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Cyril Mango and Marlia Mundell Mango

Edited Oral History Interview with Cyril Alexander Mango and Marlia Mundell Mango, undertaken by Anna Bonnell-Freidin at Oxford University, on August 1, 2009. At Dumbarton Oaks, Cyril Mango was a Junior Fellow (1951–1953), Fellow (1953–1954), and Research Associate (1954–1955) of Byzantine Studies, Instructor in Byzantine Archaeology (1955–1958), Lecturer in Byzantine Archaeology (1958–1962), Associate Professor of Byzantine Archaeology (1962–1963), Executive Editor of Dumbarton Oaks Publications (1958–1963), member of the Board of Scholars for Byzantine Studies (1967–1972), and member of the research staff (1972–1973). He was also Co-Director of the Corpus of Dated Greek Inscriptions (not in residence) (1978–1982), co-director of the Christian Monuments in Turkish Mesopotamia Project (not in residence) (1982–1990), and director of the Cathedral of Nisibis Project (not in residence) (1990–1991). At Dumbarton Oaks, Marlia Mundell Mango was Assistant for the Photograph Collection (1966–1973), co-director of the Christian Monuments in Turkish Mesopotamia Project (not in residence) (1982–1990), and director of the Excavations at Androna, Syria Project (not in residence) (1999–2002).

ABF: So, I’m Anna Bonnell-Freidin, and I’m here with Cyril Mango and Marlia Mango at Oxford University on August 1st, 2009. So, I’d like to start off by asking about how you first came to Dumbarton Oaks in 1951 as a Junior Fellow and about your first impressions and introduction to the institution.

CM: How I got there? Well, I applied, simply, for this post – I was in Paris before – and, I mean, I’d never heard of Dumbarton Oaks. I was told about it by a chap called Jim Breckenridge, who was a friend in Paris, and he was, I think – he was at Princeton and he was a Byzantinist. And he told me about Dumbarton Oaks and said, “Why didn’t you apply?” And I said, “Well I did, and I got it.” Now when I got there, it was a very small place and it was very informal, which was very nice. There was practically no administration. It was all run by one spinster called Miss Carpenter, who was enormously efficient, and that was it. There was a director, who was Jack Thacher, a friend of the Blisses, and there was a director of studies, who was never there – most of the time he wasn’t there – called Bert Friend. Now Bert Friend is rather forgotten, now, but he was at the time a very – sort of – prominent man, an influential man. I think he was a professor at Princeton and he would come down to Dumbarton Oaks from time to time and conduct business, have a bottle of bourbon late at night. Now, Bert Friend was – how should I describe him? A fantasist. He was full of ideas, and his project at the time had to do with the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, which he sort of conceived as a monument of enormous importance. And he tried to reconstruct its decoration and its architecture and its archaeology and one thing and another. And most of the faculty in Dumbarton Oaks was busy with this project. Well, I mean, Bert Friend did not know any Greek, which had hampered him, so he had Glanville Downey translating all the Greek texts. There was Paul Underwood, who did all the beautiful drawings of how Friend conceived this church to be like. He had Father Dvornik, who investigated the legends of the apostles. And all of this was supposed to come together. Where I fitted in was – a key figure in this topic was the patriarch Photius, and I was encouraged to translate his sermons, his homilies, which I did and that eventually was published, I can’t remember when, ’58 or something of the sort. So that was my initial job there, but in the end Bert Friend got tired of Holy Apostles and started imagining that the key monument was something called the New Church, the Nea Ekklesia, from the same period of Basil the First. And then, all this started again: reconstruction, its decoration, its architecture, and so forth and so on. And after that I can’t remember, and I think that Bert must have died right after that. I got on with him, I mean – he was – I thought he was a nice chap. Now, that was my initial impression, you know, that it was very informal, the sources were excellent, and of course the library had been built up at the cost of enormous labor on the part of the faculty. And they would all sit down once a week and go through book catalogues and they built up, I mean, this wonderful library, which, you know, was better than anything else in the world, at the time. I liked the informality, you know. I mean, now it’s a bureaucratic nightmare. You have to wear tags around your neck and one and another, which I can’t stand. But I mean, then, we came and went as we liked, and I think we did fairly good work, I think. And after a while I got involved in the fieldwork in Istanbul and later in Cyprus. And that’s another story.

ABF: So can you tell me more about how it was to live – I suppose you lived in the Fellows Building?

CM: At first, yes. Well, it was pleasant. We were all gathered together at lunch and dinner, which was served, and one could smoke there at the time and, of course, there were scholars, who came for shorter or longer visits, so that one got to know a wide range of people – you know, eminent people, who would come for a while. And I forgot to mention the oldest member of the group, who was Vasiliev, who had a great reputation at the time. I think he died in ’53, so that I must have known him for about two years, and he had a kind of little Russian coterie there, including Mrs. Scheffer, who was the ex-princess of Volkonskaya.

ABF: Was she also the librarian?

CM: She was – yeah. She looked after the Slavic books and she was an absolutely charming woman and a devout believer in the Orthodox Church. And I was also partly an honorary member of the Russian corner. And so Vasiliev would reminisce about his old days. I mean, I remember he went to Constantinople, I think about 1910, with what was then the Russian Archaeological Institute, and he traveled in Asia Minor. And he was also an Arabist, you know, so he was into testimonials there between Byzantium, you know, and the Arabs. And, you know, he was also a really keen musician and a ladies’ man, in spite of his old age. But he was a bear of a man, not very tall but sort of massive. I mean, of the other members, I liked Father Dvornik very much. He was a very jolly man, an excellent cook. He would entertain us to dinner with enormous rations of central European food and lots of drinks, also. It took you a couple of days to recover from his meals. But then he went on and he wasn’t – at the time, the Vatican was not very much in favor of close ties with the Orthodox Church, which was what Dvornik really wanted, so he didn’t receive his promotion to Monsignor until much later. But then eventually he got it – the purple socks, whatever it is that you can wear. Well, is that enough for the time being?

ABF: Do you have more? More is better than less.

MM: You mean this is all you have to say about the entire time you were at Dumbarton Oaks?

CM: No, no, no. When I first got there.

MM: Oh, okay. Just the first two years? Is that how long you were a Junior Fellow?

CM: Yes, until I got my doctorate.

ABF: I thought you were a Junior Fellow from 1951 to 1953 and a Fellow from 1953 to 1954.

CM: Yes. I got my doctorate in ’53 and that’s when you got promoted to Fellow.

ABF: What about Sirarpie Der Nersessian?

CM: Well, she was a very wily lady. She lived in that cottage there – what was it called?

MM: Where what’s-his-name lived? The gardener?

CM: Yes.

MM: And Kazhdan and Ševčenko?

CM: That’s it – one half was occupied by the gardener, Mr. Kearney, and she had the other half with her sister, who was called Arax. And they were very – sort of – correct and bourgeois, very French, very Frenchified. But she had been at Wellesley, I think, before and I think she was head of the art department at Wellesley when she was transferred to Dumbarton Oaks. But she worked on her Armenian manuscripts, which was removed from whatever people were doing. She was a perfectly pleasant person and I can’t think of any colorful incidents.

