Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Review: Dame Kathleen Kenyon

Archaeology Magazine (Review by Hana Koriech)

I've shoe-horned this review into the blog mainly because it interested me, but if you want to hear the most tenuous of excuses the review says that Kenyon's initial inspiration was Gertrude Caton-Thompson, who is a particular heroine of mine. Caton-Thompson is probably best known for her work at Great Zimbawe but she did truly pioneering work in Egypt, uncovering its prehistory in the Faiyum Depression, Kharga Oasis and the area around el Badari. Kathleen Kenyon, of course, is one of the most famous figures of Near Eastern archaeology and her work is legendary. There's a short biography of her on Wikipedia.

Miriam C. Davis Dame Kathleen Kenyon: Digging Up the Holy Land, published by Left Coast Press, Inc.

No archaeologist would ever confess to not knowing the name of Kathleen Kenyon, whose legacy includes excavating the ancient city of Jericho, and whose other accomplishments and influences on the discipline of archaeology are countless. Miriam C. Davis's book Dame Kathleen Kenyon: Digging Up the Holy Land is a lively biography of "the most influential woman archaeologist of the 20th century," while providing both detailed insights into many of archaeology's most significant developments and fun anecdotes of excavations in that period.

Kathleen Kenyon was eldest daughter of the prominent biblical scholar and British Museum director Sir Frederick Kenyon, who was also connected to the Institute of Archaeology, the Palestinian Exploration Fund, the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, and the British Academy. Surrounded by and associating with those of high social standing, and undoubtedly abundant with social connections, Kenyon ran in what Davis describes as "elevated circles." However, as the biography makes clear, it was more K's (as she was later known as) strong character of "determination" and "hard-headedness" than her social circles that determined her great successes in the field and elsewhere.

Kenyon first realized her passion for archaeology after joining Gertrude Caton-Thompson on the 1929 famous all-woman excavation of Great Zimbabwe as a photographer, at the suggestion of College Principle Margery Fry, despite K having "no intention of becoming an archaeologist."

See the above page for the full story.

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