skip to content

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

Corbett Lecture 2021, “Sympathy and the Problem of Nature”

6 October 2021

Professor Brooke Holmes, Princeton University, will deliver this year’s Corbett Lecture in G19 on Thursday October 21 at 5.00 p.m.

Collaboration between the Faculty of Classics and the University of Ghana

20 October 2021

We are proud to announce that the Faculty of Classics has established a collaborative link with the University of Ghana, generously funded by the Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research fund. Developing new connections with Ghana promises to open up new possibilities for research and teaching, which will be beneficial for both...


19 October 2021

The podcast for Aldborough Roman Town , written and presented by Dr Rose Ferraby, is now available. See the project page for more information .

Onassis Foundation endowing a fellowship for the creation of a new post in Classics

12 October 2021

A new University post linked to Newnham will continue a College tradition of teaching, research, and taking Classics out into the wider world that goes back more than a century to Jane Harrison. Newnham College, Cambridge is launching the Onassis Classics Fellowship in order to secure a permanent position for the teaching...