PART ONE:Archaeology and the Near East
A Brief Near Eastern ChronologySumer beg. 5th millenium BC
Akkad beg. 5th millenium BC
Ur beg. 4th millenium BC
Babylon after 2129 BC
Hittites beg. 2nd millenium BC
Persian Empire ca. 555-330 BC
Antigonid Empires 4th c.-1 BC
Seleucid Empire 4th c.-1 BC
Parthians 1-2 c. A.D.
Roman Empire 1-4th c. AD
Sassanians 3-6th c. AD
Byzantine Empire 6-11th/15 c. AD
Arab Caliphates 7-12th c. AD/AH 1st-5th c.
Crusader Kingdoms 11-12th c. AD
Seljuks 11-15th c. AD
Ottoman Empire 15th c.-1918 AD
Republic of Turkey c. 1924 to the present
The coins displayed here provide tangible evidence of Near Eastern ancient and mediaeval eras, of their political powers, and of the important personalities which controlled those powers. In general, coins provide much-needed information concerning political power and economic dominance. Rulers name and portray themselves on coins, often giving themselves the most ostentatious, the most unequivocally expressive titles and symbols of power. The dates and locations of the production of coins tell a great deal about the concentration and distribution of wealth, and about international routes of trade. Coins are the bits of official metal painstakingly acquired and sent out by tax-payers, to tax-collectors, on the way to provincial and metropolitan treasuries. Discoveries of coins enable archaeologists to determine the level of prosperity of a given area as well as to date stratigraphic contents of the sites in which the coins were found.
Engine cab of the Berlin-Bagdad train
A new professional in the discipline of archaeology, the expedition photographer recorded new discoveries from the moment of their appearance, and documented each step in the field. George R. Swain was the photographer for this and other Univerity of Michigan expeditions to the Near East. Accompanied by Easton T. Kelsey, the son of Francis W., he took many hundreds of photographs. Some were laboriously produced seven-by-eleven inch negatives of exceptionally clear quality; others were quickly snapped shots made with a Kodak; all were meticulously catalogued and described. (Due to the deterioration of their negatives, all photographs have been reshot and reprinted.) The detailed photographic records of Swain and Kelsey have been of inestimable help in reconstructing the expedition. Their descriptions provide the basis of the labels used for the photographs in this exhibition.
An independently-affiliated motion-picture maker, Carl Wallen, accompanied the Expedition on a part of its journey. Unfortunately, none of the films made by Wallen on the expedition have been recovered although mention is made of them in the diaries of Kelsey and Swain.
Thanks to the efforts of Flinders Petrie, pottery is recognized as being essential to the basic archaeological task of assigning dates. The clay, the shapes of clay vessels and lamps, and markings on them often indicate where a pot was made. Moreover, shapes fit into chronological sequences for which dates can be assigned. In addition, the distribution of pots with similar shapes, or profiles, over a wide area, for example, is a frequent indicator of far-reaching trade (usually of the contents of pots rather than the pots themselves; only fine ceramic wares were traded for their own value); the concentration of a wide range of shapes of pottery within a small area, on the other hand, might tell of long-term inhabitation of that area.
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A Personal Interpretation of an Archaeological Discovery:
Christian Lamps of Clay from Carthage
Early Christian lamp
Raised decoration on sunken rim, fish on discus
Late Roman-Early Byzantine, ca. 4th c. AC
Dry, academic concerns such as pottery fragments have never captured the imagination of the public. Instead, the imagined inner lives of the people who used them enrich their otherwise limited visual appeal. In the poem reproduced below, for example, humble artifacts of clay, small and inexpensively mass-produced lamps from late Roman Carthage (Tunisia), inspired a vision of the illuminating force of the emergence of Christianity. Poems inspired by archaeological discoveries were a convention in the magazine Art and Archaeology, routinely included following each article.
Through what lone visions did your clear flames shine,
O darkened lamps of dim, forgotten years?
What have ye seen of silent midnight tears
Falling before Love's sad and voiceless shrine;
What aged prayers, that towards a light divine
Trembled across the threshold of the spheres;
What flattering breath of song that no heart hears
Stirred the dim shadows of your strange design?
