top of page

The Journal of 

The Australian Institute of Archaeology

Volume 52


This edition of Buried History continues with the colour presentation of images. The additional information provided by colour seems to be appreciated. On another matter. One paper dealing with the history of indigenous Australian archaeology was considered for this volume, and while it was rejected in its submitted form by the reviewer, it should be noted that Buried History is ready to consider such themes.


A large portion of this volume is devoted to Professor Ron Tappy’s description of the first season of the Harvard University expedition to Samaria. Dr Tappy has been the G. Albert Shoemaker Professor of Bible and Archaeology since 1997. After graduation he studied at the Jerusalem University-College, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and received a MATS degree summa cum laude from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and an AM and PhD from Harvard University. He is currently the project director and principal investigator of the Zeitah Excavations, an archaeological field project at Tel Zayit, Israel. The Institute was pleased to have Professor Tappy give the Australian Institute of Archaeology’s annual lecture in 2015 on the stratigraphy associated with the Samaria Ostraca.


The paper herein tells the story of the excavation itself. The traditional understanding is that George Reisner dismissed Gottlieb Schumacher, the field director for the first season, toward the end of the season because he had not followed Reisner’s specified excavation strategy. Subsequent seasons were then directed by Reisner himself who introduced some principles of stratigraphic excavation and published an acclaimed excavation report in 1924. The first season’s personal diaries of the staff appear to tell a different story. Many archaeologists will read this paper from a knowing standpoint having encountered similar personal and political situations on expeditions. Human nature seems to continue largely unchanged.


In the early 1950s the Institute received a number of objects by way of division from Sir Max Mallowan’s excavations at Nimrud. Although these are documented in the distribution lists held by institutions such as the British Museum, some objects seem to have become ‘lost’. A case in point is the three ceramic ‘hands’ held by the Institute. Dr Luis Siddall has written a short paper to bring their existence in Melbourne to the attention of the archaeological world.


The paper on the Roman period spritsail is a follow-up to my paper in the last issue. It draws attention to the possibility that the operational control provided by the spritsail was the catalyst for a dramatic increase in merchant sailing ship sizes in the late 2nd century BC, which saw a concomitant increase in Roman period maritime trade. I am indented to Professor Greg Horsley, who oversaw the review of this paper.


In preparation for the re-publication of the Institute’s cuneiform material, Drs David Saunders, Richard Collmann and Luis Siddall report on the progress made with the Institute’s RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) dome. The Institute has benefitted from advice from Cultural Heritage Imaging of San Francisco and Jacob L. Dahl, Associate Professor of Assyriology, University of Oxford.


We are indebted to Professor Alan Millard for reviewing a collection of W.G. Lambert’s writings on Mesopotamian religion. Alison White, after some consultation with Professor Greg Horsley, reviewed a volume on Greek and Roman society and language. A couple of books about church architecture and decoration are reviewed by Professor Susan Balderstone and my review of a book about the sailing season during Greek and Roman times was included partly because of the subject’s relationship to the spritsail paper.


As always we acknowledge our reviewers, who have spent much time on our behalf. Their scholarly endeavour has added significant value to the papers here published.



Christopher J. Davey

bottom of page