North American Scholar

TRELL, Bluma Lee Popkin

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1903-03-10
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: Max, a portrait painter, & Mary Samuels Popkin
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1997-06-10
  • Death City: Englewood
  • Death State/Country: NJ
  • Married: Max Trell, 6 September 1924
  • Education:

    LL.B., NYU, 1924; B.A., 1935; Ph.D., 1942.

  • Professional Experience:

    Managing attorney, S.L. Prager, New York, NY, William A. Hyman, 1930-2; asst. classics, UCLA, 1940-1; Hunter Coll., (now CUNY) 1941-4; asst. prof. classics, NYU, 1959-61; asso.prof. 1961-7; prof. classics and comp. lit., 1967-72; ACLS fell., 1963, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1976' NSF grant, 1973.

  • Dissertation:

    "Architectura Numismatica: The Temples of Asia Minor" (NYU, 1942).

  • Publications:

    “Contributions to Anatolian Temple Architecture,” AJA (1942) 120; The Temple of Artemis at Ephesos (New York: Amer. Num. Soc., 1945). REVS: AJPh 1947 440-443 Dinsmoor | CR 1947 113 Sutherland | BCH LXXI-LXXII 1947-1948 373 Lacroix | Numismatica XIII 1947 108 de Franciscis; “The Naophoroi of Greek Imperial Coins,” AJA 66 (1962) 100; “A Further Study in Architectura Numismatica,” AJA 67 (1963) 218; “A Numismatic Solution of Two Problems in Euripides,” NC 4 (1964) 93-101; “The Cult-Image on Temple-Type Coins,” NC 4 (1964) 241-6; “An Ancient Tourist Map,” with A.C Levi, Archaeology 17 (1964) 227-36; “A Further Study in Architectura Numismatica,” in Essays in Memory of Karl Lehmann, ed. L.F. Sandler (New York: Inst. of Fine Arts New York Univ., 1964) 344-58; “A Numismatic Solution of Two Problems in Euripides,” AJA 71 (1967) 195; “Architectura numismatica Orientalis,” AJA 73 (1969) 246; “Architectura numismatica Orientalis. A Short Guide to the Numismatic Formulae of Roman Syrian Die-Makers,” NC 10 (1970) 29-50; “Architectura numismatica. The Building of Baalbek,” AJA 76 (1972) 223; “A Numismatic Commentary on the Site and Sanctuary of Pontic Neocaesarea,” AJA 77 (1973) 230; “Architecture on Ancient Coins,” Archaeology 29 (1976) 6-13; “Tomb, Altar or Shrine?,” in Actes du VIIIᵉ Congrès international de numismatique, New York-Washington, septembre 1973, ed. H.A. Cahn & G. Le Rider (Wetteren: Cultura, 1976) 163-9; Coins and Their Cities. Architecture on the Ancient Coins of Greece, Rome, and Palestine, with M.J. Price (Detroit: Wayne State U. Press, 1977). REVS: ArchN VII 1978 68-69 Walker | RN XIX 1977 206 Nicolet-Pierre | NCirc LXXXVI 1978 74 Sutherland | CW LXXIII 1979 261-262 Biers | Archaeology XXXII,1 1979 76-77 Bastien | JSAH XXXVIII 1979 177-178 Plommer & 178-180 Levy | AJA LXXXIII 1979 248-249 Waggoner | RBN CXXV 1979 179-180 Hackens | JHS C 1980 275-276 Tomlinson | NC CXLIII 1983 258-259 Robertson; “Epigraphica numismatica. Monumental Nymphaea on Ancient Coins,” BASP 15 (1978) 147-61; “Prehellenic Sanctuaries on the Greco-Roman Coins of Anatolia, I,” in Proceedings of the Xth International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Ankara-Izmir 23-30.IX.1973, ed. E. Akurgal (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1978) 107-20; “The World of the Phoenicians, East and West. The Numismatic Evidence,” in Actes du ix Congrès international de numismatique, Berne, septembre 1979, I & II, ed. T. Hackens & R. Weiller (Louvain-la-Neuve: Assoc. Intern. des Numismates Prof. Luxembourg, 1982) 421-43; “The Coins of the Phoenician World, East and West,” in Ancient Coins of the Graeco-Roman World. The Nickle Numismatic Papers, ed. W. Heckel & R. Sullivan (Waterloo, Ont. Canada: Wilfred Laurier U. Press, 1984) 117-39. 

  • Notes:

    Bluma Trell grew up in the Bohemian world of Greenwich Village, thanks to the success of her father, who was a founder of the Grand Central Galleries. Her fierce determination to make a career for herself first manifested itself in her taking a degree in law and practicing as an attorney for five years until she became, in her word, "bored" with the law. In the same year that she received her degree she married a screenwriter, Max Trell. During his time in Hollywood, she taught at UCLA and while visiting a movie set supposedly depicting an ancient Greek city, she began to wonder what Greek cities really looked like.

    Once back at NYU, her interest in numismatics was primed by the noted Professor at NYU's Institute of Fine Arts, Karl Lehmann (1894-1960), who arrived at NYU the same year as Trell, 1935.  She was particularly interested in coins as the principal ancient source of architecture, though the representations of the same buildings could differ widely. Her great achievement was the reconstruction of the façade of Temple of Artemis, the first building in Greece known to have been constructed entirely of marble. The temple had been destroyed over the years by Christians, but the coins gave enough evidence for Trell to design a reconstruction, now on permanent display at the British Museum and was painted by Salvador Dali. She also performed a great service to her field in 1973 by successfully protesting New York's Metropolitan Museum attempt to sell 6000 ancient coins that it had lent the American Numismatic Society. No small part of her success in this effort arose from the publicity generated by the appearance in the New York Times and the New York Post of a photograph of Trell playing the cello with the NYU Student Orchestra at the Society during the protest. The museum sold the coins to the Society for a minimal amount. She was a passionate teacher of all aspects of Greek life. 

    Though technically an archaeologist, her enthusiastic lectures on Greek literature and language popularized her introductory Greek course in which the students performed an ancient Greek play in the original.

  • Sources:

    Robert McG, Thomas, Jr. NYTimes (12 June 1997) B17; Washington Post (16 June 1997) B4; The Economist 343 (28 June 1997) 93.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.