Susan Boyd (ICFA Interview)

Oral History Interview with Susan Boyd undertaken by Caitlin Ballotta and Margaret Mullett on July 23, 2014, in the Dumbarton Oaks oval room. At Dumbarton Oaks, Sue Boyd was Assistant for the Collections (1962–1964), Assistant for the Byzantine Collection (1964–1966), Assistant Curator for the Byzantine Collection (1966–1975), Associate Curator for the Byzantine Collection (1975–1979), and Curator for the Byzantine Collection (1979–2004).

This interview was undertaken as part of the ICFA Oral History Initiative.

Susan Boyd was previously interviewed by the Dumbarton Oaks Archives (DOA) on September 24, 2009. The full transcript of this interview is available on the DOA Oral History Project page.

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CB: Good afternoon, the date is Wednesday, July 23, 2014, the time, 3PM. My name is Caitlin Ballotta and I am a summer intern in ICFA. I’m here with Margaret Mullett, Director of Byzantine Studies. Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Susan Boyd, who formerly served as curator for the Museum’s Byzantine collection, and as curator for the Photograph Collection. Ms. Boyd also participated in several Dumbarton Oaks sponsored fieldwork projects during her time at D.O. Rona Razon, ICFA Archivist, is filming this interview. This interview is being recorded for the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives and the Dumbarton Oaks Archives of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, located in Washington, D.C. The interview is taking place in the Main House on the Dumbarton Oaks campus, in the Oval Salon. Before we begin, do I have your permission to record this interview?

SB: You do.

CB: And for the record, please state your full name.

SB: Susan Boyd.

CB: Okay. So, we’ll begin with some biographical questions and then move to fieldwork questions, and then if there’s time, circle back to the photograph collection. So where and when were you born?

SB: Washington, D.C.

CB: Okay.

SB: Oh, 1938.

CB: And where did you grow up?

SB: Mainly Washington, until I went away to college at Smith College and then I did graduate work at New York University at the Institute of Fine Arts.

CB: Okay, and what was your area of studies, your focus within the field?

SB: Always art history­ – and, really, medieval. And you – at the time I was in graduate school, Byzantine was not taught. So, I didn’t really know much about Byzantine until I came to work here.

CB: So, actually, what was the first position that you held at Dumbarton Oaks?

SB: Probably assistant for the Byzantine Collection.

CB: Okay. So, we’ll move to some fieldwork questions now. Margaret, do you want to?

MM: Let’s start with something frivolous? [Laughter] Charlotte Burke suggested that we should ask you about the Dumbarton Oaks apartment in Istanbul.

SB: Ah. [Chuckling]

MM: So, I went once, but you must have stayed there.

SB: Oh no. [Chuckling]

MM: Really?

SB: Any time I was – no, I stayed at ARIT the first time I was there. And otherwise I was in hotels, because the Saraçhane excavations were going on, and they had the apartment. So, I actually don’t think I visited the apartment more than two times, and really, just to meet people there and go out. It was big, furnished mainly, it seems to me, with sagging sofas covered with oriental carpets – oriental carpets on the floor. And beyond that – I mean, that’s just sort of the general impression it gives you. It was not glamorous in any way.

MM: Who did stay there?

SB: Who did?

MM: Not the whole excavation. Martin, presumably.

SB: Well, Martin Harrison certainly, but certainly some of his excavation, probably the leaders of the group, but I couldn’t – you know better than I probably who they are, how they ran all that stuff recently. [Laughter]

MM: Okay. Do you know how long D.O. had it? I’m not sure we’ve ever been able to find that out.

SB: I think you’d have to find that out. But I would say when Dumbarton Oaks took over the Byzantine Institute’s work, which I think was 1950? I remember that Paul Underwood did not like staying at the apartment in Istanbul. I think he found it not up to his standards. [Laughter]

MM: And he was still going in, I think, 1973? Probably with Ernest [?].

SB: Ah, okay.

MM: So…

SB: Yes, because Ercüment – you could find out, because Ercüment bey was sort of in charge of the – he was an Istanbul local. I’m not exactly sure – he was a general factotum that looked after some of Dumbarton Oaks’ interests. And I think you can find out through the Fieldwork Archives when he was let go, which means we probably didn’t still have the apartment.

MM: Right.

CB: You had mentioned in your interview with the Dumbarton Oaks Archive that in the late 1950s, D.O. took over a number of Byzantine restoration projects, whereas it took on a number of excavation projects in the 1960s. And you attribute the growing emphasis on excavations, as well as the shifting focus to Cyprus, to Cyril Mango and Peter Megaw. What did this shift from restoration to excavation mean for the nature of fieldwork at D.O., in your opinion?

SB: Well, it wasn’t so much of a shift from restoration to excavation. We did more excavations in Istanbul – or major excavations, maybe that would be a better way – conservation was always what we did, wherever we did it, whether it was St. Sophia, Kariye Camii, Zeyrek Camii – I mean, an awful lot of Istanbul. What really provoked us to move was the disintegrating political situation in Istanbul, with a lot of anti-Greek riots. And pretty much all of our fieldwork teams working under Ernest Hawkins were either Cypriot or Greek – or Greeks born in Turkey. And it became very uncomfortable for them. Peter Megaw was head – let’s see. In 1959, Peter Megaw was Director of Arch – Antiquities, in Cyprus. And he asked Ernest Hawkins to come and work with him on the Church of Perachorio. And that’s how – that was the beginning. Then there were other churches that we got permission to work in, with mosaics, and that was – Ernest Hawkins was probably the preeminent conservator of Byzantine and probably any other mosaics. And so, he came to work at Kiti and Kanakariá in Cyprus, two major sites. And then I think it was in the early sixties that Dumbarton Oaks decided to officially move its fieldwork from Istanbul to Cyprus. And I don’t think it closed down operations in Istanbul, but we were going to be. Then, I – hmm – Cyril Mango I think must have been here in the early sixties. I’d have to check that. But he was very interested in fieldwork. And I think with Ernest Megaw, they talked to the Director of Antiquities in Cyprus and were able to get permission to restore four painted churches in Cyprus – which was what we were really interested in, early Byzantine frescos. And most of these were early twelfth century churches. Let me just think. St. Chrysostomos, St. Neophytos, Asinou, and Lagoudera were the first four. And then we were able to get a fifth, which was Monagri, which I call my church. [Laughter]

CB: Yes. Okay, do you have any personal recollections about Ernest Hawkins?