MM: What did you think of her scholarship?

CM: Well, she was a good scholar.

MM: [to ABF] Would you like to know such things?

ABF: Yeah, yeah.

CM: She was a good scholar in her field. I mean as far as the Byzantine field goes, she made a new – she worked in manuscripts and iconography. She was very competent at that.

ABF: So who did you form the closest intellectual relationships with during these first years?

CM: I can’t say that I did with anyone. I am, sort of, very largely self-taught and I can’t say that I’ve been greatly influenced by anyone in my life, which is probably a “dual bag – possibly Ševčenko. 

ABF: So when did you first meet Ševčenko?

CM: Well, it must have been about ’52, I think, or thereabouts. He was sort of floating between jobs at the time, if I remember correctly. Apart from that, I don’t know that I was especially influenced by anyone. I mean, I must have learned a lot from both people who were there and the visitors, people like André Grabar, who would come from time to time, but I had known him in Paris. Ostrogorsky, who was a great scholar. I can’t remember who else would come.

ABF: What about Kitzinger?

CM: Kitzinger I never got on very well with. I mean, he was obviously a man of enormous learning, very much a prima donna, I thought. And concerned – well, I mean, he was an art historian, of course – and he was concerned mostly with style, with a sort of historical background in the monuments, which is what interested him more. But for him, style was something that sort of was – it existed by itself, so to speak. And later we came to clash over items of policy. But anyway that came later.

ABF: And Paul Underwood?

CM: Paul Underwood, we got on very well together. He was in charge of fieldwork at the time when I got into it also, so that he was, you know, close to me as far as the work goes. He was not a man of ideas, you know. He was a really nice chap. He was an architect by training and he knew the practicalities of architecture, which was very good. He made elaborate drawings.

ABF: Did you know his work on the Kariye Djami?

CM: Oh yes. I mean, I worked there also.

ABF: So, did you go to Istanbul and work with him?

CM: Yes. Yes, I think after a certain date I went over here.

ABF: To England.

CM: No, to Istanbul.

ABF: Here, being...

CM: Yeah. [Laughter.] And I worked on all the monuments that were being done at the time: I mean Kariye Djami, Fethiye Djami, Pammakaristos, St. Sophia, of course. I worked in all of them. And later we started working on Cyprus, also.

MM: Macedonia?

CM: Macedonia, no. There was no fieldwork in Macedonia.

MM: Angold?

CM: Angold came later. And I remember going to Macedonia with Underwood and Kitzinger, whenever that was, fifty-something, ’54, ’55.

ABF: What were you excavating?

CM: Oh, we were not excavating. We went on a tour to see the churches and we had a driver from Istanbul, who took us in a jeep. The place was still wild at the time, but we saw all the main monuments. It had to have been about ’54, ’55.

ABF: So, after your fellowship.

CM: Well, I’m very bad in years. I just can’t remember what happened when. I have an accurate reconstruction, but...

MM: In ’54 – you went for all of ’53 and ’54 and then what happened?

CM: Oh gosh...

MM: You were still there.

CM: I was still there.

MM: Do you have the chronology?

ABF: Yeah, I have – well, my chronology has a gap between ’51–’54 at Dumbarton Oaks and then ’57–’63 as a professor at Dumbarton Oaks.

CM: Yes.

MM: But you were still there, weren’t you? Between ’54 and ’57?

CM: Oh yes, yes I was there.

MM: But were you a professor then? What were you?

CM: No. Well, I must have been...

MM: Just a Fellow?

CM: A Fellow or a lecturer. I can’t remember. I hate the title of “lecturer”. Maybe I did.

MM: Maybe you were a lecturer. But he was still there all the time.

ABF: But were you done with your work on the homilies?

CM: Well, that came out, I think, in ’58.

ABF: OK, so perhaps –

CM: And then I was working mainly on fieldwork.

ABF: So, did you – because your book The Mosaics of St. Sophia of Istanbul came out in ’62...

CM: Yes.

ABF: So, you finished the homilies by –

CM: ’57, ’58.

ABF: And then you began to work extensively on the fieldwork.

CM: Mostly, yes.

ABF: So, who were you working most closely with at that point?

CM: Well it was Paul Underwood. I mean, it’s funny. I just –

MM: We should have brought your own bibliography to remind when things were published.

ABF: Well, I have a bibliography. A kind of bare-bones bibliography, right here, but it’s not detailed at all. But yeah, I have here Mosaics of St. Sophia, ’62. And then it’s just your books: The Art of the Byzantine Empire in ’72. But let’s stick with –

MM: There are two hundred –

ABF: – the two hundred in between [laughter].

MM: Which might flag up some memories about the years.

CM: Yes. I just can’t remember the years.

MM: No, well, I wasn’t around so I don’t remember.

CM: Now, in Cyprus I think I must have been working there in ’63, I think. Oh, another person who was very much a part of this team was Ernest Hawkins, who was the restorer. And he did all the – sort of – the practical work of actually uncovering the mosaics and frescoes, assemblage, and I was very closely involved with Ernest Hawkins. He was an Englishman, who trained as a sculptor; never went to college. You know, he was a practical man, you know, an artist, if you like.

ABF: So were you working with him at Dumbarton Oaks?

CM: No, no I met Hawkins –

MM: Out in the field they were working together.

CM: I didn’t have to come to Dumbarton Oaks and he worked –

MM: He worked for Dumbarton Oaks.

CM: Yes. In Turkey and in Cyprus.

MM: Before that he worked for the Byzantine Institute.

CM: Yes, yes.

MM: With what’s-his-name.

CM: Whittemore. Thomas Whittemore.

MM: Dumbarton Oaks inherited all the fieldwork of the Byzantine Institute, isn’t that correct?

CM: Yes.

MM: Yeah. So the Byzantine Institute was based in Boston, was it?

CM: Well, it was a kind of a fictional organization.

MM: Today maybe it would have a website.

CM: And in fact, I mean, Thomas Whittemore sort of played a considerable part in veering Mrs. Bliss towards Byzantium. He was a sort of ghostly presence at the back of the door.

ABF: Hollander Woodall spoke to me about Thomas Whittemore, actually.

CM: Oh yes.

ABF: She remembered him.

CM: I remember him also. He was a fraud in some ways, you know, but he did a lot of good, simply by initiating hirings and – I mean, he didn’t know anything very much, you know, but he was a great organizer and according to legend he persuaded Ataturk to turn St. Sophia into a museum. He was given permission to uncover the mosaics, which is partly true, but I’m not sure that he persuaded Ataturk to do anything. Anyway, I mean, Whittemore, I knew him fleetingly.

ABF: So what about Mrs. Bliss?

CM: Well, Mrs. Bliss would turn up every day for tea. And she presided over this silver tea service.

MM: It was part of this informality of Dumbarton Oaks.

CM: Yes [laughter]. This happened I think almost every day. And she expected the scholars to come down and make intelligent conversation. Now, I’m not sure why she chose Byzantium, apart from the influence of Thomas Whittemore. She must have thought that it was something, you know, very unusual and that, you know, she could sort of become the patron of this very recherché field. I suppose so.

