“Who Doesn’t Belong Anywhere, Has a Chance Everywhere”: The Formative Years of Emilie Haspels in Greece.


BY FILIZ SONGU

Filiz Songu studied archaeology in Izmir and Ankara. As an independent scholar, she works for the Allard Pierson in Amsterdam and is a staff member of the Plakari Archaeological Project in Southern Euboia. She just completed her biographical research into the life and work of Dutch archaeologist Emilie Haspels. In her contribution to From the Archivist’s Notebook, she discusses Haspels’s early formative years in pre-WW II Greece, and the challenges she and other women archaeologists of her time met in a male-dominated field. Since Haspels worked with many foreign archaeological schools in Greece, Songu’s essay is literally a “Who’s Who” of foreign archaeology in interwar Greece.

Caroline Henriëtte Emilie Haspels (1894–1980) was a prominent classical archaeologist in the Netherlands in the decades after WW II. She was the first female professor of Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam and the first female director of the Allard Pierson Museum. Most scholars know her from her study The Highlands of Phrygia. Sites and Monuments (1971), which is still a reference work on the rock-cut monuments in the Phrygian Highlands in central Turkey. For another group of academicians, Emilie Haspels is known for her other classic publication, Attic Black-Figured Lekythoi (1936).

One may wonder what the connection is between these two widely differing fields of specialization. When I started my biographical research into the life and work of Emilie Haspels, my original focus was on her pioneering fieldwork in Turkey. However, when I dug deeper into her personal documents, I discovered more about other significant periods of her life. Her archive provided glimpses of, for instance, her time in Shanghai in 1925–26, and her enforced stay in Istanbul during WW II. It shows how the twists and turns of history affected both her private and her academic life. Key to understanding her archaeological carrier is what I like to call her “Greek period.” The years she spent in Greece in the 1930s doing her PhD research appear to be her formative years as an archaeologist. With the field experience and special skills she acquired in Greece, she paved the way, perhaps unconsciously, to the Phrygian Highlands, which became her life’s work. It was also during her Greek period that she started to build up a wide international network. Haspels’s personal documents and correspondence in various Dutch archives provide complementary information about the scholarly community in pre-WW II Athens and connect with the writings in Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan’s blog.

Becoming an Archaeologist

Haspels’s Greek period started in the spring of 1929 with her arrival in Athens as a foreign member of the French School. A little about her academic background may be useful here. Haspels had studied Classics at the University of Amsterdam between 1912 and 1923. She minored in Ancient History and Classical Archaeology, attending Jan Six’s classes.

Emilie Haspels as a student at the University of Amsterdam, ca. 1920. Source: Haspels Family Archive.

After her graduation, she taught Latin and Ancient Greek in secondary and high schools in the Netherlands. However, she was determined to continue doing archaeological research, preferably on Greek pottery. In 1928, she started her PhD at the University of Utrecht under the supervision of Carl W. Vollgraff. She earned a scholarship to study at a university abroad, followed by what was meant to be a six-month stay in Greece. She chose to go to Oxford, where she studied with Sir John Beazley and also attended classes given by John L. Myres, Stanley Casson, Marcus N. Tod, and Gilbert Murray. Beazley took it upon himself to become her mentor. After leaving Oxford, she maintained intensive correspondence with him. In his letters, he encouraged Haspels in her research on Greek pottery and advised her whom to contact and where to publish her articles.

Letter from John Beazley to Emilie Haspels, September 7, 1929. Source: Allard Pierson, University of Amsterdam, C.H. Emilie Haspels Archive.

The French School at Athens and Foreign Excavations

After two semesters at Oxford, Haspels’s scholarship allowed her to spend six months in Greece. At the time, the Netherlands did not have research facilities in Athens. Haspels therefore had no choice other than to follow in the footsteps of previous Dutch scholars, mostly classicists, who traditionally entered the French School as membres étrangers. Her supervisor, Vollgraff, a former foreign member, had made a request to the French School. This was not to her liking, and in one of her letters to a Dutch colleague she complained:

“I’m really not in the mood for the French School! The German Institute has Buschor and the British School has Prof. Ashmole, who according to Prof. B[eazley] will be of great use to me. At the French School? … Nobody. ‘And where are the French people when they are in Athens? You never see them in the museums,’ according to Prof. B[eazley].”

Haspels to G. van Hoorn, December 12, 1928 (University Library Utrecht, Special Collections, Collection Van Hoorn).

However, she soon changed her mind: she was content with the accommodation and research facilities provided by the French School. She felt “welcome to participate in English, German and French excavations all over Greece,” as she later noted in her memoirs about her fieldwork and expeditions in Turkey (Berndt 2012, p. 11).

