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Cycladic research at the British School in Greece


A trip to Crete with Squire Hutchinson
Colin Renfrew Archaeologist
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I'd also had a very good experience after the Nea Nikomedeia excavation. There was one splendid man, RW Hutchinson, Squire Hutchinson, who had retired. He had been curator at Knossos in the post-war years and he'd worked in Macedonia with Heurtley in the pre-war years, I think I'm right in saying, and Bob Rodden had invited him to join the excavations as a senior figure who knew Greece and knew Greek, and he was a very nice, rather quiet man, but a very kindly man and he had said that he was going to go back to Crete immediately after the excavation and would I care to go with him, and I didn't realise what a good idea that was. I said that would be very nice, and so after the 1961 Nea Nikomedeia excavation, we took a flight to Athens. I still remember flying over the Cycladics - my first view of the Island of Melos from the - from the aircraft, and, as it turned out, perhaps not surprisingly, he knew just everybody in Cretan archaeology, in Minoan archaeology so we went to the museum, Dr Alexiou was the director of the museum and so Squire Hutchison if they make know that he was there, and Dr Alexiou at once came out to greet him. He hadn't seen him for - for many years, for 15 years or something, and then we went to the British School's place beside the villa, Ariadne, where Sir Arthur Evans had been excavating at the so-called Taverna and Sinclair Hood, the director of the British School, was conducting an excavation there and he at once made Squire Hutchinson welcome and since I was in tow I was welcome also so we automatically had dinner there. That was when I first met Peter Warren, very distinguished Minoan archaeologist now and whom I got to know very well, and then Squire said, oh, I think maybe I'll just telephone my old friend, Dr Giamalkis, and Dr Giamalkis, who was a retired doctor by then, had got the most important private collection of Minoan antiquities and I think a lot of people wanted to see inside his house but Dr Giamalkis said oh, do come round at once, bring your friends. So we all saw his collection and then the following day we went to - or a day or two afterwards, we went down to the Palace of Festos on the south side of the island which was being excavated by the Italian School of Archaeology, Doro Levi, so as soon as Doro Levi knew it was Squire, you must come, you must stay, and so we stayed the night and I remember very clearly a strange experience, the Italians - it was the time of the first satellite, and so the Italians had the habit after dinner of going out into the Great Court in Festos and lying on their backs and looking up at the sky waiting for the satellite to come over at 10.00pm or whatever and so the perivolos whatever it was called, came - came over at that time and so there we were lying in this Minoan Great Court from about 2500 BC, looking at the most sophisticated product of Russian technology. So that was a very good trip and that actually put me in touch a little bit with the Aegean archaeology particularly Cretan archaeology so that when the time came to go to Crete to study Cycladic links and Cycladic parallels, it was easy for me to write to Dr Alexiou who was, of course, very welcoming, so that perhaps made it a little more obvious as a place to go. You're right, I had to learn some - some Greek but already with the workmen one had been chattering away so it was a good beginning anyway. So that was - that was a nice introduction really to Greece so that it seemed quite natural to - to be getting organised to go out to the British School. This was in 1962 just after that trip to Eastern Europe.

Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn is a British archaeologist known for his work on the dispersal of the Proto-Indo-Europeans and the prehistory of PIE languages. He has been Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge as well as Master of Jesus College and Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

Listeners: Paul Bahn

Paul Bahn studied archaeology at Cambridge where he did his doctoral thesis on the prehistory of the French Pyrenees. He is now Britain's foremost specialist on Ice Age art and on Easter Island, and led the team which discovered Britain's first Ice Age cave art at Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire, in 2003. He has authored and edited numerous books, including Journey Through the Ice Age, The Enigmas of Easter Island, Mammoths, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art, and, with Colin Renfrew, Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice which was published in its 5th edition in 2008.

Duration: 4 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 14 May 2009