When American archaeologists first began coming to Greece in the 19th century they began collecting shards and other objects from sites they visited, both surface material and excavation finds offered by the excavators themselves.By the 1950’s this practice was stopped when the importance of maintaining evidence in situ was realized and when laws were passed to forbid the exchange and removal of antiquities from the areas in which they were found.
Nature of the Collection
All materials used by man to make objects, both utilitarian and decorative in nature, are represented in the Collection: terracotta, stone, bone, glass and metal. The most numerous are the sherds, fragments of ceramic vessels of all types for domestic, industrial and funerary use. Also in the ceramic category are figurines, loomweights, roof tiles and other architectural terracottas.We have a large selection of obsidian and flint, both implements and debitage, as well as tools of ground stone. Larger works of art in stone include grave stelae, pieces of statuary and architecture. Our large numismatic collection includes all periods until the medieval times.
Importance of the Collection
The Antiquities Collection of the American School of Classical Studies is open and available for access to the researchers five days a week. The importance of the Collection cannot be overstated. There are few places in the world so well endowed where scholars can have easy and convenient access to ancient Greek material of such wide variety. Because the material comes from all the ancient sites in the country and from all periods of antiquity, one can study it from a number of different perspectives, both chronological and geographical. The Antiquities Collection at the American School is one of the few places where students can get hands-on experience of ancient material.
Preservation and Care of the Collection
The Antiquities Collection has all been catalogued and entered into a database format by the former Archivist, Dr. Carol Zerner. The Collection is also registered with the Ephorate of Private Collections. The objects are displayed in steel vitrines, while the sherds are stored in small boxes within steel cabinets with baked enamel finish. A number of objects have been conserved professionally.
Publications Referring to the Collection
A considerable number of objects from the Antiquities Collection have appeared in scholarly publications, a list of which is given below. Moreover, in 1994, a selection of pottery was displayed in the Exhibition Room of the Gennadius Library, to supplement a conference entitled Athenian Potters and Painters. A catalogue of the exhibit was published.
The list of publications is presented chronologically:
Coulson, W.D.E. and Iphigeneia Leventi, “Two Attic Grave Reliefs of Roman Date in the Collection of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, in Καλλίστευμα. Μελέτες προς τιμήν της Ολγας Τζάχου -Αλεξανδρή, ed. Α. Αλεξανδρή and Ι. Λεβέντη, Athens 2001, pp. 301-318.
Coulson, W.D.E., “Η Κεραμεική της Πρώιμης Εποχής του Σιδήρου στην Σπάρτη, ΙΙΙ: Ύστερη Γεωμετρική Κεραμεική στην Συλλογή της Αμερικανικής Σχολής Κλασικών Σπουδών στην Αθήνα,” Λακωνικαί Σπουδαί, ΙΔ’, 1998, pp. 5-32.
Coulson, W.D.E. and I. Leventi, “A Roman Head in the American School of Classical Studies,” Hesperia 67, 1998, pp.223-229.
Oakley, J. H. et al., Athenian Potters and Painters. Catalogue of the Exhibit. December 1, 1994 - March1, 1995, Athens 1994.
Coulson, W.D.E., “Mycenaean Pottery from Laconia in the Collection of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens,” ΦΙΛΟΛΑΚΩΝ. Lakonian Studies in honor of Hector Catling, edited by Jan Motyka Sanders, Athens 1992, pp. 87-94.
Coulson, W.D.E., “Two Protogeometric Vases in the Collection of the American School, Hesperia 52, 1983, pp. 357-359.
Davis, J.L., “Brauron and Keos in the Shaft Grave Period,” Αρχαιολογικά Ανάλεκτα εξ Αθηνών 10, 1977, pp. 270-272.
Caskey, John L., “The Figurine in the Roll-Top Desk,” American Journal of Archaeology 76, 1972, pp.192-193.
Jordan, B., “A Grave Stele From Attica,” Hesperia 37, 1968, pp.182-183.
Belmont, J.S., and C. Renfrew, “Two Prehistoric Sites on Mykonos,” American Journal of Archaeology 68, 1964, pp. 395-400.
McDonald, W. A., “A Geometric Grave Group from Thorikos in Attica,” Hesperia 30, 1961, pp. 299-302.
Hersom, S., “A Fragment of an Archaic Vessel with Stamped Decoration,” Hesperia 21, 1952, pp. 275-278.
Caskey, J. L., “Neolithic Sherds from Thespiai,” Hesperia 20, 1951, pp. 289-290.