Keith R. DeVries papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives [Contact Us]3260 South Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104-6324
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Keith Robert DeVries was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1958 with a degree in English, worked in publishing in New York and Rome for several years. In 1965, he began graduate study in classical archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Ph.D. in 1970. During this period he was active in excavations at Ischia (1966-1967) and at Corinth (1968), where he was a regular member (John Williams White Fellow) at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The following year he held the Edward Capps fellowship as an associate member. In 1969, he began teaching at Penn, where he offered courses in Anatolian archaeology and in Greek archaeology from the Bronze Age through the classical period.
It was Gordion, the Phrygian capital of King Midas in central Anatolia, that became his life's work. He first went to Gordion in 1971, where he worked under Rodney S. Young, director of excavations since 1950, and was thereafter a staff member of the excavation for more than thirty years. He served as director, following the death of Rodney Young, in 1974–1975, and then between 1977 and 1987. He wrote a series of significant articles which clarified the historical sequence of the site, in addition to his studies of the imported Greek pottery. Most recently, and up until the time of his death, he worked on the implications of the radical revision of the Gordion chronology, which now places the destruction of the Early Phrygian capital at c. 800 B.C.—a century earlier than previously thought. His analysis of both the archaeological record and the literary sources was crucial to this new understanding of the Gordion chronology.
DeVries' dissertation was on Boeotian incised fibulae, and he published several articles on these decorated bronze pins. His careful study of Corinthian Geometric pottery led him ultimately to propose a chronological adjustment for the initial Greek colonization in the central Mediterranean; this important paper appeared in the Corinth Centennial volume. He also published several articles on the assemblage of Greek pottery from Phrygian Gordion. His "Greek Pottery and Gordion Chronology," appeared in The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians: Recent Work at Gordion (2005). He was interested in the interactions between the Greeks and the peoples of Asia Minor, and this was reflected in his article, "The Nearly Other," which examined the depictions of Phrygians and Lydians in Attic vase-painting.
Beginning in the 1980s, he worked for a number of years on a manuscript, "Homosexuality and the Athenian Democracy," which included a comprehensive catalogue of homosexual “courting scenes” in Greek vase-painting as well as a very complete list of kalos inscriptions. His study of the images showed, for example, that the largest number of such scenes appears in the years immediately following the establishment of the Athenian democracy, and therefore contemporary vase-painting provided no evidence of the newly established democracy's hostility to pederasty. Although the book was never completed, DeVries shared his manuscript with other scholars, and it played an important role in framing the discussion about these issues. His catalogue, which serves as reminder of Keith's insistence that the full range of the visual evidence had to be considered, has since been published in abridged form in Andrew Lear and Eva Cantarella's Images of Ancient Greek Pederasty (2008).
Several other publications reflect his research on homosexuality and its representation in Greek art. An important article considered anew the representations of the eromenoi in Greek vase-painting, while in another he identified six of the so-called eponymous heroes on the Parthenon frieze as male couples.
He was a consultant for the 1994 reinstallation of the Greek Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and he also served as co-director of the Museum's Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum project. A longtime member of the Archaeological Institute of America, he also served on the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Keith Robert DeVries died of cancer in Philadelphia, on July 16, 2006, at the age of sixty-nine. At the time of his death, he was Associate Curator Emeritus of the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Associate Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
This biographical note was adapted in part from the following sources: Brownlee, A.B. (2007) "Keith Robert DeVries (1937-2006)". Classical World, volume 100.4. pp. 445-446. Sams, G. Kenneth (2007) “Keith Devries, 1937-2006”. American Journal of Archaeology, volume 111. pp. 549-501.
The textual records of the Keith R. Devries papers consist of approximately one linear foot of professional correspondence, draft articles for publication and notes of talks and presentations written between 1969 and 2006. The records reflect for the most part Devries’ research interests and administrative duties while in residence at the University of Pennsylvania. With the exception of presentation notes, they do not include the records of his work with the Gordion Project from 1973 to 2006 (including Attic import pottery), which are housed in the Gordion Project Archives. Records prior to 1969, including work at Ischia and Corinth during his residence there (1966-1968) are not extant.
Topics included in the papers include research of ancient Greek fibulae, pottery (Corinthian and Attic), and Greek homosexuality as evidenced in sculpture, pottery painting, and kalos inscriptions. A significant portion of the correspondence and draft material deals with research toward the publication of Devries' book "Homosexuality and the Athenian Democracy," which occupied him for the most part between 1985 and 1996, and was to include a complete and exhaustive catalogue of homosexual “courting” images, still unpublished at his death. There is also significant correspondence with scholars researching related aspects of Greek homosexuality. Administrative records relate to the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (1984-1986), the Archaeological Institute of America (1972-1974), student advising and teaching (1971-2001), and the University of Pennsylvania Museum (1973-1986).
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This series is arranged by subject and correspondent. Correspondent files include items both by and concerning the person referenced. Where significant correspondence deals with published and unpublished articles, it is filed separately under the title of the article. Correspondence dealing with "Homosexuality and the Athenian Democracy" includes some general discussion of Greek homosexuality aiming toward the publication of what was to be a comprehensive study. Where individual correspondence with persons discusses the Gordion Project, these have been filed with the Gordion Project records collection.
Correspondence with Andrew Lear and James Davidson regarding publication of catalogue in forthcoming work by Lear.
This series is arranged by title of article or draft publication, or by subject where no title exists. Included are notes to presentations and talks, including talks relating to the Gordion Project (documents and reports of the Gordion Project are filed with the Gordion Project records collection). Only unpublished drafts have been included; a complete bibliography of DeVries’ published works is included in his curriculum vitae in the University of Pennsylvania Archives Biography Collection. The draft text of Homosexuality and the Athenian Democracy is incomplete up to page 168, apparently complete from pages 168 to 336. From the nature of the fragments extant it appears that these missing pages were present and may yet be located. The catalogue of images intended to be appended to this work appears to be complete. It should be noted that this work originated as a draft journal article intended to be titled “Courting/Homosexuality Scenes and the Athenian Democracy,” and early correspondence will reference this title.