Last month I wrote about an unexpected find of some letters from ex-WW1 servicemen seeking employment on archaeological expeditions in Palestine. You can read "To the Secretary, Palestine Exploration Fund" here.
By Amara Thornton
One of the exciting things about the digital age is finding ephemeral historical items online. A recent discovery via Internet Archive is the catalogue for “Underground Jerusalem”, an exhibition of drawings by celebrated Illustrated London News artist William “Crimea” Simpson (so called because of his famous sketches of the Crimean war).
“Underground Jerusalem” opened at the Pall Mall Gallery in London on 6 April 1872. A leaflet advertisement for the exhibition, inserted into the Palestine Exploration Fund’s Quarterly Statement, noted that the display was open from 10 am to 6 pm daily. The admission price of one shilling included the catalogue in which Simpson’s 40 sketches on display, made during a trip to Jerusalem in the spring of 1869, are listed and described.
Simpson journeyed to Jerusalem from Egypt, where he was busily engaged in documenting the Prince and Princess of Wales’ trip to the country and illustrating the not-yet-opened Suez Canal – “the new route to India” – for the Illustrated London News. He left Egypt at Port Said on the Red Sea coast and sailed for Jaffa, travelling to Jerusalem by cart. Once there he contacted Palestine Exploration Fund explorer Charles Warren, then excavating in Jerusalem near the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount. Warren’s deep shafts at the edges of the enclosure, sunk in the face of considerable opposition from local political and religious authorities, had been made in order to understand the development of the city through time.
Like a number of tourists to Jerusalem at the time of Warren’s excavations, Simpson accompanied Warren down some of his shafts, obtaining a glimpse at the early layers of the Old City. Unlike the average tourist, though, once below the surface Simpson recorded what he saw with his pen and paper. Lit magnesium, which emits a bright white light, was the only source of illumination. He later recorded in his autobiography
...it was a rare chance to have such glimpses of underground Jerusalem".
It took Simpson three years to finish his drawings. The exhibition was also a sale with the works ranging in price from 10 to 120 guineas (for No. 32, "'The Sakrah' or Sacred Heart of the Dome of the Rock"). The PEF's Secretary Walter Morrison bought a number of them. They remain in the collection of the Palestine Exploration Fund today, where they are not just a unique record of excavation in progress, but another piece of London's exhibition history.
Eyre-Todd, G. (ed.). 1903. The autobiography of William "Crimea" Simpson, R. I. London: T. Fisher Unwin.
Pall Mall Gallery. 1872. Underground Jerusalem. Descriptive Catalogue of the Above Collection of Water-Colour Drawings by William Simpson… London: W. M. Thompson.
Warren, C. 1876. Underground Jerusalem: an account of some of the principal difficulties encountered in its exploration and the results obtained. London: R. Bentley and Son.
By Amara Thornton
It’s lovely to be able to put a face to a name – as it were. One difficulty with researching long dead people is the formality in text that can prove a formidable façade. The plague of the initials and the title/last name combo is rife.* How can we see beyond these fashions of a bygone era as we examine the myriad contributors to past events?
I’ll give you an example: the story of “Mrs George”. In researching annual exhibitions in archaeology during my PhD I came across lots of names – the catalogues for these displays were full of them. Very useful for identifying the number and gender of contributors to a particular season’s work, but sometimes frustratingly vague: Mr-s and Miss-s galore.
In some cases it was easy to confirm full names, but in other cases (particularly if the individual was female and not a well-known scholar) confirmation was not so easy. “Mrs George” was one of the latter. She was an artist, and was married to an architect, Walter Sykes George.
Just before the First World War Mr and Mrs George were in Sudan, where Walter George was working as architect for John Garstang’s excavation at Meroe. Mrs George, like numerous other artists on sites in the early 20th century, was engaged in copying ancient paintings.
In 1913, “Mrs George”’s works were on display alongside her husband’s site plans at the Society of Antiquaries as part of the fourth exhibition of antiquities from Meroe. The exhibition catalogue indicates that some of her work, including scenes of “local colour”, was for sale. Next door at the Royal Academy yet more artists were taking part in the annual Summer Exhibition, in its final month.
On finding evidence of Mrs George’s contribution to the interpretation and display of Meroe in London, I wanted to find out more about her, and, if I could, discover her first name. At the very least this would ensure that work credited to her would reflect her distinct identity as well as her marital status. But initial searches for “Mrs George” proved fruitless.