MM: When did they start collecting things, though?  I mean, was that a consequence –

CM: There was also Royall Tyler.

MM: Was that a consequence of Whittemore or was that in addition or before? I mean, is that known?

CM: I’m not sure at what stage Royall Tyler came in.

MM: Wasn’t he maybe Mr. Bliss’ godfather, or – I thought there was some sort of a family tie like that. And of course his father had already collected, so it must have gone back – didn’t he, Royall Tyler?

CM: Yes.

MM: I mean, that – what was his father’s name? Was it – what was Tyler’s first name?

CM: Bill, wasn’t it?

MM: Oh, Bill, of course. Yes, Royall Tyler was – yes, sorry. That’s his father, because he – I don’t remember when he published –

CM: He collected, I think, in the ’30s.

MM: He also published something.

CM: He published something, which, title and what? – something and title –

MM: I know, I can’t remember quite what it was. It had these big plates with everything original, all the major, many major pieces, one of which, I think, is down at Dumbarton Oaks, which he had acquired, right?

CM: There was also another figure, a man called Howland Shaw, who was in the diplomatic service and a friend of Mr. Bliss, and he had served in some diplomatic capacity in Turkey and collected Byzantine seals, so that the seal collection that is now at Dumbarton Oaks is partly that of Howland Shaw, so that must go back to the ’30s, also. Well, anyway, and I don’t know why Mrs. Bliss got into this subject, but she thought that, well, I think she expected the scholars to produce a kind of wonderful and readable history of Byzantium with beautiful pictures all dedicated to her, or something of the sort. She disliked Germans and adored the French. She wanted something in the style of Charles Diehl, I think.

ABF: She spoke French often, didn’t she?

CM: She spoke quite well, and she also spoke – what was it? – Swedish or something. Maybe some Spanish also. And Mr. Bliss ended up as ambassador in –

MM: Argentina.

CM: Argentina. And she always [unintelligible]. But anyway, I... She was not at all stupid, she was, I mean, a woman of some culture and intelligence, I would say.

ABF: Do you have memories of these social occasions with her?

CM: Well, I never got really close to her, you know, apart from the tea parties, which were a daily event.

MM: Didn’t they have the concerts already?

CM: Oh they had concerts, yes.

MM: Lectures? There were many occasions to gather together.

ABF: But didn’t she also give meals occasionally to the Fellows after symposia?

MM: There were very extravagant – well, not extravagant – very...

ABF: Lavish.

MM: Elegant. Voluptuous.

CM: Voluptuous, yes, yes.

MM: Always. I mean, I don’t know anything before 1964, but maybe that went back.

CM: Yes. The concerts were there from the beginning and those were also –

MM: Stravinsky.

CM: Yes. – were organized by Jack Thacher, mostly. And Libby Bland, I suppose, had something to do with them.

MM: (to ABF) Have you talked to Sue Boyd?

ABF: I haven’t.

MM: Okay, because she knows all about the collection, the history of the collection and everything, and the house and stuff, you know, talking about when the collections were put together.

CM: But she came later, didn’t she?

MM: Sue did, yeah. Libby was there right at the beginning. Libby is not here anymore. I imagine that Sue has, you know, information about history of stuff.

CM: Yes.

ABF: So, what sort of tone did Mrs. Bliss set for you all?

MM: She called everybody “Mister,” didn’t she?

CM: Yes. Very formal. It was very formal.

MM: There was no “Professor Kitzinger.”

CM: No. “Mister.”

MM: Mister.

CM: Yes. Apart from the formality [unintelligible].

ABF: Was there a feel of Europe in Dumbarton Oaks at that time, because most of – there were very few Americans, as it were.

CM: Well, I mean, Underwood was an American. Downey was an American.

MM: But there were an awful lot of Europeans, weren’t there?

CM: Oh yes. Absolutely.

ABF: Lots of central Europeans.

CM: I mean, there were hardly – well, very few American Byzantinists.

MM: Well, what – was – Meyendorff was there, wasn’t he? Meyendorff? Or did he just come occasionally?

CM: He just came, I think, occasionally.

MM: Okay, so it wasn’t really – I couldn’t remember.

CM: And he may have been a member for a year. But he was a European, of course. I mean, Dvornik was a European. And Der Nersessian was a European. Kitzinger was a European. At the time, as I said, there were very few American Byzantinists. And then the people like Vasiliev were the, sort of, pioneers in introducing the subject to American universities.

ABF: What about Thacher?

CM: Thacher. Yes, well, where do you start with Thacher [laughter]? He – and I like him, I must admit – the trouble with Thacher was that he had no seriousness of purpose. You know, I mean, he... was a very rich man, of course. And, you know, he did as he pleased. And I think that his main concern was to get some very exciting loot for the museum, which he did. And he had a dealer, antique dealer, who was George Zakos, who came from Istanbul. And a good part of the collection now was bought by Jack Thacher from Zakos.

ABF: What do you think of the collection?

CM: What do I think of it?

ABF: Yeah. That Thacher put together.

CM: Well, it’s a very good collection, you know, but, I mean, it was done in a way that is impossible now, you know. It was – it simply would not be legal. But you know, I mean, on that basis the curators and directors were judged – at that time, on the basis of what they acquired – and if you bought something worth a million bucks then that was a great success, so from that point of view Jack Thacher was a very successful museum director.

ABF: Were you aware of, at the time, of the collection of Pre-Columbian art?

CM: Oh yes, I was aware of it. I didn’t know anything about the objects. They looked hideous and horrible to me [laughter], but anyway it was there. And the collection itself – I mean the main part of it – that was before this fancy new building was put up. Then it was in the main building. It’s a very, sort of, select group of objects and it’s all, you know, gold and ivory and silver and that sort of thing, and all the objects are beautiful, you know, but –

MM: The pre-Columbian?

CM: No, no.

MM: Oh, I’m sorry. The Byzantine –

CM: But yes, it’s not –

MM: Archaeological.

CM: – what you’d call a study collection. It’s more a collection of beautiful objects. But you know it’s quite an oddity that it could be assembled and built in the 20th century.

ABF: What was your impression of the administrative hierarchy?

CM: Well there was Jack Thacher, who held the purse strings, and as I said there was Miss Carpenter, who administered everything. After a while, she acquired a financial secretary called Mrs. Hammack, and there was Libby Bland, who looked after the collection. And that, I think, was about it.

MM: Well, when did people like Julia Warner –

CM: Julia Warner was brought in by Downey, I think. And she was – she looked after the publications.

MM: Fanny Bonajuto? Did you talk about Fanny?

CM: Fanny was brought in by Kitzinger, but I can’t remember what she was supposed to be doing.

MM: Well, I think she helped with publications in a certain sense. She did the photograph collection.

ABF: How about the gardens?

