Archaeology, Sexism, and Scandal tells the hidden tale behind one of the great American excavations in Greece. In the 1930s, David Robinson’s project on ancient houses became the first of its kind and fundamentally altered what classical archaeologists’ study. Alan Kaiser documents previously unknown details of the Olynthus project through lively photographs and enthusiastic letters of one of Robinson’s trench supervisors, Mary Ross Ellingson. He also reveals the plagiarism of Ellingson’s work by Robinson, and how others in the field were complicit in the theft.
This revised edition narrates the consequences of the first edition’s publication. People who knew Ellingson, Robinson, and others mentioned in the book contacted Kaiser to share with him important details he could never have known. Enough new information has come to light in archives from Canada to Greece to require a retelling of the archaeology, sexism, and scandal associated with the Olynthus excavation. Kaiser also includes never-before published photos that tell the story further in a way words cannot. And in a twist neither Ellingson nor Robinson could ever have seen coming, Kaiser reports on one last extraordinary action the book inspired, a petition to the Library of Congress to add Ellingson’s name to the two Olynthus volumes that her stolen works are in.
Alan Kaiser is a professor of archaeology at the University of Evansville who has worked on projects in Greece, Italy, Spain, Israel, England, the United States, and the Caribbean island of Nevis. He holds a PhD in archaeology from Boston University and is the author of The Urban Dialogue and Roman Urban Street Networks. In addition to studying the history of archaeology, he has used Geographic Information Systems computer programs to study the layout of Roman cities.
Introduction: The Ellingson File—A Photo Album
Part I: Mary Ross Ellingson’s Archaeological Adventure
Chapter 1: Journey to Olynthus
Chapter 2: The Daily Routine
Chapter 3: Travel in Greece and Europe in 1931
Part II: Sexism and Scholarship
Chapter 4: The Men
Chapter 5: The Women
Part III: Scandal: Mary Ross Ellingson’s Work Plagiarized
Chapter 6: A Secret Uncovered
Chapter 7: “Unwritten History”
Appendix I: An Unedited Letter
Appendix II: Feminism, Classical Archaeology, and Mary Ellingson
Author’s Note on the Locations of the Mary Ross Ellingson and David Moore Robinson Papers
About the Author
This is the story of Mary Ross Ellingson, a twentieth-century archaeologist whose research was published by her dissertation advisor without acknowledgement. Although Ellingson specialized in a relatively arcane discipline, the challenges she faced as a female academic were (and still are) universal. Kudos to Alan Kaiser for bringing Ellingson’s story to light and righting to some degree the injustice. Written like a detective thriller and incorporating colorful quotes from Ellingson’s own letters, readers will find it difficult to put this book down.
Kaiser presents an intimate portrait of prominent and aspiringpractitioners in the field of Classical Archaeology. This new edition expands not only the primary documentation behind Ellingson’s story but provides an update on the reception and impact of the first. An appendix on feminist 'waves' in archaeology further contextualizes the material and offers a brief introduction for those wishing to pursue the topic further.
Archaeology has many open secrets- including a long history of abuses of power that have systematically marginalized people based on their identities and relative status in the hierarchy of academia and fieldwork. Alan Kaiser’s committed and detailed scholarship of a previously forgotten personal archive reveals the specifics of one such case from the early 20th century. The case of Mary Ross Ellingson and the appropriation of her work by a renowned, senior, male archaeologist is presented in a rich and engaging narrative that invites a range of audiences to explore how such injustices have persisted in the field for generations. The second edition provides an illuminating account of how these revelations were received among classical archaeologists. Along with some powerful calls for justice and change, many of the responses demonstrated that many people holding positions of power in the field have at best, a deep ambivalence towards plagiarism and misogyny. The telling of Mary Ross Ellington’s story is not a mere historical anecdote, and instead serves as an illustration of the work that still needs to be done to make archaeology an inclusive, multi-vocal field.
In Archaeology, Sexism, and Scandal, Kaiser excavates layers of evidence substantiating that a celebrated classical archaeologist published his student Mary Ross Ellingson's thesis as his own. Kaiser's first edition ignited curiosity and outrage over this injustice and led others with direct knowledge to share what they knew. This updated second edition artfully weaves this new information into Ellingson's story and situates her life in the context of the feminist movement and the sexism women archaeologists face. Scholars hope their research will make a difference in their field and beyond. Kaiser succeeds as he rights an egregious wrong, celebrates Ellingson's significant archaeological achievements, and offers hope for those, like Ellingson, facing systemic sexism and other injustices. This book is a must-read.
3/2/2023, Choice Reviews: This book was included in a roundup of forthcoming titles in Women’s and Gender studies.