Department of Classics

Classics Faculty Member Honored

Sat, April 1, 2006

Presenting the award to Professor Bennett will be Professor Phil Betancourt, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Art History and Archaeology of Temple University, director of INSTAP, and himself recipient of the Archeological Institute of America's gold medal (2002) for lifetime achievement in archaeology.

Prof. Emmett L. Bennett, Jr.'s pioneering work on what were then known as the Minoan scripts of Crete and the Greek mainland during the Greek Bronze Age was instrumental in the decipherment of the last such writing system, known as Linear B, in June 1952. His classic study on Minoan fractions gave the decipherer of Linear B, Michael Ventris, encouragement that positive results could be gained by analyzing these complex then unreadable documents.

Bennett is the father of Mycenaean palaeography and literally invented the study of Mycenaean and Minoan scribal and administrative systems. His work on the 'hands' of the Pylos tablets set the high standard followed for working with these difficult materials ever since. He also published the Pylos texts in standardized transcription and then in textual transcriptions, and helped with the publication of texts from Knossos and Mycenae.

Bennett received his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati (1947) where he studied with Carl Blegen, one of the great figures in Aegean prehistory and excavator of the 'Palace of Nestor' at Pylos in southwestern Greece. He went on to teach at Yale, University of Texas and then for most of his career at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He had visiting semesters at Bryn Mawr College, University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado, and University of Texas.

Since 1989 he has been a visiting scholar at the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory at the University of Texas, Austin, where he now resides. Professor Bennett has held two Fulbright awards and a Guggenheim fellowship. He is also an honorary member and honorary councilor of the Archaeological Society of Athens. Only a dozen foreign scholars have received this recognition. In 1991, he received the Gold Cross of the Order of Honor, the highest award that the Greek government can present to a foreigner. In 2004, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens.

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