Haspels had her first fieldwork experience in the spring of 1929 at the British School’s excavations of the prehistoric site of Thermi on Lesbos under the direction of Winifred Lamb. (On Lamb, see David W. J. Gill, Winifred Lamb: Aegean Prehistorian and Museum Curator, 2018.) She was initially involved in the field photography and pottery analysis, but when she came back the following year she supervised her own trench.

Haspels at Thermi, Lesbos 1930. Source: Haspels Family Archive.
Haspels with Richard W. Hutchinson, Thermi 1930. Source: Haspels Family Archive.

Her six-month period in Greece appeared to be the prelude to a much longer stay, thanks to another scholarship as well as paid assignments for the French School. After Thermi, she joined two more British projects. In 1930–1933, she worked during two campaigns with Humfry G.G. Payne (1902-1936) at the Heraion in Perachora (Corinthia). In 1932 she worked briefly with Walter A. Heurtley’s team on Ithaca studying the pottery. In Samos, she joined the German excavations at the Heraion (1931 and 1932) directed by Ernst Buschor (1886-1961). The British and German excavation directors did not allow her to participate in the publications, but did give her permission to publish semi-scientific articles about their projects for the Dutch periodicals Hermeneus and Bulletin Antieke Beschaving (e.g., see Haspels 1933 and Haspels 1934).

Haspels in Perachora, 1930-1933. Text on reverse of photo: “Yanni, Payne, Emilie, Blakeway. Excavations Perachora (washing sherds).” Source: Haspels Family Archive.

The situation with the French School was different. As a foreign member, she was given more responsibilities and chances to participate not only in the School’s excavations, but also in the publications. At the French School’s excavation on Delos, where she worked regularly between 1930 and 1935, the director Joseph Chamonard allowed her to publish pottery from the earlier excavations in the Apollo sanctuary. The other French project she was involved in was on Thasos, where she excavated between 1931 and 1934, the final year as field director. The director, Pierre Devambez, asked her to study and publish the Archaic pottery. She was also allowed to write an article about the excavations for The Illustrated London News in 1932.

The Illustrated London News, September 3, 1932.

Connecting Link

Haspels went from one project to another and stayed in Athens for only short periods of time. When in Athens, she studied pottery at the National Museum, and also used the opportunity to socialize with the members of the other foreign schools. Working with different foreign teams put her in a unique position to bring these members together. In her memoirs, she mentions how she took the French to the monthly tea at the American School, which was one of the reasons why Mme. Roussel, wife of the director of the French School, called her the “connecting link between the institutes” (Berndt 2012, p. 12–13). Though she did not follow the academic program of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, she did participate in some of its activities:

“It was a fortunate coincidence that at that time the extensive excavation of the Agora at Athens was taken in hand by the American School; the new group of excavators were eager to make acquaintance with the members of other schools and encouraged us to come to the dig and see their findings.”

Berndt 2012, p. 12.

It is here that her lifelong friendship with Lucy Talcott and Gladys Davidson Weinberg began, as her correspondence during and after WW II shows.

In Athens she also participated in Wilhelm Dörpfeld’s city walks:

“At that time we suddenly heard that Dörpfeld was going to give lecture tours on the Acropolis. This was an incredible experience, it made one feel as if we actually lived in the times of Schliemann, profiting by the wisdom of Schliemann’s architect-excavator of Troy.”

Berndt 2012, p. 12.
Dörpfeld’s tour on the Acropolis. Haspels standing on the right, holding an umbrella, Dörpfeld standing in the middle of the group and pointing, 1931. Source: Haspels Family Archive.

In one of her letters to her sister in the Netherlands, she commented on Dörpfeld’s late years. (About Dörpfeld and his theories being challenged by younger scholars, see also “On the Trail of the “German Model”: ASCSA and DAI, 1881-1918.”)

“Remember I talked about that famous old professor, Dörpfeld, we were told about in high school? Well, he wanted to organize a trip with a group to Ithaca and Leukas. The trip was canceled because only one [person] signed up: not one single German, for example. How pathetic it is to grow old!”

Emilie to C. Haspels, September 14, 1931. Source: Haspels Family Archive.

During her stay in Athens she also enjoyed the cultural life. She mentions, for example, attending a concert “directed by [Dimitri] Mitropoulos, then still at Athens” (Berndt 2012, p. 13). In her archive there is a photo that has only a brief note on the back, saying that it was taken during a recording session of folk singing in Athens in 1930. In this photo, we see the French linguist, Hubert Octave Pernot (1870-1946), professor of Modern Greek, who was leading a project to create a permanent record of modern Greek folk songs. To his left is an unnamed woman, whom I think is musicologist Melpo Logotheti-Merlier, founder of the Musical Folklore Archives, which is now the oldest section of the Center for Asia Minor Studies. She is known to have assisted Pernot in the abovementioned project.