SB: Oh lots. [Laughter] Ernest was a marvelous character, and I first met him on my first trip, I think, to Istanbul, in 1962, probably. Or ’63, I don’t – it’s hard to say. But in any event, I was sort of more on my own, and that was when I was staying at ARIT, but I had contact, you know. Ernest was told I was coming, and I called him. He is – I don’t know how old he was at that time. I would have said late sixties, early seventies. The most energetic individual, he ran everywhere. He was extremely eccentric. He did everything his own way. And he was forever afraid of drafts, even if it was 110 degrees. He wore this wool scarf around his neck, and I remember that from Cyprus. In Istanbul, there are a lot of breezes, so it made sense. But he took me around to all the Byzantine monuments. And then everybody else at ARIT who found out I was going with him begged if they could come with me. And Tom Mathews was one of them. And Renata Holod, who was at the University of Pennsylvania, was another. So, it was a wonderful introduction, and he took me over to the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, and looking at some of the fifteenth century mosques over there. And I think he may have – I think that was actually where he lived. He lived – I don’t remember the name of the town, but he was wonderful to work with. And maybe I should come back to it, about Chrysostomos, when I got to know him a lot better, because he was working there. So, I’ll come back to that.

CB: Okay. So, what was the dynamic like between Peter Megaw and Cyril Mango, and how were Megaw fieldwork campaigns different from Mango campaigns, would you say?

SB: I can’t answer that.

CB: Okay.

SB: I think they got along perfectly well. By the time Mango was working there, Megaw was no longer Director of Antiquities, and he had moved, basically, to Greece to head up the British School. And so Cyril headed it. I don’t remember whether Peter – Paul Underwood had – I don’t think Paul Underwood had anything to do with Cyprus. He was just Istanbul. But Peter still came back to Cyprus a lot, and he had a wonderful house in Paphos – was it Paphos or Nea Paphos?

MM: Kato Paphos?

SB: Kato Paphos.

CB: When did David Winfield take over as Director of Fieldwork in Cyprus?

SB: 1965.

CB: Okay, 1965. And to what extent was he involved on the ground at the sites where you worked?

SB: Not at St. Chrysostomos. That was Ernest Hawkins. Although David came a lot to see the progress, because it was such an extraordinary monument, with just unbelievably beautiful frescos. But he had done the work on the frescos in St. Sophia at Trebizon, which as you probably know has now been turned back into a mosque, which is very sad for all Byzantinists, because presumably, the frescos will be covered up again. I think they’re just covered with sheets at the moment. But he was brought in to work specifically on Asinou and Lagoudera.

CB: And can you speak to Richard Anderson’s role in the Cyprus project?

SB: I think he got involved with the excavation at Saranda Kolonnes, which started before I was working at Monagri. No, it was still – no, he was working at Saranda Kolonnes. He also did photography for Dumbarton Oaks, certainly in Asinou, not at Chrysostomos, and Monagri, and then again at Kourion. And I think he – I won’t say pioneered balloon photography, but he was one of the earliest practitioners of it, so that you could take these great overhead shots from a camera that you could shoot from below. And this was really, I think, a great step forward in especially archaeological work. But in terms of his photographic work, when I was working at Monagri, we both were living up at a town called Platres, which is up in the mountains and a really charming town. And he had already gotten there ahead of me, and had picked a place specifically so that he had water the exact temperature he needed to be able to develop his color film, and then be able to take his transparencies down to check them against the actual paintings. And so he was – he worked the whole time with me that I was in Cyprus, and he took black and whites as well as color. And he was very good at that. He did Asinou. I don’t honestly know whether he did Lagoudera. But it would – I think David probably took most of Lagoudera, but it’s possible he worked there.

CB: What was the dynamic like between Ernest Hawkins and David Winfield?

SB: I think it was okay. I don’t think that they were of entirely likeminded – I think Ernest was a “less is more” kind of conservator, meaning you don’t do a whole lot of inpainting or putting tesserae back, whereas David Winfield’s wife did get involved with inpainting and had been – has been criticized for doing too much. When I got to Monagri – oh, I don’t know whether I should put this in or not [laughter] – some of it had to be removed, because it – the paintings were in good enough shape that a few empty spots did not matter. You could see the quality. And once you inpaint – and she did it very well – you can’t – unless you’re up on a scaffold, you can’t tell it, you can’t see it. And of course, the longer it stays in with dirt and soot and other things clouding over the surface, eventually you can’t see it, and you might mistake what you’re looking at as original.

CB: Right. What can you tell us about the Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork committee? How is it structured?

SB: Ohhh. [Laughter] I really don’t know. You know, I wasn’t on it. And basically, what I remember was probably later on. I don’t know how Kalenderhane and Saraçhane and those major excavations and fieldwork operations were decided. I knew of them more when they were passing on smaller projects, when we were doing project grants, rather than any excavations.

CB: So, in your interview with the D.O.A., you indicated that there was a difference between fieldwork project grants cosponsored by D.O. and fieldwork campaigns that were entirely run by D.O. What was the difference between the two in your opinion?

