Kathleen Kenyon

Kathleen Kenyon

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Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon (5 January 1906 – 24 August 1978), was a leading archaeologist of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 culture in the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

. She is best known for her excavations in Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 in 1952-1958.

Early life


Kathleen Kenyon was the eldest daughter of Sir Frederic Kenyon, a biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 scholar and later director of the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

. She studied at St Paul's Girls' School
St Paul's Girls' School
St Paul's Girls' School is a senior independent school, located in Brook Green, Hammersmith, in West London, England.-History:In 1904 a new day school for girls was established by the trustees of the Dean Colet Foundation , which had run St Paul's School for boys since the sixteenth century...

, read history at Somerville College, Oxford
Somerville College, Oxford
Somerville College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, and was one of the first women's colleges to be founded there...

, England, and became the first female president of the Oxford University Archaeological Society
Oxford University Archaeological Society
Oxford University Archaeological Society is a society at the University of Oxford, which promotes matters of archaeological interest through lectures, excursions and fieldwork. Its membership is not restricted to students, although it is generally run by undergraduate and graduate members of the...

.

Archaeology


Kathleen Kenyon's first field experience was as a photographer for the pioneering excavations at Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city that was once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which existed from 1100 to 1450 C.E. during the country’s Late Iron Age. The monument, which first began to be constructed in the 11th century and which continued to be built until the 14th century, spanned an...

 in 1929, led by Gertrude Caton-Thompson. Returning to England, Kenyon joined the archaeological couple Mortimer and Tessa Wheeler
Mortimer Wheeler
Brigadier Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler CH, CIE, MC, FBA, FSA , was one of the best-known British archaeologists of the twentieth century.-Education and career:...

 on their excavation of the Romano-British settlement of Verulamium
Verulamium
Verulamium was an ancient town in Roman Britain. It was sited in the southwest of the modern city of St Albans in Hertfordshire, Great Britain. A large portion of the Roman city remains unexcavated, being now park and agricultural land, though much has been built upon...

 (St Albans), 20 miles north of London. Working there each summer between 1930 and 1935, Kenyon learned from Mortimer Wheeler the discipline of meticulously controlled and recorded stratigraphic excavation. Wheeler entrusted her with the direction of the excavation of the Roman theatre. In the years 1931 to 1934 Kenyon worked simultaneously at Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, then located in the British Mandated Territory of Palestine, with John  and Grace Crowfoot. There she cut a stratigraphic trench across the summit of the mound and down the northern and southern slopes, exposing the Iron II to the Roman period stratigraphic sequence of the site. In addition to providing crucial dating material for the Iron Age stratigraphy of Palestine, she obtained key stratified data for the study of Eastern terra sigilata ware.

In 1934 Kenyon was closely associated with the Wheelers in the foundation of the Institute of Archaeology of University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

. From 1936 to 1939 she carried out important excavations at the Jewry Wall
Jewry Wall
The Jewry Wall in Leicester, England is the substantial ruined wall of a public building of Roman Leicester .-Description of the wall:...

 in the city of Leicester. During the Second World War, Kenyon served as Divisional Commander of the Red Cross in Hammersmith, London, and later as Acting Director and Secretary of the Institute of Archaeology
Institute of Archaeology
The UCL Institute of Archaeology is an academic department of the Social & Historical Sciences Faculty of University College London , England. It is one of the largest departments of archaeology in the world, with over 80 members of academic staff and 500 students...

 of the University of London.

After the war, she excavated in Southwark
Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

, at The Wrekin
The Wrekin
The Wrekin is a hill in east Shropshire, England. It is located some west of Telford, on the border between the unitary authorities of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. Rising to a height of above the Shropshire Plain, it is a prominent and well-known landmark, marking the entrance to Shropshire...

, Shropshire and elsewhere in Britain, as well as at Sabratha
Sabratha
Sabratha, Sabratah or Siburata , in the Zawiya District in the northwestern corner of modern Libya, was the westernmost of the "three cities" of Tripolis. From 2001 to 2007 it was the capital of the former Sabratha wa Sorman District. It lies on the Mediterranean coast about west of Tripoli...

, a Roman city in Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

. As a member of the Council of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem
British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem
The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem was established in 1919. The London-based Palestine Exploration Fund was instrumental in its foundation. The first Director was British archaeologist John Garstang, and among its earliest students was architect-archaeologist George Horsfield, later...

 (BSAJ), Kenyon was involved in the efforts to reopen the School after the hiatus of the Second World War. In January 1951 she traveled to the Transjordan and undertook excavations in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 at Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 (Tell es-Sultan) on behalf of the BSAJ. Her work at Jericho, from 1952 until 1958, made her world famous and established a lasting legacy in the archaeological methodology of the Levant. Ground-breaking discoveries concerning the Neolithic cultures of the Levant were made in this ancient settlement. Her excavation of the Early Bronze Age walled city and the external cemeteries of the end of the Early Bronze Age, together with her analysis of the stratified pottery of these periods established her as the leading authority on that period. At the same time she also completed the publication of the excavations at Samaria. Her volume, Samaria Sebaste III: The Objects, appeared in 1957. Having completed her excavations at Jericho in 1958, Kenyon excavated in Jerusalem from 1961 to 1967, concentrating on the 'City of David' to the immediate south of the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

.

Although Kenyon had no doubt the sites she excavated were linked to the Old Testament narrative she nevertheless drew attention to inconsistencies, concluding that Solomon's
"stables" at Megiddo were totally impractical for holding horses (1978:72), and that Jericho fell long before Joshua's arrival (1978:35). Consequently Kenyon's work has been cited to support the Minimalist School of Biblical Archaeology that argues the pre-586 BCE. Old Testament historical account was highly exaggerated.