An aside in one of Walter George’s letters gave me the clue I needed. In said letter he referred to his wife exhibiting two works at the 1914 Autumn Exhibition of Modern Art at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. The 1914 catalogue is (luckily) still extant; scanning the list of contributors, there she was – Mrs Lena George, exhibiting in the Miniatures Room. Bingo.
Mrs George was no longer nameless in my records. With her first name I found references to other works attributed to her, including the (undated) oil painting "Travellers on the Outskirts of Town", sold at Christie's in 2010. Such references to her work outside of archaeology help to illuminate her as an artist within the early 20th century contemporary art scene.
Many contributors to excavation in the past were ephemeral – on site for a season or a couple of seasons and then gone from the archival or published record. And there were many other participants in the archaeological process – locally employed diggers, basket boys and girls, foremen and others who have only recently begun to be recognised and named, where possible, for the work they did.
At the time, I felt rather honoured to have found Mrs George's first name, and to have included it in my now published research. But it’s also nice to discover a new(ish) source for Lena George – while writing this post I came across Richard Butler’s 2012 article in Architectural History analysing in detail W. S. George’s contributions to the architecture of India, where he and Lena moved in 1915. Lena George is only briefly mentioned, but Butler does include her first name and (a thrill for me) a photograph of her and Walter Sykes George in India.
Butler, R. 2012. The Anglo-Indian Architect Walter Sykes George (1881-1962): a Modernist Follower of Lutyens. Architectural History 55.
Corporation of Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery. 1914. Forty-Fifth Autumn Exhibition of Modern Art Catalogue.
Garstang, J. and George, W. S. 1913. Excavations at Meroe, Sudan, 1913, Fourth season. Guide to the twelfth annual exhibition of antiquities discovered. Institute of Archaeology University of Liverpool.
Janssen, R. 1992. The First Hundred Years: Egyptology at University College London, 1892-1992. London: Petrie Museum.
Quirke, S. 2010. Hidden Hands: Egyptian Workforces in Petrie’s excavation archives 1880-1924. London: Gerald Duckworth.
Thornton, A. 2015. Exhibition Season: Annual Archaeological Exhibitions in London, 1880s-1930s. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology.
*A post on the subject has recently been published on the Palestine Exploration Fund’s blog.
By Amara Thornton
Remember your ABCs? In my continuing (casual) investigation into archaeological shopping, I'm looking into brands associated with excavation dining.
If you’re interested in the history of eating in London you’ll know that ABC stood for Aerated Bread Company, a chain of tea-room/cafés that provided modestly priced provisions for busy diners in assorted locations across the city. It’s perhaps appropriate, then, that Flinders and Hilda Petrie lunched regularly in an ABC – its pricing appealed to the frugal Petries.
The ABC “depots” at No 120 Tottenham Court Road (now a Boots) and Nos. 47, 49, 51 Drummond Street (now part of Euston Station) would have been closest to the Department of Egyptology at University College London, where Petrie was Edwards Professor. With a palate cleansing strawberry ice to start and simple fare of eggs and Bath bun to follow, the Petries treated a young Arthur Weigall, who would join their excavations at Abydos in November 1901, to ABC meals. A glass of milk all round…Petrie wasn’t a drinker.*
In 2009, Giles Coren & Sue Perkins’ Supersizers Eat... The Twenties (BBC Two) featured a spread of Fortnum & Mason’s beautifully packaged provisions for a “Tomb Raider’s picnic” at the British Museum. Their feast of stilton, curried fowl, lobster in aspic and wine was inspired by what the F & M Expedition department provided to Howard Carter & co. on site at the Valley of the Kings. Last autumn, the Ashmolean Museum got together with Fortnum & Mason to offer a Fortnum & Mason’s hamper coinciding with the Ashmolean’s Discovering Tutankhamun exhibition.
Far from the busy booths of London’s ABCs, Petrie’s pantry on site contained tinned salmon, tinned peas, tinned sardines in oil, tinned plums and pineapple, cheese and plenty of ship's biscuits. Arthur Mace, another of Petrie’s students, recalled that jam (apricot) was used as a nice accompaniment for roast pigeon and tongue.
There is visual evidence of food too - a fantastic image in the Petrie Museum’s archive features the dining room of the Petrie’s dighouse at Abydos, where he excavated for the Egypt Exploration Fund between 1900 and 1904. Look closely at it and you get quite a good view of the food tins. Minced Collops (a meat dish) and Moir’s Hotch Potch (a meat and vegetable stew) are two of the most visible.
