from the Ford Foundation, the largest single grant in American archaeology at the time, to support the Agora excavations. This was the Ford Foundation’s first contribution to classical archaeology, but why the Ford Foundation became interested in funding an archaeological project in Greece is a story for another occasion. 


Behram, G. 2007. The Most Noble Adventure: The Marshall Plan and How America Helped Rebuild Europe, New York.

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

Fosdick, R. B. 1989 [1952].  The Story of the Rockefeller Foundation, New York.

Meritt, L.S. 1984. History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1939-1980, Princeton.

Sakka, N, 2013. ” ‘A Debt to Ancient Wisdom and Beauty’: The Reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos in the Ancient Agora of Athens,” in Philhellenism, Philanthropy, or Political Convenience? American Archaeology in Greece, ed. J. L. Davis and N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, Hesperia Special Issue 82:1, pp. 203-227.

Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire: De Waele’s Story

The jumping-off point for this story was an odd comment that Louis E. Lord made in his History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens about a Belgian archaeologist who was active at the School from 1927 until 1934. “Ferdinand Joseph Maria de Waele, Assistant in Archaeology for six years (1929-1934) was not reappointed. He had served well as an excavator, his work at the Asklepieion had been competent. But he never made a final report for publication, and the manner of his departure left behind him an odor of unsanctity highly offensive to the School” (Lord 1947, p. 246). Lord was referring to an accusation of smuggling antiquities made against de Waele. But was it true? A simple Google search showed that Ferdinand Joseph Maria De Waele (1896-1977), after leaving the American School, went on to have a distinguished career as a professor of archaeology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands and, later,  at the University of Ghent.

Ferdinand Joseph Maria de Waele, ca. 1927. Source: Public domain.

De Waele applied to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter) for Associate Membership in the spring of 1927. He had just completed his doctoral dissertation, titled “The Magic Staff or Rod in Graeco-Italian Antiquity.” In a letter to Carl W. Blegen, Acting Director of the School in 1926-1927, de Waele explained why he had chosen to apply to the American School and not to the French School (which often hosted Belgian students): “My grandfather, having immigrated in the U.S. in 1875… was an American citizen and all my uncles and aunts [were] also American citizens” (ASCSA Archives, Adm Rec 108/1 folder 8, February 9, 1927). By working as a high-school teacher at The Aloysius College in The Hague, de Waele had saved enough money to spend a few months in Greece- at least, this was his initial plan.

As it happens, soon after his arrival in Athens, the School assigned de Waele to the Corinth Excavations, then under the direction of Benjamin Meritt, who was clearing the area along the Lechaeum Road. In this project, Merritt was assisted by Oscar Broneer, R.S. Darbishire (about whom I have written in the past), de Waele, and others.  With funding from the University of Cincinnati, the same staff began excavations at the Odeum in the summer of the same year (1927). The two northern Europeans on the dig, Broneer (Swedish-American) and de Waele, who also happened to be slightly older than the rest of the group, soon began a life-long friendship. In the ASCSA Annual Report for 1927-1928, Edward Capps announced that Broneer “had been made Instructor in Archaeology and Dr. Ferdinand de Waele [had] also been given a staff position as Special Assistant in Archaeology on half-time appointment.”

In justifying the reason for these two new positions, Capps wrote about Broneer that “he had become a skillful and scientific excavator, had successfully conducted the Summer Session and School trips, had produced an excellent study of Greek Lamps for the Corinth Publications…”, and about de Waele that he was “a thoroughly trained archaeologist after the European fashion” who proved “from the outset to be a valuable assistant at the excavations at Corinth” (AR 1927-1928, p. 27). This ad hoc appointment would develop into a long term position for de Waele, which he held until 1934 (i.e. through Rhys Carpenter’s directorship of the School [1927-1932] and part of Richard Stillwell’s [1932-1935]). Over the next few years, de Waele would uncover the Roman Market and the Greek Stoa north of the Temple of Apollo (De Waele 1930; 1931), the Sanctuary of Asklepios (De Waele 1933), the Fountain of Lerna, and the Early Christian Cemetery (De Waele 1935).

Ferdinand Joseph de Waele in excavation outfit, ca. 1930. Source: ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers.

