Professor Mitchell read Literae Humaniores (Classics) at St John’s in 1966–70, followed by a DPhil on the history of the Roman province of Galatia in 1970–74, and was elected Honorary Fellow in 2018 in recognition of his major contributions to the study of ancient history and to academic co-operation between Britain and Turkey. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2002, corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute in 1996, and received an Honorary Doctorate from the Humboldt University in Berlin (2006). In 2020 he was awarded the prestigious Gustave Schlumberger Prize by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in Paris. He had served as President of the British Epigraphy Society and of the Association Internationale d’Épigraphie Grecque et Latine, and as Chair and later Vice-President of the British Institute at Ankara.
Professor Mitchell was the author of many books on the history, epigraphy and archaeology of Asia Minor from the Hellenistic to the early Byzantine period, history of early Christianity, and history of the late Roman Empire, areas in which he was a world authority. His latest book, The Christians of Phrygia from Rome to the Turkish Conquest, a monumental study of early Christianity in central Anatolia, was published in the Brill Early Christianity and Ancient Judaism series last year.
He will be much missed by his friends and colleagues in this College and worldwide. Dr Georgy Kantor, Fellow in Ancient History, said:
‘I met Stephen in the first year of my doctorate when he introduced me to a major inscription with the text of a treaty between Julius Caesar and the cities of Lycia in Asia Minor which he was about to publish: it would not be an exaggeration to say that in a single hour he changed the whole course of my research, and he has remained a profound influence ever since. His kindness, good sense and immense knowledge of everything related to Asia Minor will be deeply missed.’
Professor Mitchell's funeral will be in Berlin on 23 February. A memorial event in Oxford is planned for April 2024. Further information will be shared by the British Institute at Ankara in due course.