Another brand featured in the Egypt Exploration Fund’s excavations at Beni Hasan, Egypt. According to a book on Howard Carter’s early career in archaeology, Huntley & Palmers biscuit tins were used to pack small objects and prop up furniture during the 1894/1895 season. It’s a truth (perhaps not quite universally acknowledged) that the cases used for packing objects provide a useful details for a social history of excavations. The Palestine Exploration Fund has a collection of such archaeological ephemera – when I’m next at the Fund I fully intend to check it out!
As an addendum, last June researchers in the University of Bristol’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology found a box of pottery, seeds and bones from Leonard Woolley’s excavations at Ur in the 1920s and 1930s. Stamped on the side of the wooden crate containing the finds are the words:
Junior Army and Navy
22a Belvedere Road
Drower, M. 1985. Flinders Petrie: A Life in Archaeology. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.
Hankey, J. 2001. A Passion for Egypt: Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun and the 'Curse of the Pharaohs'. London: I. B. Tauris.
Lee, C. 1989. "...the grand piano came by camel": Arthur C. Mace, the neglected Egyptologist. Paisley: Renfrew District Council.
Rawnsley, H. 1904. The Resurrection of Oldest Egypt: Being the Story of Abydos as told by the Discoveries of Dr Petrie... Staines: Beaver Press.
Reeves, N. & Taylor, J. H. 1992. Howard Carter Before Tutankhamun. London: British Museum Press.
*In her biography of Weigall, Julie Hankey makes special mention of Petrie's fondness for milk, and fully describes the ABC lunches.
By Amara Thornton
I’m not ashamed to say that my first experience with the phenomenon of World’s Fairs was through Vincente Minnelli’s 1944 musical blockbuster Meet Me in St. Louis.* It was one of the few VHS tapes in my childhood babysitter’s house – consequently I’ve seen it so many times I’ve lost count. So when I came across a reference earlier this year to the Egyptian archaeology display at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (aka the St. Louis World’s Fair) it’s hardly surprising that Judy Garland’s “Trolley Song” sprung almost immediately to mind.
Said reference was in artist and Egyptologist Annie Pirie Quibell's obituary – I was then writing a brief biographical sketch on her for the Trowelblazers website. It was an added bonus when, a few months later, I came across another St. Louis World’s Fair connection in the Palestine Exploration Fund's archive: three grand prize certificates awarded to the Fund by the Fair’s judges. I’ve been researching temporary archaeological exhibitions in the late 19th/early 20th centuries for the past few years, so my interest was piqued.
As it happens, it’s the 110th anniversary of the St. Louis World’s Fair this year, so exploring the Fair’s connections to British archaeology seems timely. Additionally, recent controversy over the proposed sale of Egyptian antiquities by the American Institute of Archaeology's St Louis branch highlights another more troubling dimension of the city's relationship with British archaeology – one that draws past and present more closely together.
The St. Louis World’s Fair opened on 30 April 1904 after an extensive period of preparation. For an admission fee (50¢ for adults; 25¢ for children under 12) World’s Fair visitors could access the buildings and sites of the Fair’s sixteen Departments displaying items from over forty countries. In addition, “the Pike” contained individually priced attractions: recreations of historical events, foreign cities (including Cairo and Jerusalem) or sights – picture, if you will, a mini-Vegas before Vegas.
There were two main locations for viewing archaeology in the Fair. The first and most extensive was in the Department of Anthropology, a wing of the Fair’s Administration building. The Egyptian archaeology display sat alongside other archaeology exhibits from the United States, Brazil and Mexico on the "Main Floor" of the Anthropology building. Britain had occupied Egypt since 1882; as a result of its role, a British Commissioner, long-term Cairo resident and businessman Herman Lawford, led Egypt’s World’s Fair representatives. James Edward Quibell, one of the British Inspectors of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, was responsible for coordinating and arranging the archaeology exhibit.
The materials for the display were transported in 142 cases that arrived in St Louis at the end of February 1904. These were distributed into Rooms 100 and 101 of the Anthropology Department – at the expense, the St Louis Republic reported – of the ‘telephone girls’ whose offices were requisitioned to house the larger-than-expected array of ancient Egyptian material.
