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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:3, Fall 2021

Strata: Who Did It?

Who worked at the Fitzwilliam Museum, directed excavations in Greece and Turkey, and helped found the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara?

Answer: Winifred Lamb

A pioneering British archaeologist and museum curator, Winifred Lamb (1894–1963) specialized in the cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Turkey. Respected by her peers, she wrote several books, including Greek and Roman Bronzes that served as a foundational text for many years.

Lamb excavated at a time when it was rare for a woman to participate in field work. She dug at Mycenae, Sparta, and Vardaroftsa. She then led her own excavations at Thermi on the island of Lesbos, where she discovered a Bronze Age settlement contemporary with Troy. After Thermi, Lamb turned her attention to Anatolia and excavated the site of Kursua, situated on one of the major routes connecting Anatolia with the Aegean. Lamb, a woman of independent wealth and means, financed her own excavations.

In addition to excavating, Lamb served as an honorary curator at the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum from 1920 to 1958 and as a founding member—acting first as Honorary Secretary and then as Vice President—of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara. Her extensive knowledge of the Near East served her home country as well when she worked in British intelligence departments during both World Wars. Lamb’s service even saw her injured by a German rocket in 1944.

With a reputation for meticulous excavation, Winifred Lamb was a leader in the field of archaeology who helped pave the way for women to follow in her footsteps.

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