Dr Lenia Kouneni is Associate Lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews. She has been researching and publishing on the history of archaeology and the history of collections in the late 18th/early 19th centuries, and the early 20th century, particularly in the latter case excavations at the Great Palace in Istanbul. This excavation was sponsored by David Russell, a Scottish philanthropist and industrialist, via the Walker Trust (for more information, see Lenia's 2018 blog post on artefacts from Jericho now held at the National Museum of Scotland). In addition to this work we discussed the allure of historic photographs and the importance of secretaries to our knowledge of archives and collections.
You can listen to our discussion here.
Miss Ilse Bell is the Secretary that Lenia introduces during our conversation. She has provided more details below:
David Russell's personal secretary was Miss Ilse Bell. She became indispensable to him. She started working for him in 1917 until Russell's death in 1956. She translated articles for him, kept photographs organised and the correspondence too. She was an avid intrepid mountaineer and she spent all her holidays climbing mountains. Apart from the archaeological work of the Great Palace, she was also greatly involved in the Recording Scotland Project of the Pilgrim Trust during WWII.
Lenia has a forthcoming chapter relevant to her discussion:
Kouneni, Lenia (forthcoming 2021) ‘ “By Scottish Munificence”: The Walker Trust Excavations of the Great Palace in Istanbul, 1935–1955.’ In Discovering Byzantium in Istanbul: Scholars, Institutions, and Challenges (1800–1955). Istanbul Research Institute.
Barkan, Leonard, 1999. Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture. Yale University Press.
Riggs, Christina, 2019. Photographing Tutankhamun: Archaeology, Ancient Egypt, and the Archive. London: Bloomsbury.
Stevenson, Alice, 2019. Scattered Finds: Archaeology, Egyptology and Museums. London: UCL Press.
Meskell, Lynn (ed.), 1998. Archaeology Under Fire Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Routledge.
Hicks, Dan, 2020. The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution. Pluto Press.