Crawford Greenewalt, 1937-2012

May 24, 2012

An archaeologist who played a central role in excavating King Croesus' city of Sardis has died.

Crawford Hallock Greenewalt, Jr - commonly known as "Greenie" - was born on 3 June 1937 in the US city of Wilmington, Delaware, and educated at a local school before attending Harvard College.

In 1959, the year he graduated, he was able to pursue his passion for ancient civilisations by joining the Sardis Expedition in Turkey as official photographer.

A report in Harvard Magazine later described the heroic early days when Professor Greenewalt and colleagues tried to find what lay beneath the Byzantine ruins by crawling "fearlessly through the heat and collapsing passages...[until they] had excavated as far as 144 meters of down-spiraling tunnel into the acropolis".

Professor Greenewalt returned to the excavations every summer and was eventually appointed field director of the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, a post he held from 1976 to 2007. He oversaw a large team of anthropologists, architects, art historians, conservators and illustrators as well as archaeologists, while also providing essential training for successive generations of students.

Buildings that have now been unearthed and restored at the site include a bath-gymnasium complex, Byzantine shops, a temple of Artemis, parts of what is probably the largest ancient synagogue outside Palestine and a cemetery with more than 200 tombs from the 7th and 6th centuries BC.

Professor Greenewalt was also responsible for the new Sardis galleries in the nearby Archaeological Museum of Manisa.

In 1966, he completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and took up a position at the University of California, Berkeley, eventually retiring as emeritus professor of classical archaeology in 2010.

Among his most prominent roles was as curator of Mediterranean archaeology at Berkeley's Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

On leaving the university, Professor Greenewalt was awarded its highest honour, the Berkeley Citation. Perhaps even more prestigious was the Archaeological Institute of America's Bandelier Award for Public Service to Archaeology, given for his excavations and research that "transformed the understanding of all periods of Sardian history". The presentation took place at a banquet in New York on 25 April, "inspired by the cuisines of the Lydian people of ancient Sardis". Dishes included spicy roasted goat, arugula salad with pomegranate and a medley of pickled vegetables.

Professor Greenewalt died on 4 May after complications following a brain tumour. He is survived by his sister, Nancy Frederick.

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