In Memoriam: Douglas L. Esse
Douglas L. Esse, archaeologist, professor and foremost authority on the Early Bronze Age Levant, died on October 13 at home in Hyde Park, Chicago, after a long battle with stomach cancer. He was 42 years old.
I knew Doug for more than a decade and a half: first as a student at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, then as a colleague in the field and in the classroom, and throughout as a very best friend.
He began his field work in 1975 at Tel Dan and Tel Qiri in Israel and continued to develop as a stratigrapher and strategist in the following year, when he joined our staff at Carthage.a By the time we launched the Ashkelon project a decade later, where Doug served as associate director and as director of the lab in Jerusalem, he had become one of the very best excavators I have ever known. Few archaeologists could excavate the backfill of robber trenches the way he could and retrieve in negative form so many coherent building plans.
Through his meticulous excavation and recording, he was able to recover dozens of unbaked clay cylinders at Ashkelon, which when found in rows indicated they had fallen from a vertical loom in a weaving factory. Since this type of loomweight is totally alien to the Canaanite culture, these homely artifacts have become valuable documents for tracing the Philistines back to their place of origin; these mud cylinders are found in abundance at Minoan and later Mycenaean sites.b
One of Doug’s most important and enduring achievements is his doctoral dissertation, published as a book last year, Subsistence, Trade and Social Change in Early Bronze Age Palestine (Oriental Institute Press). It is a tour de force, a grand synthesis that analyzes the rise and fall of civilization in Palestine from about 3500 to 2200 B.C. Using the material from Beth Yerah excavated by Professors P. Delougaz and Helene Kantor in 1963 and 1964, Doug shows us how to move from the particular to the general, from potsherds to international trading networks, as he turns “heaps of broken images” into patterns that give us glimpses of the unbroken reality behind the sherds and scraps of evidence.
The renowned archaeologist William Dever graciously sent Doug an advance copy of his review of Doug’s book, to be published in the Journal of the American Oriental Society. Dever proclaimed Doug’s book a masterpiece of archaeological analysis and exposition—a model for us all.
Whether digging in the field, or through old explorers’ accounts of the Holy Land, or Ottoman tax records or whatever, Doug was a virtuoso in seeing how bits and pieces fit together to provide fresh insights.
During the last three years, when the cancer was wracking his body, Doug somehow managed to continue his Early Bronze research at Tel Yaqush in northern Israel. During the last exciting season at the site, Doug’s father, Doug’s wife Ann, his son Joey (age 9) and his daughter Allison (age 6) participated in the excavations.
I talked with Doug almost every other week during the past year. Just a month ago, embattled but not embittered by the cancer, he told me about the articles he was writing (and, alas, never finished) and the classes he would be teaching this quarter at the Oriental Institute. Highest on his list of priorities was the publication of his excavations at Yaqush, followed closely by publication of his new discoveries about Iron Age Megiddo and their implications for the formative stages of early Israel. His spirit and courage were indomitable right up to the end.
Ann, his wife of 21 years, put beside him in the coffin a Marshalltown trowel and three Early Bronze Age potsherds—the tool of his trade and the artifacts that he was able to transform into documents by which he read the past. T. S. Eliot asks us:
“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow our of this stony rubbish? Son of man, you cannot say, or guess, for you know only a heap of broken images, where the sun beats, and the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, and the dry stone no sound of water.”
Doug loved the “Waste Lands”—the mounds of ruin with their “stony rubbish” and “heaps of broken images.” In both his 021profession and his life (they were inseparable), Doug knew that the truth of existence, the truth of reality, is not some absolute proposition about truth, nor ultimate despair, but something in-between, a quest (whether in archaeology or in life) for something beyond the broken images of past and present, a quest for the unbroken reality behind the broken images.
We will sorely miss Doug Esse, the best and brightest of his generation of archaeologists, the kindest and most gentle person of any generation.
Lawrence E. Stager
Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel
Caiaphas Tomb May Be Restored
The tomb of the Caiaphas family, featured in two articles in the BAR 18:05 (see “Burial Cave of the Caiaphas Family,” BAR 18:05 and “Caiaphas Name Inscribed on Bone Boxes,” BAR 18:05), may be restored and opened to tourists. Located in Jerusalem’s Peace Forest, the recently excavated tomb contained 12 ossuaries, or bone boxes. One of the ossuaries, inscribed with the name “Joseph, son of Caiaphas,” held the bones of a 60-year-old male who may have been the high priest who interrogated Jesus before handing him over to Pontius Pilate.
After its excavation, the tomb was covered up again, but worldwide interest in the site has encouraged the Israel Antiquities Authority to consider restoring it. It is not known, however, whether the tomb is restorable. When originally found, part of the tomb’s ceiling was collapsed, and the soft limestone walls were cracked. As we go to press, the Antiquities Authority is reexposing the tomb in order to assess its condition. If the tomb is restorable, it is likely that replicas of the ossuaries will be displayed in it, as the originals are already in the Israel Museum. If restoration is impossible, the construction of a model nearby will be considered. According to the tomb’s excavator, Zvi Greenhut, a definite plan will depend on the assessment now underway.