However, despite these successful campaigns at Corinth, in the aftermath of the 1929 market crash, the School initiated over several years a series of budget cuts that eventually affected de Waele’s position. On March 4, 1933, Stillwell wrote to his predecessor about de Waele: “May I ask a word of advice? The de Waele question, re: being in charge during the summer, was hinted from home, as being not a welcome nor even a legitimate arrangement.” Stillwell was referring to the fact that de Waele had acted as Director of the School during Stillwell’s summer vacation in 1932. Stillwell was hoping that the same arrangement could be made for the summer of 1933. “I should dislike being on the horns of the dilemma as to whether it was up to me to stay or to make either Oscar [Broneer] or Filipp [Frantz, the Manager of Loring Hall] stay. Could you suggest some way of presenting the de Waele matter in a diplomatic way?” (Adm Rec 1001/1 folder 4).

The problem was more complicated, however. For reasons that are unclear, de Waele had acquired a strong enemy on the School’s Managing Committee. That person was Louis E. Lord (1875-1957), Professor at Oberlin College and the soul of the School’s summer session program. In the summer of 1932, there had occurred some incident between de Waele, who was acting in place of Stillwell, and Lord, who was leading the School’s Summer Session. Lord complained about de Waele’s “Prussian dictatorship” (Adm Rec 318/3 folder 5, June 15, 1932), although it is not clear how the two men crossed swords, threatening not to come in the summer, if “de Waele was to be left in charge.” (Adm Rec 1001/1 folder 4, March 4, 1933).

Louis E. Lord, ca. 1940.

Lord’s opinion must have prevailed in the meetings of the Managing Committee, for in May 1933 Capps announced to Stillwell that “the Executive Committee in their recent communications [were] practically unanimous in the view that this [was] the best time for the termination of [De Waele’s] appointment” (Adm Rec 318/3, folder 5, May 2, 1933). Stillwell voiced his objections but Capps left no room for disagreement: “You certainly would not be happy if in order to provide de Waele’s stipend a cut were made in any of the leading items of the School Budget, such as Library, Grounds & Buildings, etc.” He also advised Stillwell to “release him [De Waele] from all excavation activities from now on and let him devote himself exclusively to the preparation of his materials for publication. I should think it would be quite possible for him to get through by November, or at any rate to have so amassed his material that he could easily finish it up at home without revisiting Corinth” (Adm Rec 318/3, folder 5, May 6, 1933).

Page from de Waele’s excavation notebook for the Asklepieion, 1931. ASCSA, Corinth Excavations Archive.

De Waele wrote to Capps to express his gratitude to “the School for all the courtesy and opportunities which he had enjoyed and reassured him that “it was not only his obligation but also a duty to prepare his report in the best possible manner on the excavations at the Asklepieion and the Fountain of Lerna” (Adm Rec 318/3, folder 8, January 2, 1934). On a personal front, while in Greece, Joseph (de Waele went by his second name) had married the beautiful Irene Lelekou. In the rich photographic archive of the Corinth Excavations there is an endearing photo, from about the same time, of Joseph with a baby, most likely Paul Broneer. (In the photo, de Waele is misidentified as Georg von Peschke and the baby as Jos de Waele, who was not born until 1938, three years after de Waele’s departure from Corinth.)

Ferdinand Joseph de Waele with little Nafsika von Peschke, early 1930s.* Source: ASCSA, Corinth Excavations Archive.

A Most Disturbing Report

The troubles with de Waele began in the summer of 1934. In September of that year, Stillwell, who had already dealt with Ralph Brewster’s theft of the Siphnian herm in 1932, was informed that de Waele had taken antiquities out of the country without permission:

“I was informed that this summer you had acquired, by purchase, some antiquities, for which you asked, and received permission from the authorities to take with you to Holland. But, according to the report, you had also acquired other antiquities concerning which you made no representations to the archaeological authorities, but took them out or caused them to be taken out of the country without permission.”

Stillwell, obviously distressed and annoyed, continued: “Such an action, on the part of anyone who had been connected with the School would be a most serious breach of confidence, both toward the School, and toward the Greek Archaeological Authorities, who have always shown themselves most willing to cooperate with us in granting any permissions that it is in their power to allow… We have always enjoyed the greatest degree of freedom in the conduct of our work, due to the confidence that we have been fortunate enough to inspire in the authorities.” He concluded that he was writing this letter with reluctance “because of our long acquaintance and friendship” (Adm Rec 318/3, folder 10, October 5, 1934). I have not been able to locate de Waele’s explanatory letter, but from Stillwell’s answer, it appears that his explanations were sufficient. The issue of conflict with the Greek authorities was a white lekythos, and de Waele claimed that its export had been approved.

