Virginia Grace’s Friends Keep Giving to American School of Classical Studies

The late archaeologist Virginia Grace, who died in 1994 in Athens at 93 years old, left such an indelible impression on Athens' American School of Classical Studies, where she was a fellow, her name is helping a new student center.

The school said a a gift from the Friends of Virginia Grace has led to the effort to name a bedroom in the center in the memory of a founder of the modern field of amphora studies, for which she was internationally renowned.

Mark L. Lawall, currently Chair of the School's Managing Committee, who was behind it, said there was a generous response from scholars of all ages, many of whom benefited from her career and teaching.

The Virginia Grace Room will be located on the second floor of Loring Hall in a school where she was a giant in her long studies, leaving behind several hundred thousand files and records of the stamps used on ancient wine and oil amphoras from sites in the Mediterranean world, particularly in the Hellenistic period.

That includes more than 25,000 stamped handles found during excavations of the Athenian Agora, her ceaseless work becoming a tool for closely dating archaeological contexts and serve as a primary indicator for tracing and understanding ancient trade in the Mediterranean. 

She was a fellow of the School's Agora Excavations in 1932, an affiliation that was to last her lifetime, impressing many students and officials, including Lawell who paid tribute to her.

He was a young graduate student at the school in the early 1990s and said that, “Virginia Grace was the founder of the study of transport amphoras. Others had studied this material before her, but no one was more responsible for defining the field's methods and goals."

He added that, "Memories of Virginia Grace, and so many other pioneering scholars like her who are likewise being celebrated at the School, inspire us to ask new questions, use old data in new ways, and advance our fields of study as far ahead in our days as they did in theirs."


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