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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

3 June 2022

The Board of Electors to the Regius Professorship of Greek invite applications for this Professorship from persons whose work falls within the general field of the Professorship to take up appointment on 1 September 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. For more information see details here. Closing date: 2 September 2022

‘Digital Thessaly' project

24 May 2022

The British School at Athens and the Archives of the Faculty of Classics and Pembroke College are pleased to announce that the first phase of the project ‘Digital Thessaly’ has been completed. Funded by the Cambridge Digital Humanities, this project reunites on BSA Digital Collections Alan Wace’s research notebooks that...

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Details of how to apply for this full time, fixed term post are now available online:

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17 May 2022

Details of how to apply of this part time, fixed term post are now available online. Closing date: 20 June 2022.