“Το δις εξαμαρτείν…”

We would not have known that there was a second attempt by de Waele to export antiquities without permission, were it not for the Oscar Broneer Papers. The documents supporting his second brush with the law are not found in the School’s Administrative Records but in the personal papers of Broneer, who was Acting Director in the summer of 1935. On August 30, 1935, the School received a letter from the Minister of Religion and Education stating that the Customs Office had found in de Waele’s luggage undeclared antiquities which had been hidden in a special box labeled “objects of household use” (κεκρυμμέναι εντός ιδιαίτερου ξύλινου κιβωτίου χρησιμεύοντος κατ’ ιδιόχειρον σημείωμά του δι’ εναπόθεσιν αντικειμένων οικιακής χρήσεως”) [ASCSA Archives, Oscar Broneer Papers, box 29, folder 2].

Like Stillwell, Broneer found himself in the awkward position to have to write a distressing letter to his friend: “Quite apart from the ethical questions involved, which are serious enough, you have placed the School in a bad predicament. I have no choice but to hand the letter over to the new Director [who would have been Edward Capps] when he comes… The letter was sent by mistake to the Agora office and had been opened and read by others. I have done my best to keep the news from spreading further, but I cannot and would not try to hide from the Director… I feel hurt and annoyed as your friend, as a colleague, and, above all, as staff member of the School, whose reputation for honesty and upright dealings has hitherto never been, so far as I know, justly questioned” (Oscar Broneer Papers, box 24, folder 1, Broneer to de Waele, September 4, 1935). Note that Broneer did not refer to the incident of the previous year, which shows that Stillwell had tried to protect de Waele’s reputation. 

Ferdinand Joseph de Waele and Oscar Broneer at an excavation party at Corinth, ca. 1930. ASCSA Archives, Oscar Broneer Papers.

De Waele’s reply to Broneer surprised me. Instead of trying to find ways to justify his act, as had done before with Stillwell, de Waele wrote a long and desperate letter admitting his guilt:

“A totally ruined and wrecked man writes to you. A man who caused his own ruin to come by a stupidity and evil deed as never before. I do not wish to be pathetic but I feel that I am finished, finished forever and that I am carrying with me the conscience of being guilty.”

ASCSCA Archives, Oscar Broneer Papers, box 24, folder 1, September 9, 1935.

In another letter to George Oikonomos, the Director of the Archaeological Service, de Waele stated that he had no accomplices in his deed and that his motive was not “to take profit or earn gain” but “to contribute to the love for Greece in other people.” In addition, de Waele also admitted to Broneer that in addition to smuggling out purchased antiquities, he had also tried to take out objects from the Corinth Excavations in order “to make casts of them” so that he could complete the publication of his excavations at Corinth. At a more personal level, de Waele confessed that he felt “as the murderer of [his] good wife whose kind reproach is a needle in my heart.”

De Waele ended his letter by making a very strange offer to Broneer. Since he rightly assumed that he would not be allowed to return to Corinth, de Waele suggested that Broneer publish one of his manuscripts: “I shall offer this as an anomymous gift to the School in order to repair a little bit the evil I did… Please accept my manuscript of the Early Christian inscriptions without any mention of me, just as if you did it. That’s the favor I ask you and nobody will know about it” (September 9, 1935). Three days later, in another letter, he asked Broneer to keep the matter “as secret as possible” even from Capps (Oscar Broneer Papers, box 24, folder 1, September 12, 1935).

What de Waele had hidden from Broneer came up during the latter’s visit to Oikonomos: “Oikonomos also told me certain things which I did not know and which you did not mention in your letter. He said that last year you had taken out some vases which you had not declared and that a certain amount of “fasaria” [fuss] had been made then. Looking up the official correspondence of the Director, I found that this was correct. You must recall some communications from Stillwell about this matter. Mr. Oikonomos also told me you had declared one vase this year to be used as a foil for smuggling out the others” (ASCSA Archives, Oscar Broneer Papers, box 24, folder 1, September 13, 1935).  