CM: Well, I don’t know. The gardens looked after them – well, Mr. Kearney –

MM: [Laughs.] They didn’t look after themselves. Quite the opposite. [Laughs]

CM: Mr. Kearney looked after the gardens. It was a great pleasure to have them there and especially the swimming pool. I know that Mrs. Bliss was very much mystically attached to the gardens. She called them “noble elements,” whatever that meant.

MM: I just think it provides a lyrical painting.

CM: Yes. Yes. Noble elements.

MM: We have a picture of it – we have a picture of the noble elements. A book cover – did you ever publish this, on the cover of a book [laughs]? It has a picture of Mrs. Bliss on it, doesn’t it?

CM: Yes.

MM: And Jack Thacher.

CM: Yes.

ABF: Who did this?

MM: We did it together.

ABF: You did it together?

MM: And Jack Thacher sitting on a cloud. Little other elements.

ABF: That sounds great. Is it in your home?

MM: Our dining room, yes.

ABF: Tell me more about the “noble elements.”

MM: Don’t they mention it in the dedicatory inscription on the front of the building?

CM: Somewhere or other, yes. I don’t know if there was a garden library at the time or not. I don’t remember it.

MM: You’re still thinking back to your very earliest...

CM: Yes.

MM: Because you do remember it was eventually built.

CM: Oh, yes, yes.

MM: Well, my year in ’64 there was certainly a garden library. So it was some time between ’54 and ’64, but you don’t, you’re not sure...

CM: Maybe it existed earlier.

MM: I think it hadn’t been there that long. When was the Pre-Columbian gallery built? Do you know?

ABF: I don’t know...

CM: It was Philip Johnson.

MM: It was Philip Johnson.

ABF: I think it was the late ’60s. I don’t think – I think it opened after Mrs. Bliss died.

MM: No, no, no, because I had my first office in there in 1964, and she was still alive then, so –

ABF: Okay, then I’m confused.

MM: That’s alright, but I think it might have been just about the time I came. I think. I don’t think – I wasn’t anywhere else before that, so – oh, excuse me – ’65. ’65 I came, not ’64.

ABF: Yeah, then it would have been the early ’60s. It definitely wasn’t, I know it wasn’t –

MM: – the ’50s.

ABF: Yeah, it wasn’t in the ’50s; I know that.

CM: Beginning at the beginning, those objects were not exhibited.

MM: I see. They were packed up.

CM: Mhm.

ABF: Okay, no, okay, because it was Mr. Bliss who didn’t see it and it was kind of his thing, the pre-Columbian thing was kind of his part.

MM: I think Mr. Bliss died –

ABF: before, I think, yeah, and that’s why – Mr. Bliss died before the Grierson [sic], the, yeah, he died before the gallery opened. I think.

MM: Yes, I think so, because when I came in ’65 the gallery was open.

ABF: And she died in ’69.

MM: Right. I heard some ghost stories about Mrs. Bliss.

ABF: Yeah.

MM: You’ve heard some?

CM: Yes.

ABF: Dressed in white, wandering around –

MM: – the garden. A couple of others.

CM: I never saw the ghost.

MM: No, but I heard them at the time. And other people heard them.

ABF: Well, let’s move on to your professorships, ’57 to ’63, and then [to MM] you jump in at ’64.

MM: ’65

ABF: ’65? Okay.

MM: I mixed up. It was ’65.

ABF: Okay. Because you were called – in the archives, you’re called the instructor-lecturer in Byzantine Archaeology, assistant professor of Byzantine Archaeology, executive editor of Byzantine publications. So it sounds like you were doing...

MM: Busy.

ABF: Yeah. So tell me about how you came to this professorship and –

CM: Well, I suppose they had to give me a title, so, you know, I sort of progressed slowly from instructor to whatever it was – lecturer or something – to assistant professor at the usual steps, you know, whenever I continued doing my stuff. I taught at Harvard in maybe ’58 and at Berkeley sometime in the early ’60s, I think. I can’t remember.

ABF: Because Ševčenko went to Berkeley around –

CM: He was there before.

ABF: Kantorowicz left. And he went to Princeton.

CM: He went to Princeton.

ABF: And then Ševčenko went to –

CM: Yes.

ABF: Berkeley.

CM: And then he left.

ABF: Right. And he went to Columbia.

CM: He went to Columbia. Yes. That is correct. So, you know, I mean, I continued doing my stuff and again fieldwork, plus, you know, some of these other concerns like the art sources and a book on Byzantine architecture.

ABF: So, this is while you were working on the book on the mosaics of St. Sophia?

CM: I think after that.

MM: The architecture was right about the time you left Dumbarton Oaks.

ABF: Yes, yes.

MM: More around ’63.

CM: The mosaics of St. Sophia was, well – I mean, I went to Switzerland to investigate the archives of the Swiss architect who had restored St. Sophia in 1847.

ABF: Who was that?

CM: Fossati. And the existence of these archives was known to Whittemore, which he never bothered really to look at the stuff. So it occurred to me that it may be worth looking into them, which I did, and I went to Switzerland for about a month and went through all these papers which nearly, I mean, opened up the whole subject of what mosaics were there and where exactly they were. And I don’t know whether you saw in the paper yesterday that they have just uncovered a wonderful face of a seraph or cherub in St. Sophia. Did you see that?

ABF: No. Where in St. Sophia?

MM: In the pendentives.

CM: In the pendentives.

MM: They’re covered up, there.

CM: Huge. Stars.

MM: Little metal things on top of their faces.

CM: And it’s all there, and this is all recorded in Fossati’s papers. Anyway, I mean that was, I think, worth doing.

ABF: Was anybody helping you with this, or were you on your own?

CM: No, I was on my own. I mean the papers were not difficult to read. They were mostly in Italian, you know, so there was no difficulty there. Yes, and that was worth doing.

ABF: So you were working on that during the first professorship from ’57 to –

CM: I guess so, I guess so, yes. I don’t remember what else I was doing at the time.

MM: All in the bibliography, may I remind you.

ABF: Because then you came to London right after that.

CM: I came to London in ’63 and I stayed for five years, and then I went back to Dumbarton Oaks, which may have been unwise in some ways. But anyway, I lasted five years there.

MM: In London or at Dumbarton Oaks?

CM: Both.

ABF: Why did you come back?

CM: Where?

ABF: To Dumbarton Oaks.

CM: Well, I was rather bored in London, I must admit. It was a job that in some ways was very good. I mean it carried no obligations at all, you know. It was just a chair that was there, you know, like this sort of chair. And anyway, not expected to do anything at all – but in the end I got rather bored with it, and I thought that what with the fieldwork of Dumbarton Oaks that, you know, I could be more useful and contribute something more important than sitting in London. Anyway, it was a personal decision and maybe it was unwise, I don’t know

ABF: So you sort of crossed – he came to London and you [MM] went in ’65, you said.

MM: I came to London in ’65, yes. As I said, we were a lot of different levels there, but [to CM] when you went back to Dumbarton Oaks was Romilly Jenkins there? Had he been there earlier? Because Romilly Jenkins had been, I think, his predecessor as the chair in London.

CM: Yes. Now, Romilly Jenkins died in ’69.

MM: Something like that.

