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Obituary for Ione M. Shear


Ione Mylonas Shear, 68, an archaeologist who specialized in the exploration and interpretation of the monuments of Bronze Age Greece, died January 15 at the University Medical Center at Princeton. She succumbed to cancer.

Dr. Shear's principal contribution to the knowledge of Bronze Age civilization was the systematic study of Mycenaean domestic architecture, which resulted from her excavation of the remains of private houses at the site of Mycenae in southern Greece, where she worked for many years in collaboration with her father, Professor George E. Mylonas. Her study of Mycenaean houses led to the unexpected discovery that many aspects of the civilization of the Bronze Age are accurately recollected in the earliest works of Greek literature, the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, which purport to describe the era of the Trojan War and its aftermath.

In another book, published only a few weeks before her death, Dr. Shear studied the subject of kingship in Mycenaean Greece as it is reflected in the material remains of archaeology, in the contemporary documents of the Linear-B tablets, and in the rich mythological tradition of Greece.

Born in Champaign, Ill., she grew up in St. Louis, Mo. She was educated at Wellesley College and completed her graduate studies in archaeology at Bryn Mawr College and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Early in her career, she participated in archaeological excavations at the sites of Eleusis and lsthmia in Greece, and at Morgantina in Sicily.

From 1972 to 1993, she also worked as an excavation supervisor uncovering the remains of classical buildings in the Athenian Agora, the market place of ancient Athens, and taking part in the excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies. She was a life member of the Archaeological Institute of America.

She is survived by her husband of 45 years, Prof. T. Leslie Shear Jr. of Princeton University; two daughters, Julia Louise Shear of Cambridge, England, and Alexandra Shear of Montpelier, Vt.; and two sisters, Eunice Hale of Newburyport, Mass., and Daphne Marsh of Lancaster, Calif.

The funeral was held 19th Jan. Wednesday, in Princeton at Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street. Contributions in her memory will be used to establish a fellowship in her name at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Donations may be sent to the Trinity Church and should be earmarked "I. M. Shear memorial fund".

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