The American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Virginia R. Grace Papers

Biographical Note

Virginia Randolph Grace was born in New York City in 1901. Graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1922, she attended the American School of Classical Studies in Athens in 1927 and returned to Bryn Mawr to pursue her M.A. in Classical Archaeology. In 1930 she returned to Asia Minor to excavate Pergamon and Halai as well as tombs at Lapithos in Cyprus, and became a fellow of the Agora Excavations in 1932, an affiliation that was to last her lifetime. She completed her Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr in 1934 publishing the stamped amphora handles at the Athenian Agora. In 1935 she worked on the Bryn Mawr Tarsus excavations. During World War II she was appointed a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and in 1938 she won a Guggenheim that allowed her to travel and study other stamped amphora collections. She received a second Guggenheim and again worked on the Kourion excavations in Cyprus. During the war she took on many roles with the U.S. State Department and worked with the O.S.S. Greek Affairs offices in Istanbul, Izmir and Cairo. From 1945 to 1948 she again was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study continuously working on the stamped jar handles, and she then returned to Greece to classify the stamped handles in the Athens National Museum and worked on Rhodian material under the French at Delos. With the aid of the American Research Center in Egypt and the American Philosophical Society she published the Benaki collection of Alexandria. A return to Athens where in the 50s and 60s the Stoa of Attalos was opened for a museum for the Agora excavations, Grace presided over her vast stamped jar handle collections and became in great demand as a consultant for many excavators. In 1989 she was recognized by the Archaeological Institute of America that awarded her the Gold Medal for Archaeological Achievement, and in May 22, 1994 she died in her home in Athens.

Virginia Grace has left behind a remarkable legacy - files consisting of several hundred thousand “records” of the stampsused on ancient wine and oil amphoras from sites in the Mediterranean world,particularly in the Hellenistic period.

Biographical note borrowed from Breaking Ground: Women in Old Archaeology available at