The Palestine Exploration Fund

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Ethnographic Collection

The ethnographic collection consists of ceramic artefacts and personal effects collected by R.A.S. Macalister and others during the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. There are several examples of leather items such as belts, shoes, and purses, as well as staffs, henna pouches, and head wear, primarily from the markets of Damascus. The PEF was very interested in the developing field of ‘Manners and Customs’, which evolved into the disciplines of anthropology and ethnography. In this respect, the men employed as field explorers were as much required to investigate the modern population of Palestine, their ways of life, rituals, folk tales, and so on, seen as survivals of cultures and traditions stretching back to ancient times. These explorers were also interested in physical or racial attributes. Robert Macalister and Flinders Petrie were associated particularly with this line of research, employing what are regarded today as discredited methods, influenced strongly by the then fashionable theory of eugenics.

Palestine Exploration Fund, 5-6 Dreadnought Walk, Greenwich, London SE10 9FP.
Tel: +44 (0) 207 935 5379, Fax: + 44 (0) 207 485 7438 | Email:
Registered company: 13606 | Registered charity: 212538
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