J. E. Quibell and his wife Annie Quibell travelled from their home in Egypt to St Louis to install the display. Both of them were credited in the Fair’s Official Catalogue for their work. By far the most popular attractions of the Egypt display were the recreated tomb of 'Rakapu' and the three life-sized dioramas. In an extensive illustrated article published in March 1904, the St Louis Republic highlighted these ancient Egyptian ‘scenes'. Populated by Paris-made plaster casts of human figures adorned with the ornaments of the ancients and swathed in a combination of ancient and ‘modern’ textiles, the 'scenes' also contained real (ancient) tools and implements. The stones of Rakapu’s tomb were imported to St Louis and reconstructed in the exhibition, enabling visitors to walk into the tomb and view its interior inscriptions. The rest of the antiquities, including mummies and coffins, beads, pottery, glass and ushabtis were arranged in cases and labelled.
Across the acreage of the Fair from the Anthropology building was the Palace of Liberal Arts. Great Britain's substantial exhibit there emphasised its innovative role in geography and topography. Three archaeological collectives were among the organisitions illustrating British prowess: the Palestine Exploration Fund, supporting exploration and excavations in the Holy Land; the Egypt Exploration Fund, supporting excavations in Egypt; and the Cretan Exploration Fund, supporting Arthur Evans’ excavations at Knossos. By this time American branches or local secretaries were partially supporting both the Palestine and Egypt Exploration Funds.
Fast forward just over a century, and St Louis is back in the archaeological news. Earlier this month, the Archaeological Institute of America's St Louis branch (known as the St Louis Society, and established in 1906) was planning to sell Egyptian artefacts from its collection at the auction house Bonhams. These artefacts had been allocated to the Society in 1914 in return for financial support for archaeologist Flinders Petrie’s British School of Archaeology in Egypt.
A recent statement from Egypt Exploration Society (formerly Fund)’s Director Chris Naunton and Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology curator Alice Stevenson highlights that the artefacts selected for sale were given with the explicit caveat that they should remain accessible to the public in a museum. The sale of these objects at Bonhams would have opened them up to purchase for a private (inaccessible) collection. The date of the sale was set for 2 October, but at the last moment it was announced that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City had acquired the objects. The Archaeological Institute of America has now issued a statement condemning the St Louis Society's decision to put the antiquities up for sale.
As Chris Naunton has noted, the news of this sale draws attention to the relevance of the history of archaeology today. A new collaborative project, Artefacts of Excavation, co-led by Alice Stevenson, will be investigating the distribution of artefacts from British excavations in Egypt to museums and collections across the globe. Of more direct relevance to this post, however, is the role of Anglo-American relations in this history.
The World’s Fair brought the fruits of British archaeology in Egypt, the Holy Land and the Eastern Mediterranean, both physical and intellectual, to a wider public. It also reflected Western authorities' control over Egypt’s antiquities – a control that continues to have significant implications for collections today. This power is no more potently expressed than in the words of Frederick J. V. Skiff, the World Fair’s Director of Exhibits:
A modern Universal Exposition well might be called an encyclopedia of society, as it contains, in highly specialized array, society’s words and works. It is a collection of the wisdom and achievements of the world, brought together for the inspection of the world – for examination and study by its experts.” -Preface to the Official Catalogue (1904)
Committee on Press and Publicity, Louisiana Purchase Exposition Commission. 1904. Official Catalogue of Exhibitors, Universal Exposition St Louis, U. S. A. 1904. Missouri: St Louis.
Hallote, R. 2006. Bible, Map, and Spade: The American Palestine Exploration Society, Frederick Jones Bliss, and the Forgotten Story of Early American Biblical Archaeology. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.
Louisiana Purchase Exposition Commission. 1906. Final Report of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Commission. Washington: Government Printing Office.
Luckhurst, R. 2012. The Mummy's Curse: The True History of a Dark Fantasy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Official Guide Company. 1904. World’s Fair Authentic Guide. Missouri: St Louis.
Parezo, N. & Fowler, D. 2007. Anthropology Goes to the Fair: The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
Reid, D. 2002. Whose Pharaohs? Archaeology, Museums, and Egyptian National Identity from Napoleon to World War One. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Small, J. 1904. Egyptian Tomb Brought to the St. Louis World’s Fair. Galveston News Magazine Supplement, 22 May.
Spencer, P. 2007. The Egypt Exploration Society: The Early Years. London: Egypt Exploration Society.
