John W. Hayes— 1990 Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement

Award Citation:

The abiding impression that many of us must share of John Hayes is one of a thinnish figure, bending over a table strewn with pottery, his spectacles halfway down his nose and long slender fingers sorting with an amazing rapidity. This figure is to be seen in excavation houses throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. The pottery he examines at those tables is inscribed forever on his memory, not only the color and fabric, but profiles and shapes. During this process, Hayes's mind has counted the sherds and placed them in their appropriate categories, many of which he is the author. Whether it be the fragment of an 18th-century Turkish pipe, some roughly made Slavic vessel, or even Mycenaean coarse ware, it is all assigned to its proper data and place. Few men or women have both the visual memory and the facility to order what has been seen that John Hayes possesses.

To recount all the forms of pottery that Hayes has categorized definitively would produce a very long list. It is necessary, nevertheless, to provide some idea of the range of his achievements, both in the field and at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Even before John Hayes went up to Cambridge to take the Classical Tripos, his interest in archeology showed itself with his participation in excavations at Verulamium. At Cambridge, in the second part of the Tripos, he devoted himself to Classical Archaeology and began his life's work in that field. After his undergraduate work, he spent four years abroad writing his dissertation on Late Roman Pottery in the Mediterranean. Then, in 1968 he came to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, where he now resides as curator of the Classical collection.

It is now 18 years since the appearance of his ground-breaking Late Roman Pottery gave us a "Hayes type," for five centuries of Roman vases. Equally definitive for early Roman fine wares is his work on Sigillate orientali for the Enciclopedia dell' arte antica (1986). John Hayes's appetite for breaking new ground did not stop simply with Roman pottery. His forthcoming massive book on ceramics from Saraçhane in Istanbul establishes ceramic categories and chronologies from antiquity to the modern era, much of which had not previously been systematically defined. His publications of the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum have also led him back in time to include Greek and Etruscan wares. Beyond the confines of pottery, he has published catalogues on glass, lamps, and metalwork in Toronto, with one on arms and armor in progress.

Each summer, however, John Hayes returns again to the field for several months, dividing his time among the several projects whose pottery he is studying. From surface survey on Crete, to Hvar off the coast of Yugoslavia, to the Isthmia Museum, to Cyprus, he covers a geographical breadth and chronological scope that few could hope to equal and none to surpass. All who excavate and carry on surveys in the Mediterranean area, or wherever potsherds are found, will ever be in his debt.


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