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Machteld Johanna Mellink, emerita Professor in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology of Bryn Mawr College, died at the Quadrangle in Haverford, Pennsylvania on Friday, February 24, 2006. She was 88 years old. 

Born in the Netherlands in 1917, she studied at the University of Amsterdam and, due to wartime conditions received her doctorate in 1943 from the University of Utrecht. During the Occupation she was very active in the Dutch Resistance. Professor Mellink came to Bryn Mawr in 1946-47 with a Marion Reilly Fellowship of the International Federation of University of Women at Bryn Mawr College and then spent the summer of 1947 at the University of Chicago under a Ryerson Grant. During this time she began excavating with Hetty Goldman (BMC ’03) at Tarsus in Cilicia. She began teaching at the College in 1949 and retired in 1988. In 1972 she received the Leslie Clark Chair in the Humanities. Under her leadership Bryn Mawr’s archaeology department flourished with an expansion of faculty, curricular offerings, and excavations in Turkey, Italy and Greece. She was known internationally for her leadership in the archaeology of Turkey. With a deep interest in interconnections between ancient Greece and the Near East, between 1947-49 she participated in the ground-breaking excavation of Tarsus, then from 1950-65 was a staff member of the important excavation of Gordion, the capital of the legendary King Midas of Phrygia. After exploring the highlands of Lycia she went in 1963 to the plain of Elmalı where no previous archaeological work had been done and continued digging and researching there the rest of her active life. In the plain she uncovered at Karataş-Semayük, an important Early Bronze Age settlement and cemetery. She also led the excavation and conservation of the spectacular painted tombs of the late sixth through early 5th c. B.C.E. at Kızıbel and Karaburun near Elmalı. Over the course of her long career she brought international attention to archaeological discoveries throughout Turkey and defended its cultural heritage against looting and illegal export. Professor Mellink also maintained a lifelong interest in Troy and was a partner in the recent project there undertaken by the Universities of Tübingen and Cincinnati.

In 1986 she was honored by her students and colleagues in a volume of essays entitled Ancient Anatolia, and in 1994 the College sponsored an international symposium in Istanbul on archaeology in Turkey where alumnae and professional colleagues and friends gathered to appreciate her contributions.

The results of her research in the Elmalı area are published in the Elmalı-Karataş series and in Kızıbel: An Archaic Painted Tomb Chamber in Northern Lycia. Her earlier research was published as A Hittite Cemetery at Gordion and a chapter in Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus II. From 1955-1994 she contributed an annual account of new archaeological discoveries in Turkey to the American Journal of Archaeology. She also wrote “Anatolian Chronology” in Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, edited numerous books, among which the popular Troy and the Trojan War (1986), and published scores of articles in many international journals. 

Her international recognition included an honorary LL. D. from the University of Pennsylvania and an Honorary Doctorate of History from the University of Eskişehir. She received the Archaeological Institute of America’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement in 1991 and the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal for Archaeological Achievement in 1994. The Ministry of Culture of Turkey recognized her as the Senior American Excavator in 1984 and the Senior Foreign Archaeologist in 1985. In 2001 the Archaeological Institute of America established in her honor the Machteld Mellink Lecture in Near Eastern Archaeology. Bryn Mawr College awarded her the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1975. She was a Member of the American Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Research Associate of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and a Corresponding Member of the Turkish Institute of History, the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, the German Archaeological Institute, and the Austrian Archaeological Institute, and many other international archaeological societies.

Her professional service included being President of the American Research Institute in Turkey from 1988-1991, President of the Archaeological Institute of America from 1980-1984, Trustee of the American Society of Oriental Research, Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College from 1955-1983, and Acting Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Bryn Mawr College from 1979-1980.

She advised scores of undergraduate and graduate students and supported and followed their careers in archaeology with keen interest. An indefatigable correspondent and advisor, she actively helped colleagues around the world with their scholarship and made special efforts to support and promote their work. For this reason alone she has had an extraordinary impact on the archaeology of the Old World.

Anyone wishing to send condolences may address them to:

Machteld's sister:
Dr. Johanna Pel-Mellink
Spanjaardstraat 14
4331 EN Middelburg
The Netherlands
Machteld's niece:
Machteld Pel
Julianalaan 96
6824 KJ Arnhem
The Netherlands

Read the Bryn Mawr Now article.

Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Bryn Mawr College • 101 North Merion Avenue • Bryn Mawr, PA  19010-2899   (Directions)
Phone: (610) 526-5053/5334,   Fax: (610) 526-7955
Email: Pam Cohen
or Selene Platt