Gladys Davidson Weinberg’s pioneering archaeological work on ancient and medieval glass and its manufacture in the Mediterranean world sheds light on the trade and technology of preindustrial societies.
Born in New York City on December 27, 1909, the first of two daughters of Hebrew literary scholar Israel Davidson and Carrie (Dreyfuss) Davidson, Gladys Davidson Weinberg’s archaeological interest was spurred by her study of Greek in high school. She received her bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1930 and her Ph.D. five years later from Johns Hopkins University for her dissertation on the excavations at Corinth. In 1931, she began her archaeological career with the Johns Hopkins University expedition to Olynthus. From 1932 to 1938, she studied at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, after which she became assistant curator of ancient art at the Princeton Art Museum, a post she held for four years. During her tenure there, in 1942, she married fellow archaeologist Saul Weinberg, who later became cofounder and chairman of the department of art history and archaeology at the University of Missouri–Columbia. They had one daughter, Susanna Miriam.
From 1943 to 1945, Weinberg served as a translator and librarian in the Foreign Service Auxiliary of the U.S. Department of State in Istanbul and Athens. She then worked as assistant librarian from 1946 to 1947 and acting librarian from 1947 to 1948 at the American School for Classical Studies in Athens.
As editor of Archaeology magazine from 1952 to 1967, Weinberg conducted several excavations in search of ancient glass factories in the Mediterranean. In 1959, she directed an excavation in Crete sponsored by the Corning Museum of Glass. Several years later, the Corning Museum joined with the University of Missouri–Columbia to focus on the early centuries when glass vessels first became household products in the eastern Mediterranean. With Weinberg as field director, the team at Jalame, Israel (near Haifa), studied glassmaking technology, examining the types of tools, fuels, and furnaces used, and the form of the raw materials needed for glassmaking.
As curator of ancient art (1962–1973), assistant director (1973–1977), research fellow (1977–2002), and cofounder of the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri, Weinberg promoted the study and appreciation of ancient objects. While at the museum, she also founded and became editor of Muse, Annual of the Museum of Art and Archaeology (1966–1977).
Gladys Davidson Weinberg was an honorary life member of the American Association of University Women and of the Archaeological Institute of America. In 1985, she and her husband received the Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement from the Archaeological Institute of America. A year later, she received the Percia Schimmel Award for Archaeological Exploration in Biblical Lands from the Israel Museum.
Gladys Davidson Weinberg, whose husband predeceased her, died at Columbia’s Boone Hospital Center on Monday, January 14, 2002. She was ninety- two years old.
SELECTED WORKS BY GLADYS DAVIDSON WEINBERG
The Antikyhera Wreck Reconsidered (1965); Corinth: The Minor Objects (1952); Excavations at Jalame (1988); Glass Vessels in Ancient Greece (1992); Small Finds from the Pnyx: I, with Dorothy Thompson and Lucy Talcott (1943–1956).
- “Ancient City Found on Coast of Crete by U.S. Explorers.” NYTimes, December 20, 1959, 4:8
- “Archaeological Institute of America Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement.” American Journal of Archaeology 90 (April 1986): 173
- Carmin, Itzhak J. Who’s Who in World Jewry: A Biographical Dictionary of Outstanding Jews. Pitman Publishing Corporation, Inc., New York, 1972.
- “Coins of 350 b.c. Found in Sicily.” NYTimes, December 29, 1966, 28:4
- De Bat, Donald. “Columbia Archaeologists Discover Glass Slab on Israeli Expedition.” Columbia Missourian, May 15, 1966: 9
- Directory of American Scholars ; “Dr. Weinberg Awarded Research Fellowship.” Columbia Missourian, May 14, 1963
- EJ, s.v. “Weinberg, Saul S.”
- LaHue, Jill. “Broken Glass Helps Reconstruct Past.” Columbia Missourian, April 27, 1974
- Ricchiardi, Sherry. “M.U. to Display Old Roman Glass.” Columbia Missourian, November 12, 1965
- Who’s Who of American Women. Marquis Who’s Who LLC. Marquis Who’s Who Publishing, 1973.
How to cite this page
Fishman, Aleisa. "Gladys Davidson Weinberg." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 21, 2020) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/weinberg-gladys-davidson>.