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Forthcoming events

Not for the Greed of Gold: A Tribute and Biography of the Life and Career of J.L. Starkey, Director of the Wellcome-Marston Archaeological Expedition to Palestine, 1932-1938

John Starkey, son of James Leslie Starkey


Supported by the Wellcome Trust and Maney Publishing

In Association with the British Museum Department of Middle East

4pm (following AGM at 3.00), 11th June 2015, BP Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, British Museum. To book, contact the British Museum Box Office:  020 7323 8181 or

and go to the 'What's On' option at the top of the BM homepage, and then choose the 'Events calendar'  scroll down the page to see events listed by date and time


Poster 11th June.pdf


James Leslie Starkey

Photo courtesy of the Starkey Family


The lecture will include a brief overview of Starkey’s early career in Egypt at Qau with Prof. Flinders Petrie, and in Karanis as Director for the University of Michigan, and later in Palestine at Wadi Ghazzeh, Tell Jemmeh, Tell el Fara and Tell el Ajjul again under Prof. Flinders Petrie as his first assistant.  However it will focus mainly on his work and life at Lachish where he led an expedition in 1932 – The Wellcome Archaeological Expedition to the Near East (financed initially by Sir Henry Wellcome).  After Sir Henry’s death it was financed jointly by the Wellcome Trust and Sir Charles Marston and renamed the Wellcome-Marston Research Expedition to the Near East.  He was Director of Lachish until 1938 when he was tragically murdered by bandits on the road to Jerusalem while travelling to the opening ceremony of the Rockefeller Museum which was featuring the Lachish exhibition – he was just 43.     His book featuring the famous ‘Lachish Letters’ which he had discovered, had already been prepared in conjunction with Prof. Torczyner and was published later that year. The Lachish Books II – IV which followed in the years to come, were put together by his faithful assistant Olga Tufnell.  The lecture will also include an overview of the tributes and aftermath of his death and of Starkey’s legacy.

Lachish reconstruction
Lachish – Judah’s chief ‘Fenced City’ – drawing by Mr. H.H. McWilliam

Starkey left behind him a widow and three young children who had lived with him at Lachish. John’s talk will also include personal insight into life for the family and on Starkey as a man, husband and father – who was much loved by his colleagues and Bedouin workers alike.  A PowerPoint presentation will illustrate the talk throughout with candid family photos and shots of life at Lachish.

The lecture is based on a comprehensive fully-illustrated booklet about Starkey’s life and career produced by his granddaughter, as well as John’s personal recollections.  The booklet is not a professional publication but will be available to view and can be ordered at cost price.

Some Lachish artefacts and literature from the family archives will also be on show and is hoped that the Lachish Gallery (no.57) at the British Museum will be open to the public on the day of the lecture.


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