SB: [Laughter] Thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars! And exca – well, Kalenderhane was one that was just a cash drain. It went on and on and on and the agreements that had been made with the person in charge was that Dumbarton Oaks would restore the church pretty much to its former grandeur, which meant putting all of the – well, recoating the walls with colored marbles and matching marbles, and this was – I mean, they found wonderful things in it, in this chapel with frescos from the life of St. Francis, but that was one big drain. Saraçhane was run by an Englishman, and that means immediately that you don’t spend money the way you do from an American, by an American [laughter]. And it’s not to say that this wasn’t – this was a major undertaking. It covered a large area, and he had a large team that had to go back frequently once the actual excavations were over, as preparation for the publication. And I think Dumbarton Oaks just felt that these kinds of endeavors were just too expensive, and that since it was getting harder and harder to work in Istanbul, that it was better to just cut back on those and work on conservation projects.

CB: So, were there many other women working in the field with you?

SB: Oh, with me, none. No, I mean, we were tiny teams. I mean, I went to Chrysostomos with Cyril. Ernest Hawkins was already there, because he’d been working on the frescos. David Winfield would pop in; the Director of Antiquities would pop in. But we were two. And most of the workmen had finished their work. We were there after most of the conservation had been done. I think in places like Asinou and Lagoudera, there was a big team of workmen. All of our workmen from Istanbul basically settled in Lagoudera, and would go on day trips to work at Asinou – I don’t know that they stayed overnight. It wasn’t that far – and then worked on Lagoudera. That team worked on my church. But again, I usually came in after the conservation work was done. Although at Monagri, we actually – we discovered a lot of frescos in an area that had been walled over, and it was this wonderful guy, Yani Makridis – lovely, lovely guy – who was working with me. And we both were sort of – there was a sixteenth-century fresco that just was sort of breaking up at the edge of this opening. So, we sort of put our fingers in to see what – if there was anything behind it, because obviously something had been bricked up. So we decided we would take the fresco down, sixteenth-century fresco down, and see what was behind it. But to do that, Yani had to go in and make the tools. He’d go down to Limassol, he made the tools, and he came back up. And I guess I had been told to bring a lot of rice paper to put on the surface of the frescos where we were going to – if we had to take anything down. And we took it down without any problems. Well, it was hard, but it didn’t fall apart, which was of course my – and then to make sure that everything was going to hold together, he pumped in gallons of PCV, which is a kind of plastic hardening agent, and, I mean, it was – it just went on, and he said, “I don’t understand where it’s going.”[Laughter] Well, eventually, as we unblocked this place, it was because it was, you know, it was twice as big as that area [gestures to her right], with an apse back of it and twelfth century paintings.

CB: Wow.

SB: And so, then we had to take out – and of course, this PV – PVP or PVC covered the frescos. So then we had to take all of that off. [Laughter] You know, it’s one of the things that you – you don’t know what’s behind there. You do what you think is right. It just meant more work, but it was a fabulous, fabulous discovery to have this whole diaconicon with frescos, early twelfth century frescos in it.

CB: So, shifting gears a little bit to Chrysostomos. How were you approached to work on this project?

SB: Well, Cyril Mango approached me. And I’m just going to go back to earlier work, because it is what allowed me to do all my fieldwork. When I first came to Dumbarton Oaks, I’d just come back from Ephesus, where they were excavating this huge hillside, which – and I thought what I saw coming out of it was a great Roman apartment house. It wasn’t until twenty, thirty years later that I found out it was these hanging villas, which are sometimes open, sometimes closed. But I was just determined that I would get on an excavation. And I won’t go into all the – what I went through, but by some incredible chance, Douglas Tushingham came to Dumbarton Oaks and was down in the photograph collection, where I had a very good friend, who was head of it – no, she really wasn’t head of the – but anyway, she was a good friend and watched out for me. And she got talking with Doug and said, “Well you know, this Susan Boyd is really keen on doing some archaeology. She’s an art historian.” And so, he came up to see me. And I – we talked for, you know, probably an hour, and he said, “Well, if you would like to come, I can’t bring you over, but we will give you everything once you’re there.” The long and the short of it is that Ernst Kitzinger was a wise and kind enough man that he thought it would be useful to have somebody on the staff who knew something about archaeology. At that point, I was probably, with the exception of Fanny Bonajuto, who was a Ph.D. art historian, but not anybody who would go out into the field, I was probably the youngest person on staff at that point. And so, it just seemed like he thought it would be a good idea. Because of that, I then was asked, I think, by Cyril, to – would I be interested in going. And it was probably at that time, I was in charge of the photographic collection, and doing a lot of work on Serbian frescos, which we were buying in great quantities. And that was really getting my eye trained on Byzantine frescos, about which otherwise, I knew very little. So, we went and, as I say, it was, for the most part, it was just the two of us. Ernest Hawkins was there probably for the first week we were there. And I can tell you, living in a monastery is something very different than what you might – and it was supposed to have been all renovated, but the renovations were that it had electricity, and it was supposed to have a bathroom upstairs, with a bathtub and all – or a shower. And they’d decided to use that as a storeroom. Now, they did get the toilet working for us, but otherwise, that was it. We didn’t have a kitchen. We had to go into town for – well, we had a little Pullman stove. I think we had a two-burner stove. But we didn’t have refrigeration, so every other day, we would drive into Nicosia, get some blocks of ice, put it – buy some food. About halfway through, I discovered roasted chicken in one of – in Nicosia, and I said, “This is wonderful!” [Laughter] Because, you know, cooking was a bit of a chore on a two-burner stove. We did, you know, what we could, but it wasn’t much. And I think I may have put this in my other interview, but one of the, sort of, breakthrough ideas that I found when I was there was that this monastery was built right up against a cliff, and the monastery basically should look out over this great valley and plain. But, the windows in the monastic cells are so high that you really can’t look out without either craning your neck or getting up on a chair. So, basically, when you were looking up, you could only look up at this great cliff dominating you. And it made me understand better what monastic life really was all about. It was just cutting out everything, and just – you had sky, and you had cliff. And you would then focus on the internal. So, that was – it was a, somehow, a really interesting insight at that point. And not all monasteries are like that, but this one definitely was.

CB: Wow. So, what exactly was your role in the excavation?

