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Maurice Wildon Montague Pope (17 February 1926 – 1 August 2019) was a British linguist, specialist in Classical studies and antiquity, one of leading researchers of the Cretan script Linear A.[1]

Born in London, he graduated from Cambridge University. In 1949, became a teaching assistant at the chair of classical studies of Cape Town University, lecturer from 1952, professor from 1957.

In 1957, he replaced professor George P. Gould in the position of Head of the Chair of Classical Studies. In co-authorship with Gould he published several articles on Minoan Linear A script.

Along with linguistics Pope was interested in archaeology. He often participated in archaeological expeditions, and in 1954 participated in an underwater expedition of the Archaeological School of Athens near Chios.[2]

In 1960s, he was Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Cape Town.

The hero of J.M. Coetzee's 2002 book "Youth" (pp 23–24) describes the Cape Town Classics Department: "Greek and pure mathematics are in his eyes the noblest subjects one can study at a university. From afar he reveres the lecturers in Greek, whose courses he cannot take: Anton Paap, papyrologist; Maurice Pope, translator of Sophocles; Maurits Heemstra, commentator on Heraclitus. Together with Douglas Sears, Professor of Pure Mathematics, they inhabit an exalted realm."

In August 1968, Pope resigned from his position and left the university, as he strongly disagreed with the interference of the racist government in the University's policy (namely, the government forced the University authorities to dismiss a job offer previously issued to a Black person).[3] In 1969, Maurice Pope moved to teach and research in Oxford University.

In the 1980s, in cooperation with Jacques Raison, he prepared and published a corpus of Minoan Linear A inscriptions.


  1. ^ "Maurice Pope (1926 – 2019)". British School at Athens. 23 August 2019.
  2. ^
  3. ^ SOUTH AFRICA: WHERE WERE WE LOOKING IN 1968? By John Daniel and Peter. Vale. Page 142

Selected worksEdit

  • Corpus transnuméré du Linéaire A (avec J. Raison).
  • The Story of Decipherment: From Egyptian Hieroglyphs to Maya Script: From Egyptian Hieroglyphics to Maya Script 1999, New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0500281055