Time Heals All Wounds

The fact that de Waele was able to continue his life and career largely unscathed from his earlier acts is due to Broneer’s magnanimity (he did not believe, as he wrote, “in throwing out the baby with the bathwater”). Capps also had agreed “not to take revenge” in the hope that de Waele would complete and turn in his manuscript on the Asklepieion in due time. Broneer warned his friend not to entertain any false hopes about working again in Corinth while trying to offer some comforting words: “ ‘Tiden laker alla sar’ [time heals all wounds]. You are not an old man yet; don’t try to rush matters at present. You have made your apologia, it is better to let that soak in before you try to take the next step” (Oscar Broneer Papers, box 24, folder 1, September 13, 1935).

There is no follow-up correspondence in the Broneer papers until 1939. In the Director’s files, however, there is a letter that shows that de Waele made plans to come back to Greece in the spring of 1937, as the representative of his university at the festivities for the Centennial of the University of Athens. Charles Morgan, the School Director since 1936 and an old friend of de Waele’s from Corinth, asked him to reconsider his intention of coming back. “Through the good offices of the department of archaeology, none of the unfortunate affair of the summer of 1935 ever appeared in the Greek newspapers. This was a difficult matter to arrange, and was done only with the idea that the School itself should suffer no reflected discredit from it… The Customs authorities, however, are not under the same jurisdiction. There is not the slightest doubt but what the incident is still fresh in their minds…” (Adm Rec 1001/1, folder 10, March 9, 1937). Morgan was afraid of a press leak. De Waele delayed his response to Morgan’s letter for a month. By then he had arrived in Greece, and since he had not encountered any problems with the Custom Authorities, he felt confident that the old matter was behind him “unless a new initiative is taken from a side, which is under your jurisdiction” de Waele conveyed to Morgan on April 14, 1937 (Adm Rec 1001/1 folder 10).

The high turnover of directors at the School in the 1930s (five directors in ten years) worked to de Waele’s benefit. The following summer (1938) he was at the School’s premises in Athens discussing with Lamar Crosby, the new ASCSA Director, the publication of the Asklepieion and the Lerna Spring. On leaving he left a draft of his manuscript with Crosby, who thought that it required a lot more editorial work “than a mere revamping of English” (Adm Rec 318/4, folder 2, Crosby to Capps, September 22, 1938). In 1939, de Waele was inquiring whether he could continue his study of the Christian inscriptions at Corinth, but Crosby was uncertain whether the Greek authorities would allow him to do so: “I have been told that they were rather outspoken during the term of my predecessor against permitting you to do further archaeological work in Greece” Crosby warned de Waele (Adm Rec 1001/1 folder 13, letters of May 27 and June 3, 1939).

Publishing the Asklepieion

As late as 1945, De Waele continued to believe that he would be the one to publish the Asklepieion (Oscar Broneer Papers, box 24, folder 1, September 9, 1945). The appointment of Louis Lord as Chair of the School’s Managing Committee in 1939 was the defining factor that led to removing the publication of the Asklepieion from de Waele. Ever since the unknown incident of 1932, Lord harbored negative feelings about de Waele, whose subsequent actions had only justified a low opinion of him.

De Waele’s excavation notebook of the Asklepieion. Source: ASCSA, Corinth Excavations Archive.

The School’s Publication Committee had its annual meeting in May 1945. There it decided to cancel a number of outstanding assignments and reassign the publication of the Asklepieion to Carl Roebuck (1914-1999), a young scholar who had been a student of the School (1937-1940) and received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1941 (AdmRec 208/19, folder 11). In late summer of 1945, Louis Lord received a letter from de Waele who “suggested going back to Greece (at our expense) to get further details” in order to finish his manuscript. De Waele also thought that it would take “some months” before it would be ready for submission.

