Anna Marguerite McCannEmmett L. Bennett, Jr.—1998 Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement

Award Citation:

Anna Marguerite McCann has excelled in a remarkable variety of scholarly fields, humane accomplishments, and service to the profession. She has taught in several respected departments of Art History and Classics, worked as an innovative museum curator, and served as a generous and perceptive board member for numerous scholarly organizations and museums. A pioneer in several areas of archaeology under water, she has continued at the same time to publish in the fields of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. She has won prestigious awards for her books in fields as diverse as Roman sculpture and Roman harbors, and for a children's book on deep-water archaeology.

Dr. McCann received her B.A. in Art History and Classics (Phi Beta Kappa) at Wellesley College in 1954 and spent the following year at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens on a Fulbright Scholarship. An M.A. in Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York followed in 1957. Her Master's thesis, "Greek Statuary Types in Roman Historical Reliefs," reflects her early interest in Roman Imperial sculpture, which she followed up in her research for the Ph.D. in Art History and Classics at Indiana University in 1965. At Indiana and during her tenure of a Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy from 1964 to 1966, she worked on her study “The Portraits of Septimius Severus, A.D. 193–211,” which appeared as a volume of the Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome (MAAR 30, 1968).

During her years at the American Academy, Dr. McCann was struck by the potential importance of the still untouched harbor site at Cosa. In 1965 she began the excavation of both the marshy lagoon and the submerged outer anchorage. An early believer in the value of a team approach to complex sites, Dr. McCann synthesized her collaborators' efforts in a remarkable contribution to the history of ancient technology and the economy of Republican Rome—The Roman Port and Fishery of Cosa: A Center of Ancient Trade (Princeton 1987)—awarded the AIA's James R. Wiseman Book Award for an outstanding archaeological publication in 1989 (AJA 94 [1990] 296), and the Outstanding Book Award of the American Association of University Presses for 1987.

In the 1989 Jason Project, Dr. McCann moved from shallow to deep-water survey and excavation with Robert Ballard, at the site of a Byzantine shipwreck near Skerki Bank. Together, using the very latest technology, they demonstrated that controlled archaeological survey and sampling could take place at a depth of 800 inches, far beyond the limits of SCUBA. In this venture, as in a larger, follow-up project with Ballard in the same area in 1997, Dr. McCann had to endure initially much ungenerous and ill-founded criticism. Typically, she chose the route of scholarly publication (editing Deep Water Archaeology [JRA Suppl. 13, Ann Arbor 1941) and intelligent, polite discourse to win over her critics. Other archaeologists are now beginning to follow in her pioneering footsteps. It is typical of Dr. McCann's interest in the broad dissemination of archaeological information that she has also presented the results of this research in numerous public lectures and television programs, in the popular press, and in a coauthored award-winning book aimed at children: The Lost Wreck of the Isis (Toronto 1990).

Although her work in underwater archaeology would constitute an outstanding accomplishment in itself, Dr. McCann has carried on a parallel career in ancient art history. Her book Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York 1978) won several awards, including the Outstanding Book Award from the American Association of University Presses. Dr. McCann has also published many seminal articles dealing with Greek and Roman sculpture.

In large part as a result of her devotion to her family, Dr. McCann chose not to pursue long-term academic positions, but she has nevertheless taught with great success at a number of distinguished institutions across the United States. She has worked generously with both undergraduate and graduate students, inspiring them with her enthusiastic teaching, providing excavation opportunities, and establishing scholarships for their support. Dr. McCann has given herself generously as well to the important task of lecturing to the public, in part through the AIA Lecture program and AIA Norton Lectureship for 1994–1995. She has been a pillar of support for the AIA for decades, with long service on the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees, and as a member or Chair of numerous committees.

Throughout all this, Dr. McCann has concentrated with selfless generosity on another goal: inspiring young people and laypeople in general with her own enthusiasm for the study of ancient art and culture. Her firm belief in the dignity and importance of every individual has endeared her to literally thousands of people in the course of her professional career—from day laborers at Cosa to ambassadors in New York—and she has helped many students, colleagues, and fellow administrators simply to see more clearly and to think more humanely. Dr. McCann's most abiding and endearing qualities in the eyes of her many friends, however, are her absolute integrity, her loyalty to her colleagues and students, and her heartfelt devotion to archaeology. She exudes a warmth and humanity that inspires all who come in contact with her to reach beyond themselves. She is without doubt one of the great American archaeologists. "Where you lay up your treasure, there your heart will be also."

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