What a busy, yet very productive, time I had at PASP, the University, and Austin in general! Visiting Austin started out as a three-week stop along a route of visits planned for our fall sabbatical, but turned into a two-month adventure in October and November. My husband, Charles Stocking, our daughter, Stella, and our bulldog-mix, Bhima, spent our time in Austin divided between PASP, The Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, and the many natural and historical wonders of the city.
My objective was to attack the PASP offprint collection in search of new material for a publication on “The Economy of the Bronze Age Aegean” to be published as a Cambridge Element, which is a short form, digital first publication of 20,000-30,000 words, within the series The Aegean Bronze Age, edited by Carl Knappett and Irene Nikolakopoulou. The monograph I published with CUP in 2021, Oil, Wine, and the Cultural Economy of Ancient Greece: From the Bronze Age to the Archaic Era, gave me a head-start but there were still some gaps I wanted to fill and intriguing questions I wanted to try and answer. Western University in Ontario, Canada, where I hold a position of Assistant Professor of Greek Archaeology, had awarded me with a Faculty Research Development Fund grant for just this purpose. The Linear B texts were one of the first places I wanted to dig for data on specific commodities, so PASP was the perfect place to do that.
Of course, the archival materials, like the Kober, Ventris, and Bennett manuscripts and correspondence were interesting and exciting to see. And I will take this moment to thank PASP’s archivist, Garrett Bruner, for taking the time to do a short “show-and-tell” for me. Ventris’ letter announcing his success in identifying Linear B as Greek was a highlight, along with Kober’s famed cigarette boxes. Pictures of both these will now appear in all of my lectures having to do with Linear B! However, it was the more mundane material at PASP, the offprint and book collections, that were the most useful for my particular research. Especially the offprints, collected by Emmett Bennett throughout his tenure as editor of NESTOR. Having everything in one place and organized by author (for the most part), increased the speed at which I was able to find relevant data and the discovery of many articles and chapters I would not have found using a “normal” library catalog. Offprint collection finding aids and SMID (Studies in Mycenaean Dialect) databases accelerated the research process, assisting me to find what I needed within the short window of time I had at PASP. I was surprised to find that there were many offprints of pieces I had never come across before—even working at the ASCSA Blegen Library for many years. Needless to say, I scanned many years worth of hard-to-find offprints that I know will go a long way in helping me write my current project.
But the PASP archive wasn’t the only highlight of my time in Austin. We were fortunate enough to take a trip out to the small town of Bastrop and visit Tom Palaima at his absolutely gorgeous home. We then walked into town together to visit a bookstore and have some delicious catfish for lunch. Stella had never had catfish before, but she found yet another thing she will willingly eat (anyone reading this with kids will know what a blessing this is)! Discussions with Tom were another important aspect of my time at PASP. He is such a font of information it is hard to keep up and I always had my notebook ready to jot down the citations, suggestions, and scholars he recommended.
In addition to PASP, I also got to know the faculty and graduate students in the UT Classics Department. Alex Walthall and I had been fellows together at the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies in 2017, so it was great to see him and his wife, Lauren, again, as well as their new addition to the family, Poppy. Stella and Poppy had a wonderful time gardening together! I also had a chance to get to know Rabun Taylor and Adam Rabinowitz, two interesting and fun scholars. They saw a bit of my work during a talk I presented as part of the AIA chapter lecture series. Alex was able to squeeze me in on November 2nd and I spoke about “Oil and Wine as Cultural Commodities: from the Late Bronze Age to the Archaic Era.” It was there that I was introduced to the amazing graduate students of the department. After that lecture, we shared two group lunches and a few individual meetings where I got to know their individual research interests and was able to answer some questions they had about Bronze Age archaeology, the access of material in Greece, and the scholarly field in general (which is often one of landmines, as we all know!).
All-in-all it was a great trip, full of stimulating discussions, useful research, and very good barbeque. In search of the best meat we went to Terry Black’s, the Original Black’s in Lockhart, and Smitty’s Market (also in Lockhart). We’ll have to save Franklin for next time!