Thompson, Margaret E., 1911-1992

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  • Born 1911: Trenton (N.J.)
  • Received B.A. from Radcliffe College 1931: Radcliffe College (Mass.)
  • Excavated in the Athenian Agora 1937 - 1940 : Athens (Greece)
  • Excavated in the Athenian Agora 1947 - 1949 : Athens (Greece)
  • Adjunct professor of art history and archaeology 1965 - 1978 : Columbia University (N.Y.)
Assistant Curator and then Curator of Greek Coins from 1949 to 1979, Thompson also served as Chief Curator from 1969 to 1979.

Margaret Thompson was born in 1911 in Trenton, New Jersey and received her bachelor of arts from Radcliffe College in 1931. After completing her degree, Thompson initially taught junior high school English for five years. In the late 1930's, she was hired as a secretary for T. Leslie Shear, the director of excavations at the Athenian Agora. Shear quickly realized her potential as a scholar and soon after she arrived in Athens she was assigned to clean, sort, and attribute the numismatic finds from the site.

Thompson worked for two terms on the excavations in Athens, from 1937 to 1940 and again from 1947 to 1949. During this same period, Thompson published a number of short articles related to the finds from the excavation. These articles came to the attention of Sydney P. Noe, ANS Chief Curator (1947-54), and, in 1949, Noe offered Thompson the position of Assistant Curator of Greek Coins at the Society.

Thompson's first major publication as the ANS, completed in 1954, was a catalog of about 37,000 coins from the agora, ranging from the time of Rome to the rise of Venice. In 1961, she published The New Style Silver Coinage of Athens, in which she suggested a chronology of the city's Hellenistic coinage. While Thompson's work was controversial, its significance was also recognized. As a result, later that year she was awarded the Archer M. Huntington Medal by the ANS. In 1967, Thompson also received the gold medal of the Royal Numismatic Society in London, of which she was an honorary member. In that same year, she was also elected to the International Numismatic Congress, where she served as vice president from 1973 to 1979.

Thompson served the ANS's Curator of Greek Coins until 1976 and also served as the Society's Chief Curator from 1969 to 1979. Upon her retirement in 1979 she was named Chief Curator Emeritus and, in 1989, the Society endowed the Margaret Thompson Curatorship of Greek Coins in her honor. She died in 1992.

Thompson's published worked include her 1973 Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards — still a standard reference today — and Alexander's Drachm Mints II: Lampsacus and Abydus, which was published in 1991. The latter book was the second volume in a projected trilogy about silver drachm coinage from Asia Minor of Alexander III of Macedon.

In addition to her work at the ANS, Thompson was an adjunct professor of art history and archaeology at Columbia University from 1965 to 1978, where she received an honorary doctorate of letters in 1986. She also served as trustee and president of the Archaeological Institute of America from 1965 to 1968 and received the Institute's gold medal for distinguished achievement in 1984.

Archival Resources
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referencedIn Portrait photograph of Margaret Thompson seated at a desk American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Photograph of Margaret Thompson with ANS President Harry Bass American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Portrait photograph of Margaret Thompson as a young woman American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Photograph of Henry Grunthal and Margaret Thompson American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Photograph of Margaret Thompson and Georges Le Rider at the International Numismatic Congress American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Photograph of Margaret Thompson in the ANS coin vault American Numismatic Society
creatorOf Agrinion Hoard American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Photograph of Margaret Thompson receiving an honorary doctorate from Columbia University American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Portrait photograph of Margaret Thompson American Numismatic Society
creatorOf Alexander's Drachm Mints I American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Photograph of Margaret Thompson receiving an honorary degree from Columbia University American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Photograph of Margaret Thompson at her retirement party American Numismatic Society
creatorOf New Style Silver Coinage of Athens American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Photograph of Margaret Thompson and her niece American Numismatic Society
creatorOf Alexander's Drachm Mints II American Numismatic Society
referencedIn Portrait photograph of Margaret Thompson American Numismatic Society
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Birth 1911

Death 1992

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