Harriet Boyd Hawes: Pioneer for Women in the Field of Archaeology

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In terms of pioneers for women in the field of archaeology, Harriet Boyd Hawes (Fig 1.) has to be one of the greatest. She made great discoveries in her time as a field archaeologist and her records were exemplary for the time in which they were published. Classical archaeologists showed little or no interest in the uses for the objects they were discovering with the exception of Boyd who would greatly consider what her Cretan finds may have been used for (Trigger, 2006). In this essay I will briefly discuss the life and works of Boyd as well as why I feel she has made great contributions to modern archaeology.

Fig.1 Harriet Boyd Hawes

Harriet Boyd is an American archaeologist who majored in Classics and was fluent in Greek. She carried out her graduate work at the American School of Classical studies in Athens which is where she originally requested to take part in the schools fieldwork, but as she was female this request was denied and it was advised that she become a librarian (Bois 1998). However, Boyd did not, thankfully, take this advice and began to travel around Crete on mule back, either alone or with a female friends, looking for prehistoric sites (Renfrew, 2008). During the field season in 1900, she had moderate success in Kavousi, something which caught the attention of Sara Yorke Stevenson, secretary of American Exploration Society who was so impressed with Boyd’s work she offered the societies financial backing for her to continue her work in Crete (Zogby 1987). It was due to this that Boyd made her greatest discovery.

In 1901, whilst carrying out excavation work in Crete, Boyd discovered a Bronze age site which is thought to have been occupied from as early as 3rd millennium BC to 1000 BC, thriving in the period 1800BC-1600BC (Zogby, 1987). This was to be the first Minoan town site uncovered. Discoveries at the site include a small palace complex, more than 70 stone houses, with upper and lower...
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