Miscellanea of Duncan Mackenzie

By Sarah Irving

This summer, a travel grant from the Palestine Exploration Fund allowed me to spend some time in London, rifling through the PEF’s archives for traces of Yusif ‘Abu Selim’ Khazin and Yusif Khattar Kanaan, two Lebanese Christian overseers who, between 1890 and World War One, worked on the Fund’s excavations.

My primary interest, and the focus of this piece of research, is the role of Arabs working on archaeological digs in Palestine in the Late Ottoman period. The standard view of the archaeology of this period tends to focus on a single (white, educated, male) leader who makes pioneering discoveries and to whom all credit for a dig accrues. As future publications emerging from this research will show, this image often does not hold up under scrutiny of the daily records and personal writings of excavators and their staff and visitors. I think that the two Yusifs – as well as many other non-Westerners who contributed to British, American, German and French archaeological digs in the Holy Land pre-WWI – were actually important figures, not only in the practical, day-to-day running of the excavations, but also at times in how finds were understood and interpreted.

One part of my approach to this issue has been to look at the networks of contact and knowledge exchange which happened, not only in formal, academic settings but also in informal environments. Much of my focus has been on the writings and activities of Frederick J. Bliss and R.A.S. Macalister, as the two longest-serving PEF excavation leaders at the time. In this blog, though, I want to show a couple of small, rather peripheral, but also quite fascinating and indicative objects which emerged from the archives.

The first is a pair of calling-cards found in a wallet belonging to Duncan Mackenzie. Mackenzie was a Scottish archaeologist, best-known for his work with Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos in Crete. After Macalister’s resignation from the PEF to take up his chair at University College Dublin in 1909. Although Mackenzie had a reputation as a brilliant field archaeologist, he was also a difficult character; in a 1996 article for Palestine Exploration Quarterly, Nicoletta Momigliano described his time at the Fund’s Ain Shams dig as one of “conflicting interests and expectations, of misunderstandings and self-delusions, of wounded pride and dysentery. It is not a ‘success’ story”.

Calling-cards bestowed on Mackenzie by Boulus Said of “The Palestine Educational Store, Jaffa Road” and Gustaf Dalman, styling him “Rector of the German Archaeological Institute, Consul to His Majesty the King of the Swedes, Goths and Wends, and to the King of Denmark”. (PEF-DA-MACK-313.01 – 03)

Calling-cards bestowed on Mackenzie by Boulus Said of “The Palestine Educational Store, Jaffa Road” and Gustaf Dalman, styling him “Rector of the German Archaeological Institute, Consul to His Majesty the King of the Swedes, Goths and Wends, and to the King of Denmark”. (PEF-DA-MACK-313.01 – 03)

The calling-cards reflect, however, a different aspect of Mackenzie’s time in Palestine, his interactions with the intellectual and social milieu of Late Ottoman Jerusalem. Jerusalem is often painted a somewhat of a backwater, especially in contrast with Cairo and Beirut, the thriving centres of the Arabic Nahda, or renaissance. But the city saw much coming-and-going of Western scholars, missionaries, diplomats and businessmen, as well as a more stable population of local Arabs and Jews engaged in thinking, writing, studying and publishing. Mackenzie met many people from each of these overlapping social worlds, as these cards demonstrate.

The first was given to him by Boulus Said. Boulus owned the Palestine Educational Bookshop (the precursor to the Educational Bookshop on Salah Eddin Street, beloved of many visitors to present-day Jerusalem).  In his study of Palestinian books and literacy Reading Palestine, Ami Ayalon estimates that Boulus Said founded the bookshop around 1910 – so when he handed Duncan Mackenzie this card he had only recently set up his store. Later, on his return from the USA, Boulus’ cousin Wadie (later William) joined the business and established a branch in Cairo; Wadie is probably best-known as father of the great Palestinian scholar Edward Said.

The Palestine Educational Bookshop was not only one of the first bookstores and stationers in the country. It was also a publisher, and the company name appears on many works from the Mandate era, in both Arabic and English. A rival Jerusalem bookshop, the Andalus, advertised the fact that it could source books from Cairo within 24 hours, ordering via telegraph and receiving them through the railway which passed through Gaza and Jaffa to arrive in Jerusalem; there seems little reason why the Educational, with its Cairo branch, could not have performed similar feats. Certainly newspaper adverts highlight its range of international titles.

