Skip to main content

Exile From Olynthus: "Willy" Wilhelmina van Ingen

"During 1927-1928 Wilhelmina van Ingen (Willy), a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University studying in Art and Architecture, spent a year abroad at the American School for Classical Studies (ASCSA) in Athens. In the Spring of 1928 she, and two other ASCSA students, participated in the first year’s excavations at the site of the city of Olynthus—a city destroyed by Alexander the Great’s father. The leader of the “dig” was Prof. David Robinson of Johns Hopkins, who was also Willy’s research director. Before the Summer ended the three students had fled the dig, and Willy became an Exile from Olynthus. She completed her doctoral degree at Radcliffe-Harvard, and her companions finally took residency at Brown University. Fortunately they were mentored and assisted by two well known women archeologists—Dr.s Ida Thallon-Hill and Elizabeth Pierce-Blegen—who worked with their husbands in Greece and Anatolia; and by Prof. Rhys Carpenter of Bryn Mawr University who was then ASCSA’s School Director. The networking that the young professionals developed allowed them to pursue productive careers in the years that followed. Willy documented that fateful year in ~100 long letters written to her mother, and in her diary. Combining these documents—now held in the Special Collections of the Newman Library at Virginia Tech—with both primary sources dealing with the history of ASCSA, and recent publications analyzing Olynthus and Greek archeology, it is possible to reconstruct the broken fragments of that important year. The recovered history demonstrates the importance of careful mentoring and good networking in training young professionals in disciplines which have become arenas."

Author(s):  Dessy, Raymond
Format:  Website
Publisher:  Virginia Tech