The St Louis Republic. 1903. Egypt’s Representative Here. Site for Building to be Selected and Exhibit Space Secured. [Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers], 25 June.
The St Louis Republic. 1904. Cat of Bubastis Arrives. Sacred to Ancient Egyptians, it was Embalmed 9,000 years ago. [Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers], 27 February.
*Minnelli's Meet Me in St Louis is not actually about the World’s Fair; rather it follows the Smith family through the year leading up to the Fair as the city prepares itself for the grand opening.
By Amara Thornton
“…the building called the Egyptian Hall … is nothing but an uncouth anomaly. The absurdity, however, renders it good advertisement. There is no missing its great lumpish face as you go along.”
The Egyptian Hall has long fascinated me as a venue for archaeological exhibitions. So I was pleased to discover recently that it housed two early exhibitions of the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) – one in 1869 and another in 1873.
From their office at No. 9, Pall Mall East, the PEF Committee organised these temporary exhibitions to raise public awareness and money for Fund-sponsored work. The PEF had been established in 1865 for the scientific exploration of the Holy Land. A number of scholars have chronicled the early history of the PEF; highlights of this history include Charles Warren’s excavations tunnelling underneath Jerusalem between 1867 and 1870, and the pioneering survey work of Lieuts. Claude Conder, Horatio Kitchener et al in the 1870s, enabling highly detailed maps of the region to be created.
Using the Egyptian Hall as the venue for these displays seems like an unusually bold choice for the PEF. Its loud exterior – a flagrantly Orientalised showstopper on sophisticated Piccadilly – housed a wide variety of entertainments. Brief histories of the Hall’s events listings reflect its almost indefinable nature. Themed exhibitions, paintings, panoramas, popular lecturers, magicians, displays of people from foreign lands and 'human curiosities' (the dark side of Victorian entertainment), all found a home in the Egyptian Hall's galleries. At any one time within the Hall there could be overlapping events.
Early Victorian artist Benjamin Robert Haydon’s experience sums up the Hall’s atmosphere. His 1846 exhibition of history paintings was in direct competition with P. T. Barnum’s “Tom Thumb” at the Hall. H. B. Wheatley recorded Haydon writing: “‘Tom Thumb’ had 12,000 people last week. B. R. Haydon 133 ½ (the ½ a little girl). Exquisite taste of the English people!”
This contrast reveals the Hall to be a complex and not un-problematic space, especially for the PEF as a new organisation eager to highlight (and prove) its scientific and cultural credentials while boosting its 'box-office' takings - so to speak.
Egyptian House on Piccadilly now stands on the site of Egyptian Hall. Photo: A. Thornton, 2013.
The dates of the two PEF exhibitions are particularly significant: the first, two years into Warren’s work in Jerusalem, was the first public outing in London of Warren’s finds. The second was three years into the Survey of Western Palestine. Both showcase the Fund’s desire to reach interested audiences through a unique building in the London landscape.
The PEF’s exhibitions were held in the Hall’s Dudley Gallery. The Gallery, named after the Earl of Dudley, first housed a selection of the Earl’s pictures that was freely accessible to the public, and afterwards other picture collections. This art-gallery aesthetic suited the PEF’s needs.
The Fund reported that over 6,000 visitors wandered through the space between mid-June and the end of August, 1869. Garnishing the walls of the exhibition were more than 300 photographs of Palestine and Syria taken by Sergeant Henry Phillips. The images were described in more detail in the short exhibition catalogue.
Complementing the photographs was a large Ordnance Survey plan of the city of Jerusalem. Alongside this, visitors could see cases of material discovered during Warren’s work. Other items (both ancient and modern) relevant to the region were on loan from collectors and travellers as a complement to the Warren finds.
Images of the Holy Land played a prominent role in the 1873 exhibition as well. In addition to 100 carefully curated photographs (available, like this one of Jerusalem, for sale in a variety of packages) – there were nearly 70 water-colour sketches from the artist Henry A. Harper.
The objects and art displayed in these Egyptian Hall exhibitions formed part of a large and varied collection of images of the Holy Land, enhanced over the century that followed, that the PEF still retains today. These images, depicting both ancient sites and (then)-modern life, have spawned books and illustrated histories of the region in a variety of media. The PEF’s collections have recently inspired Israeli artist Michal Baror to incorporate the Fund’s 19th and early 20th century photographs and casts of objects from Palestine into an exploration of her own identity and practice.
