Highlights of 2011-2012


Chris Naunton – John Pendlebury in Egypt and on Film
Olga Krzyszkowska – John Pendlebury on Crete and 70 years on

JDS Pendlebury

 The Institute of Classical Studies in association with the British School at Athens and the Egypt Exploration Society marked 70 years since the untimely death of John Pendlebury, with a special event on 28 September 2011. Chris Naunton (Deputy Director of the EES) presented an account of Pendlebury’s excavations in Egypt, focusing especially his work as Director of the EES excavations at Tel-el Amarna in the 1930s. This was illustrated by extraordinary film footage that survives in the EES Archives. Olga Krzyszkowska (Deputy Director of the ICS) spoke about Pendlebury’s indefatigable journeys through Crete, his tenure as Knossos Curator from 1930-34, and major excavations at Karphi (1937-39). She emphasized, in particular, the legacy of Pendlebury’s publications and fieldwork for current research into the archaeology of Crete. Following the presentations a book launch was held for The Pottery of Karphi: A Re-examination by Leslie Preston Day (British School at Athens Studies 19). This volume presents a thorough study of the pottery from the British School’s excavations at Karphi, much hitherto unpublished, and an in-depth contextual analysis, made possible by the surviving notebooks and exceptionally careful recording of data by Pendlebury and his team.


Professor Eric HandleyOn 6 October 2011 the Institute of Classical Studies celebrated the 85th birthday of Professor Eric Handley, CBE, FBA, with a half-day colloquium in his honour. One of the finest scholars of Classical literature in modern times, Eric Handley served as Director of the Institute between 1967 and 1984. His groundbreaking work on Greek theatre, and in particular on the fragmentary papyri of the Greek comic poets, has helped to recover many lines of previously lost plays.  

Papers presented at the colloquium explored some of the themes that have been central to Eric Handley's own research:
Dick Green (Sydney) Pictures of pictures of Comedy
Nick Lowe (RHUL) Ecological catastrophe in Menander
Peter Parsons (Oxford) A few letters more: Misoumenos 132ff
Pat Easterling (Cambridge) Tragic action: what the scholia can tell us
Michael Squire (KCL) Aspis Achilleios Theoreos kath'Omeron: an early Imperial text of Il. 18.483-557
Mike Edwards (ICS) Hyperides in the Archidemes Palimpsest


'Dionysus' from the East Pediment of the Parthenon (British Museum)Dyfri Williams, Research Keeper in the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum, presented a Special Guest Lecture at the Insitute on 21 February 2012. Close examination of the surviving sculptures from the East Pediment of the Parthenon reveals mortises for bronze accoutrements (e.g. spears, helmets) attached to the marble figures. The evidence for fitments, taken in conjunction with the drawings made by Jacques Carrey 1674, prior to the devastation caused by the Venetian bombardment of 1687, has allowed Dr Williams to offer new and convincing identifications for some of the more enigmatic figures in the pediment, whose subject was the Birth of Athena. He also discussed some of the restoration work carried out on the pediment during the Roman period.


 C. W. Marshall, Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia and this year's T. B. L. Webster Fellow, delivered the T. B. L. Webster lecture on 28 February 2012. ‘The Masks of Pompeii’ considered an unusual set of 15 plaster representations of theatre masks that were excavated in 1749, which appear to manipulate a different set of variables than are thought to define Greek theatre masks of the Classical and Hellenistic periods. Marshall challenged the typologies used by Webster and others which are drawn ultimately from Pollux, preferring a more basic means of characterizing masks. Even so, the plaster masks (now in the Naples Museum) are not Greek, and may be associated with an Oscan improvisational performance tradition, the Atellan farce (fabula Atellana). Repeated faces in the collection reveal a core of four characters, many of whom are paralleled elsewhere, suggesting a wider dissemination of Atellan performance across the Roman world.


DiscobolosElizabeth Pender and Emma Stafford, of the Department of Classics, University of Leeds, presented a Special Guest Lecture at the Institute on 8 May 2012.  Taking the cue of the London 2012 Olympics, they presented a Platonic/Socratic analogy between excellence in Ancient Greek Olympic sports and in dialectical engagement and used this to reflect on the distinction between celebrating the elite and being elitist in judging sporting and academic excellence. The Olympics/academia analogy, illustrated through ancient textual and visual evidence, shed interesting light on various contemporary values on the pursuit of excellence, with the question of wealth-elitism being an acute concern for contemporary academia in the UK, as a new generation of students prepares to pay increased tuition fees of £9,000 from September 2012.


Tyler Jo Smith, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia and this year's A. D. Trendall Fellow, delivered the Trendall Lecture on 15 May 2012.Cawdor Vase

The Cawdor Vase was purchased by Sir John Soane in 1800, launching the London architect’s career as an antiquities collector. The Apulian red-figure volute-krater (4th c. BC) is displayed in the dining room of Soane’s house-museum at no. 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, in the exact location it occupied when Soane died in 1837. During Soane’s life and after his death, the Cawdor Vase would regularly appear in artistic representations and section drawings of the house, as well as in descriptions of the museum and its holdings. Adolf Michaelis, in Ancient Marbles in Great Britain (1882) would famously describe the object as ‘more celebrated than actually known’. Prominent modern scholars, namely Cornelius Vermeule and A.D. Trendall, studied the Cawdor Vase, securing its place in the corpus of South Italian wares.

As intriguing as its role in the history of collecting and reception is the Cawdor Vase’s unique iconography. On one side of the krater, is an enigmatic version of the preparations for the chariot race of Oinomaos and Pelops. The king is shown, as in other South Italian examples, pouring a libation at an altar, behind which is erected a statue of Zeus. The other figures in the scene prove more difficult to identify, and may represent Myrtilos, carrying a sacrificial victim, and Pelops, arming for the race. The decoration on the vase, taken as a whole, reveals the different stages of the famous myth and can be connected with textual accounts, the cult of Pelops, Apulian funerary ritual, and the foundation of the Olympic Games. 


Professor Panos ValavanisThe Institute's annual John Penrose Barron Memorial Lecture was delivered on 13 June 2012 by Professor Panos Valavanis from the University of Athens, a leading authority on Classical Archaeology and author of the acclaimed study, Games and Sanctuaries in Ancient Greece (2004). His topic - Athletics and Politics in the Ancient Greek Games -  was chosen to reflect the forthcoming London 2012 Games. The event took place in association with the Embassy of Greece and with the generous support of the Greek Archaeological Committee (UK). Held in the Beveridge and Macmillan Halls, the lecture and following reception attracted one of the largest audiences seen at the Institute in recent years.