Mary Hamilton Swindler

January 1, 1884 - January 16, 1967

By: Machteld J. Mellink

Originally Published in 1967

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swindler_maryMary Hamilton Swindler, Consulting Fellow of the University Museum, died on January 16, 1967. Mary Swindler, through a long career of teaching at Bryn Mawr College (1912-1949) had inspired generations of students in Greek, Latin, and Archaeology. An Indiana University B.A. and M.A., she obtained her Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr (1912) after study in Berlin and at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Her enthusiasm and a wide range of interests made her an ideal teacher of archaeology in a period when horizons were widening to the Bronze Age and the Near East, and an ideal editor for the American Journal of Archaeology (1932-1946) which, under her leadership, became an authoritative forum of archaeologists here and abroad. Mary Swindler’s own writings on Greek vase-painting appeared in the American Journal of Archaeology; her book on Ancient Painting (1929) showed her command of the history of painting from prehistoric to Roman times; the volume remains a classic.

At Bryn Mawr College, Mary H. Swindler took the initiative to send an archaeological expedition to Cilicia (Hetty Goldman’s expedition to Tarsus, started in 1934) and founded the Ella Riegel Memorial Museum for Archaeology. Honors came to her from Indiana University (LL.D. 1942), the American Association of University Women (Achievement Award 1951), and the American Council of Learned Societies (Special Award 1959).

Mary Swindler’s association with the University Museum goes back to the days when she and Edith Hall Dohan worked together closely on the vases in the Mediterranean Section, and continued when John F. Daniel was curator. Mary Swindler had encouraged Daniel in his studies of Aegean and Cypriot prehistory. Her perceptive reconstruction of the Greek elements in the Mycenaean world led her to promote the work of young scholars working on the analysis of Aegean scripts. She published Ventris’s first article “Introducing the Minoan Language” in the American Journal of Archaeology in 1940, with unfailing recognition of talent. Daniel’s “Prolegomena to the Cypro-Minoan Script” followed in 1941, and a series of pioneering articles by Alice E. Kober in 1944-46.

When Mary Swindler resigned as the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Archaeology, John F. Daniel succeeded her as a friend, disciple, and collaborator in the great task of reconstructing the protohistory of the Aegean out of the archaeological remains. His untimely death in 1949 left her as distressed as the loss of Miss Kober soon afterwards, but with characteristic determination she came to the rescue of the students and the Museum. Directly upon her retirement from Bryn Mawr, Mary Swindler became Visiting Professor of Classical Archaeology and Visiting Curator of the University Museum (1949-50); in 1960, she was appointed Consulting Fellow of the Museum.

Ever ready with generous help and advice, a welcome visitor to excavations in Greece, Egypt, and Turkey, where she inspected Gordion in 1951 before any paved roads led to the site, Mary Swindler will be remembered as a great and noble person who gave archaeological scholarship impetus and distinction.

Cite This Article

Mellink, Machteld J.. "Mary Hamilton Swindler." Expedition Magazine 9, no. 3 (May, 1967): -. Accessed March 02, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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