Hubert Octave Pernot and Melpo Logotheti-Merlier in Athens. Haspels standing at the back, looking to the side. Text on reverse: “Barracks in Athens. 1930. With Prof. Pernot, for recording folk-songs on gramophone.” Source: Haspels Family Archive.

All this may seem interesting and exciting, and shows how intensive and productive her years in Greece were. However, the absence of a Dutch institute in Athens distressed her. In one of her reports to the University of Utrecht, she described her situation as follows:

“Of course, at each excavation you have different functions because each excavation has different demands; but because of my studies, I’ve usually been occupied with the vases. […] I can’t underestimate how big an advantage it’s been for me being Dutch, as I’ve been able to join all these different excavations by the various schools: who doesn’t belong anywhere, has a chance everywhere. On the other hand, I do see the disadvantage of not belonging anywhere.”

Report for Philological Society at Utrecht, 1932, Allard Pierson, University of Amsterdam, C.H. Emilie Haspels Archive.

End of Greek period

In 1935, Haspels submitted her PhD thesis titled Bijdrage tot de studie van Attisch zwart-figurig (“Contribution to the study of Attic black-figure”). The following year she published a more extended version in English under the title Attic Black-Figured Lekythoi. This study received many positive reviews written by, for example, Gisela M.A. Richter and T.B.L. Webster. Renowned French pottery expert Charles Dugas (1885-1957) not only praised Haspels’s research methods and outcomes, but also called attention to the unusual character of this endeavor: it was written in English by a Dutch female archaeologist from Oxford who had become a foreign member of the French School at Athens, which published it  (Dugas 1937, p. 40). Dugas also used his review to advise the French School to take Haspels as an example and open its doors to female researchers and accept larger numbers of French women into scientific research. The highest recognition, I believe, came two decades later. Beazley in the ‘Instructions for Use’ to his Attic Black-figure Vase-painters (1956) referred to Haspels’s research on lekythoi in the following manner:

“One of the largest classes of black-figure vase, the lekythos, has been thoroughly studied by Miss Haspels in her fine work Attic Black-figured Lekythoi. I have not reproduced her list. I have made additions; and especially if I had much to add, I have not hesitated to repeat what is there, following no hard and fast rule; but if a vase does not appear in my pages, it should be sought in Miss Haspels’s index.”

Beazley 1956: pp. iix-ix

The completion of her PhD research marks the end of her Greek period. Very soon afterward, a new phase in her life would start. Her field experience and pottery expertise made her the best candidate for another French project, this time in Turkey. Albert Gabriel (1883-1972), director of the French Archaeological Institute in Istanbul, asked her to direct the excavations at Midas City in Anatolia. Here, she conducted five campaigns between 1937 and 1939, when WW II broke out, trapping her in Turkey, where she was forced to remain for six years.

Although she started to work in Turkey, she kept in touch with scholars she had met in Oxford and Athens. She corresponded with Beazley regularly, even during WW II. In his letters to Haspels, Beazley informed her about his ongoing research, once in a while colored with news of a more personal nature, for instance about his wife’s volunteer work for British soldiers: “My wife has invented a woolen garment for the forces and has sent out over 2500. It bears the classical name of Kredemnon” (Letter from Beazley to Haspels, September 6, 1942). (See also M. Alden, “Mrs Beazley’s Kredemnon: Homeric Comforts for the Troops, 1939-45” in Costume 44:1, 2010, pp. 106–109.) Her friendship with Winifred Lamb, who conducted fieldwork between 1935 and 1937 in Kusura Höyük, became stronger. A recurring topic was their exchange of experiences of working in Turkey.

It was most probably Lamb who introduced Haspels to Francis H. Bacon, who was also known as “Uncle Bacon.” (On Bacon, read also “Francis H. Bacon: Bearer of Precious Gifts from the Dardanelles.”) The earliest correspondence between them is from 1937, some years before Bacon’s death, when Haspels started to conduct excavations at Midas City. Together with this letter, Bacon shared some photographs that he took during his visits to Athens in 1930 and 1931. One shows their mutual friend Winifred Lamb “in Athens Museum workshop,” two others are portraits of Wilhelm Dörpfeld taken “in my room at Grande Bretagne,” and one is of Sophia Schliemann “in her house at Phaleron.”