SB: My role was to do a detailed description of exactly what you saw on the walls. So, Cyril was doing all the photography, and I really didn’t do that much to help him except keep track of exactly what he was photographing. We started up in the dome, thank god, because by the time we were working down on the lower levels, it was incredibly hot. I mean, I think one weekend when we went off, it was 116 degrees. And no matter what they say about dry heat [laughter] 116 degrees is 116 degrees. And – where was I going to go with that? [Pause] Oh. Just being on a scaffold, face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball, with frescos is an experience that you really can’t describe. You see things that you can’t imagine you can see, the details, the brushstrokes, exactly how they built up the color. And I’ve been really fortunate in being able to do that in a lot of places – including Parma, in the Baptistery at Parma. But it’s an incredible privilege to do that, and working on St. Chrysostomos was just an extraordinary privilege, because this monastery is so important, in terms of early painting in Cyprus. It had a huge influence in about five or six different churches.

CB: What was a typical day of work like for you? How would you conduct your survey of the frescos?

SB: Hmm. I know we got up early. [Laughter] It’s a long time ago, and I was young enough that getting up early wasn’t a problem. I think it was just so hot that we got up early and worked probably until one, you know, whether it was eight o’clock or – that we went into the church. Sometimes, he and I were working in different parts of the church. Then we would take a break for lunch, but we’d go back and work. I mean, we’d probably work pretty much the whole day. They were long days.

CB: Margaret, do you want to ask about…?

MM: Oh, well. We have, of course, the benefit of that close experience with frescos, because we have your description. In D.O.P. 1990.

SB: Oh! Yes, finally. Oh, no. Was it – no, it was 19–

MM: 1990.

SB: Oh, it is, yes. Yes. You’re right. You’re right.

MM: And that part of the description is yours, isn’t it?

SB: With some of Ernest Hawkins. I can’t take – he had done the start of the description, and I perhaps, on the areas that he had drafted, maybe put it into a little bit more of a narrative prose. But we each had done our own descriptions, and then I put them together.

MM: Can you remember about publication plans? It was always going to be a book, wasn’t it?

SB: Yes. Yes.

MM: Do you remember when it changed, or why it turned into the succession of papers that –

SB: Yes, exactly. It was that Cyril – well, let’s put it this way. It was the invasion of Cyprus by the Turks. And that puts St. Chrysostomos off limits to any researchers. And Cyril did not feel that he was in a position to answer all the questions that he still had, and he didn’t want to go ahead with it until he could answer all the questions. And then, I think, he had so many other things, that he then decided to put it in – what is it, Papacostas? What’s his name?

MM: I think it was Tassos. Tassos Papacostas.

SB: Papacostas. Yes. And that just – I mean, I did get up there once, when the Turks were guarding it, but I’m not sure how we managed to get in. I don’t even remember who I was with, but definitely not one of the Department of Antiquities people. [Laughter]

MM: A question, I think, for ICFA, is always the missing material. Very often, files contain very detailed accounts, and people’s bus tickets and all sorts of things, and plaintive letters to the administrative committee. But they don’t actually have the notebooks or the detailed scholarly material. Do you remember what documentation happened at, well, at Chrysostomos or –

SB: Well, are you talking about written documentation or –

MM: Yeah, as you worked, did you record –

SB: Well, I wrote longhand in a notebook, in a loose-leaf notebook, so that I could keep revising it and disposing of it. So, I did sort of a rough draft when I was there, as detailed as possible. When I got back here, I think, in the course of the next year, I polished it [gestures with air quotes]. I wasn’t given any time, so it took a long time. And I just eventually, when I had done what I could, handed it to Cyril. And there is where it stayed for a long time. So, we – if there were notes taken, it would have been Ernest Hawkins, when he was doing the conservation of it. Now I think you know better than I where Ernest’s notes went, or all of his – he had a lot of slides of all his work, as did David Winfield. And I imagine he took rather careful – he had notebooks. I don’t know whether there are any of his notebooks in ICFA?

CB: Some.

SB: Some.

CB: Some, not many.

MM: Well, we would be thinking to look in Robin Cormack’s archive.

SB: And even when I was at Monagri, my work was not to sort of –

MM: But your work went into the publication?

SB: Yes, yes.

MM: In both cases.

SB: Yeah.

MM: What you took notes on –

SB: And David Winfield was in charge of the conservation there.

MM: Chrysostomos was single-funded, wasn’t it? It was just a D.O. project.

SB: Pardon me?

MM: Chrysostomos was a D.O. project, it wasn’t –

SB: Definitely.

MM: There was no co-funding for that.

SB: Co-funding? No, Dumbarton Oaks funded – well, I think the Department of Antiquities had already been in to the church, and done the – fixed the roof. We never went into a church where the roof had not been fixed, and the masonry had not been made watertight, because it wouldn’t have made much sense.

MM: And there were photographs to document that.

SB: Yeah. I would assume the Department of Antiquities has them. Yes.

MM: Yes, I think so.

CB: So, if we could move to Bargala quickly. So, we understand that Bargala was a collaborative American-Yugoslav excavation project taken on by Dumbarton Oaks and the Archaeological Museum of Skopje, with funding coming from the American side. Can you speak to the nature of this collaboration?

SB: Well, this was AID funds, left over – these were what were called “counterpart funds” that the State Department had allocated, I think, to do various kinds of post-war work. And they ended – they just ended up having this money, and whether we asked for it again, this was –would have been Cyril and Ihor – or whether – I cannot remember the name of the woman who was our co-director.

MM: Blaga.