Annenberg Institute to Join University of Pennsylvania
It is official—the Annenberg Research Institute, a center for advanced Jewish studies in Philadelphia, will be absorbed into the University of Pennsylvania. The merger is set for July 1, 1993, when the institute will be renamed the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. A search will be conducted for a director of the center.
The Annenberg Institute each year sponsors about a dozen fellowships for scholars of Judaica. That will continue when the institute joins the University of Pennsylvania, according to Zev Brinner, the institute’s acting director. Also to continue is the practice of having a theme for each academic year’s research. This year’s theme is the Dead Sea Scrolls; in 1993–1994 the theme will be law and spirituality. After the merger, the center plans to add fellowships for three advanced graduate students, Brinner said.
We first reported the planned merger in “Meyers Leaves Annenberg Research Institute; Dead Sea Scrolls Project on Track,” BAR 18:04—prematurely, it turned out, because the move had not yet been fully agreed upon.
UCLA Launches Cotsen Prize Imprint
UCLA’s Institute of Archaeology recently announced the inauguration of the Jo Anne Stolaroff Corsen Prize Imprint, a new award for book manuscripts in the field of archaeology. The award includes a prize of $1,000, publication under the special imprint and the opportunity to deliver a lecture at UCLA. Established by archaeology enthusiast and business executive Lloyd Cotsen in memory of his wife, the imprint’s endowment calls for a prize to be awarded at least once every three years, but the institute anticipates a biannual schedule for the award. For information on how to submit a manuscript for consideration for the Cotsen Prize Imprint, archaeologists are invited to write to UCLA Institute of Archaeology Publications, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1520.
The first Cotsen Prize Imprint, Landscape Archaeology as Long-Term History: Northern Keos in the Cycladic Islands by J. F. Cherry, J. L. Davis and E. Mantzourani, is available from the publisher at the above address (list price: $50).
Emmanuel Anati to Lecture in U.S.
Emmanuel Anati, the director of the Har Karkom excavation, will come to the United States to lecture from February 10 to 25, 1993. He is already scheduled to give two lectures in Houston, Texas, on February 15 and 16 (details are still being arranged), and he may lecture in San Francisco on the 18th. The subjects of his slide lectures are “Har Karkom: Archaeological Discoveries Along the Route of the Exodus” and “The Origins of Art.”
A renowned rock-art expert, Anati is Professor Ordinarius of Palaeoethnology at the University of Lecce, in Italy, the executive director of the Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici and chairman of the Institut Des Arts Prehistoriques et Ethnologiques in Paris. Among his 70 books in 20 languages are The Mountain of God (Rizzoli, 1986) and Rock Art in Central Arabia (Institut Orientaliste, 4 vol., 1972–1975).
Anati seeks additional lecture engagements and invites interested groups in the United States and Canada to contact him at 011-39-364-42091 (telephone) or 011-39-364-42572 (FAX).
Saul S. Weinberg, Archaeologist and Teacher, Dies
Archaeologist and teacher Saul S. Weinberg died on October 24, 1992, at his home in Columbia, Missouri. Born in Chicago in 1912, Weinberg received his degrees in architecture and archaeology from the University of Illinois and the Johns Hopkins University. After joining the faculty of the University of Missouri in 1948, he established the university’s Museum of Art and Archaeology in 1957, serving as its director until his retirement in 1977.
Weinberg’s basic work on the connections between the Aegean and the Near East in the Neolithic period and Early Bronze Age brought him renown. Among the places he excavated were Cyprus, Crete and Corinth. Once the archaeological director of the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem and head of the Rockefeller Museum and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Weinberg won the Archaeological Institute of America’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement in 1985 and Israel’s most distinguished archaeological prize, the Israel Museum’s Percia Schimmel Award in 1986.
New Archaeological Encyclopedia to Be Published
Oxford University Press is preparing The Oxford Encyclopedia of Near Eastern Archaeology for publication in 1995 or 1996 with Eric Meyers of Duke University as editor in chief. Originally planned as Archaeology in the Biblical World, the project grew so large that planners divided it in two, with a second publication entitled The Encyclopedia of New Testament Archaeology to be published within a year of the first.
The Near Eastern project will be published in four volumes with over 1,000 articles centered on Syria-Palestine and the adjacent areas of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Iran, Arabia and Cyprus up to the 11th century A.D. In addition to information on archaeology, the publication will include biographical sketches of major figures in the field in the last century and a half as well as brief articles on societies and institutions that initiated research in these regions. Essays on ethics, nationalism, cultural resource management and development archaeology will round out the encyclopedia. About half the size of the first publication, The Encyclopedia of New Testament Archaeology, with Helmut Koester of Harvard Divinity School as editor in chief, will include Syria-Palestine and the rest of the Greco-Roman world up to the fourth century A.D.
In Memoriam: Douglas L. Esse