Royal Irish Academy, Dublin

R. A. S. Macalister’s portrait still hangs in Dublin’s Royal Irish Academy, over which he presided from 1926–1931. Although Macalister established himself on digs in England and Ireland, he is best known as director between 1902 and 1909 of excavations at Gezer, the biblical city that Solomon received as a wedding gift from his Egyptian father-in-law. It was the largest dig in Palestine until that time.

Macalister, too, allowed racist ideas to color his view of history. He attributed the massive building projects and rich material culture from the time of the Hebrew monarchy to foreign masons and artists: “The Semitic natives, Amorite, Hebrew or Arab, never invented anything: they assimilated all the elements of their civilization from without.” Any innovations, Macalister wrote, came from the Philistines, “the only cultured or artistic race who ever occupied the soil of Palestine.”