Sarah P. Morris— 1993 James R. Wiseman Book Award
The Archaeological Institute of America is proud to honor Sarah P. Morris with the 1993 James R. Wiseman Book Award for her stimulating contribution to Greek archaeology, Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art (Princeton University Press, Princeton 1992).
Truly creative scholarship does not reinforce old paradigms. Rather it seeks to ask original questions and break intellectual boundaries. Sarah Morris does just that. Using the shadowy figure of the early Greek protoartist Daidalos as the central thematic focus, the work reconstructs the complex cultural dialogue between Greek society and the cultures of the Near East from the Late Bronze Age to the Persian Wars.
This is a work of great learning, which draws on the latest scholarship in both Classical and Near Eastern studies. The author uses the evidence of archaeology and philology in a spirit of creative interaction that should become the norm for our discipline. The evidence from field research is interpreted in the light of current theoretical scholarship, producing searching questions and exciting new explanatory models.
The book is shaped by a Herodotean vision of the eastern Mediterranean during the first half of the first millennium B.C. Not only is full credit given to the formative role that Near Eastern civilizations played in shaping the development of Greek culture, but the interactions are visualized in realistic human terms. It is smalltime traders and itinerant artisans that make this history as much as elites and abstract forces.
Behind many of the arguments put forth lie the current debates about the way that the creation of a Hellenic-centered ideology diminished our appreciation of the contributions of Near Eastern civilizations. The questions are considered in the context of the Persian Wars and the ways in which the Athenians used the events for their own cultural politics. Here, as elsewhere in the book, readers may disagree with the author's conclusions, but they will have to acknowledge that she has produced an original and very exciting work.