Lord’s letter to Paul A. Clement, Managing Editor of the School’s publications, made fun of  de Waele’s promise to deliver in “some months.” “That phrase is even more remote than the ‘almost immediately’ with which we are all too familiar. [Bert Hodge] Hill’s and [William Bell] Dinsmoor’s have been ‘almost immediately’ ready for more than twenty years. Judged by that, ‘some months’ would mean the next generation” (Adm Rec 208/22, folder 14, October 8, 1945). In a follow-up letter Lord asked de Waele (since he was not allowed to return to Corinth) to turn over his manuscript to Clement with the understanding that a second scholar would make revisions and prepare it for publication. “The alternative, which I don’t like to contemplate, will be to ask one of our Fellows to take the material and your preliminary reports and prepare the publication entirely de novo” (October 19, 1945).

By the end of 1945 de Waele had submitted to Clement a manuscript of 220 pages that covered the first part of his work and dealt with “The History and Archaeology of the Asklepieion Disctrict.” He wrote the Publication Committee that he also intended to mail “very soon” the second part, “An Inventory of the Finds in the Asklepieion District”. The Committee, however, found de Waele’s manuscript hardly acceptable: “It is written in incorrect and at times rather absurd English, and the general organization and exposition of the argument in many of the sections can and should be improved… it is necessary to check every description, every statement of fact…”. In addition, it was formally announced that Carl Roebuck would be the one revising the manuscript under Broneer’s general supervision (Adm Rec 208/19, folder 12, Report of the Chairman of the Committee on Publications, May 11, 1946). De Waele never sent the second part. Roebuck published the Asklepieion under the title: The Asklepieion and Lerna. Based on the Excavations and Preliminary Studies of F. J. De Waele (Princeton 1951). In the preface of the book Roebuck wrote that he had the opportunity to discuss the publication with de Waele in Amsterdam and that de Waele was “in agreement with the views which are expressed in the text.”

In the Realm of Friendship

After a breach of a few years, Broneer and de Waele resumed their old friendship at the end of WW II. The loss of friends and colleagues, as well as other personal suffering, bridged the gap in their relationship; there are several long letters from de Waele in the Broneer papers.

“My brother-in-law was kept in jail for several months by the Italians. My cousin was shot” wrote de Waele on September 9, 1945; Nimeguen, where he and Irene lived with their three children, had been severely damaged in 1944 “by a British ‘mistake’ that destroyed the heart of the city.” On a happier note, the two friends mentioned their children and reminisced about the good old days, especially de Waele: “Your description of Paul –o that blond Pavlos pictured while plucking the string of the Corinthian guitar, a picture lost with many precious souvenirs in the catastrophe –reminds me of the passing of the years: when we met each other the first time in the Annex, Academy street, we just passed the thirties! What you mention of your children… it shows how much their own life and years have become the measuring rod of our own lives.”  

De Waele’s one and only publication about Corinth after 1935, a guide book about the Christian era of Corinth, titled Les antiquités de la Grèce: Corinthe et saint Paul, was published in 1961. Of course, he sent a copy to Broneer. From time to time the two would meet in the Corinthia: “We are still living, Irini and I in the house which once, I remember, you visited. My eldest daughter married to Kostas Lekkas, family of Sophocles, is living here with her two daughters; Joseph is teaching at Ottawa University classical archaeology and my youngest daughter is married to a professor of law at the university of Enschede” (ASCSA Archives, Oscar Broneer Papers, box 24, folder 1, December 17, 1972).

De Waele visited his beloved Corinthia for the last time in the summer of 1977. In November, Jos de Waele, announced his father’s death to Broneer: “He had had a marvelous 3 weeks in Greece and he remembered with great emotion the hours you spent together… I thank you for all the friendship you gave to my beloved father. He spoke to me often of you and I know very well and I know very well, what meant his last encounter with you” (ASCSA Archives, Oscar Broneer Papers, box 24, folder 1, November 9, 1977).

Author’s Note: Telling de Waele’s story was not an easy task. It is common among biographers to empathize with their subject. With de Waele I experienced a full range of emotions, from liking him to disliking him and back to liking him. I would have liked to know what de Waele thought, as an older man, of his doings in 1934-1935. I have the feeling that he never realized their gravity.  


De Waele, F. 1930. “The Roman Market North of the Temple at Corinth,” AJA 34:4, pp. 432-454.
____________. 1931. “The Greek Stoa North of the Temple at Corinth,” AJA 35:4, pp. 394-423.
____________. 1933. “The Sanctuary of Asklepios and Hygieia at Corinth,” AJA 37:3, pp. 417-451.
____________. 1935. “The Fountain of Lerna and the Early Christain Cemetery at Corinth,” AJA 39:3, pp. 352-359.
Lord, L. E. 1947. A History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1882-1942, Cambridge, Mass.