SB: Blaga. Alek – Aleksovich, yes. Or whether she had found out through the American Embassy that these funds might be available. She was very interested in this site because she thought it was one of the earliest Slavic sites. And finding early Slavic sites is very important to the Slavs. This was basically a Roman town. And I think – again, I was asked to go on it just because I’d excavated in Jerusalem. And I just remember Cyril coming to me and saying, you know, “I really don’t know anything about digging archaeology, or dirt archaeology.” And I don’t think Ihor Ševčenko had any more – and I mean, frankly, my experience wasn’t very helpful there. It was such an entirely different kind of archaeology, with the interesting part being up in the main town, where the main east-west highway went through from Constantinople to northern – I don’t know, Milan? Or Vienna, probably. And I drew the short straw and was excavating behind the apse, the eastern end of the church, which means you are excavating grave after grave after grave – these cists, which are stone-lined graves with a stone top. And it’s very meticulous work, and you find very little of interest. And it was – everything was a challenge, because our Serbian – actually, our [pause] Macedonian – I made the mistake of buying a Serbian dictionary [laughter]. It didn’t help me – our Macedonian colleagues didn’t speak much English, maybe a little French. And we of course did not speak – so sometimes it was hard to communicate from them to us and us to them. But I was only on that for one year. I think it went on for at least another year.

CB: Okay. And so records indicate that Cyril Mango had submitted a preliminary application for a renewal of funding from the Smithsonian Foreign Currency Program, but then they asked for a more specific proposal, and he withdrew his request, saying that Bargala was not at all what he thought it would be. So, what was originally thought or hypothesized, and then what did Bargala turn out to be instead?

SB: Well, as I said, the lead Macedonian researcher was really looking for early Slavic remains. And I’m not sure that there was complete harmony within the major people involved with it. And I think he did do a second season there, but I think he was not interested enough in the site to continue. Now, you know, well, Peter Megaw was there, earlier – because, of course, he really was the archaeologist. [Laughter] He would tell them what was going on. But he left just as I came. But I think that Blaga and Cyril didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.

CB: So, if we could talk a bit about Monagri also, who were other collaborators on the project with you? And who was the campaign director?

SB: David Winfield was in charge of the conservation. Then Richard Anderson – and of course, it was this same Cyprus group of conservators. Yani Makridis was head of the conservators, and he and his coworkers would come down almost every day while we were there. Well of course, they did eventually come down every day, because we were doing this, you know, taking down the fresco, and then that still had to have conservation treatment. But as I say, these teams were very small. The scaffolding was still up, and again, I was writing this description, and Richard was taking photographs – black and white and color – and then we would go over them when he brought them down, the finished product. David would come over at least once a week from Lagoudera. Yani knew more about everything than I could ever hope to, because he’d worked, you know, for years in Istanbul. And then he just – and these, these people are so good, because they can do everything. And you know, one doesn’t ever insist on your own way, because they really know what they’re doing. And it was always a great pleasure to work with them. They were always horrified by me [laughter], because they would come down and they would wash their vegetables extremely carefully. I just – I didn’t. They would take it out of my hands if we were going to eat the same salad together. They did not let me prepare the salad. But I didn’t like it when they poured sardines and sardine oil all over the salad, so I often would bring my own salamis, which were very good. [Laughter] But we had a nice time.

CB: So, what were living and working conditions like at Monagri?

SB: Monagri was wonderful by comparison. I mean, Bargala, we were living in tents, and we had no water, and when we found water, it had leeches in it, and we couldn’t drink any of the water. So, that was really tough. Chrysostomos was tough because we could never bathe. And that was where Ernest and his wife Hilda were just godsends, because they had a house in Lapithos, and we would go over there. And they would feed us and clean us, and we’d go off on weekend excursions together. So, that was nice. But it was very, you know, simple, and at Koutsovendis. Monagri was, by comparison, wonderful. I lived in a hotel up in Platres, which, as I said, this lovely little hill town. And eventually, it got too cold – I think I must have been there August and September – and I moved down to Limassol for the final – trying to write and rewrite the description and go up to Monagri as I needed to. And so you really couldn’t complain. [Laughter] There – you know, there were restaurants. You got your breakfast, you take – you buy your lunch to take down with you. And it was very nice, I have to admit, having Richard there. Because otherwise, it’s just, you know, you’re just completely on your own. And as I say, on weekends, sometimes I would go see the Winfields up in Lagoudera. Now their monastery was very nice. That all had been completely rehabbed. But they did live in it for about five years, I think, where he made his own wine, and June was a great cook. And again, very nice people, and again, scaffolding was all up, so one could really, you know, see it all firsthand. David was a very, very kind and a terrific host, and just would answer any questions. You know, I’d get – he’d come down, and we could just discuss the frescos together, whether it was Lagoudera or Monagri.

CB: Do you have any idea where the fieldwork papers might be?

SB: Where the what?

CB: The fieldwork papers are?

SB: Philbert?

CB: The fieldwork.

SB: Oh, fieldwork! [Laughter]

CB: Sorry.

SB: On Monagri?

CB: Mmm hmm. What type of records were kept from day-to-day by the workers?

SB: It wouldn’t have been by the workers. It probably would have been by David Winfield.

MM: So again, it would be conservation papers or notes.

SB: Mmm hmm. Yeah.

MM: I mean, you’d have kept your own, and you wrote them up and that’s that.

SB: Yep. Yes. Yes. I don’t even know that I’ve got my notes anymore. I think it – once I’d published something, I tossed it. [Laughter] I go through many, many drafts. A lot of trees went down. [Laughter]

MM: And Richard built a bridge?

SB: Pardon?

MM: Richard built a bridge. I remember.

SB: Yes, yes! Exactly! [Laughter] That’s right, because we had to cross a stream. I forgot that!

MM: He’s got a record of that.

SB: I don’t know where his things are either.

MM: Well, he’s based in Athens still.

SB: Oh yeah, [speaking to MM] you have this young woman who’s working with his materials.

CB: Okay, so if we could shift to Kourion also.

SB: Yes.

CB: So, in a 2008 article, Annemarie Carr indicated that only – while there were seven projects begun in Cyprus from the sixties to the late seventies, only two of them were traditional excavations, and both were overseen by Megaw in conjunction with the British School.

SB: Yes.

CB: And the Kourion project was one of these. What made this excavation traditional?

