A Dance in the Barracks

Last week I finished cataloguing to item level all the material which hasn’t yet been digitised (excluding photographic negatives). This material included some items relating to John Pendlebury’s death in Crete, in 1941, such as witness statements from Cretans. Most of these statements were written in Greek and later translated into English by Hilda Pendlebury, who was trying to find out what happened to John during the war. Additionally, it contained some items relating to a memorial service for John Pendlebury held on the 2nd of March, 1947, in Heraklion, Crete, that Hilda attended.

Typed copy of the translation into English of “Statement of Aristea Drousoulakis and her sister Theonymphe (wife of Peter Manousakis)”, translated by Hilda Pendlebury [PEN 5/2/1/4] and Narrative of “Aristea, widow of George Drosolakis, and her sister”, handwritten by [R.W. Hutchinson] [PEN 5/2/1/5]. Copyright: British School at Athens.

Another section I completed cataloguing relates to the publication of Archaeology of Crete: An Introduction by John Pendlebury, a book published in 1939. This sub-series comprises the publication agreement between John Pendlebury and Metheun & Co. publishers, signed in 1933, a list of corrections for the book, a promotional leaflet and some book reviews published in journals such as Antiquity, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Nature, The Classical Review, The Antiquaries Journal, etc.

Promotional leaflet of ‘The Archaeology of Crete: An Introduction’, by John Pendlebury (London, 1939) [PEN 3/1/9/3]. Copyright: British School at Athens.

Finally, I catalogued to item level a section relating to the excavation records compiled by John Pendlebury. This extensive section includes photographs and illustrations of archaeological finds from excavations in the Lasithi Plain during 1936-1939, as well as photographs of the excavation itself in progress and some amazing topographical shots of the Lasithi Plain. Many of these photographs and illustrations were published in The Annual of the British School at Athens, specifically in the articles ‘Excavations in the Plain of Lasithi. I. the Cave of Trapeza’, by H.W. Pendlebury, J.D.S. Pendlebury and M.B. Money-Coutts (vol. 36, 1935-1936), ‘Excavations in the Plain of Lasithi. II’, by J.D.S. Pendlebury, M.B. Money-Coutts and H.W. Pendlebury (vol. 38, 1937-1938) and ‘Karphi. A City of Refuge of the Early Iron Age in Crete’ (vol. 38, 1937-1938).

One of the advantages of EMu (the BSA’s collection management software used for museum and archive collections) is that it allows an archived item to be linked to the publications it relates to. For this reason, I have compared all the photographs and illustrations in this section with those published in the articles, in order to write the bibliographic reference of the article in the description of each item and make it easier for researchers to find the material.

Photographs captioned “Clay statues of goddesses 1 and 2 from the Temple [at Karphi]” [PEN 4/3/4/233 – 236]. Copyright: British School at Athens.

The photographs and illustrations in this section are very interesting: pottery, bronze objects, stone objects, and figurines. The photographs of the clay statues of Goddesses 1 and 2, which form part of the photograph album ‘Excavations in Lasithi, Crete, B.S.A.’ really caught my eye. Another image that caught my attention whilst cataloguing this section was that of several men dancing in an excavation at Karphi. The photograph was published in ‘Karphi. A City of Refuge of the Early Iron Age in Crete’ (vol. 38, 1937-1938) and captioned ¨A dance in the barracks¨.

This photograph looked familiar to me, and I realised that I had already seen it in another part of the archive. The photo forms part of a series of twenty photographs included in the album of Pendlebury’s trips around Crete from 1934-1939. The very amusing series documents how some of the men working in the excavation on Saturday, 8th July, 1939, whilst on a break of work, began to sing mantinades and dance. Slowly, more men joined them, and finally, everyone ended up dancing and singing. Every photograph in this photo-story is captioned, and it’s easy to have a clear understanding of what was happening. A short story told in photographs.

Series of 20 photographs documenting men singing and dancing mantinades at Karphi [PEN 7/2/6/893 – 912]. Copyright: British School at Athens.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what mantinades (the songs they were singing) were and, I did a bit a research and learned that these are the most common form of folk song in Crete. The origin of the word mantinada (singular of mantinades) is the Venetian “matinada”, which means “morning song”. Every mantinada consists of 15-syllable rhyming couplets in the dialect of the island, and they are normally performed in accompaniment of the lyre. The songs, which can be satiric and also didactic, express many and different emotions such as sorrow, joy, hope, desire, love, anger, revenge or nostalgia. Most of them are dedicated to love and romance, but there are others dedicated to everyday life, exile, and death.

I have recently been listening to some songs on YouTube, and they are great. There is something new to learn every day working with the John Pendlebury Papers! The next new challenge will be the photographic negatives, fragile and fascinating… I’ll keep you posted!




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