ABF: I think so. It was right around the same time that Mrs. Bliss –

CM: Yes. So he must have been – let’s see, ’63 to – I came back to Dumbarton Oaks in ’67.

MM: Well, you went in ’63 and you were away for five years. It sounds more like ’68.

ABF: It says – my information says that you were back at Dumbarton Oaks ’68 to ’73.

CM: Yeah.

ABF: For your second professorship.

CM: That’s it.

MM: When did Romilly Jenkins go to Dumbarton Oaks?

ABF: That I don’t know.

MM: Because he was the director, I mean director –

CM: – a director of studies.

ABF: I know that he was there for part of your – the tenure of your second professorship. He died – I’m pretty sure it was in ’69.

MM: Yeah.

CM: Yes.

ABF: Most things seemed to happen in ’69.

MM: Big year. It was a big year. Elsewhere, revolutions –

ABF: ’69 was a big year.

MM: – yes ’69 – landing on the moon –

ABF: – Martin Luther King –

MM: – Martin Luther King, yes. Robert Kennedy.

CM: Yes, well Romilly Jenkins was a friend, I think I can say.

MM: When did Kitzinger go to Dumbarton Oaks? Do you know that? I’m just curious.

CM: At the very beginning.

ABF: Yeah, Kitzinger was there, yeah, in like, even in the ’40s I think.

CM: Yes, yes.

ABF: He was there before you were.

CM: Before me, yes.

MM: Because he had been at the British Museum.

ABF: And where was Ihor Ševčenko in your life, in all this?

MM: When did he go?

CM: I mean, I think I first met him at Dumbarton Oaks when he was sort of between jobs.

ABF: In the early ’50s.

CM: In the early ’50s, and I can’t give you the exact year. I remember talking to him in that paneled room, whatever it’s called.

MM: The Founders’ Room?

CM: The Founders’ Room, yes. Now, he was a man of many ideas and interests.

MM: Ihor became Director of Studies after Kitzinger? Just trying to remember –

CM: For a very short time.

MM: I know it was for a short time. I was just trying –

ABF: Kitzinger was ’65 and Ševčenko was ’66.

CM: Those were the turbulent years, there.

ABF: [to MM] That must have overlapped with you, because –

MM: Well Kitzinger was my first boss, if you can put it that way. I mean, I didn’t work directly for him but he was in charge of what I was doing, and then there was Ihor, and then I went away in ’67, I think.

CM: And there was Loerke.

MM: Yes, I think that’s when I came back. I think Ihor was still director, yes because – well, you finish. I won’t start coming in with my chronology.

CM: Yes, where were we?

MM: You were with Romilly Jenkins.

CM: Yes, well, poor Jenkins drank himself to death, which was very unfortunate. He was a very able man. But somehow something gave away in him. And, you know, he just dropped dead one day.

ABF: And around that same time, Paul Underwood also died.

CM: Yes.

MM: I think maybe he died the year before. Somebody started saying that every autumn somebody died, because I think that Jenkins did die right at the beginning of the academic year.  Maybe Paul Underwood had died the year before that, because you came back –

CM: There are obituaries.

MM: Yeah, obituaries, but we don’t have them right her. But I mean you and Paul Underwood overlapped for a year, didn’t you, when you came back? And then you succeeded him as director of fieldwork – is that what it was?

CM: Yes.

MM: So he must have died the year before Jenkins and then Jenkins – well, you obviously have this all written down somewhere.

CM: Yes.

ABF: Do you remember how you came to hold the second professorship? Who was it who invited you back?

MM: Jack Thacher did, didn’t he?

CM: Yes, I was sent, I believe, a letter that was signed by all the faculty members saying “Please come back,” which was very sweet.

MM: You still have that letter?

CM: Probably somewhere. I mean, Jack Thacher was rather more guarded, and I’m not sure that he wanted me back.

MM: Oh, I thought you told us – well –

CM: I think he was.

ABF: But then he stepped down also, because then you get Tyler, right, during your second professorship. Tyler took over.

CM: Yes. And Tyler followed the party line.

ABF: So how was your relationship with Tyler?

CM: Reasonable, I think. Reasonable. He was a gentleman. I don’t think there was any great trouble. At least, I couldn’t remember any sort of quarrels.

MM: And Tyler was a diplomat, also, as you know. He’d been ambassador to the Netherlands, I think, rather than Argentina, and I mean – not that Thacher couldn’t have been as Mr. Bliss had. Yes, I think Thacher was not a diplomat [laughs].

CM: No.

MM: He wanted to, you know – things had to run smoothly. And I think they did.

ABF: Did you feel that he continued the sort of aristocratic tone?

MM: Yes, he did have the same kind of personality that Jack Thacher did. You know, I mean, Jack Thacher just did whatever he wanted and said whatever he wanted, I think you said in the beginning.

CM: Yes.

MM: Whereas Mr. Tyler, I think, was much more like a diplomat –

CM: Mhm.

MM: – very, sort of, reserved and restrained. Very nice but you know he sort of operated more as if you had to behave in a certain way. I don’t know that Mr. Bliss was like that, though. Maybe Mr. Bliss was more – I never knew him, but –

CM: I had a conversation with Mr. Bliss.

MM: But I thought he was maybe more relaxed.

CM: Yes.

MM: I mean, unless sort of – well, with his wife, sort of very –

CM: Very formal, yes.

MM: Very formal and –

ABF: Tyler’s wife?

MM: No. Mrs. Bliss.

ABF: Oh, okay.

MM: Mr. Bliss was more sort of –

CM: – more relaxed.

MM: – a more relaxed person. And Mrs. Bliss was more sort of formal, as you were saying. And then I think maybe Mr. Tyler was more like Mrs. Bliss, maybe. Very proper.

ABF: Because you were there for that transition, right, because you were –

MM: Yes, I was there. Well, I went away myself and came back – I went away in ’67, as I remember – right at the end of ’66, and then it was in the year, sort of the following autumn, I came back, I think. Yeah. No, it couldn’t have been that fast. But anyway, I came back – must have been by ’68. I was back, but I can’t remember if I came back late ’67 – I remember the time of year. I’m just trying to remember what we were just talking about – the Martin Luther King assassination and all of that, you were saying. That wasn’t ‘69, that was earlier, that was ’68, wasn’t it? I came back in ’68, yes.

ABF: Because you worked on a photography collection in ’73.

MM: Sorry?

ABF: You worked on the –

MM: I worked on the photograph collection until ’73

ABF: Right and you were curator for the last year.

MM: And, I became the curator. I was – well, for a period I had three jobs, one at the National Gallery, one at Dumbarton Oaks, and one teaching school, which was where all the rioting broke out when Martin Luther King was assassinated.

ABF: Must have been a big deal in – it must have been really especially affecting the –

MM: Oh, at that time yeah, that’s why I should remember exactly what year it was that I came back to Dumbarton Oaks. I worked there for that period part-time, working at these other two places, and then they invited me to come back full-time which I did then late ’68.

ABF: I’m pretty sure it was ’69.

MM: No, because of these reasons I just said –

ABF: You think it’s –

MM: Yeah.

