Introducing… Our Committee

Our sixth profile is of Executive Secretary and Curator Felicity Cobbing.

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With a background in archaeology in the Middle East and Mediterranean, Felicity Cobbing  joined the PEF in 1998 as the curator of the collections, and became Executive Secretary in 2006. As such, she is responsible for the day to day running of the PEF together with the Administrator, Ivona Lloyd-Jones, and for the programme of curatorship across the PEF’s extensive collections. To this end, she runs an active volunteer programme, with students of all ages, talents, and qualifications contributing to a veritable industry of sorting, re-packing, cataloguing, and identifying of archives, photographs, and artefacts.

Felicity is an expert on the collections of the PEF, and the role the PEF played in the development of archaeology, historical geography, and ethnography in late 19th and early to mid-20th century Palestine.

Felicity has authored several articles, many in PEQ, and has co-authored three books, Beyond the River: Ottoman Transjordan in Original Photographs in 2005 with Raouf Sa’d Abujaber (Stacey International), The Photographs of the American Palestine Exploration Society with Rachel Hallote and Jeffrey b. Spurr (ASOR Annual 66, Boston) in 2012, and Distant Views of the Holy Land with David M. Jacobson in 2015 (Equinox Publishing).

Felicity has also taken cultural and archaeological tours to the Middle East and North Africa with The Traveller (previously British Museum Traveller) and currently with Martin Randall Travel. She lectures on a variety of subjects connected to the archaeology and the history of archaeology in the region.

What have these stones…?

By John Bartlett, formerly Editor of Palestine Exploration Quarterly and PEF Chairman

I took part, as my first experience of archaeology, in the second season (January-June, 1962) of Kathleen Kenyon‘s Jerusalem digs, which followed her famous Jericho excavations. Kenyon was particularly concerned to locate the early walls and so the early location of the city of Jerusalem, and made important Middle and Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age discoveries on the slopes of Ophel and elsewhere.

As one of the newest recruits, I was in charge of the lowest square at the bottom of the Ophel slope, with a pick-man, a hoe-man, and three basket boys. This involved climbing from top to bottom, and bottom to top, of the Ophel hillside at least twice a day, starting at 5.0 a.m.and working through until 2.0 p.m. Half way through the season I was transferred to the Armenian Garden, a pleasant and less exhausting location, where under the enthusiastic guidance of Pere de Vaux, and with the help of a small railway with a tipping truck, we excavated remains from medieval Jerusalem.

Among the team I remember Ian Blake, who with calm efficiency took over the photography when the official photographer fell into the trench and was hospitalised; David Ap-Thomas, who was Hon. Sec. of the Society for Old Testament Study; Agnes Spycket from  the Louvre, Dorothy Marshall who ran the technicalities of recording the pottery and finds, Awni Dajani from the Jordanian Dept of Antiquities, Peter Parr from the British School in Jerusalem, Douglas and Maggie Tushingham from the Royal Ontario Museum, Jo Callaway from the USA. Above all there were Pere de Vaux and some of his students from the Ecole Biblique, and Kathleen Kenyon herself, whose daily stamina as she walked up and down Ophel and drove the Pontiac car round the sites was astonishing, and whose ability to assess and guide our work on her daily visits to each square was inspiring.

After the daily siesta, in late afternoon as the walls of Jerusalem reflected a warm glow, I used to walk about  the old city, observing both buildings and the people. I was at the time a student preparing for ordination in the Church of England, and my introduction to other major Christian denominations and to the world of Islam in Jerusalem was an eye-opener. I realised immediately that there was more to religious belief than one Christian denomination could offer, and that has had a strong effect (I believe salutary) on my own contribution as a university teacher and Anglican clergyman.

This effect emerged in the sonnet I wrote that April. I wrote it because one evening after dinner, Ian Blake and I were talking with Theodora Newbould, who ruled Watson House and its domestic administration with great wisdom and efficiency. Ian was an English graduate of Trinity College, Dublin (where I subsequently became Associate Professor of Biblical studies), and we were talking about poetry. Theodora said that all young men should be able to write sonnets even if they could not write poetry, and we both took up the challenge, and presented Theodora the next morning with our efforts.

Mine is given here (hidden and forgotten for 50 years, it remerged from dusty files last month). Ian’s was better, but, alas, I have no copy of it. But I do recall that one morning he sent down the hill of Ophel to me at the bottom, by the hand of a basket boy, a piece inspired by Wordsworth and Coleridge which spoke of a vision that came upon the inward eye of a host of basket boys….

Jerusalem 1962 was a wonderful education for which I have always been grateful, and I salute the memory of Kathleen Kenyon and Pere de Vaux and all the many other members of the dig who contributed.

Jerusalem sonnet

Introducing… Our Committee

Our fifth profile is of PEF Committee member Casey Strine.

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C. A. (Casey) Strine is Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer in Hebrew Bible at the University of Sheffield. Casey studies the history, literature, and cultures of the ancient Near East with a special interest in the ways the study of migration can help to reconstruct ancient history and to illuminate the meaning of ancient texts.