SB: Because it was a dirt excavation. Peter Megaw took over from a much earlier excavation that had been started by the University of Pennsylvania. And the lead archaeologist on that died tragically in a sailing accident off the coast of Cyprus. And I think Peter had just always been interested in that site. So, they uncovered all the foundations of this enormous church, with some very strange aspects to it, with the diaconicon that was at the west end of the church, where no one – I don’t think there’d been any others – and a beaut – a wonderful baptistery as a side church. And then there were little chapels, some of which had wall paintings. And then there was this much larger – well, it wasn’t a larger area, but at the end of the baptistery, at the west end of the baptistery was an un – completely unexcavated area, and he decided he would go ahead – and Dumbarton Oaks agreed to let him excavate it. And that was an extremely important find, which was – we saw this building coming out with a staircase, but it was quite sprawling, and it was identified as actually, the episcopal palace for the episcopal bishop of Cyprus, or certainly of Kourion. So that, I think, probably kept the excavations going for another two years from what I – I went in 1976. And they were just beginning, I think, on that part of it. And I had been asked to work on this particular kind of wall revetment, called champlevé revetments, of which they’d found a great many pieces, and they were still coming out. And it’s nothing I had any specialty – I had never worked on Byzantine sculpture at all. But it was a fascinating project, because no one really had worked on this material or kind of material. And it was all over the Mediterranean. What you would find is one piece here, one piece there. But even at Kourion, so much marble sculpture went into the lime kilns, and I think that’s why so little of it often remains in other places of North Africa, Spain, even the Near East. And then in 19 – either ’79; I went back in 1980 – the Department of Antiquities was working on a fifteenth-century sugar factory. And they discovered another Byzantine – early Byzantine – church. And in that church were a great many more large pieces of champlevé revetments. And the hypothesis is that when the Arabs attacked and did a lot of devastation, and the cathedral was abandoned, that a lot of the sculpture remains were taken to this very tiny church – I mean, not big at all – and used in the flooring. And the other thing that was amazing is that the enormous altar, which was this massive granite block or marble block – I don’t even remember – and the four posts had been lugged over there – much too big for this particular little church – and it still survived. So, it was really a serendipitous find, and I think there were three pieces of which you could actually make joins between the Kourion materials and the [pause] Sarayia materials. It’s terrible! [Laughter] One doesn’t remember these things. But that was a – I mean, I think it turned out to be a much more important excavation than one initially thought. And the cathedral itself was an extremely interesting building with many, many oddities about it. And fortunately, my work on the champlevé did help pinpoint a date. It’s very hard – I probably shouldn’t even say that, but I know that – Megaw worked very closely with me. Often, you can’t – you know, with either vegetal motifs or geometric motifs, you really cannot pin them down. They start in late antiquity and they can go way up. But there were just a number of motifs that were so unusual that one could certainly make a range. And eventually, you know, certain of these things one just kept able to move back and back and back. He always thought it was – he wouldn’t admit it. I mean, he would never tell any of us working on the sculpture what he really thought it was. I think, you know, maybe he says, you know, at one point, but it was up to us. And hopefully, the various, you know – what we had a – now there, we had a huge team, most of them up on the site. I was working with the stores, in the storerooms. But – I don't remember where I was going with that. Short-term memory. [Laughter]

CB: Was the huge team because of the collaboration with the British School?

SB: Oh the British weren’t there at all. This was – well, I take that back. There were some Brits.

MM: [Laughter] A few of us.

SB: Yes. Well, were you there when I was actually there? No.

MM: No.

SB: Yes, and Charlotte Roueché came in from Kuwait.

MM: And Geoffrey House.

SB: Oh my god, Geoffrey House. [Laughter]

MM: And Rowena, I think.

SB: [More laughter] I’m sorry. Can I digress on Geoffrey?

MM: Yes. Yes! Please do.

SB: Geoffrey was a – well, eccentric, but he was a flaming gay. And he was very unhappy with his quarters, which actually were in a storeroom. And I don’t blame him; it was awful! And he was always begging that – then, across from that was the female dorm, and at one point, we had a free bed. And he begged to come in and stay with us. He said, “You know, I don’t care about you. I don’t care! I won’t look! I won’t – anyway, I don’t care!” [Laughter] Well, we wouldn’t let him, because he would have hogged the mirror. [More laughter] Well, he was a character, and he was working on the actual stone sculpture from Monagri. [Pause] I’m sorry. Kourion! Kourion.

MM: You’re concerned about copyright, I know. So, if it’s ever possible to figure out the different relationship of co-sponsors, it’s useful. Any sense of what the British School put into it, and what D.O. put into Kourion?

SB: Oh, well, no. I couldn’t give any specifics. I think… I think he went on his own, perhaps, under the British School auspices, the first year. And then convinced – I think he was maybe even Director of Antiquities back – he may have gone back as our Director of Fieldwork Operations briefly, because he came in and out, and I don’t remember the details of that. But I think then he presented it to Dumbarton Oaks as an important excavation to undertake. And Margaret, I don’t know whether it was one year or two years that he did it on his own with the British School, because he was also working at Saranda Kolonnes at that time, so… But in any event, by – when did I go? ’76. Well, by ’76, it’d been under way for at least four years. That probably – some of that should be in the publication.

MM: Some of it, probably.

SB: Yeah. It’s not something I was focusing on.

MM: No, you just mentioned that –

SB: But that probably was the last major work that Dumbarton Oaks undertook on its own, ultimately on its own. But just for a moment, to go back to English or British being careful about money [laughter], I was very spoiled at Dumbarton Oaks, and I always had at least a five by seven photograph, if not an eight by ten. It never occurred to me that I would be getting little, you know, Leica prints of something. And it killed Peter to ask to print a bigger print. I said, “Peter, I can't work with these.” Well, he could. I don’t know whether he just used, you know, a little eye thing like that [gestures as if holding a loupe up to her eye]. But he was appalled, so I eventually just got – when the negatives came back to Dumbarton Oaks, I had them all blown up. But it was very funny, because this was something he just thought was a great waste of money, to blow these photographs up.

CB: And who had taken the photographs?

