Margaret Thompson— 1984 Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement
The colleague whom we honor today has greatly enriched our discipline, and this in various ways: as research scholar, teacher, administrator and, not least, through her own outstanding personality.
A graduate of Radcliffe (1931), Margaret Thompson became an early staff member of the Excavation of the Athenian Agora (1937-1940, 1947-1949). Here she underwent an experience salutary for any young numismatist. Her first duty was to clean and identify coins as they came from the earth; almost all were of bronze, most of them heavily worn and many hopelessly corroded. Undaunted by this initiation Margaret Thompson undertook to publish a record of the Agora coins from the Roman through the Venetian periods. This early book (1954) already shows the qualities that were to mark all her subsequent publications: the ability to get on top of a large body of material (37,000 coins), to present her conclusions with the utmost clarity, and to make the numismatic evidence available also to the historian and the economist.
From the Agora Margaret Thompson moved on to the American Numismatic Society (1949). As Curator of Greek coins and then for over ten years as Chief Curator of the ANS she maintained and enhanced the high scholarly traditions of one of the world's great centers of numismatic studies.
Following in the footsteps of a distinguished predecessor, Edward T. Newell, Margaret Thompson has done much to refine our knowledge of the mints of Alexander and the Seleucids. In preparing An Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards (1973) she again built on the work of an esteemed predecessor, Sydney P. Noe. Here, as so often in her career, she showed a remarkable capacity for fruitful collaboration with other scholars, m this case Otto Mørkholm of Copenhagen and Colin Kraay of Oxford.
Of her most monumental publication, The New Style Silver Coinage of Athens (1961), Margaret Thompson was the sole architect. In every respect a model of its kind, this great work has become the source book for our knowledge of one of the largest, most significant, and previously most intractable coinages of the ancient world. Certain of the conclusions proved, to be controversial, but the subsequent discussion has been conducted at a high level of civility and has been more productive of light than of heat.
As a talented and beloved teacher Margaret Thompson made a lasting impact on the careers of hundreds of students: in the Summer Seminars at the ANS, in her Graduate Seminar at Columbia University, and as Regents Professor at the University of California at Berkeley. The affection of her colleagues, students and friends was concretely demonstrated by the presentation of a Festschrift on the occasion of her retirement from the ANS m 1979.
The ANS was not the only beneficiary of Margaret Thompson's administrative competence. She was active in the Greek War Relief toward the close of World War II. For four strenuous years (1965-1968) she presided over the Archaeological Institute of America. She also served long and loyally as Trustee, member of the Executive Committee, and member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the AIA.
Margaret Thompson has received many honors both in this country and abroad. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society and an honorary member of the numismatic societies of Austria, Belgium, France, Rumania and Switzerland, arid also of the Deutsche Archäologische Institut. Her achievements have been recognized by the numismatic community through the two highest honors the profession can bestow: the Archer M. Huntington Medal of the American Numismatic Society and the Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society of Great Britain. In recognition of the role that Margaret Thompson has long played in the advancement of archaeology as a humanistic discipline, the Archaeological Institute of America presents her with its Gold Medal. We do so with much pride and with not a little affection.