The presence of a calling-card from Boulus Said in Mackenzie’s wallet, therefore, represents a beginning – an early moment in the development of a significant cultural and intellectual phenomenon in pre-1948 Jerusalem, and the linkage of that moment to some of the most important figures in twentieth-century Palestinian history. The second calling-card, though, represents something more like an ending. It came from Gustaf Dalman, a German Orientalist, theologian and ethnographer.

In the 1890s and 1910s Dalman had lived and worked in Palestine (he also, early in his career, applied to become a Free Church of Scotland missionary there), and published major works on, in particular, the Aramaic language, Hebrew theology, and Christianity. At this point in time, German researchers were producing some of the most important scholarship on both contemporary and historic Palestine, and Dalman was foremost amongst them. But soon after Mackenzie left Palestine in 1913, WWI saw German influence in the Middle East (via its ally, the Ottoman Empire), collapse.

The American archaeologist WF Albright recorded just after the war that Dalman had returned to Jerusalem, but that his rivals amongst the British and French scholars in the city were trying to have his passport revoked. The portrait Albright’s letters paint of Dalman is of a rather sad and isolated figure. Mackenzie’s collection of cards, therefore, bears witness not only to the rise of a distinctive Palestinian literary and social milieu with Boulus Said, but also to the decline of Germany’s heyday in the Ottoman-ruled Holy Land.

Caption: A well-travelled envelope carrying a letter to Duncan Mackenzie, via Cairo, Wadi Halfa and back to Alexandria. (PEF/DA/MACK300)

Caption: A well-travelled envelope carrying a letter to Duncan Mackenzie, via Cairo, Wadi Halfa and back to Alexandria. (PEF/DA/MACK300)

Caption: Reverse side of the envelope showing further stamps. (PEF/DA/MACK300)

Caption: Reverse side of the envelope showing further stamps. (PEF/DA/MACK300)

The final small item also represents an ending, although on lesser scale. A little envelope, addressed to Mackenzie (care of the Thomas Cook travel agency), it is liberally covered with the stamps of postal offices stretching from Alexandria, via Cairo and Wadi Halfa, to Khartoum, and finally stamped ‘Unclaimed’. All date from 1913, and show it to be a remnant of the PEF’s attempts to contact Mackenzie during his employment on a dig in Sudan that year.

By this time he was embroiled in an acrimonious dispute with the Fund over the terms under which his employment had been terminated and his failure to deliver excavation reports from Ain Shams. The envelope – which presumably did reach Mackenzie, since it appears in the archive, or else was returned to its sender – highlights the efficiency of the Egyptian postal service in this era, and the reach of the British imperial administration. But with its array of postmarks and fruitless journey across North Africa, it also seems to echo the missed opportunities and miscommunications that marked the PEF’s relationship with this brilliant, troubled, unconventional man.

Further Reading:

Ayalon, A. 2004. Reading Palestine. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Momigliano, N. 1996.  Duncan Mackenzie and the Palestine Exploration Fund. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 128 (1): 139-170

Said, E. 2000. Out of Place: A Memoir. London: Granta.

Interviews from the Jerusalem Chamber

By Adam John Fraser, PEF Librarian

When I started working at the PEF I hoped to make a short video series about its history. I had only just begun to learn about its amazing legacy and I wanted to share that with others.

While the PEF held its first public meeting on June 22, 1865 (as noted in an earlier post), the Fund’s first official committee meeting took place in a different location: the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Abbey on May 12, 1865.

Westminster Abbey. Photo: Leigh Mullins.

Westminster Abbey. Photo: Leigh Mullins.

One of the men responsible for the founding of the PEF was the Dean of Westminster, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. It was his position at the Abbey that enabled the Fund’s preliminary meeting to be held in this iconic building in a room named after the Holy City itself.

Dating from the medieval period, the Jerusalem chamber was originally one of several rooms named after sites in Palestine. During Stanley’s time cedar panelling from Lebanon was added. The room also contains several large tapestries dating from the 16th-17th centuries depicting biblical scenes, including the Circumcision of Isaac, Rebekah at the well, Sarah (the wife of Abraham) returning from Egypt and Peter at the Beautiful Gate healing the lame man.

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The wooden ceiling of the Jerusalem Chamber. Photo: Leigh Mullins, courtesy of the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall.

A view of the Jerusalem Chamber. Photo: Leigh Mullins, courtesy of the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend John Hall.

A view of the Jerusalem Chamber and one of its tapestries. Photo: Leigh Mullins, courtesy of the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall.

Many important meetings and events have taken place in the Jerusalem Chamber. In 1611, it hosted committees who assembled the Authorized Version of the Bible (as well as the subsequent revision and authorization meetings). The room is probably most renowned as the site of the death of Henry IV as he prepared to go to the Holy Land. The room contains busts of both Henry IV and Henry V.