ABF: Okay.

MM: About the time Romilly Jenkins died in late ’69, I had already been there for a year, because I left in late ’66 at the very end of the year. My recollection is going to say goodbye to Ihor, who was the director then – of studies – and [laughs] – maybe I shouldn’t say this – but Ihor said, “You do understand, Marlia, you’re not coming back?” [Laughs.] I said, “Yes, I understand.” I couldn’t wait to get out of there. And at the same time he had a friend visiting him who he introduced me to, who’s Cyril. And I just remember standing around by the window. I was waiting to get out because I had to go somewhere, but that was ’66 and then I was away for about six months and then I came back. I had been doing graduate school part-time, and I went back to do that full-time, and then after that I took up these three jobs I just mentioned to you, and they went through the first part of ’68, which took me through the assassination of Martin Luther King and all the rioting that broke out right in my school. And then after that, that makes that ‘68.

ABF: Okay. So you two first met at Dumbarton Oaks.

CM: Yes.

MM: Yes, as far as I know. Previous life –  [laughs].

ABF: You met through Ševčenko.

MM: Well, you know, if it hadn’t been through Ševčenko, it would have been through somebody else the next day or something – it was such a small place – but yes.

ABF: OK. So what about your relationship with William Loerke – because he was Director of Studies during your second professorship?

CM: Yes. They were somewhat stymied, you know, since I was not very much in favor of his appointment. I mean, his credentials were not very good, wouldn’t you say?

MM: I mean, he succeeded Ihor. I’m just trying to remember all of it.

CM: It was one of those rather uncomfortable situations that – Kitzinger went up to Harvard, and Ihor was supposed to be the Director of Studies. He fell out with Jack Thacher immediately, and there was a question of whom to appoint. I think it was Kitzinger who pushed Loerke.

MM: A fellow art-historian.

CM: Fellow art-historian, and also no threat to him. And I was against Loerke, so that our relations were not very happy.

ABF: He knew.

CM: Oh, of course he knew. Looking back, I have nothing against Loerke, you know. He hadn’t done very much. You know, he had published a couple of articles and that was it.

ABF: [to MM] And you knew, you must have known Loerke?

MM: Oh, I mean – And he has stayed on. I don’t know if he is still there now but –

CM: Is he alive still?

ABF: If he is, he’s not –

MM: – there anymore.

ABF: – willing to talk. Or can’t talk, or –

MM: Yes, I’m not sure how long he remained Director of Studies, because after you left – when did Constable come down?

CM: Yes.

MM: I mean I don’t know if there was anybody between them.

CM: Well, we should go and check the dates.

ABF: Constable, yeah – so much chronology. Yeah – Constable in the ’70s.

MM: Yeah, but we both left in ’73 with Ihor and –

ABF: Constable, let’s see if I can get the chronology out – why don’t we pause this for a moment?

ABF: Alright, so we’re back, and – so – can you both tell me about your opinions and impressions of the discussion in the early 1970s to move Dumbarton Oaks back to Cambridge?

MM: Cyril, you were directly involved. I just heard about it.

CM: Well, I mean – I was against it. The problem was that, being in Washington, Dumbarton Oaks was cut off from teaching. There was a perfectly good argument that, you know, a research institution should be where the teaching is. That’s something that could not be solved. On the other hand, there was the question of what Mrs. Bliss wanted, when she gave the money. And her wishes had to be respected, I thought.

MM: There’s also the Classics center – whatever it was called – which was also Harvard.

ABF: Center for Hellenic Studies. That’s still there.

CM: That’s still there, but then that had a much smaller endowment. It was too small for Harvard to wish to sink its teeth into. It just didn’t count, you know, while Dumbarton Oaks carried a good endowment, which could be put to other uses. So, I was against it, but that didn’t make much difference.

ABF: So who was for it?

MM: Harvard.

CM: Harvard was for it.

ABF: Was there anybody within Dumbarton Oaks, though?

CM: I think Ihor may have been ambivalent, but I’m not sure.

MM: Was Kitzinger – he chaired discussions sometimes, but he was no longer at Dumbarton Oaks. Wasn’t that a turning point?

CM: Yes, we had some meetings in Cambridge –

MM: there were meetings.

CM: – which were somewhat acrimonious.

MM: That’s what I remember.

CM: I mean I’ve got all of these papers somewhere, but – yes, sorry, I can’t remember now.

ABF: But there was a discussion that you remember, that you attended?

CM: Oh yes.

ABF: Chaired by Kitzinger.

CM: Yes.

ABF: And did you – were you there?

MM: No, I was just sitting at Dumbarton Oaks. I heard about it and I’m not sure – well, this was not long before I left and you left, so I’m not sure how much time there was between the meeting and things sinking in as to what the consequences were going to be for Dumbarton Oaks in the coming year or something, because everyone exited.

ABF: Because that’s around the same time that there was also the elimination of the tradition of Dumbarton Oaks professorships, because you were one of the last ones.

CM: Yes.

ABF: What did you think of this?

MM: Well, I think – I said what people now have to say about it, what subsequent people can say about it, that it wasn’t the same place, and it changed character completely. And of course in a way I feel that this sort of ambiguous relation with colleagues in adjacent subjects – that everybody’s competing for some of the same funding; one experiences it here, too. And I think this is unfortunate, and at Dumbarton Oaks you might not have felt that so much, because it’s, not isolated, but it’s removed from the sort of hurly-burly of Harvard itself, but understanding that all this was happening because other people would be happy to make use of some of this up there for their other subjects. It was rather unfortunate. Someone chose to endow this subject and I think that’s their choice and the money was accepted on those conditions.

ABF: So how would you characterize the way that the relationship between Dumbarton Oaks and Harvard developed over the ’60s and the beginning of the ’70s?

CM: I don’t know.

MM: In one sense, the timing of it is striking, that it all came out when Miss Atkins [sic] had just died in ’69. So you can’t help but wonder if it hadn’t already been discussed sometime before and maybe people were waiting for her, since her husband had already died some years before and – she was in her nineties, wasn’t she?

CM: Oh, she was quite ancient.

MM: Yeah, getting there. So maybe at the time nobody noticed anything, but then looking at it retrospectively you might think that they’d always had this idea of changing things around once they had a chance. And I don’t know whether there are other well-known cases of this sort of thing happening with endowments. That would be interesting to know. I don’t know if anybody’s written a good doctoral thesis on the subject or any think tanks are looking at it. You know, universities suddenly want money for one thing and instead they’re given money for something else. I’m sure they think of ways they can massage the situation to, you know, to their advantage. I think it’s probably a great temptation.

ABF: You can also take a university to court for –

MM: I hope so. If there’s any money left to take it to court. I mean, I suppose the administration at Dumbarton Oaks could do that. But if they change the administration so much that there’s nobody left to do it, and they had no children –

ABF: Especially when Harvard controls who’s in power.

CM: And they have very good lawyers, too.

