Dorothy Burr Thompson’s Love for the Spirit of the PrimitivePosted: May 1, 2016 Filed under: Archaeology, Archival Research, Biography, Greek Folk Art, History of Archaeology, Mediterranean Studies, Women's Studies | Tags: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Boeotia, Bryn Mawr College, Dorothy Burr Thompson, Eutresis Excavation, George Cram Cook, Parapoungia (Leuctra), Susan Glaspell 6 Comments
“By myself in a Boeotian village, with the cry of the wind and drunken men in my ears! I love this place; it is so full of interest and a sense of real thing – seeing weddings whereat one reddens a finger… plodding one’s weary way homeward over purple fields to the din of bells like an organ cadence, knowing villagers… Oh, it is so full of life…” scribbled Dorothy Burr in her personal diary on November 9, 1924.
She was twenty-four years old and had come to Greece the year before, to study at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter). Before that, she had lived in Philadelphia and studied at Bryn Mawr College. After attending the year-long program of the ASCSA, she and Hazel Hansen, another student of the School, were invited by archaeologist Hetty Goldman to dig at the Neolithic site of Eutresis, not far from Thebes, in Boeotia. Read the rest of this entry »
Grèce en vogue: A New Wave of American Philhellenism in the 1920sPosted: January 1, 2015 Filed under: Greek Folklore, History of Archaeology, Modern Greek History, Philhellenism, Women's Studies | Tags: Angelos Sikelianos, Delphic Festivals, Elizabeth Pierce Blegen, Eva Palmer Sikelianos, George Cram Cook, Ida Thallon Hill, Isadora Duncan, Penelope Duncan, Raymond Duncan, Sarah Choate Sears, Susan Glaspell 6 Comments
In early October of 1924, Elizabeth Pierce Blegen, together with Ida Thallon Hill, was planning one of their first (perhaps the first) official dinners in the Director’s House at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (hereafter, the School or ASCSA). They were both new brides. In July Elizabeth (Libbie) had married Carl Blegen at Lake Placid, New York. Blegen was then assistant director of the School. Within a month, Ida, her lover and former professor at Vassar College, married Bert Hodge Hill in England. Hill had been the director of the School since 1906. Robert L. Pounder has recently written about the complicated nature of the Blegens’ and Hills’ relationship (or partnership as they themselves described it) [“The Blegens and the Hills: A Family Affair” in Carl W. Blegen: Personal and Archaeological Narratives, edited by N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, J. L. Davis, and V. Florou, Atlanta 2015, pp. 83-96]. Libbie kept a social diary recording the activities of the two couples during the academic year 1924-1925. Read the rest of this entry »
Revisiting George Cram Cook and Other Delphic SurprisesPosted: October 15, 2013 Filed under: Archaeology, Classics | Tags: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Delphi, Elias Venezis, George Cram Cook, Judith Binder, Nilla Cook, Richard Mark Hillary, Susan Glaspell, Wolfgang Binder 8 Comments
Back in August, when I wrote about the unusual life of George Cram Cook and his death and burial at Delphi, I promised to add a photo of his grave. Artemis Leontis of Michigan University kindly sent me her own photos of Cook’s and Eva Palmer’s tombs at Delphi, but I hesitated to post them because I felt that I had to visit Cook’s grave myself. Moreover, as an archaeologist, I was curious to examine the ancient block that had been used for his headstone. Susan Glaspell in The Road to the Temple described it as “one of the great fallen stones from the Temple of Apollo” (1926, p. 343). But by the time Elias Venezis referred to Cook’s grave in his American Earth, the block had assumed the shape of a column “συντροφευμένος από μια κολόνα του Ιερού των Δελφών” (1955 , 301). Was it a block or a column drum?
On September 24, Tom Brogan and I drove to Delphi to hear the papers of Tom Levy and his team at a conference on virtual reality in archaeology. Before going to the conference center, we made a brief stop at the local cemetery, which is located above modern village near the southwest edge of the ancient site. Several foreigners are buried in the northwest corner of the cemetery. It wasn’t hard to locate Cook’s grave, two burials to the right of Eva Palmer Sikelianou’s. With a broom that I borrowed from a nearby grave, I cleaned the surface of the marble plaque and revealed this inscription: Read the rest of this entry »
“Going Native”: The Unusual Case of George Cram CookPosted: August 1, 2013 Filed under: Archaeology, Philhellenism | Tags: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Angelos Sikelianos, Delphi, Dorothy Burr Thompson, Elias Venezis, Eva Palmer, George Cram Cook, John Anton, Kostis Kourelis, Leandros Palamas, Susan Glaspell 3 Comments
In The Road to Temple, a biography of George Cram Cook, his wife, author Susan Glaspell wrote: “He liked the shepherd’s clothes, worn also by the peasants. A grey or black tunic, white tights of beautiful wool from the sheep of Parnassos, spun and woven by the women, heavy half-shoes crowned with poms-poms, and a little black skull cap.” Cook had adopted this attire when he decided to move to Greece in 1922 and make Delphi and Mount Parnassus his new home. By January 1924, Cook had died of glanders (contracted from his pet dog) and was buried at Delphi, a column drum from the Temple of Apollo marking his grave. Glaspell published The Road to Temple only two years later.
I did not know who George Cram Cook (nicknamed “Jig”) was until a few years ago. While reading the diaries of archaeologist Dorothy Burr Thompson, I discovered by happenstance the following entry for October 15, 1923: “At supper G. Cram Cook, husband of Susan Glaspell, appeared in Greek costume in the restaurant –looking handsome and ridiculous. He is writing four plays on modern Greece…” There is one more entry in Thompson’s diary about Cook. On January 16, 1924 she mentions his death: “G. Cram Cook died of hydrophobia in Delphi – poor man, his four plays unfinished.” One senses some slight sarcasm in her remark. Read the rest of this entry »