SB: Oh, a lot of them he had taken, because he did an awful lot. Richard Anderson always did final photography, but he had notebooks and notebooks of photographs that he had taken, and they were all printed up. I mean, I think he had some as contact strips, and then he cut the contact strips up with careful notes about where each of these things was. It was very important. And when he came here, I think, to work on Kourion – and I can’t give you the date – that notebook saved my life, because there were things I did not know the location of where they were found. And that was obviously very important when you were trying to put pieces together, where they might have fallen from on the wall. So their provenance within the complex was always very important. And he was extremely meticulous and detailed.

CB: And you had mentioned that this was the last major fieldwork campaign. Do you want to touch on that, Margaret?

MM: Oh, I was interested in the process of Dumbarton Oaks’ withdrawal from –

SB: Ah.

MM: – supporting fieldwork, and just how, on the ground, it felt, you know? How it affected –

SB: Okay, when did Giles come? [Laughter]

MM: It was not a slow, long, drawn out process, but it was the mark –

SB: That was the death knell. That was the death knell. Giles Constable – almost before he came to Dumbarton Oaks, I think, he gave a lecture here, of which you probably have a copy in ICFA – about the future of fieldwork at Dumbarton Oaks, which is, there will not be. [Laughter] There was a time when Dumbarton Oaks was allegedly in a deficit orientation. This was – well, it was when Giles came, because he had a study done. When we had Mrs. Bliss alive, any deficit was – would be just made up, and when she wasn’t – well, she didn’t die until what, ’67? But we continued on in that way. The Director had been used to – it was just a very loosey goosey approach to finances. And, you know, they always would find money for something. So, some of these excavations being very expensive, when, I think, Giles just had different priorities. He was not an art historian; he was not an archaeologist. He was a straight historian, and I think he just felt too much money was going down the drain, and they weren’t getting published. And thanks to Margaret, many of these have been – are now – have been published for us or are –.

MM: On the way.

SB: On the way. So that – those were two major issues, and it really, they are – so many excavations never get published. And that is just a great loss of information forever, because it’s in somebody’s notebook, and it – I tell you, you can’t really reconstruct from somebody else’s notebook. You don’t know what their little terms mean, their shorthand is. So, he concentrated, then, on getting Kalenderhane published and Saraçhane published. And how – I’d have to go back to see, really, when Kourion was approved. I really don’t know. I was very surprised to have been asked to work on it. I think it was partly that Peter wanted a Dumbarton Oaks person involved to help convince Dumbarton Oaks to keep it going. And it makes sense. There’s – you know, one has a little – one is invested, not just in money, but you know, in information from a staff member.

CB: So, if we could ask a few questions about the Photograph Collection, also. So, between 1960 and 1979, the archives tripled in size, due to Dumbarton Oaks’ acquisition of the remaining Byzantine Institute records and images from the headquarters in Paris and Boston. Do you remember a large influx of materials while you were working with the collection?

SB: I remember mainly the frescos, the Serbian frescos. And I don’t remember the name of the photographer. But we had a terrific relationship with him, and he was sending us hundreds and hundreds of photographs. I think that the – all the St. Sophia photographs were already here. We got a lot of negatives from Ernest – Ernst Kitzinger – from his work in Sicily. Because he’d gotten permission to photograph the Martorana and other churches there, which he, for a long time, wouldn’t allow to be incorporated into the fieldwork, because he said it was his – well, he hadn’t published it yet. And he – it took a long time to convince him to actually let us use them, and mount them, so that they weren’t going to just sit. My recollection was – I was asked to take over the Photograph Collection because Georgine Reed left very suddenly. And, as you probably have surmised, people don’t get replaced here very quickly. I had finished the handbook of the collection, and so I had time available. But I don’t think that was published in – oh, I’ve forgotten, ’67 or something like that. I don’t – I think it was something like ’69 and ’70, because I noticed that after Bargala, I was supposed to – Cyril and I were supposed to go to Cyprus at that point. And then at the last minute, he couldn’t go. So, I stayed in Greece and photographed for the Photograph Collection. And you couldn’t – I would have thought that Marlia Mango, who took over – no, she was in charge. She was in charge by 1970, because she was on the excavation in Bargala. So, she had already taken over, probably that spring. So, maybe it was ’68 that I started, but I don’t think it was much more than a year. And what was going on – I think, mainly, we were just always looking for new sources, and then mounting and identifying. And fortunately, this great book by Hamann-MacLean had just come out, Serbian Frescos. And without it, we couldn’t have possibly – and I remember Marlia and I going, after Bargala, with Hamann-MacLean, to try and see, you know, where the – they had these great – I don’t know whether you're familiar with the book, but –

CB: No.

SB: – These great diagrams looking up. And it took a lot to try and figure out what was there, where it really was. But – so she was already in charge of the Photograph Collection at that point.

CB: What were policies like with regard to regulations on access, cataloguing, and processing?

SB: Access was completely open. I have to admit it was wonderful having these photographs mounted all in a filing cabinet. If I had to do research now, pulling out, you know, box upon box upon box – to do any kind of iconographic research, you just could, you know, go through [gestures as if flipping through hanging files]. It’s like the index of Christian art. You could just go through. Now, you have to know what you’re looking for, and I can’t tell you how much serendipity plays a part in finding things that are comparanda when you’re doing art historical research. So, this is one of the, you know, sad issues of archival work, versus art historical work, and what makes art historical work easier for the researcher. And I don’t know whether there’s – I guess a lot of this is in the process of being put on disk, being…

CB: Digitized.

SB: Digitized. Thank you. So, at that point, it might be a little easier. But it – I mean, you could go right to the part of the church. It was wonderful. And there was never – I mean, I think things have gotten much tighter in terms of – we could take slides out. I mean, all the lecturing I did had – many of them were my slides! You know, I gave them to the Collection, and then, you know, ultimately, I wasn’t allowed to take them out. I just was not happy with that, you know. I wouldn’t have given them, had I known that. But anyway – especially if they’ve been copied, you know, it’s not going to be a great loss, but – in any event, that last lecture I gave on Cyprus was tough. I had to have everything copied, and that was – I mean, anyway. [Laughter] Difficult.

