A Directory of Archives useful for history of Archaeology Research.
Summary by Amara Thornton
Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) was a British traveller, archaeologist and political official, who is most well known for her participation in intelligence with the Arab Bureau during the First World War, her subsequent role as Political Advisor to the Cairo Peace Conference in 1919, and her role as the Director of Antiquities in Iraq from 1922 to 1926 and founder of the Museum of Antiquities (now Iraq Museum) in Baghdad. Educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, in Modern History, Bell made her name as a noted traveller and mountaineer from the 1890s onwards, publishing several travel books before the First World War.
Newcastle University holds a large collection of Bell's letters, diaries and photographs showing her life and explorations in the Middle East. The University has also developed a comic book based on Bell's life and letters, as well as teachers' resources for schools.
Scope of collection:
photographs (inc. Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Balkans, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Canada and Bell's "personalia"), diaries (1877-1917), letters (1874-1926)
University Website: http://gertrudebell.ncl.ac.uk/
Archive website: https://research.ncl.ac.uk/gertrudebell/
Summary by Juliette Desplat (Head, Modern Overseas, Intelligence and Security Records, The National Archives)
The National Archives (TNA) is a government department and an executive agency of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. TNA is the official archive and publisher for UK central government, and for England and Wales. It is the agency which collects and secures the future of the government record, both digital and physical, to preserve it for generations to come, and to make it as accessible and available as possible.
Scope of collections:
The National Archives holds the records of the central government. As archaeology and (geo)politics have always had close links, a lot of material relates to archaeological matters. The main collections to consider are the records of the Foreign Office, Colonial Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, War Office, Admiralty, Air Ministry, Works Department and Treasury, as well as discreet collections of maps and photographs.
These contain correspondence and minutes, memoranda and reports, treaties, pieces of legislation (antiquities laws and concessions), press cuttings, maps, sketches and photographs. The occasional excavation diary can also be found, along with information on archaeologists in their dealings with the government (notably military intelligence).
Blog: http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ or http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/author/jdesplat/
Dr Juliette Desplat – Head, Modern Overseas, Intelligence and Security Records.
Summary by Amara Thornton, with additional information from Nancy Charley, Royal Asiatic Society
The Royal Asiatic Society was established in London in 1823 for the study of the science, art, literature and culture of Asia. Members included individuals living in Britain and overseas, networks of contacts helped to feed information about the archaeology and antiquities of Asia, particularly India, from the beginning of the Society's history. A special "Committee of Correspondence" was established for this purpose. The East India Company was an early supporter of the RAS, and branches were established in Bombay, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Hong Kong by 1850. The scope of papers in the Society's Journal is wide - topics relate to history, travels, language and literature, antiquities, peoples and cultures, and archaeology.
The RAS was a particularly important venue for discussion and scholarship in Assyriology. Archaeologist Henry Creswicke Rawlinson presented his work in copying and deciphering cunieform tablets in Persia (Iran) at the Society in the mid-19th century. The RAS played host to the 2nd International Congress of Orientalists in London in 1873, the year of its fiftieth anniversary. In 1919, the Society of Biblical Archaeology merged with the Royal Asiatic Society, bringing a further archaeological focus to the Society's remit. By the late 1920s, reports were read by archaeologist Reginald Campbell Thompson at RAS meetings of excavations in Iraq.
Scope of collections:
Minute books, films, artwork, correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, maps, printed matter and the collection of Horace Geoffrey Quaritch Wales (including furniture, photographs and papers). See RAS website for further details.
Nancy Charley, Archivist
Ed Weech, Librarian
Centenary Volume of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1923)
Regulations of the Royal Asiatic Society
Summary by Amara Thornton
Established in 1937 in London to provide specialist training in archaeology. Originally a separate insitution within the University of London, the Institute of Archaeology merged with UCL in the 1980s. The UCL Institute of Archaeology has a large collection of archaeological archives, and is particularly strong in representing British archaeologists working in the Middle East in the early 20th century.
Scope of Collection:
Field notes, photographs, correspondence, diaries, manuscript drafts, ephemera, films.
Institute of Archaeology archives page
Photographs of archaeological sites in British Mandate Transjordan and Palestine (Horsfield archive) via Micropasts Flickr
Ian Carroll, Collections Manager
Moshenska, G., Schadla-Hall, T. 2011. Mortimer Wheeler’s Theatre of the Past. Public Archaeology, 10 (1): 46-55. doi:10.1179/175355311X12991501673221
Sparks, R.T., Laidlaw, S. 2007. A Future for the Past: Petrie's Palestinian Collection. Dorcester Dorset: Henry Ling.
Sparks, R.T. 2014. Near Eastern encounters: the collections and archives of the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. In The Forgotten Kingdom. Past and Present Excavations at Tell Atchana/Alalakh. Koc University Press.
Sparks, R.T. 2013. Publicising Petrie: Financing fieldwork in British Mandate Palestine (1926-1938). Present Pasts, 5 (1), 2. doi:10.5334/pp.56
Thornton, A. 2016. GL Harding Presents Digging in Palestine - Archaeology on Film. British Archaeology, 149: 38-43.
Thornton, A. 2014. The Nobody: Exploring Archaeological Identity with George Horsfield (1882-1956). Archaeology International 17: 137-156. doi:10.5334/ai.1720
Thornton, A., Perry, S. 2011. Collection and Production: The History of the Institute of Archaeology through Photography. Archaeology International 13 (0), doi:10.5334/ai.1319