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Remembering Professor Geoffrey Waywell FSA FKC

Posted on 04/03/2016

In his 36 years at King’s College London, Professor Geoffrey Waywell, who died on 16 February 2016, was one of the prime movers in the development of the Department of Classics from a small but well regarded unit within the federal University of London into the highly ranked and third largest Classics Department in the UK that it is today. In particular he was responsible for making Art and Archaeology a central feature of Classics at King’s.

Geoffrey joined the Department in 1968 as Lecturer in Classical Archaeology. He was made Professor of Classical Archaeology in 1987, and acted as Head of Department in 1989-1993. As Chair of the BA Examination Board he piloted through the change from final-year examination to course-unit degree programmes. In 1996 he was appointed Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, then a half-time post, and while continuing to teach at King’s, stage-managed the move of the Institute and the Combined Library from Gordon Square to Senate House. He retired from the ICS and King’s in 2004, and was elected a Fellow of King’s College in that year.

Geoffrey published widely on classical sculpture and architecture. His first major project was to study the free-standing sculptures in the British Museum from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, of which he published the definitive catalogue in 1978. Another long-standing enthusiasm was collections of Greek and Roman statuary in English country houses, and in 1986 he published the standard catalogue of the important Lever and Hope collections. When the archive of Bernard Ashmole came to King’s, Geoffrey and his assistants devoted enormous effort to sorting and curating it; he also accepted Ashmole’s desk (still used by each HoD), and was amused to find and open its secret compartment. In 1989 he joined with John Wilkes in running excavations at the long neglected site of Roman and Byzantine Sparta, in particular its theatre, on behalf of the British School at Athens. These excavations continued to 1998, and are perhaps best known for the discovery in 1992 of the traces of an extraordinary mechanical system for wheeling in and out a raised stage: this allowed plays in both Greek and Roman style to be performed to the same auditorium.

In addition to his administration and research, Geoffrey was a very popular and busy teacher of undergraduates, and an indefatigable supervisor of countless PhD students, and visiting doctoral and post-doctoral scholars, many of whom are now in post in British and Greek universities and the Greek Archaeological Ephorates, and in Museums across Europe. He will be much missed by his former students, colleagues and friends.

An obituary was published in the Times on 23 May 2016, use the following links to view online or download a pdf

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