I’d like to see more people reusing, re-presenting and reinterpreting the PEF’s archives. Take a closer look at the collections - maybe you'll be inspired to breathe new life into the material. You can start with the Fund’s Flickr page, where you can see some of those images that graced the walls of the Victorian Egyptian Hall.
Altick, R. 1978. The Shows of London. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press.
Bar-Yosef, E. 2005. The Holy Land and English Culture 1799-1917: Palestine and the Question of Orientalism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Moscrop, J. J. 2000. Measuring Jerusalem: The Palestine Exploration Fund and British Interests in the Holy Land. London: Leicester University Press.
PEF. . Catalogue of Photographs and Description of Pottery, &c. Exhibited by the Palestine Exploration Fund. London: Palestine Exploration Fund.
PEF. 1869. Statement of Progress; Publications of the Society. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (Apr-Jun).
PEF. 1869. Statement of Progress. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (July-Sept).
PEF. 1873. Catalogue of Water Colour Sketches, Tracings, Models, Photographs and Pottery &c. Exhibited by the Palestine Exploration Fund. London: Palestine Exploration Fund.
PEF. 1873. Preface. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (April).
PEF. 1873. Preface; Report of the Annual General Meeting. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (July).
Silberman, N. A. 1982. Digging for God and Country: Exploration, Archeology, and the Secret Struggle for the Holy Land 1799-1917. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
The Tablet. 1869. The Palestine Exploration Fund. The Tablet, p 22.
Wheatley, H. B. 1870. Round About Piccadilly and Pall Mall. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
N. B. Special thanks are due to Felicity Cobbing, the PEF's Executive Secretary and Curator.
By Amara Thornton
Many people will recognise Herbert Horatio Kitchener’s face from the famous WW1 recruitment posters, issued during his tenure as Secretary of State for War. But did you know that nearly three years after his death in 1916 a popular periodical declared him the ideal “life-companion”?
In 1919 the Strand Magazine (where many of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories first appeared) published an intriguing feature called “Good Looks in Men. What types to Women like best?” Portraits of twelve men were selected, including Kitchener, the poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, the artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, actors Lewis Waller, Kyrle Bellew and William Terriss, and sportsmen Jim Corbett and Matthew Webb. A group of “eminent ladies” was asked to provide their thoughts on which one they would choose from the pictures alone. The question posed sought to answer whether women would choose a man with strength, “romantic soul”, or intelligence.
Six writers, four artists and an actress wrote in with opinions. Some highlighted the difficulty of choosing from a mere picture without a deeper knowledge of the man himself. The illustrator Norah Schegel wrote in her commentary that to choose a man based on an image alone would be impossible, but instead the judgment might better be made by the type of tie he wore. Others were more determined in their choice – there was only one man for them.
However, Kitchener won hands down with 5 votes (next was Lord Leighton with 2 votes). Nearly all of those who voted on Kitchener commented on his intelligence and speculated about what might have been beneath his rather formidable military exterior. His enigma status was increased still further because he remained unmarried during his lifetime. He was also a proto-archaeologist.
Only one of the women who chose Kitchener, the novelist Alice Muriel Williamson, touched on his extensive experience – what she called “a High Adventure” – beyond Britain’s borders in Palestine, Cyprus, India, Sudan, South Africa and Egypt. This experience began in the 1870s, when he joined the Palestine Exploration Fund’s expedition to the Levant as a surveyor.
Kitchener and the other members of the Survey of Western Palestine were mapping the region and its sites of Biblical and historical interest, place names, and recording demographic details of the population as well as making notes on the geological, meterological and geographical features of the land. These maps were highly detailed and, as the PEF surveyors claimed, much in advance of the maps of the region included in guidebooks and other publications.
A 24-year-old Kitchener arrived in Palestine in November 1874. He took many photographs during his time with the survey, which were later published as Lieutenant Kitchener’s Guinea Book of Biblical Photographs and sold at Edward Stanford’s shop near Whitehall. By 1877, Kitchener was in charge of the PEF’s surveying expedition, destined to map northern Palestine, commanding a party of four Royal Engineer officers and their servants. His reports of their explorations and work were published in the Quarterly Statement.
Reading the Strand Magazine’s piece gave me an insight into the psychology of early twentieth century womanhood – clearly the appeal of the manly adventurer stretches back a bit. I can’t say it’s entirely different from the kinds of articles you see today in Cosmo, although couched in Edwardian terms. Personally I’m with Baroness Emma Orczy (author of the “Scarlet Pimpernel” books), who said in her commentary:
“Seek for the humorous lines around the lips, for the humorous twinkle in the eyes, and trust that face more than you would that of the Adonis or Hercules”.
