Dr. A. John Graham, professor emeritus of Classical studies, one of the foremost authorities on colonization in the ancient Greek world, died December 26, 2005 at age 75, in Cambridge, England, where he had lived since his retirement from Penn in 1995.
Dr. Graham was born into an old Quaker family in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 1930, and was educated at Bootham, a famous Quaker school in Yorkshire. After service in the British Army during World War II, he entered King’s College Cambridge, from which he graduated with distinction in ancient history in 1952. He earned a Ph.D. at Cambridge, with time spent at the University of Munich, Germany, and at the British School at Athens, then taught for two years at Bedford College, London. In 1957, he accepted a teaching post at the University of Manchester, which he held for 20 years until coming to Penn as professor of Classical studies and becoming the Allen Memorial Professor of Greek in 1977.
Dr. Graham’s scholarly interests centered on Greek colonization, which was the subject of his prize-winning book, Colony and Mother City in Ancient Greece (1964, reprinted 1983), and of numerous articles and reviews. He also published on Roman imperial history, and co-edited a volume in honor of his teacher Victor Ehrenberg, Polis und Imperium, in 1965. His special competence in archaeology and epigraphy led to studies in Greek domestic life in articles on “An Attic Country House” and a study of bee hives.
Dr. Graham’s former colleague Martin Ostwald recalls that at Penn, “his sharp historical acumen, his intellectual clarity, and his compassionate nature soon found resonance among his students and colleagues alike.” Dr. Graham was at various times, chair of the Department of Classical studies, of the Graduate Group in Classical Studies, and of the Graduate Group in Ancient History. With his strong interests in religious and cultural history, and in cultural contacts within the ancient Mediterranean, he played a leading role in fostering the broad reach and interdisciplinary emphasis of Penn’s innovative graduate program in ancient history. He advised dissertations on a wide range of topics and inspired a loyal and devoted following among his former students. Despite his refusal to surrender to the use of e-mail, few students and colleagues regarded that as an obstacle to staying in touch with him, even after he withdrew to his native England upon his retirement in 1995. In 2002, a number of his former students expressed their esteem through the publication of Oikistes: Studies in Constitutions, Colonies, and Military Power in the Ancient World Offered in Honor of A.J. Graham.
Dr. Graham is survived by his wife, Jenny; sons, William and Oliver; and three grandchildren. The Department of Classical Studies is planning a memorial service for Dr. Graham later in the spring.