In 2013, the current Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, was kind enough to allow the PEF to access the chamber to film a series of interviews to coincide with the 150th anniversary of its founding meeting.

The PEF in the Jerusalem Chamber: Rupert Chapman III, Felicity Cobbing, Adam John Fraser and Sarah Pitard.

The PEF in the Jerusalem Chamber: Rupert Chapman III, Felicity Cobbing, Adam John Fraser and Sarah Pitard.

Now that the PEF is in the middle of its celebrations we are going to be releasing the videos of these interviews. Each video will focus on a different aspect of the founding of the PEF and the people who were involved in its establishment. An entry on this blog will supplement the videos and expand on parts of the interviews.

We hope you will enjoy these labours of love!

Further Reading

“History of Jerusalem Chamber” on the Westminster Abbey website.

The PEF would like to thank the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, for allowing us access to the Jerusalem Chamber.

Women of the PEF: Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts

By Adam John Fraser, PEF Librarian

Did you know the PEF got its start from a woman, the Victorian philanthropist and banking heiress Angela Burdett-Coutts? I was recently reading Charles Watson’s The Life of Major-General Sir Charles William Wilson (1909). Wilson was an officer in the Royal Engineers and was one of the most important early members of the PEF. He was responsible for conducting the first scientific survey of Jerusalem in 1864. In Wilson’s biography I came across this interesting statement:

The survey of Jerusalem originated in Miss Burdett Coutts’ wish to provide the city with a better water supply. She was told it was first necessary to make an accurate survey of the city, and for that purpose she placed £500 in the hands of a Committee, of whom the late Dean Stanley was one. He applied to the Secretary of State for War (p. 41)

This brief reference to Burdett-Coutts got me thinking about the women and history of the PEF. Having recently reviewed Kathleen Sheppard’s biography of the Egyptologist Margaret Murray, I’d become more aware of the fascinating history of women in archaeology. Here, I will shine some light on women in the history of the PEF, in particular Angela Burdett-Coutts.

coutts

An illustration of Angela Burdett-Coutts, after a portrait by J. R. Swinton in the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Coutts is an international private banking group; its long history spans over 300 years. In 1837, 24 year old Angela Burdett inherited the interest in a Trust and a half share in the Coutts Bank. As the heir to the banking family she became the public face of the Bank. This would have made her one of the wealthiest women in England (if not, the wealthiest).

Angela was actively involved in the affairs of the bank and also donated large portions of her private wealth. She was engaged in a great deal of philanthropic work; housing the destitute, caring for neglected children, extending women’s industrial opportunities, the exploration of Africa, protecting dumb animals, caring for those wounded in combat and scientific and technical education. Among her wide social circle was the novelist and keen social observer Charles Dickens. Together they set up Urania Cottage, a house for helping women who had fallen to prostitution.

The Water Relief project of Jerusalem in 1864 was an extension of Angela’s philanthropic work. The pre-existing water systems in Jerusalem consisted of cisterns which were contaminated by rainwater running through the streets.

The British public were horrified at the reality of the most holy city in Christianity being plagued with disease. Angela Burdett-Coutts established the Water Relief Committee to find a means to solve the problem. It was suggested that a survey of Jerusalem be undertaken in order to provide the city with a better water supply. In charge of the survey were the soldiers of the Royal Engineers, deemed to be the best in the Empire for this work.

Detail from Wilson's Survey of Jerusalem 1864-1865 showing the Old City and surrounds. Existing water cisterns are coloured blue. (PEF-M-OSJ 1864-5 PLAN 1- )

Detail from Wilson’s Survey of Jerusalem 1864-1865 showing the Old City and surrounds. Existing water cisterns are coloured blue. (PEF-M-OSJ 1864-5 PLAN 1).

Out of this Water Relief Fund that the PEF was born. The survey was a great success and the popularity that it garnered was enough to establish the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1865. Without her it is unlikely that the PEF would have emerged as it did (or even at all!)

Angela Burdett-Coutts had a remarkable life; this blog entry is nowhere near enough to discuss all the things she accomplished. But as we are celebrating our 150th anniversary this year, it is fitting to celebrate the women of the PEF as well as the men!

Further Reading

Healey, E. 2012. Coutts, Angela Georgina Burdett- suo jure Baroness Burdett-Coutts. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [Online]. Oxford University Press.

Sheppard, K. L. 2013. The Life of Margaret Alice Murray: A Woman’s Work in Archaeology. Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books.