MM: So I don’t know exactly – I mentioned earlier, on this particular – threat, you can call it. But I don’t know what role the Trustees played in all of this, who I imagine are prominent people in Washington and maybe from outside of Washington – I don’t know, don’t remember – you know, not just this one person, but maybe other people tried to help mount a resistance. I should think that’s what their role would be, wouldn’t it? To protect the institution against Harvard?

ABF: Yeah, because in ’73, right around when things were changing a lot, that’s when you left and took up a position here.

CM: Yes. That was more or less forced on me.

MM: Cause and effect.

CM: Yes. It would have been very unpleasant to stay on after all the fights.

ABF: The fights with –

CM: Well.

ABF: Loerke.

CM: Loerke and Kitzinger. I mean I could have stayed on, but –

MM: As Loerke did.

CM: As Loerke did, but I didn’t think it was a very healthy situation.

MM: Whereas this was a promising situation.

CM: Yes.

MM: So, now they’re moving the Byzantine studies center here.

ABF: And you [MM] also left in ’73.

MM: Yes. I left at the same time. I went back to graduate school. I’d been doing a master’s part-time while I was at Dumbarton Oaks, and so I wanted to go back full-time. I did, getting a second master’s at the Courtauld and then I went on to do a doctorate here, and so this was what I did after I left.

ABF: Because then in 1982 to ’87 you were co-directors of the Photographic Survey of Late Roman Mesopotamia, which was funded by Dumbarton Oaks, so that’s – had you not had contact, had you distanced yourself from –?

MM: Well, we were just very busy. I mean I took a very long time doing my thesis, for various reasons, part probably financial, but I was just – you were allowed to spend a long time and I wanted to do something that would take a long time, so I took it. But, Cyril was lecturing in Paris every year for a month, and there was just a lot of stuff to do here, teaching and building up things here, so no I don’t – I’m just trying to think: was there anything other than that? We went to symposia there, didn’t we?

CM: At the time, yes.

MM: Yes, David Wright had a symposium, I think you maybe would gave two lectures out or something. Something. We went there for a month before that. That was about ’82, I think.

ABF: Yeah, because –

MM: And I gave a lecture at a symposium that Robert Thomson was co-organizer of. I think that was in –

CM: “East of something”...

MM: I did something with Syria and Armenia or something.

ABF: There was, yeah, and you – D.O. funded a publication called Ecclesiastical Silver Plate in Sixth-Century Byzantium.

MM: That was in the Walters Art Gallery. And that’s while Robert was director, and I was a guest curator at the Walters, planning that.

ABF: And this is before the Gary Vikan days.

MM: Gary Vikan was there. It’s when he started, so it was an exhibition, but we took the first year – the year before the exhibition I went there at the beginning of it and the end of it to look on the objects there – and then at the end we had a symposium. There was a big exhibition in Baltimore. It was all just their own stuff plus loan things from other museums, and then there was – so it’s focused on the Walters – but then the attached symposium was held jointly at the Walters and Dumbarton Oaks.

ABF: Okay.

MM: Robert was the director then and then Robert funded – when he was director, they funded some analysis of silver that was carried out at the Smithsonian, which was very important, and I’m only now getting a chance to publish it because it took a very long time for the Smithsonian to process the samples, but that was another Dumbarton Oaks connection.

ABF: Okay, because you were a summer fellow.

MM: I was a summer fellow in ’87.

ABF: And that’s when you were working on the silver plate.

MM: This was while the silver plate – Yes.

ABF: Okay.

MM: Yes, and that was something that I decided to go onto different, that was different from what that stuff – that stuff was church silver and I wanted to do domestic silver so I went to Dumbarton Oaks for a month and did that.

ABF: So who were you hanging out with when you were there?

MM: In ’87?

ABF: Yeah.

MM: You mean which people at Dumbarton Oaks?

ABF: Yeah.

MM: Well, it was only for a month. It would have been nice to do it for longer, but I don’t know. Everybody was away for vacation. We just saw a lot of our friends in Washington – family et cetera – and it was wonderful to have a base, a library, and all this kind of stuff, but a month is pretty short. I mean we obviously saw Sue Boyd and I don’t know who else was around, but –

ABF: Okay. And then you were – because you gave – 1993–94 you did the Ecclesiastical Silver Plate in Sixth-Century Byzantium. This is the Walters one. And then ’98 to ’99 you were back, weren’t you?

MM: Sorry?

ABF: You were back in ’98, around 1999 and you gave a talk on “What the Butler Saw.” Is this – has this been –?

MM: That was connected –

ABF: Syria.

MM: Syria – did I? Oh maybe I – yeah, I gave a little informal talk or something. But no, I didn’t. That was – well, that’s a reference to Howard Crosby Butler of Princeton, who went to the site where I was working by then. But I don’t remember actually talking about it at Dumbarton Oaks. I actually thought it would be nice, since they funded three seasons of fieldwork, but – I mean contributed to three seasons of fieldwork. But I don’t remember that. I remember being back because they had a symposium, which coincided with Cyril’s seventieth birthday, I think, and it was on Constantinople.

[Pause to change tape]

ABF: Alright, we’re back. Finally, so were you involved again with Dumbarton Oaks with the project in 2000, the excavations at Androna?

MM: Yeah, well this was the field project, because they funded three seasons – I mean, they weren’t entire seasons, but I felt that the fund –

CM: They made a contribution.

MM: They made a contribution, yes. But as I was saying earlier – you said that you would be interested in hearing about the fieldwork program?

ABF: Yes.

MM: Yes. Well I feel – I came close to saying so in a lecture once, just a general lecture about general fieldwork funding nowadays and I’m about – I’ve been asked to do another talk on the subject in several months’ time – that the amount that they offer is very unrealistic in terms of making a difference to Byzantine archaeology and that there is a feeling in some funding bodies that, “Oh, it’s a Byzantine project. Well, you should go to Dumbarton Oaks; we won’t bother giving you any money.” And then you go to Dumbarton Oaks and the most they can offer you is what is equivalent – well, maximum, I think what I was told is that they would give one project – the maximum they would give is ten thousand dollars, which was then about six thousand pounds, whereas a season of a decently funded thing could be, you know, over twenty thousand pounds, you see, so it just didn’t seem to make a difference. It made a difference but not enough for any kind of ambitious project. Nothing we were doing was that ambitious, but it was excavation, not just survey. So in other words, I think this is quite different from the past, when they were willing to fund things very generously. An important project was when Cyril was director of fieldwork, which was the excavations at Sarachane in Istanbul, which remains kind of a landmark excavation in many ways.

ABF: Was that in the ’50s?

MM: No, no, no that was in the late ’60s.

ABF: Oh late ’60s, okay.

MM: Late ’60s, and it was the Church of St. Polyeuktos, which has really great stratigraphic excavation in Istanbul, and it has the best sequence probably to be studied – plus it’s a fantastically important building, second only to St. Sophia, so anyway that was really worth doing. But, you know, that couldn’t happen today according to the way fieldwork funding is set up now.

ABF: Why do you think it changed?