Ah, now for me the lights of dreams ye hold
Safe from the world! Your cressets of white fire
Through darkened windows of the west aspire
To vast new lights and shadows of pale gold,
Bright, far and strange, yet tender with the old,
Soft ways of peace, and all the heart's desire!
(Edith Dickens in Art and Archaeology 21 (1926): 66; following the article "Carthage: Ancient and Modern" by F.W. Kelsey, pages 55-66)
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One Perception of an Archaeological Narrative:
-- The final conflict at Armageddon becomes the battle at Megiddo
Science and adventure mingled in the new breed. Just as for archaeological discoveries, personalities in archaeology gained popularity for their associations with adventure (witness the fictional charismatic American archaeologist of this period, Indiana Jones).
Breasted's popularity outside academia, although based primarily on his publications, was phenomenal as is shown in the quotations collected here.
Breasted was lionized by military commanders because of his studies of ancient
battles. The battle of the Egyptians versus the Hittites at Armageddon caught
the attention of Great Britain's Lord Allenby (who had under his command T.E.
Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia," once a student of Near Eastern
archaeology -- specializing in Crusader castles, and excavating at Carchemish
-- before called to military service):
"You know, for you have very fully written of it," Allenby said, "how Thutmose III crossed Carmel Ridge, riding through the pass to meet the enemy in a chariot of shining electrum. We had your book with us, and we had just read the account of it, so we knew the dates: Thutmose went through on the 15th of May over 3,000 years ago, and on the same day I took Lady Allenby for the first time to see the battlefield where we beat the Turks, and like Thutmose III, we also went through in a chariot of shining metal -- for our machine had wheels of aluminum and was all covered with polish[ed] metal. So she saw the scene of our victory on the anniversary of the earliest known battle there, and also approached it in a chariot of glittering metal. I wanted her to see it, for as I have told you before, I took my title from there -- Allenby of Megiddo. . ." (quoted in Charles Breasted, Pioneer to the Past. The Story of James Henry Breasted, Archaeologist. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1943, pp. 311-2)
* * *
Moreover, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt said: "I'm convinced the War will be
won in the Near East -- by blasting the Germans' Berlin-to-Bagdad dream. After
reading your Ancient Times, I was impelled to re-read the description in your
History of Egypt of the strategic importance of Kadesh in the control of
northern Syria, and of Ramses II's battle with the Hittite king, Metella, who
almost defeated him, and really ought to have done so. I studied detailed maps
of the whole region, and it seemed to me obvious that if control of Kadesh once
spelled control of northern Syria, then surely that seizure today of
Alexandretta, followed at once by a northeastward thrust cutting off the Bagdad
railway, would simultaneously strike the Germans and the Turks at the most
vulnerable point in their flank, isolate their southern forces, and by
achieving control of Syria and Palestine, destroy the Berlin-to-Bagdad
(Charles Breasted, Pioneer to the Past. The Story of James Henry Breasted, Archaeologist. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1943, pp. 233-4)
Europe September 1919 to December 1919 Turkey December 1919 to January 1920 Syria January 1920 Palestine January to February 1920 Egypt February to March 1920 Greece May to June 1920 Europe June to October 1920 Ann Arbor Return to US: October 1920
9. Turkey, "Constantinople"
10. Turkey, Cilicia
11. Syria and Palestine
Dynasty of Artaxias 190-2 BC
Foreign Dynasty 2 AC-53 AD
Arsacid Dynasty 53-429 AD
Persian Marzpan 430-634 AD
Byzantine Governors 591-705 AD
Arab Domination 654-861 AD
Bagratid Dynasty 885-1045 AD
Cilician Kings 1080-1375 AD
Slight elongations to the east and west enhance the clarity of the symbolic cross shape and emphasize the location of the sanctuary within the eastern bay. The building was endowed with additional meaning by its decoration. Although the interior frescoes are not preserved, the sculptures carved in high relief on the exterior are in excellent condition.