“Good Looks in Men. What Types Do Women Like Best?” Strand Magazine. June 1919.
Conder, C. R. 1887. Tent Work in Palestine: A Record of Discovery and Adventure. London: Richard Bentley & Son for Palestine Exploration Fund Committee.
Conder, C. R. & Kitchener, H. H. 1881. The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography and Archaeology. Vol 1. London: Palestine Exploration Fund.
Moscrop, J. 2001. Measuring Jerusalem: the Palestine Exploration Fund and British Interests in the Holy Land. London: Leicester University Press.
By Amara Thornton
Have you ever wondered where to acquire a pith helmet? In preparing my presentation for Ideas Slam at the Petrie Museum I started investigating where archaeologists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries bought their supplies. While there are surviving lists of equipment and supplies and prices paid, sourcing the stores where these goods were purchased was more challenging than I expected.
A colleague pointed me to a quote from a visitor to Flinders Petrie’s excavations at Meydum, Egypt recording that Petrie’s food supplies came from the Civil Service Stores. A bit more research into an archaeological archive revealed that George and Agnes Horsfield, who excavated in Transjordan in the 1930s, got some basic equipment - including an officer’s valise with leather straps - from the Army & Navy Stores on Victoria Street, as well as a Jaeger sleeping bag from the travel agent Cook’s. George Horsfield had served in the British Army during the First World War, so he would have been familiar with the Army & Navy Stores as a place to obtain equipment.
Both the Civil Service Stores and the Army & Navy Stores were co-operative societies, operating on a subscriptions system. For their annual subscription, members of the co-operative societies had slightly reduced prices on a wide range of items. It makes sense that archaeologists took advantage of the range of supplies offered at these co-operative stores; amongst their clients were colonial administrators and soldiers – people who spent significant time abroad. Similarly, archaeologists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries could remain in the field up to five months of the year or more.
A reprint of the Army & Navy Stores 1907 Illustrated Catalogue was published in the 1960s. Alison Adburgham’s fascinating Forward gives a brief history of the Stores. She notes the value of the catalogues for social historians and the memories the catalogues evoked in ex-colonial households. A brief look through the catalogue showed me that it was a worthwhile investment - my recently acquired copy sits proudly on my bookshelf.
The pith helmet, seen here in the centre of this image of Palestine Exploration Fund explorers in Arabah (Jordan) in the 1880s, is probably one of the most iconic pieces of equipment associated with British men and women travellers – regardless of occupation or purpose – in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. In 1907, the Army & Navy Stores priced a “Lady’s Pith” in white or drab felt at 14 shillings and sixpence, while a “Gentlemen’s Drab Felt” cost 17 shillings and sixpence.
I’ve never seen a photograph of Flinders Petrie sporting a pith helmet – he favoured other styles, including the flatcap, instead – but Liverpool archaeologist John Garstang wore a pith on site. The tents of the excavation camp in this photograph of Garstang (in pith helmet) look similar to the Army & Navy Stores’ “Double-roof Ridge Tent”, advertised in the catalogue as “The best tent for Africa”. (Yours for £7 8 shillings and upwards.)
Cornelius Holtorf has discussed influences in modern archaeologists’ clothing. A quick chat with some archaeologist chums highlighted to me the value that archaeologists still put on their basic equipment – I’m not talking about fancy GPS systems and ground penetrating radar tools, but rather the trowels and tents that make up the foundation of an excavator’s life. On a related note, I recently discovered a company making pith helmets covered not in white or drab cloth but African textiles. I wonder who wears them.
As this is a (very casual) work in progress, for now I’ll let Flinders Petrie have the last word on archaeological equipment:
"To attempt serious work in pretty suits, shiny leggings, or starched collars, would be like mountaineering in evening dress…”
-Methods and Aims in Archaeology (1904)
Adburgham, A. (Ed.). 1969. Yesterday’s Shopping: The Army & Navy Stores Catalogue 1907. David & Charles (Publishers) Ltd.
Petrie, W. M. F. 1904. Methods and Aims in Archaeology. London: Macmillan & Co.
Wilson, J. A. 1964. Signs and Wonders Upon Pharaoh. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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