The PEF is Camera Ready for Raising Horizons

By Amara Thornton, Leonora Saunders, Felicity Cobbing and Becky Wragg Sykes

Last month the four women behind Trowelblazers, a digital platform for crowd-sourced biographies of pioneering women in archaeology, geology and palaeonology, in collaboration with photographer Leonora Saunders launched a new project, Raising Horizons.  Supported by Prospect, Raising Horizons will feature a photographic exhibition, oral histories and associated events celebrating the long history of women working in these subjects.

Fourteen women actively working in archaeology, geology and paleontology today have been paired with a historical counterpart. Leonora and Trowelblazers have been working together to resurrect these historical women, creating new portraits as their modern ‘pairs’ represent them in costume. Their goal is to highlight the diversity of the fields today, and provide role models for younger generations while referencing and paying homage to the women who came before them.

One of the historic figures included is Kathleen Kenyon who as Director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem led excavations at Jericho in the 1950s and Jerusalem in the 1960s. Kenyon is being portrayed by the archaeologist Shahina Farid, who as Field Director  conducted excavations at the site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey between the 1990s and 2012.  Both have been instrumental in training the next generation of archaeologists.

Final touches complete Shahina's Kathleen Kenyon 'look'. Courtesy of Leonora Saunders/Raising Horizons.

Final touches complete Shahina’s Kathleen Kenyon ‘look’. Courtesy of Raising Horizons.

Setting up the shot - getting ready to shoot Shahina as Kathleen. Courtesy of Leonora Saunders/Raising Horizons.

Setting up the shot – getting ready to shoot Shahina as Kathleen. Courtesy of Raising Horizons.

Close up shot of the PEF camera. Courtesy of

Close up shot of the PEF camera. Courtesy of Raising Horizons.

For the Farid/Kenyon portrait, the PEF loaned its Sands Hunter & Co camera with Zeiss lens which once belonged to the archaeologist John Garstang.  Garstang used it on site at Jericho in the 1930s, so the camera has historic significance for the portrait. His wife Marie Louise Bergès Garstang, who excavated alongside him after their marriage in 1907, is also represented in the archive. Their daughter Meroe Garstang – named after one of the most important sites her parents excavated – also joined them on site at Jericho.

Marie Garstang excavating at Jericho, 1931. (PEF-P-GAR-JER-J.31)

Marie Garstang excavating at Jericho, 1931. (Garstang archive, Palestine Exploration Fund)

Another fantastic photograph in the Liverpool University Garstang Museum shows Marie Garstang excavating with her husband at Meroe in Sudan where they worked in the years immediately before the First World War. His and hers pith helmets, placed side by side at the edge of the trench, echo their working relationship captured in the image.

A number of institutions are supporting the Raising Horizons project, but Trowelblazers is actively crowdfunding to enable the project to go on tour and support associated events in these locations.  A full list of institutional supporters can be found on Trowelblazers website – but you can help support the project at their Indiegogo page.  A range of bespoke rewards have been sourced to accompany donations.


Rebecca Wragg Sykes, Brenna Hassett, Suzanne Pilaar Birch and Tori Herridge founded Trowelblazers in 2013. Find out more about them at Read more about Raising Horizons in the Guardian.

Watch the Raising Horizons Fundraiser video.

Discover the connections between Shahina Farid and Kathleen Kenyon.

Learn more about Leonora’s work at her website:

The PEF – a Student Volunteer Perspective

By Jon Wylie

After far too many minutes struggling to find the entrance to the PEF, I was on the beginning of what seemed like it was going to be a long summer of class and work. Now as I am sitting here on my last few days, I feel as though I have much more to learn and much more to contribute to the PEF. Being from a small school and town, I was worried about getting overwhelmed in huge archives and vast paperwork that a big city museum would require of an intern. While the PEF does boast a large collection, I was relieved to see that it can (sort of) be contained in a few rooms. I was afraid of getting lost in a workforce of hundreds, given busy work, and forgotten about until I messed something up.

My work in the PEF this summer has been the opposite of everything I was afraid of coming here. I got to work as if I was an actual employee, and got to see everything there was to see. I got to attend the Annual General Meeting and look over the finances and hear discussions about the future of the PEF and its goals. I had the opportunity to see some of the back rooms at the British Museum and help prepare for the 150th Anniversary. While I talk to the other kids in my program, some say they have never met their boss. I see mine everyday and she’ll talk to me for hours about any question I have about history. One day I had to write a paper for my class and Felicity spent about an hour explaining the “Right to Buy” Policy and how it would affect housing. I got an A.

My time here has been a great learning experience for me not only from the content I learned while working, but the insight I got into what job I wanted to do. I’ve gone though shifts of wanting to pursue medicine, to wanting to be a history teacher, cross country coach, or even politician. While I still haven’t decided on anything for sure, working in history is definitely still on my radar.

Photograph from John Garstang's 1928 excavation at Et-Tell (biblical Ai). Copyright Palestine Exploration Fund.

Photograph from John Garstang’s 1928 excavation at Et-Tell (biblical Ai). Copyright Palestine Exploration Fund.

This is one of my favorite pictures that I came across while scanning some of John Garstang’s work. I just get the sense from this picture that the work done in this region was like an exploration that really captured the sense of adventure in everyone. These archeologists and historians were discovering things that had not been seen in centuries. The group of men in this picture were making discoveries that would be written about in history books and remembered for years to come.

To me, that is the most fascinating part about history. You never know what you will uncover. I really enjoyed my time at the PEF and in London in general. I enjoyed the ability to study something I knew little about and work with people who enjoy what they do and what they study. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my summer and I hope eventually I will make it back to London and the PEF.