Mellink, Machteld J. (Machteld Johanna)

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Machteld Johanna Mellink, celebrated archaeologist and professor of archaeology at Bryn Mawr College from 1949 to 1988, was born in Amsterdam, Holland in 1917. She received her BA in 1938 and MA in 1941 from the University of Amsterdam, and her PhD from the University of Utrecht in 1943.

During World War II, Mellink actively worked for the Dutch resistance movement, “forging documents to save lives, risking her own,” (Özgen, p. 2). After the war, she moved to the United States and became Resident Scholar in Classical Archaeology and Marion Reilly Fellow of the International Federation of University Women at Bryn Mawr College in 1946-1947. During the summer of 1947, Mellink worked at the University of Chicago under a Ryerson Grant. In 1947, she joined the excavation directed by Hetty Goldman, a 1903 Bryn Mawr graduate, at Tarsus in Cilicia (Turkey), in which she participated until 1949. “While in Tarsus, she received the invitation to join the faculty of Bryn Mawr College,” (Özgen, p. 2) thus starting her illustrious teaching career which continued until 1988. She served as chairman of the Archaeology Department from 1955 to 1983. Through her initiatives, the program expanded to include Near Eastern Archaeology in 1959, and sponsored excavations in Turkey, Italy and Greece. In 1972, she received the Leslie Clark Chair in the Humanities and, in 1975 she earned Bryn Mawr’s Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. She served as Acting Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science in the academic year 1979-1980. Mellink retired from teaching in 1988, but remained Professor Emerita in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology until shortly before her passing in 2006.

As an archaeologist, Mellink was a major participant in the excavation of ancient Gordion sponsored by the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania from 1950 to 1965. In 1963, Mellink began excavation of a prehistoric site near Elmalı, Turkey for Bryn Mawr College, where she carried out and supervised conservation, display, research and publication of the finds, which included two remarkable painted tombs of the sixth to fifth centuries B.C. It was during this excavation that Mellink became involved in protecting excavation sites from looting as well advocating “for international controls over the traffic in illegally obtained antiquities,” (Özgen, p. 5). One of her many contributions to the field of archaeology is “Archaeology in Anatolia,” a yearly report written for the American Journal of Archaeology from 1955 until the late 1990s.

In addition to her work at Bryn Mawr and in Turkey, Mellink served as president of the American Research Institute in Turkey from 1988 to 1991, president of the Archaeological Institute of America from 1980 to 1984, and trustee of the American Society of Oriental Research. She also served as a member of the American Philosophical Society, as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and as a Research Associate of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. She was a corresponding member of the Turkish Institute of History, the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, the German Archaeological Institute, and the Austrian Archaeological Institute, as well as many other international archaeological societies.

For her work, she was awarded an honorary LL.D. from University of Pennsylvania in 1987 and an honorary doctorate of History from the University of Eskiş-ehir. She was named Senior American Excavator in 1984 and Senior Foreign Archaeologist in 1985 by the Ministry of Culture of Turkey. Mellink was awarded the Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement by the Archaeological Institute in 1991 and the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal for Archaeological Achievement in 1994. The Archaeological Institute established the Machteld Mellink Lecture in Near Eastern Archaeology in 2001. Mellink died on February 23, 2006 at the age of 88. According to Ilknur Özgen, “she combined class-room teaching with training in the field … her disciplined but patient teaching and advising has produced generations of scholars who are now in leading positions of the field literally around the globe” (Özgen, p. 2). The Archaeological Institute of America Bulletin described her as “archaeologist, educator, administrator, author, editor, ‘Dean’ of American excavators in Turkey, preeminent scholar of Anatolian cultures, and tireless defender of the ‘the Record of the Past’ and ethics in archaeology,” ( Archaeological Institute of American Bulletin ). Indeed, “throughout her career, she succeeded in her characteristic matter-of-fact manner to combine first rate, meticulous scholarship with diligent, inspiring and generous teaching while at the same time taking on demanding administrative responsibilities … she stands out as one of the few who excelled in combining active field-work with a steady output of publications [and] because of her commitment to the ethics of the field, a domain where she set international standards,” (Özgen, p. 1).

Bibliography:

Archaeological Institute of America Bulletin, “Twenty-Seventh Annual Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement,” Vol. 83, 1991-1992, pages 2-3.

Greenwalt, Crawford H. Jr., “Machteld Johanna Mellink, 1917-2006,” American Journal of Archaeology 111 (2007): 553-558.

Özgen, Ilknur and Asli Ozyar. "Machteld Johanna Mellink (October 26, 1917-February 24, 2006)."

Pearce, Jeremy. “Machteld J. Mellink, 88, Archaeologist, Dies." The New York Times . March 6, 2006.

Ridgway, Brunilde. Biography for Event honoring Machteld Mellink and Mabel Lang at the time of their retirement, 1988.

From the guide to the Machteld J. Mellink papers, Bulk, 1958-2001, 1938-2006, (Bryn Mawr College)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Machteld J. Mellink papers, Bulk, 1958-2001, 1938-2006 Bryn Mawr College
referencedIn Lucy T. Shoe Meritt papers, 1888-2003 Bryn Mawr College
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Journal of Archaeology. corporateBody
associatedWith American Research Center in Egypt. corporateBody
associatedWith American Research Institute in Turkey. corporateBody
associatedWith American School of Classical Studies at Athens. corporateBody
associatedWith Goldman, Hetty, 1881-1972 person
associatedWith National Endowment for the Humanities. corporateBody
associatedWith Schliemann, Heinrich, 1822-1890 person
associatedWith Shoe, Mary person
associatedWith Shoe, William person
associatedWith United States Information Agency. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Pennsylvania. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Turkey
Tarsus (Turkey)
Greece
Egypt
Subject
Archaeological expeditions
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1917-10-26

Death 2006-02-23

Dutch

Dutch; Flemish

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