Follow up: The Archaeology of WWI in Palestine

By: Jeffrey A. Blakely

This post is a reply to comments on Jeff Blakely’s previous post The Archaeology of World War I in Palestine and the Beginning of the Modern Middle East. Robert Merrillees praised the post but asked why Australian records had not been mentioned.

I greatly appreciate the comments of Ambassador Merrillees and in seeing this discussion extended.  He rightly points to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra as a treasure trove of documents and photographs relating to WWI Palestine.  My goal was to cover the topic with limited use of examples and I chose to highlight the collections of the Library of Congress, its Matson Collection in particular, simply because the interested scholar or student can obtain high quality digital photographic downloads free and with limited copyright issues.  For sure the records at the AWM are the most valuable for Australia, but online images tend to be lower resolution and obtaining copyright permissions and images with higher resolution entails expense and time.  The Imperial War Museum (IWM) for Great Britain also has an invaluable collection, but fewer of its photographic images are online. Continue reading

The Archaeology of World War I in Palestine and the Beginning of the Modern Middle East

By: Jeffrey A. Blakely

Most Americans understand World War I in the Middle East through the epic 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. Who can forget Peter O’Toole’s vibrant blue eyes as he blew up trains on the Hejaz railroad in modern Saudi Arabia and Jordan? Since American forces were not involved in the Egyptian/Palestine front, it probably would have escaped American interest were it not for the film.

But World War I shaped the modern Middle East. Nation-states from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf were brought into being by the British and French mandates. Their borders were drawn by colonial administrators in European chancelleries using inadequate maps and with little regard for and no input from the local populations, which were a swirl of ethnic and religious groups. Many of these states and boundaries are now breaking down.

Figure 1. General Edmund Allenby reviewing troops in Jerusalem, 11 December 1917.

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A Seminar on The History and Material Culture of Ottoman Palestine at the Kenyon Institute, Jerusalem


Fig 1: The seminar poster (graphics by Qais Tweissi)

By: Micaela Sinibaldi

On the 9th and 10th of February 2013 I had the great pleasure to organise a seminar entitled: The History and Material Culture of Ottoman Palestine at the Kenyon Institute in Jerusalem. The seminar consisted of a day of papers and a roundtable discussion at the Kenyon and a day of tours of the Old City led by some of the seminar scholars.

As an archaeologist who works on the Islamic period, I know from my fieldwork and research, which has been especially focused on Petra (Jordan), that it is particularly the later periods which are still largely unexplored by archaeology, particularly the Ottoman period. During my recent work for Brown University, for example, as a co-director of excavations at Islamic Bayda (Petra region), a village whose occupation spans the whole Islamic period, it appeared from my preliminary research that the latest and most extensive phase is Ottoman; however, almost no material is currently available in the region for providing the excavation results with some archaeological parallels. One of the reasons for a very recent interest in the archaeology of the Ottoman period is that, partly because of the wealth of both documentary and monumental architectural sources available, the study of material culture has naturally focused on buildings such as the impressive ones preserved in Jerusalem in the al-Haram al-Sharif and in other areas of the Old City of Jerusalem, rather than on rural sites or on the use of archaeology to help solve chronological questions. Continue reading

To Unify and Distinguish: The Making of “Crusader” Art

Mahoney_LisaBy: Lisa Mahoney, DePaul University, National Endowment of the Humanities Fellow

The crusades to the Holy Land defined all of western Christendom during the 12th and  13th centuries, even if this was not continuous and did not affect all of Christendom at the same time. In the Holy Land, however, once cities had been conquered and loca sancta “freed,” the military component of this enterprise was superseded by other matters—the creation and maintenance of a new, identifiable community despite the cultural dissimilarity of its members and the remove of their origins.  Although an endeavor never articulated in available journals, guides, or historical accounts, that is, in tidy passages that can be excerpted and pointed to, I contend that it was the central factor determining artistic production in the Latin occupied territories.  Continue reading

The transformation of the Metropolis of Myra into an Ottoman village

By: Ebru Fatma Fındık
Research Assistant Hacettepe University, Faculty of Letters, Department of Art History, Beytepe, Ankara / TURKEY

Fig. 1: The house of a Turkish villager

The ancient city of Myra (mod. Demre) is situated in a plain of Lycia, surrounded by the Taurus Mountains to the north and by the Myros River (mod. Demra Çayı) to the east. Located to the south-west, on the banks of the Andrakos River, is its ancient harbour Andriake (mod. Çayağzı). The city has a large rural territory and during the Byzantine period the city had close religious, social, and economic ties with its territory (Foss 1996: 315).

Since 1989, the excavation and restoration work of the most important ecclesiastical building of the ancient city, the Church of St. Nicholas, has been carried out by the Art History Department of Hacettepe University. On the other hand, the excavations in the ancient city have been carried out by the Archaeology Department of Akdeniz University since 2009. Continue reading