Philip P. Betancourt—2003 Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement

Award Citation:

Philip P. Betancourt gets things done.  While serving as the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Temple University, where he has taught since 1970, he also has held the position of Adjunct Professor in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, and he has served as Acting Dean in the Tyler School of Art of Temple University (1983-1984).  In addition, since 1990 he has served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Aegean Prehistory.

His excavation experience began in the U.S. with work at various sites under the auspices of the University of Missouri and the National Park Service.  Thereafter, two field seasons in Italy and a summer at Halieis in Greece preceded his move to Crete, which has been the focus of his research since 1976. 

At the same time Philip Betancourt has been the author and/or editor of a never-ending series of books and other scholarly publications, which since 1965 has grown to number well over 100.  Early studies include The Aeolic Style in Architecture: A Survey of its Development in Palestine, the Halikarnassos Peninsula and Greece, 1000-500 B.C. (Princeton University Press, 1977), Vasilike Ware: An Early Bronze Age Pottery Style in Crete (Göteborg, Sweden 1979), and East Cretan White-on-Dark Ware: Studies on a Handmade Pottery of the Early to Middle Bronze Age (Philadelphia, 1984).  For his basic handbook on The History of Minoan Pottery (Princeton, 1985), he not only wrote the text but also took all of the photographs himself, working directly from the showcases in the Heraklion Museum.  During the same time period he edited ten volumes in the annual series of the Temple University Aegean Symposium (1976-1985) as well as writing numerous monographs and journal articles.

Now he is presenting us with a series of final reports on his excavations at a number of Minoan sites on Crete, which he began in 1985. To date we have five volumes on Pseira (1995-2001) as well as a multi-media CD-ROM presentation of the site. Chrysokamino has been accepted for publication, Haghia Photia is in the works, and there remains a second excavation season, in 2003, at the new site of Haghios Charalambos. From this record it is clear that we can look forward to many more years of excavation and publication from Philip Betancourt.

But this is only the beginning. Everyone who has had the privilege of working with Philip Betancourt in the field realizes that what sets him apart from all of his colleagues is his dedication to the art of teaching, in the field as well as in the classroom. Every Betancourt field project is a training excavation. All of his students learn how to do things themselves. Although he instructs and gives guidance and encouragement, in the end it is his students who must produce the final product on their own. This holds for training in all aspects of contemporary fieldwork, both traditional methodology and modern scientific technology. Through his efforts and dedication Philip Betancourt is producing students who are qualified to deal with all aspects of Aegean archaeology as it will be practiced in the third millennium A.D.

The Archaeological Institute of America has had, from its founding in 1879, a dual commitment, to the promotion both of research and of teaching, involving all aspects of that complicated academic enigma that we call archaeology. Today we honor this commitment to its fullest extent by awarding to Professor Philip P. Betancourt the Institute’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement.

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