BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Milestones: Diane Harris Cline (1961–2023)

Accomplished classicist and archaeologist

Diane Harris Cline. Courtesy Eric Cline.

On July 8, 2023, the archaeological community lost an enthusiastic scholar of the humanities with the passing of Diane Harris Cline. Associate Professor Emerita of History and Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Diane was affectionately known as “Lady Cline” to her students, but her interests and achievements also gave her the titles of historian, archaeologist, professor, mentor, fellow, intelligence officer, musician, innovator, friend, sister, wife, and mother.

Diane received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, followed by her master’s and doctorate from Princeton University. She would go on to hold tenured faculty positions at California State University, Fresno, the University of Cincinnati, and most recently as Associate Professor of History and Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the George Washington University for the past seven years. In her time at GWU, she was recognized for her exceptional teaching with awards in 2017, 2018, and 2021. Her students were her greatest advocates, inspired by her passion for archaeology and history through her unique ability to make the past a fascinating story to unravel.i Her accomplishments and awards reflected Diane’s deep interest in revealing the past but also her keen ability to relay her research and knowledge to students. As a former student, I vividly remember her bringing well-known stories like the Aeneid to life in new ways, and inspiring me to be equally as passionate in my own teaching years later.

Her career was distinguished by her expertise in the history of ancient Greece, archaeology, epigraphy, and especially her more recent work in social network analysis and actor-network theory. Her strong sense of advocacy and support for public well-being led her to take a hiatus from academia to spend four years focusing on intelligence work at the National Security Agency following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Her return to academia included the publication of her second book The Greeks: An Illustrated History (National Geographic, 2016). As a two-time Fulbright scholar, fellow of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, a three-time NEH award winner for research in Greece, a fellow at the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, and a co-principal investigator for an NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant, Diane’s research reflected her passion for finding new ways to explore the past.

In addition to her many academic accomplishments, Diane was an active member of the Archaeological Institute of America, serving as co-president of the Washington, D.C. Society from 2019–2020, and as a Board Member of the Biblical Archaeological Society of Northern Virginia, as well as being a member of over 20 other academic organizations. Her interests extended beyond ancient history into music, where she also excelled as an accomplished cellist and member of the Washington Sinfonietta.

In April 2023, GWU honored Diane with Professor Emerita status. She gave her last public lecture, a touching recalling of her life’s work as the keynote for the induction ceremony for the Classics honor society Eta Sigma Phi. It is poignant that this lecture covered her varied interests throughout her career, a testament to how she approached the humanities, like a network of related actors one connected to each other through lines of influence and interaction.

Our thoughts and warm memories of Diane extend to her husband Eric Cline, and her children Hannah Davis (Cline) and Josh Cline.


Alexandra Ratzlaff is Assistant Professor of Classical and Early Mediterranean Studies at Brandeis University, where she specializes in the archaeology and ancient history of the eastern Mediterranean.

Notes:

i See Diane Harris Cline, “Phidias and Pericles: Hold My Wine,” Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2019.

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