As a woman working on ancient epigraphy, I am ever aware of the great debt owed by everyone in my field to some outstanding female scholars of the past – women whose work paved the way for our understanding of ancient scripts today.

I will just mention two, in celebration of International Women’s Day:


The first  is Alice Elizabeth Kober,  who worked on the Linear B writing system in the 1930s and 1940s, before it was deciphered. She famously observed patterns in sequences of signs that reflected inflectional morphology in Mycenaean words – i.e. the different noun and verb endings that another scholar, Michael Ventris, later managed to decode as Greek inflection.

You can read more about Alice Kober HERE, on a website hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. If you look around the site, you will discover that you can even read some of her correspondence about Linear B with other scholars who were working on the script at the same time.

lilian jeffery

The second is Lilian (Anne) Hamilton Jeffery, who worked on the different types of Greek alphabet that appeared all around the Greek-speaking world in the Archaic period (8th to 5th centuries BC). Her careful documentation and study of ancient inscriptions resulted in a 1961 publication titled The Local Scripts of Archaic Greece – a book that I still use every day when I am working on the Greek alphabet.

You can read more about Anne Jeffery HERE, on the Poinikastas website hosted by the University of Oxford. The website also hosts some very useful resources for the study of Greek inscriptions, based on Jeffery’s archives.

I feel lucky to follow in the footsteps of such women – and I will add that I have many wonderful female colleagues today, who no doubt will one day be equally famous for their epigraphic discoveries!

~ Pippa Steele (Principal Investigator of the CREWS project)

Pippa Steele

3 thoughts on “Celebrating women epigraphists

  1. Alice Kober and Lilian Jeffery are two heroes of mine. I would also add Anna Morpurgo Davies whose work as an epigraphist and also a comparative philologist I have always found truly amazing and inspiring. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I completely agree. Anna was an inspiration to me – as much for her kindness and generosity as for her amazingly sharp mind and outstanding body of work. I’ll never forget my first Mycenological conference, when she was the first person I bumped into and she greeted me with a hug and immediately made me feel at home. I miss her.

      ~ Pippa

      Liked by 1 person

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