*Another Note

In April 2021, Nafsika von Peschke contacted me via e-mail to let me know that the little toddler in the photo with De Waele, which I had originally identified as Paul Broneer, was her. Here is what she wrote me: “I am Nausika von Peschke and  I wanted to inform you that the little girl in the picture with Joseph de Waele is not Paul  Broneer. It is a picture of me when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I have the same picture.  We lived in Old  Korinth because my father Georg von Peschke was very involved with the American School and did a lot of work with the excavations. Both my sister Marianna and myself were very close friends with Paul and John Broneer. We lived a couple of blocks from the School in Athens and played together until our teens, until they left Athens. Mrs. Broneer would have wonderful tee parties for us.  She was such a lovely lady.  Most of the names in your articles bring such great memories.”

“Mr. Lo”: The First Chinese Student at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1933.

In the late 1990s, a few years after I was appointed Archivist of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School), Robert (Bob) Bridges, the Secretary of the School, brought to the Archives a Chinese metallic vase to be saved because it was part of our institutional history. Bob said that the bearer of the gift was a former student of the School from the 1930s, who had visited Greece and the School in the 1980s. Underneath the vase, Bob had pasted the donor’s professional card to make sure that his identity was not lost. The print on the card read: Luo Niansheng, Professor [and] Research Fellow of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; and scribbled on it: Lo Maote student of the American School in the academic year of 1933-1934.

The vase that Luo Niansheng (Mao-Te Lo) gave to the School in the 1980s, as a token of remembrance. ASCSA Archives.

Luo Niansheng’s business card underneath the vase. ASCSA Archives.

The School’s Directory in Louis E. Lord’s History of the American School of Classical Studies (1947) lists the following information for “Mr. Lo”:

LO, MAO TE 1933-1934 – Tern., Chinese Educational Mission, 1360 Madison Street, Washington, D. C, or 317 College Avenue, Ithaca, New York; Per., Yu-Tai-Huan Company, Lo-Chwan-Tsing, Ese-Chung-Hsien, Sze-Chuan, China. A.B., Ohio State University, 1931.

About the same time that Bob delivered Niansheng’s present to the Archives, I met Richard (Dick) Howland, a former Chair of the School’s Managing Committee (1965-1975) and a student of the School from 1933 to 1938. Howland was in his late eighties when he visited the Archives carrying another important gift: his photographic collection from the time he was a student at the School. As Howland reminisced and identified people in the photos, we stumbled upon a few showing a Chinese man either alone or with other School students: Howland identified him as “Mr. Lo.”

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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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Forgotten Friend of Skyros: Hazel Dorothy Hansen (Part I)

“Her main contribution was not destined to be in the field of excavation, but in discovering in dark cellars a good number of broken vases still covered with earth, discovered by others over the years in the island of Skyros. There she collected, cleaned, patched, and provided with a shelter transforming into a small Museum a room in the City Hall of Skyros. For this service to archaeology and the island she was made Honorary Citizen of Skyros,” wrote archaeologist George Mylonas about Hazel Hansen in early 1963, a few months after her death, in the Annual Report of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter).

I asked several archaeologists of my generation and slightly older if her name or her association with the island of Skyros rang a bell. It did not, although she was known well enough in Greece, for her death to be noted at length in Kathimerini (December 22, 1962), one of the most respected Greek newspapers. «Ηγγέλθη χθες στην Αθήνα ο θάνατος της φιλέλληνος αρχαιολόγου καθηγητρίας του Πανεπιστημίου Στάνφορδ, Χέιζελ Χάνσεν, η οποία είναι ιδιαιτέρως γνωστή δια το σύγγραμμά της περί του αρχαιοτέρου πολιτισμού της Θεσσαλίας…”. In addition to her work in Thessaly and Skyros, the note referred to her participation in the excavations at Olynthus and on the North Slope of the Acropolis. The author of Hansen’s Greek obituary knew her well and wanted to capture the accomplishments of a friend and able colleague. It must have been (again) George Mylonas, whose friendship with Hazel started in the 1920s when they were both at the American School.

Hazel D. Hansen, 1923. ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers.

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