MM: Who wants to – it’s clear just from casual remarks that no one wants to spend the money. And I don’t think that there’s – frankly – I don’t know that archaeology is viewed as that important an element in Byzantine studies compared to other things, so that if you have, as there is now, a program to translate texts, everything’s excellent, but it’s not expensive the way fieldwork is. But I think you’re very limited if you don’t have evidence from excavation, and I think particularly for the medieval period this is very true. And I think the earlier period benefits from being tacked on to Roman archaeology, so that a site continues – you know, they can’t just avoid digging up late Roman stuff. You know, in a way, one can really live off that, whereas to go and confront a site that’s really definitely going to be medieval, this is a different matter.

ABF: That brings up sort of an interesting question of – where do you position Byzantine archaeology in any case.

MM: Well, in the Byzantine subject itself, here we think about how it’s regarded and how it’s pigeon-holed, et cetera, and there is – and has been for a long time – a tendency to maybe split it between two parts, you know: Late Roman, Late Antique, maybe Early Byzantine, Early Christian – whatever you want to call it – and then Byzantine, which is kind of medieval. And I think that’s unfortunate to a very great degree. And I think particularly with material culture it makes a difference, because it’s the same site and so: why separate them? And why say, “We’re only going to be concerned with things up to the year 600, 700, or something?” And you have a lot to learn about the medieval period from the earlier period and vice versa. But I don’t think it’s entirely along the classicists’ side that the mistake is made, because I think the same occurs on the medieval side. And I know two examples. One was Kazhdan’s Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, where he felt that people could go to Pauly-Wissowa for what they wanted in the early period. You know, he didn’t exclude it, but he just felt you didn’t have to go into the same detail, and that it was really more the medieval part that should be the main concern – don’t you think this is true?

CM: Yes.

MM: This is not exaggerating. I had a number of little disputes with him about a few things, in particular. And also the Economic History of Byzantium, which has appeared somewhat recently, which I’ve just recently gone into print saying it’s unfortunate it really starts after, well, seventh century and later and doesn’t take the same detailed account of the early period. And I think because economy is so reliant to a great degree on material culture that there you’re just losing out on a lot of things that you could make use of in the early period. But I think it’s not just a question of anthropology – a lot of people are programmed that way, that they’re really interested – they don’t see how the late Roman period is relevant, and I think that’s a huge mistake. And of course if you look at a city like Constantinople, you’ve got to take account of the two things in a very linked way.

ABF: Yeah, of course.

MM: Is that what you –?

ABF: Yeah. So, how do you see the role of Dumbarton Oaks in Byzantine studies?

MM: Are you asking him, or...?

ABF: Both of you.

MM: Well, [to CM] you have more –

CM: Well, you know, it’s a question of what you want to do. With the present set-up it does serve a useful purpose, you know. People go there for a while and they benefit from this and you can defend this model, which you have now. On the other hand, I think that given the size of the endowment and assuming that most of it will not be flitted away in administration, that you can, with this money, do more and that you must go back to the earlier model of having a small group of people, sitting there and doing research. Now, you have to be, of course, very careful in your choice of people. It can be disastrous if you get the wrong sort of people.

MM: Well, you have the institute at Princeton that operates this way.

CM: Yes. It’s much bigger –

MM: Oh, I know. But just the principle of having very advanced people doing very advanced research – I don’t see why you need more justification. But you could also do what is becoming increasingly the case here – is to have funded projects, where – now, because everyone’s in so much economic trouble here; I mean, universities are just very strangely organized here in terms of money and they expect everything to come from the state and then the state tries to impose a lot of conditions on them, et cetera – but now, they’re trying to get for graduate students to have projects funded, projects on specific subjects, and then get the graduate students’ fees paid for by the funding for the project, and having them do research on the project and, you know, then you have a few academics, who maybe take some time off from their teaching or whatever, so that maybe if Dumbarton Oaks hosted a few projects – maybe two a year over a period of two or three years – with very set goals of what the purpose of the project was, you know, so a publication coming out at the end and maybe some conferences along the way, then maybe this is something that could produce, make, reinvigorate the place in terms of having a permanent sort of sense of engagement, group engagement.

CM: But you’ve got to have somebody there.

MM: Well, yes. But, obviously you would have people there, but you could also invite in some people with some very focused projects to work on. You know, they would submit proposals, so you’d find out who was going to come in to do them. And the permanent people who were there, just a relatively small group, could do as they do today, when you apply to do things there, to get funding. But then when they get funding, they often do things sometimes completely different. But I thought here might be a way of actually doing the work right, you know, at the place, at Dumbarton Oaks.

ABF: It sounds like you’re advocating for the older model of having professorships.

MM: Yeah, he’s saying that and I’m saying yes, but you could also supplement it a bit by having visiting projects come for – you know, here people can get funding to pay for their teaching so they can take time off and come to work on a project – so that you could have maybe something that runs two to three years or something that is focused like that, where they could leave their university and come and stay at Dumbarton Oaks together with the small team of people and work on whatever it is.

ABF: Kind of a hybrid model.

MM: Yeah, a hybrid model. I was just thinking that instead of just individual people doing their own research, you could also have some little projects.

CM: I suppose that with information technology that it changes a lot of things.

MM: Yeah, I think that you could do a lot. It could be something linked to archaeology, maybe fieldwork somewhere else – I mean everybody comes together in a small group of people and while they’re doing it they could give lectures and stuff so everyone could hear what was going on. I mean here they’ve just started a very interesting project on antique statuary. And it’s a person – Bert Smith – who’s doing – excavating Aphrodisias and all of their fabulous marble sculpture, which goes into late antiquity, and so he’s teamed up with Bryan Ward Perkins, a medievalist – sort of western medievalist. But they’re looking at – but, he has a lot of experience at Rome – where they’re looking at what subjects, where were statues still set up in late antiquity, and how they were recycled and the history of the whole thing. But they’re taking it from so many points of view; it’s really fascinating. And they funded a couple of studentships to work on the subject together with them. And, I mean, something like that, which is very focused and it’s not huge but it’s got two major people doing it. I mean don’t you think this sounds like the sort of – the kind of very limited goals and limited time scale. And then people – they’re going to give us lectures all the time. They’ve already given a couple of them here so we can hear what’s going on. And, you know, I think that’s the kind of thing that Dumbarton Oaks could do very easily, don’t you think?

CM: Why not?

ABF: So is there anything else you’d like to touch on that I haven’t asked you about or that hasn’t come up in the course of our conversation?

CM: No, I think we’re good.

MM: Such a big subject, it’s hard.

ABF: Yeah. You can also email me. I think somebody’s also going to come and talk to you about your memoirs – somebody wrote to me about – I don’t know –

CM: They don’t exist.

MM: Oh you mean – this is Cyril’s – this is Claudia Rapp, maybe?

ABF: Yeah.

MM: If that’s what you’re referring to.

ABF: I think so. I’m not – so this isn’t the only record, but – if you can also just write something and email it to me.

MM: Okay. I think if they come and talk to him about his entire, very long career, and in particular all the stuff that went on here and everything, other things might –

ABF: Yeah, about Dumbarton Oaks.

MM: – might surface, yeah.

CM: Okay.

ABF: Okay.