Kenyon's vast legacy in the field of excavation technique and ceramic methodology, not only in the Levant but also further afield, is attested to by Larry G. Herr, one of the directors of the Madaba Plains Project. He attributes to her directly the first of the key events (after the advances made by William F. Albright at Tell Beit Mirsim in the 1920s) that brought about our modern understanding of pottery in the southern Levant:

"The first event was the refinement of stratigraphic techniques that Kathleen Kenyon's dig at Jericho catalyzed. The strict separation of earth layers, or archaeological sediments, also allowed the strict separation of ceramic assemblages".


Herr detects Kenyon's powerful indirect influence in the second event that promoted advance within ceramic methodology, namely:

"...the importation of Kenyon's digging techniques by Larry Toombs and Joe Callaway to Ernest Wright's project at Balata. Here, they combined Wright's interest in ceramic typology in the best Albright tradition with Kenyon's methods of excavation, which allowed the isolation of clear, stratigraphically determined pottery assemblages".


Herr summarises the somewhat mixed nature of Kenyon's legacy: for all the positive advances, there were also shortcomings:

"Kenyon... did not capitilize fully on (the) implication of her stratigraphic techniques by producing final publications promptly. Indeed her method of digging, which most of us have subsequently adopted, causes a proliferation of loci that excavators often have difficulty keeping straight long enough to produce coherent published stratigraphic syntheses. Moreover, her insistence that excavation proceed in narrow trenches denies us, when we use the Jericho reports, the confidence that her loci, and the pottery assemblages that go with them, represent understandable human activity patterns over coherently connected living areas. The individual layers, insufficiently exposed horizontally, simply cannot be interpreted credibly in terms of function. This further makes publication difficult, both to produce and to use".


Another important aspect of Kathleen Kenyon's archaeological career was her role as a teacher. From 1948 to 1962 she lectured in Levantine Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Kenyon's teaching, complemented by her excavations at Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 and Jerusalem (which successively formed her 'field school'), helped to train a generation of archaeologists, who went on themselves to teach in Britain, Australia, Canada, the United States, Denmark and elsewhere.

Kenyon's final academic post was at Oxford. In 1962, she was appointed Principal of St. Hugh's College, Oxford.

Awards and commemoration


The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, amalgamated within the Council for British Research in the Levant
Council for British Research in the Levant
The Council for British Research in the Levant was formed in 1998 with the amalgamation of the British Institute at Amman for Archaeology and History and the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem...

 (CBRL) in 1998, was officially renamed the Kenyon Institute on 10 July 2003 in honour of Kathleen Kenyon.

On her retirement from Oxford in 1973, she was appointed a DBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

.

Published works

  • 1942 The Buildings at Samaria, [Samaria-Sebaste I], London, 1942 (co-authored with Crowfoot, J.W. & Sukenik, E.L.)
  • 1948 Excavations at the Jewry Wall Site, [Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London 15], Leicester, London : Society of Antiquaries, 1948.
  • 1949 Guide to Wroxeter Roman City, London, 1949.
  • 1951 "Some Notes on the History of Jericho in the Second Millennium B.C.", PEQ 83 (1951), 101-138.
  • 1952 Beginning in Archaeology, London, 1952.
  • 1952 "Early Jericho", Antiquity 26 (1952), 116-122.
  • 1953 Beginning in Archaeology, second edition, London, 1953.
  • 1954 Guide to Ancient Jericho, Jerusalem, 1954.
  • 1957 Digging Up Jericho, London, 1957. (also published in Dutch, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish and Swedish editions).
  • 1957 The Objects from Samaria, [Samaria-Sebaste III], London, 1957 (co-authored with Crowfoot, J.W. & Crowfoot, G.M.
  • 1958 "Some Notes on the Early and Middle Bronze Age Strata of Megiddo", Eretz Israel 5 (1958), pp. 51–60.
  • 1959 Excavations at Southwark, [Research Papers of Surrey Archaeological Society 5], 1959.
  • 1960 Archaeology in the Holy Land, first edition, London, 1960.
  • 1960 Excavations at Jericho - Volume I Tombs Excavated in 1952-4, London 1960.
  • 1961 Beginning in Archaeology, revised edition, London, 1961.
  • 1965 Archaeology in the Holy Land, second edition, London, 1965.
  • 1965 Excavations at Jericho - Volume II Tombs Excavated in 1955-8, London, 1965.
  • 1965, "British Archaeology Abroad - Jerusalem", Antiquity 39 (1965), 36-37.
  • 1966 Amorites and Canaanites, (Schweich Lectures Series, 1963), London : Published for the British Academy by Oxford *University Press, 1966.
  • 1966 "Excavations in Jerusalem, 1965", PEQ (1966), 73-88.
  • 1967 Jerusalem - Excavating 3000 Years of History, [New Aspects of Antiquity], London, 1967 (also published in a German edition).
  • 1969 "Middle and Late Bronze Age Strata at Megiddo", Levant 1 (1969), pp. 25–60.
  • 1970 Archaeology in the Holy Land, third edition, 1970 (also published in Dutch, Danish, German, Spanish and Swedish editions).
  • 1971 Royal Cities of the Old Testament, London, 1971.
  • 1971 "An Essay on Archaeological Technique: the Publication of Results from the Excavation of a Tell", Harvard Theological Review 64 (1971), 271-279.
  • 1974 Digging up Jerusalem, London : Benn, 1974.
  • 1974 "Tombs of the Intermediate Early Bronze - Middle Bronze Age at Tel 'Ajjul", in Stewart, J.R. (ed.), Tell el Ajjul - the Middle Bronze Age Remains, [App. 2. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology], Göteborg, 1974, 76-85.
  • 1978 The Bible and recent archaeology, London : British Museum Publications Ltd, 1978.

External links