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Faculty of Classics


Lisa read Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge (1949-1952). In 1961 she was awarded her doctorate from University College London on The Development of Mycenaean Terracotta Figurines. She became a leading expert of Mycenaean pottery and figurines, forging a distinguished career in the archaeology of the Bronze Age Aegean over a period of almost 70 years. She first excavated at Mycenae age 8 in 1939, and continued to excavate at this site alongside her father, Alan Wace, from 1950-1957, and then with Lord William Taylour and George Mylonas until 1969. She married (1959-1975) the archaeologist David French. She was Warden of Ashburne Hall at the University of Manchester (1976-1989) and was appointed as the first woman to be Director of the British School at Athens (1989-1994). She published numerous important studies and edited volumes, including Mycenae. Agamemnon’s Capital (2002) and, in collaboration with the Archaeological Society at Athens, The Archaeological Atlas of Mycenae (2003), and inaugurated with Taylour the Well Built Mycenae excavation series of fascicules in 1981. Her other great interests included archaeological science and connections between the Aegean and the Mediterranean world. In 2013, Lisa gave the Mycenae Archive, which documents the British excavations at this UNESCO world-heritage site (1920-1969), in perpetuity to the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge. (You can access part of the collection here: 

We remember Lisa with deep gratitude, for enriching our understanding of Mycenae and the worlds of the Aegean in the Bronze Age, for her erudite and pithy guidance, generosity, and wise support. She will be greatly missed. She is survived by her daughter, Ann French, her son-in-law Tom Dodd, and her grandchildren Olivia and Will Dodd.

On 30 September - 1 October 2021 an on-line conference, hosted by this Faculty, will commemorate the centenary of British excavation which began at Mycenae in 1920, under the directorship of Alan Wace. Lisa’s life and work will be celebrated during this event, please check our website for further details closer to the time.

Read the British School at Athens tribute to Lisa.

Latest news

Regius Professorship of Greek

16 January 2023

The Faculty is delighted to announce that Professor Tim Whitmarsh FBA has been elected Regius Professor of Greek from 1 April 2023. He is currently the A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in the University. Looking ahead to his new role, Professor Whitmarsh commented: ’I am thrilled and honoured to be taking up this...

Mary Beard receives THE Outstanding Achievement Award

18 November 2022

Professor Mary Beard received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2022 Times Higher Education Awards . The citation hailed how she had “broken through the ivory tower’s walls and brought her unique enthusiasm for her subject – and crucially, what it can teach us about contemporary life and politics – to the world”...

University Assistant Professorship in Classics

15 November 2022

The Faculty of Classics is seeking to appoint an Assistant Professor in Classics (Ancient Greek History and/or Archaeology) from 1 September 2023. The role is open to those, at any stage in their career, with a primary research interest in Archaic/Classical/Hellenistic Greek History and/or Archaeology. We welcome...

Brian Leech Memorial Fund

10 November 2022

The Faculty of Classics is delighted to announce the establishment of the Brian Leech Memorial Fund. The Fund comes about thanks to a generous donation by Emma Gleave, and is made in memory of her late father, Brian Leech. Brian Leech had a long and successful career as both barrister and judge. He also greatly enjoyed classical studies – with a life-long passion for ancient Greek and Latin languages.