CB: And did the Photograph Collection and the Research Archives or the document collection – did that function separately?

SB: Yes. Yes. They were in completely different parts of the building. The – what’s the other one called? The –

CB: The Research Archive.

SB: The Research Archive. They were down in the basement of this building. And the Photograph Collection had already moved over to the basement of the Pre-Columbian wing and had two big rooms there. The Research Archives had basically ground to a halt. We didn’t – it was – I tried at one point to see if we could change the classification system. But Ernst Kitzinger, who had helped set it up, was not one who changed his mind easily. And so I – it was fine with me. I didn’t really want to do much, but I found it a very, very cumbersome system to use. And so my interest, really, was in the active part of the collection.

CB: And how much administrative oversight, would you say, there was over the Photograph Collection and the Archive?

SB: Whoever was in charge of it was in charge of it. We had such a small staff back in those days. I mean, I don’t know how many of you are at the Photograph Collection now?

RR: I think there are four fulltime staff. Three assistants?

SB: Well, we had one head and one assistant. And sometimes you might have had another part time assistant. Judy O’Neal started as, I think – well, Marlia started as a part time assistant, then went full time, and then became head of it. And Judy O’Neal, I think, started part time, then went full time, then became the head of it. Charlotte Burke, I think, always came as – by that time, it was getting bigger, and people were using it more. So, she was always full time. But it was – everything was easier at Dumbarton Oaks then. You know, security was not the way it is today. Everybody was very open about what was available. Nobody ever felt that material was theirs, in terms of – even if they had given materials to the Photograph Collection, that they had a right to it. And that’s the way it is now, and I think it – it wasn’t – there were occasions when that wasn’t the case. But it was nice that it was as open. I think the seals were never open. I mean, you always had to have somebody there to get access to that photo collection.

CB: And so, who was your assistant at the time, that you were overseeing the –?

SB: Marlia.

CB: Marlia. Okay. And do you remember any particular agreements with donors or, because of the open access, that was not a –

SB: Hmm hmm. Yes. No, Cyril and Ihor – Cyril Mango and Ihor Ševčenko both gave – and this was when I was in charge of it, because we made a formal agreement that if they gave their, all of their negatives to Dumbarton Oaks, that they would in perpetuity have access to them and have prints from them. Gratis. And this has not always been – well, of course, they’re both dead – no, excuse me. Ihor’s dead. But that, I felt, was the fair way to do it. We wanted the negatives, so that we could have the prints, because they went all over Turkey, and Dumbarton Oaks never sent people just to do photographic campaigns. And so it was useful for both – and of course, you have these great fieldwork notebooks now, of all of that. Now I’ve forgotten the name, but I know that your – who is the Austrian who’s here now? Or, is she German?

MM: Fani Gargova.

SB: Fani. Well, I don’t remember. Rona, it might have been you. Somebody did a, I think, a digital presentation of these extraordinary photographs from an Istanbul, early Istanbul photographer. The name does not –

CB: Artamonoff?

SB: Artamonoff, yes.

MM: It’s Günder and Artamonoff. It’s Artamonoff that –

SB: Well, they were phenomenal. I mean, it’s just fascinating to see, for any of us who had been to Istanbul in the sixties, when it really looked very much like that, even though those were from the thirties. It’s just a treasure trove of materials.

CB: Was that acquired during your time?

SB: I think we already had them, but I don’t know that we’d printed them all up. We had – I know that we had – they were Hasselblad size, I think. And I think we had contact prints of everything. We always had cont – made contact prints. That was obviously the basic – that was the basic cataloguing measure for any of the real fieldwork materials, whether they be, you know, four by fives, thirty five millimeter, or Hasselblad size. And those then made it fairly easy to go through the books. I don’t know, do they still use the books? Do they still have the books? Field notebooks or field books?

CB: I think we still have them.

SB: Because that really was very – you found all kinds of things, just by – and that was even easier than going through the files, because not all of them were printed.

CB: The serendipity…

SB: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Well, we were always looking for new sources of photographs. And I guess that year that I was in Greece, this wonderful Greek woman, Doula Mouriki, traveled with me. And she was able to open a lot of doors, church doors, without anybody being there, so we could photograph, and also was able to persuade Hatzidakis, who was head of the Benaki Museum and one of the big research archives in Greece, to give us – let us have access and prints of a lot of materials there. Greece is always a problem, because they have the tradition of ephors, and they are head of – and they are the head of each little province. Whether they’re doing fieldwork or they’re doing conservation work, that ephor considers all those photographs their property. And until they get it published, no one can have access to it. So, for Hatzidakis to actually give up – I think this was some of the Mystra materials – was really a very generous thing for him to do. And it’s – it didn’t happen terribly often with the Greek archives.

CB: So, Margaret, I believe you had a few publications-related questions also.

MM: I think we’ve dealt with most of them.

CB: You think we’ve got that? Anything else?

MM: I don’t think so.

CB: Okay. All right, so I think that pretty much does it for our questions today.

SB: Okay.

CB: If you have anything you’d like to add, or anything we haven’t touched on that you’d like to discuss.

SB: Not off the top of my head, I think.

CB: Okay.

SB: No. I think, you know, the Cypriot – the fact that the Cypriots were, or the Cypriot Department of Antiquities, allowed us to work in, I think, something like twelve of their major sites, of which I think eight were painted churches, or six were painted churches… [Pause] four – five were painted churches, and then two mosaic complexes. And it was a shift from what one was used to in Greece. And moving the teams from Istanbul, really, has made a lot of this available to the public that might otherwise not have happened. So, I was always a firm believer in fieldwork. [Laughter]

CB: Yes. Well, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

SB: You’re very welcome.

CB: It was truly a pleasure.

SB: Thank you. Thank you.