Monday, January 3, 2011

Ernst Herzfeld Papers

[First posted 8/10/10. Updated 1/3/11:  See today's notice of updates on Ernst Herzfeld Online Resources by Rachael Cristine Woody on the Smithsonian blog]

Ernst Herzfeld Papers, 1899-1962 at the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System

"Ernst Emil Herzfeld (1879-1948) was an orientalist whose many talents led him to explore all phases of Near Eastern culture, from the prehistoric period to Islamic times and from linguistics and religion to art and architecture." [Margaret Cool Root, 1976: "The Herzfeld Archive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol. 11, pp. 119-124."]

The Papers primarly relate to Herzfeld's work in Western Asia between 1903 and 1947, chiefly in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, and particularly to his excavations at Samarra, Pasargadae, and Persepolis, and also in Sistan. Much of the research material he accumulated during this time was used in preparation for his nearly two hundred books, articles, and lectures.
And see the finding aid: Ernst Herzfeld: An Inventory of His Papers at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives 

From the SIRIS blog:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ernst Herzfeld's Excavation of Samarra - Online!

Series 7: Records of Samarra Expeditions is now fully digitized, cataloged and online thanks to funding from the Leon Levy Foundation, and cataloger extraordinaire: Xavier Courouble!  Below is a description of the Ernst Herzfeld's Samarra materials written by Thomas Leiston, as well as a final report by Xavier, documenting his cataloging efforts for a project of this scope.

Excavation of Sāmarrā (Iraq): Typological Study of Painted Decoration on Wood, 1910-1946
"Two campaigns of excavation at Samarra in Iraq, carried out by Ernst Herzfeld on behalf of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin between the years 1911 and 1913 mark the beginning of large-scale archaeological research on Islamic antiquities. During this time, Herzfeld was supported for brief periods by the swiss architect Samuel Guyer, Commander von Ludloff, various technical assistants, and finally Friedrich Sarre, who was the director of the Islamic department at the museum and initiator of the expedition. For most of the time, however, all tasks that today would be divided among a team of archaeologists rested solely on Herzfeld's shoulders: coordinating hundreds of workmen at various sites, measuring buildings, drawing architecture and objects, and cataloging finds, but also negociating with local authorities who were often uncooperative."

Excavation of Sāmarrā (Iraq): Rubbing of Graffiti Found in House IX
"Still working at a time when the success of a venture such as the Samarra expedition was measured by its spectacular finds in both architecture and precious objects, the immense responsibility for bringing this expedition through the unexplored territories of Islamic archaeology to a successful conclusion presented an enormous physical and psychological challenge. In an effort that from the perspective of modern archaeology must be called Herculean, he excavated and examined nineteen sites [Great Mosque of al-Mutawakkil, Congregational Mosque of Madinat al-Mutawakkiliyya, Shiite Shrine Complex, Qubbat al-Ṣulaibiyya; palaces of Balkuwārā, Ṣūr ʿĪṣā, and the Qaṣr al-ʿĀshiq; the Cemetery at Shabbat al-Hawā; Mausoleum of Imām al-Dūr; Tall al-ʿAlīq; Ḥarba Bridge and finally the residential architecture at al-Quraina, al-Qāṭūn, al-Jubairiyya, and west of Ṣūr ʿĪṣā, and the baths] and collected a stupendous corpus of material, one that in many respects still forms the foundation for our knowledge of the city of Samarra and ʾAbbāsid art in the 3rd/9th centuries. What is astonishing is that Herzfeld himself considered his achievements during the first campaign in Samarra to be merely a dress rehearsal for the more ambitious second campaign which focused on the Dār al-Khilāfa." [Leisten, Tomas, 2003: "Excavation of Samarra, v. I. Architecture : Final report of the first campaign 1910-1912. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz am Rhein, 2003. Preface, p.IX."]...

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  1. Dear Mr. Jones,

    Thank you for promoting our Ernst Herzfeld materials! We are in the midst of a multi-phased project of adding even more of his materials online, including 3d digitization of the squeezes.


    Rachael Cristine Woody
    Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives

  2. My pleasure. Very good work!