Following John and Hilda Pendlebury’s footsteps in Crete

My 2nd trip to Crete was with the British School at Athens’ Archivist (Amalia Kakissis) and the School’s current Early Career Fellow (Roderick Bailey). We stayed at the British School in Knossos, and together with staff from Knossos followed Pendlebury’s footsteps in Crete. Well…we selected which footsteps to follow as we only had a few days. Over the 14 years that John Pendlebury spent time in Crete he (often accompanied by his wife Hilda) travelled the length and breadth of the island, probably more than once.

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Landscape near Karphi, April 2016. Copyright: British School at Athens

Whilst visiting Crete, we took the opportunity to recreate some of the photographs in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive. You can see some of our efforts in this blog post.

Taverna, British School in Knossos:

 

First we explored the archaeological site at Knossos where John was curator from 1929 to 1934.

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South Propylaeum, Knossos Palace, 1933 (PEN 7/2/5/320). Copyright: BSA
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Throne Room, Knossos Palace (May 1928) in a photograph album in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive (PEN 7/2/4/127). Copyright: British School at Athens
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Pithos, Knossos Palace, Feb 1928 (PEN 7/2/4/37). Copyright: The British School at Athens
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Inscribed stone, Knossos Palace, May 1928 (PEN 7/2/4/128). Copyright: The British School at Athens
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John Pendlebury and Rosaleen Angus on the Royal Road, Knossos Palace, Mar-Jun 1933 (PEN 7/2/5/245). Copyright: British School at Athens

Around the Lasithi Plain we visited the sites of Karphi and the Trapeza Cave which John excavated under the BSA in 1936 and 1938, and Tzermiado village (where the excavation team was based).

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Approaching Karphi, April 2016. Copyright: British School at Athens
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Karphi (peak) – the settlement is just over the ridge on the right, between the Karphi and Koprana peaks. From a photograph album in the Pendlebury Archive (PEN 7/2/6/549), 24 May 1936. Copyright: British School at Athens

Views from Karphi:

 

Trapeza Cave:

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View from entrance to Trapeza Cave, April 2016. Copyright: British School at Athens
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Trapeza Cave, before excavation. May-Jun 1936 (PEN 7/2/6/517). Copyright: British School at Athens
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Trapeza Cave after excavation, May-Jun 1936 (PEN 7/2/6). Copyright: British School at Athens

Dig-house, Tzermiado:

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Excavation house in Tzermiado, April 2016. Copyright: British School at Athens

We visited Archanes and the Ideon Cave (birthplace of Zeus) on Mount Ida. These were both places that John and Hilda Pendlebury had been to.

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Church in the centre of Archanes, April 2016. Copyright: British School at Athens

The Ideon Cave and views from the cave:

 

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Entrance to Ideon Cave, May 1932 (PEN 7/2/4/405). Copyright: British School at Athens

We also spent some time in Heraklion and I visited the archaeological museum. This is an excellent museum and I really enjoyed seeing finds from Pendlebury’s excavations at the Trapeza Cave and Karphi. For example, I had seen many photographs of a monkey seal in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive. Travelling to Crete not only gave me the opportunity to see the cave where it was found (Trapeza), but to see the object on display and have it explained within a wider context. Now that I have seen the excavation sites and finds first hand, cataloguing the excavation records will be all the more enjoyable.

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Workers by the Vitzelovrysis Spring near Karphi, 1939. John Pendlebury commissioned the stone surround for the spring. with the lettering designed by Eric Gill. Photograph in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive (PEN 7/2/6). Copyright: British School at Athens
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Vitzelovrysi Spring, April 2016. Recreating the original photograph. Copyright: British School at Athens
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Week 11, 14th-18th Dec

This week I have been cataloguing letters from John to his father (Herbert) which were sent during John and Hilda’s first excavation season in Egypt (Nov 1928-Mar 1929), John’s first season as Curator at Knossos (Mar-Jul 1930), during a cruise around some of the Greek islands (Apr 1929), and from Athens, Sicily and Cambridge.

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Letters sent to Herbert Pendlebury from Sicily, Athens and Egypt. Copyright: The British School at Athens

John’s future career looms large as a subject in the letters I have been cataloguing this week.  There is discussion of a job offer from the British Museum, Herbert’s encouragement for John to accept a lectureship at Cambridge University (which John enthusiastically declined), John becoming the first recipient of the Macmillan studentship at the BSA, and accepted offers of the Curatorship at Knossos and Directorship of the Egyptian Exploration Society excavation at Amarna.

The archive shows that John was extremely pleased to receive the unexpected offer of the Directorship of the Amarna excavation. He writes…

“Amarna means a real chance of making a name – and what is more a definite position and hold on both sides. It is a great and famous site and it is the biggest compliment I have ever been payed to be asked to succeed such celebrities as Petrie, Borchardt, Peet, Woolley, Griffith and Frankfort”.

The Egyptian Exploration Society Lucy Gura Archive has digitised film footage of life at the Amarna excavation, which features John Pendlebury and is available to watch online.

Other subjects covered in the letters include a dispute with Spyridon Marinatos (Director of the Candia Museum [Heraklion Archaeological Museum]), disagreement with conclusions in John’s article on ‘Egypt and the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age’, publication of ‘Aegyptiaca’, and a cruise around the Greek Islands with Charles and Isabel Seltman.

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A postcard from Chios sent to Herbert Pendlebury from John Pendlebury, during a cruise around Greek islands (Apr 1929). Copyright: The British School at Athens

This week I have been getting to grips with the Getty Geographical Thesaurus, a controlled vocabulary tool, to decide which version of place names to use. This tool is particularly important for cataloguing the material about Greece and Egypt, as there are quite a few variants of place names [partly due to differences in transliteration from different alphabets] . Using controlled vocabulary terms will help researchers look for material relating to places and ensure consistency in my cataloguing.

I will be taking a break over Christmas, but when I come back at the beginning of January I will continue cataloguing John’s letters to his father.