Maurice Pope (1926 – 2019)
It was with great sadness that the BSA learnt of the death of Maurice Pope on 1 August 2019 aged 93. His association with the BSA goes back to the early 1950s and, in recent years, he was a generous supporter.
After completing his degree in Cambridge, Maurice Pope began his academic career in South Africa as Assistant Lecturer at the University of Cape Town, becoming Lecturer in 1952 and Professor in 1957, in succession to George Goold. He first came to the BSA in the 1953-54 academic year, during which he worked with Sinclair Hood at Emborio on Chios, pioneering aqualung off-shore exploration. Among his colleagues on that project were Sir John Boardman and Michael and Lois Ventris. In collaboration with Goold, he began work on the undeciphered Linear A script, and presented their results to the London Mycenaean Seminar in 1955, published jointly that same year as The Cretan Linear A Script: Preliminary Investigations into the Cretan Linear A Script (Cape Town). Pope continued to work on Linear A, publishing two articles in the Annual of the BSA, in 1956 (“Cretan Axe-Heads with Linear A Inscriptions”) and 1960 (“The Cretulae and the Linear A Accounting System”). He spent two subsequent periods in Greece working on Linear A – in 1957 (when this photograph was taken) and 1964, when he also collaborated with Jacques Raison, with whom he published the first systematic corpus of the script in 1980: Corpus transnuméré du linéaire A (Louvain-La-Neuve). His interest in decipherment inspired him to publish in 1975 The Story of Archaeological Decipherment: From Egyptian Hieroglyphs to Linear B (Thames & Hudson), the book by which he is probably most widely known, updated in 1999 as The Story of Decipherment: From Egyptian Hieroglyphs to Maya script (Thames and Hudson) to take proper account of the Maya decipherment.
Pope resigned his post at Cape Town in 1968 over the then-apartheid government’s interference in an appointment and moved to Oxford. From there he continued to travel widely with his wife, Johanna, and their six children. Nearly two decades ago he and Johanna moved to Normandy, to a beautiful house in the Calvados region.
Pope’s memoirs, published in a second edition last year under the title Amateur (http://bit.ly/AmateurByMWMPope), give a vivid sense of him as a man of broad learning and wide experience, principled and intellectually open-minded, who was devoted to his family, to whom we send our sincere condolences.