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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

Language Teaching Assistant

25 July 2021

Details of how to apply for this part time teaching post are now avilable online . Deadline Monday 23rd August 2021.

Open letter on anti-racism: a response from the Faculty Board of Classics

16 July 2021

The response to the Open Letter on anti-racism, together with an action plan outlining the Faculty’s strategy, is now available online. Read here for more details

Martin Millett elected as President of the Society of Antiquaries of London

7 July 2021

Professor Martin Millett FBA, Laurence Professor of Classical Archaeology and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, has been elected as President of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2021-24). Founded in 1707, the Society of Antiquaries of London is an educational charity that promotes the understanding of the human past and...

Classics student Lylaah Bhalerao receives a Fulbright Award

5 July 2021

Classics MPhil student Lylaah Bhalerao (Murray Edwards 2017), has received an All Disciplines Fulbright Award to enable her to study at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. Lylaah has been selected from a strong applicant pool to pursue doctoral research into how to decolonise ancient...