Strine’s first book explored how the experience of forced migration influenced the development of ethnic, national, and religious identity in ancient Judah via a case study on the book of Ezekiel. Sworn Enemies: The Divine Oath, the Book of Ezekiel, and the Polemics of Exile (winner of the 2015 Manfred Lautenschläger Award for Theological Promise) explains that Ezekiel contains both a ‘public’ transcript of an intra-ethnic debate among two Judahite communities and a disguised transcript of an inter-national debate with the Babylonian empire. Subsequently, he has written about the role of human repentance in the book of Ezekiel, its reshaping of traditional Judahite cosmology, and its appropriation of the imago Dei concept.

Casey’s current research examines how the study of involuntary migration can aid in identifying the diachronic growth of the Pentateuch.  As the first stage in this research, he is investigating how the book of Genesis portrays Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as asylum seekers and refugees.  By investigating these themes in the patriarchal narrative (Gen 12–36), he will offer new exegetical insights into these familiar stories while also offering a fresh perspective on the perennial question of what sources make up Genesis.

Strine learned to love archaeology through a season spent working on the excavation at Tel Megiddo. Now that his son is old enough to use a trowel, he’s hoping to return to the field again, probably with family in tow.

 

Introducing… Our Committee

Our fourth profile is of PEF Chairman Philip Davies.

Philip Davies’s first visit to Palestine was in the winter of 1969-70, on a British School of Archaeology Travelling Scholarship. He was then writing a PhD thesis on the Qumran manuscripts, but acquired a good general knowledge of the geography and politics of a land that has absorbed his interest ever since. His professional career has been conducted almost entirely in the Biblical Studies Department at the University of Sheffield, from which he retired in 2002. He is currently Professor Emeritus.

His interest in first millennium BCE Palestinian history has been a major scholarly preoccupation for some time, and a research project on the Siloam Inscription drew him to the PEF some years earlier. Since his retirement and before joining the PEF Committee in 2009 he spent some of his ‘retirement’ as Editorial Director of Sheffield Academic Press (which he co-founded), and as President of the British Society for Old Testament Study and European Association of Biblical Studies.

At a time when some important developments are taking place within the PEF, he is enjoying the prospect of several more years serving the PEF and continuing a lifetime involvement with the history, and the future, of Palestine.

Philip’s Sheffield profile can be found here.

Introducing… Our Committee

Our third profile is of PEF Committee member Carly Crouch.

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Carly’s research focuses on the social and intellectual history of the ancient world, with particular attention to ethics and to the histories of ancient Israel and Judah.   She has written on the impact of mythology and ideology on the justification of military violence (War and Ethics in the Ancient Near East: Military Violence in Light of Cosmology and History); on the effect of economic, political and social changes in the southern Levant on ideas about ethnic identity during the Assyrian period (The Making of Israel: Cultural Diversity in the Southern Levant and the Formation of Ethnic Identity in Deuteronomy), and on the relationship between the book of Deuteronomy and Assyrian imperial power (Israel and the Assyrians:Deuteronomy, the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon, and the Nature of Subversion).  Each of these projects has depended on the latest research in the archaeology of the Southern Levant.  Her current research project is attempting to tease out the relationship between Israel and Judah in the Hebrew Bible as well as in ancient Near Eastern history.  Carly is the PEF’s Publications Chair.

Her University of Nottingham staff page can be found here.

 

Introducing… Our Committee

Our second featured profile is of PEF Committee member Penny Butler.

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Although she claims to be the least academically qualified member of the Committee, Penny gained a BA Hons at Cambridge in Archaeology and Anthropology and Medieval History, and then pursued a lifelong career in publishing as an editor, now working freelance.

On retiring she returned to the study of archaeology, doing courses at Birkbeck and attending lectures. She met Felicity Cobbing in 1996 when the BM Travellers Company organised an archaeology study trip to Jonathan Tubb’s dig at Tell es Saidiyeh in Jordan. They kept up with each other from time to time and Penny joined the force about five years ago when Felicity advertised for volunteers in the PEQ.  At present she is compiling the database archive of Olga Tufnell’s photos taken between the 1930s and around 1980.

Introducing… Our Committee

Since its foundation in 1865, the PEF has had an active Executive Committee who are committed to ensuring the PEF continues to support research in the Levant.  In this running series, we will feature profiles of our Committee members and volunteers. Their broad range of expertise and experience help make the PEF what it is today!

Our first profile is of PEF Committee member John MacDermot.

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John MacDermot is a retired Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics from Imperial College London and has worked as a volunteer at the PEF for the last few years. When he first arrived, he was given the task of sorting the documentary archive of Miss Olga Tufnell (1905-1985), who made many important contributions to archaeological research and was a firm supporter of the PEF. He was invited to join the PEF Committee in the summer of 2014, and he has contributed to the organisation of the Fund’s 150th anniversary celebrations and assisted with applications for external funding to support the activity of the PEF. Most recently, John has been working on the PEF’s photographic archive of the late 19th century.