Photographs taken by Francis H. Bacon in Athens in 1930 and 1931, from left to right: Winifred Lamb, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Sophia Schliemann. Source: Allard Pierson, University of Amsterdam, C.H. Emilie Haspels Archive.

When WW II ended, Haspels returned to the Netherlands, and soon became a professor at the University of Amsterdam. Now that she had tenure, she could finally start her own field project. Between 1946 and 1958, she organized four survey expeditions to the Phrygian Highlands. During her excavations at Midas City, she came to realize that this was still a largely unexplored region. It was a terrain where she could make a name for herself, but it also appealed to the romantic side of her. As she would later observe in her monograph: “I had to record what I found, I am the last of the travelers” (Haspels 1971: viii). Finally, she belonged somewhere.

Although her Phrygian research dominated the rest of her academic life and a good part of her retirement, she did not lose her connection with Greece and Athens. She traveled regularly to Greece, and organized and guided excursions for Dutch students. In 1956, she was invited to join the ceremonies marking the dedication of the Stoa of Attalos.

Opening session of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the American School held in the garden of the Gennadius Library, as part of the ceremonies of the dedication of the Stoa of Attalos. Haspels can be traced sitting right in front of the photographer standing in the middle (red arrow). Source: ASCSA, Athenian Agora Excavations Archive (#2003.01.0032).

She continued to visit Athens, often before and after her expeditions in Turkey. In her personal documents, she mentions that during these visits she was asked to help classify and date pottery from the Agora excavations. Her correspondence with Lucy Talcott includes this photo of Attic lekythoi found during the Agora excavations. On the back is typewritten information, to which Talcott added a handwritten, personal message: “C.H.E.H.! How we have been working for you! L.T.”


References

Beazley, J. D. 1956. Attic Black-figure Vase-Painters, Oxford.
Berndt, D. (ed.) 2012. Emilie Haspels. I am the Last of the Travelers: Midas City Excavations and Surveys in the Highlands of Phrygia. With Contributions by Halet Çambel, Istanbul.
Dugas, C. 1937. “Une étude de céramique grecque,” Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Budé 56, pp. 37-40.
Haspels, C. H. E. 1933. “Bij ons op Ithaka,” Hermeneus, vol. 6.1, pp. 7–13.
—————————1934. “Bij ons op Samos,” Hermeneus, vol. 6.10, pp. 159–166.
—————————1935. Bijdrage tot de studie van Attisch zwart-figurig, Nijkerk.
—————————1936. Attic Black-Figured Lekythoi, Paris.
—————————1971. The Highlands of Phrygia. Sites and Monuments, Princeton.
Songu, F. 2019. “Emilie Haspels’ Griekse jaren,” Tijdschrift voor Mediterrane Archeologie, vol. 60, pp. 47–53.


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, Alfred 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.”)


NOTES

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.


REFERENCES

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.


“All Aboard”: Cruising the Aegean in 1923

On the morning of May 14, 1923, a private yacht approached the island of Santorini and cast anchor just outside the bay of Phira. The Zion carried twenty-five passengers and belonged to an American millionaire and philanthropist, George D. Pratt. Pratt, a recent widower, had come to Greece a few weeks earlier, and the cruise would allow him “to go about the islands taking photographs” as one of the Zion passengers –or so Natalie Murray Gifford wrote in her own account of the trip. There was, however, another, more practical, motivation that lay behind Zion’s Aegean course. At the end of the cruise, the yacht would sail to Mount Athos to deliver food and supplies to starving Bulgarian and Russian monks, who had lost vital support from home as a consequence of the Russian Revolution. Thomas Whittemore, one of Zion’s passengers, was monitoring this relief effort.

Santorini, 1923 (ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers)

Santorini, 1923 (ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers)

Pratt’s guests on board the Zion were archaeologists or classicists affiliated with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) or with the American Academy in Rome (AAR). All were advanced students and scholars, making the trip entirely unlike the contemporary commercial cruises to the renowned harbors of the Mediterranean that had become increasingly popular in the first decades of the 20th century. Evelyn Waugh describes such a trip aboard the Stella Polaris in Labels (1930), as well as how pleasure cruising had evolved by his time. “Before that only the very rich, who owned their own yachts, could afford this leisurely pottering from port to port,” and this is exactly what George Pratt’s Zion was tasked to do; to offer an exclusive, old-fashion cruise to the members of the School at Athens and the five “Romans” who had come from the Academy in Rome. Waugh also drew a colorful distinction between travelers and tourists, and Pratt’s guests were clearly members of the former club. Read the rest of this entry »