News and Announcements:
Professor Michael Harrower - NASA Grant
In the attached report, Dean Katherine Newman discusses Professor Mike Harrower's receipt of a major NASA grant to use data from satellites to identify ancient settlements, mines, and irrigation systems in Arabia and Ethiopia.
Congratulations to Heather Dana Davis Parker and Ashley Fiutko Arico - Winners of the SEAN W. DEVER MEMORIAL PRIZE 2013
The William F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem is pleased to announce the winner of the twelfth annual competition for the Sean W. Dever Memorial Prize. This award offers $650 for the best published article or paper presented at a conference by a Ph.D. candidate in Syro-Palestinian or Biblical Archaeology. Authors may be of any nationality but the article or paper must be in English.
The joint winners this year are Heather Dana Davis Parker (PhD candidate in Northwest Semitics and Hebrew Bible in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at The Johns Hopkins University) and Ashley Fiutko Arico (PhD candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at The Johns Hopkins University).
Their paper, “A Moabite-Inscribed Statue Fragment from Kerak: Possible Egyptian Parallels,” was presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research and at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, both in San Francisco.
The Sean W. Dever Prize was established in 2001 by Mrs. Norma Dever and Professor William G. Dever, in memory of their son Sean.
From Peter Machinist <<selink linktype="MAILTO" externallink="" newwindow="No" showtoolbar="No" objectid="" class="" popupwidth="" popupheight="" title="" localanchor="" linkanchor="" mailtoaddress="email@example.com" mailtocc="" mailtobcc="" mailtosubject="">firstname.lastname@example.org>:
Frank Moore Cross
Frank Moore Cross, one of the premier biblical scholars of the past century, died early Wednesday morning, October 17. 2012 in Rochester, New York. He was 91. Cross had been Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages Emeritus at Harvard University, where he taught for thirty-five years before retiring in 1992. After retirement, he and his wife, Elizabeth (Betty) Anne, remained at their home in Lexington, Massachusetts, and then moved in 2008 to a suburb of Rochester, New York, to be near one of their daughters, Ellen Gindele, and her family; Betty Anne Cross died in May, 2009.
Born on July 13, 1921, the son and grandson of Protestant ministers, Cross was educated at Maryville College (1942), where he studied chemistry and philosophy and was a competitive swimmer, and McCormick Theological Seminary (1946), and then took his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University (1950). At Hopkins, his mentor was the renowned ancient Near Eastern scholar, William Foxwell Albright, and he quickly became one of Albright's most important pupils. Leaving Hopkins, where he had been a junior instructor, he went on to teach at Wellesley College and McCormick Seminary, before coming to Harvard in 1957.
Cross had a broad and deep command of the study of the Hebrew Bible and its multiple historical contexts, and achieved distinction in several areas of this field. He was an expert in the interpretation of biblical literature, making lasting contributions to the understanding of biblical poetry, particularly its earliest phases, of the compositional development of the great historical narratives of the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Ezra and Nehemiah, and of biblical prophecy and apocalyptic. He was in the forefront of those investigating the history and culture of ancient Israel, from which the Hebrew Bible emerged, and of its relationships to the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures around it. Especially incisive and important here was his work on the character and history of ancient Israelite religion, emphasizing its background in and adaptation of beliefs and practices from its Canaanite neighbors and forebears.
Cross was also a master of the ancient Semitic languages and their interrelationships, particularly the Northwest Semitic group, from the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa, that included Hebrew, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Punic. In these languages and their inscriptions he achieved special recognition as an epigrapher and palaeographer. As an epigrapher, he was regularly consulted by scholars from all over the world for his uncanny skill at deciphering and making sense of these inscriptions. As a palaeographer, he produced meticulous studies of the scripts in which the inscriptions were written, reconstructing the chronological developments of these scripts and thus providing a vastly improved foundation for dating the inscriptions on the basis of the type and character of the script used. Most famous in this regard was his study of the scripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, originally completed in 1958, and with but minor adjustments, still the essential resource for the analysis and 2 dating of these important texts. Cross also was a major specialist in the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible; his research on the ancient manuscripts and versions of the Bible yielded new and far-reaching conclusions as to how the biblical text was composed and transmitted.
Last and perhaps most well known was Cross' scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls, those texts from the last centuries BCE and first century CE that came from a dissident Jewish community which had gone into the Judaean wilderness to await the end of history and the coming of a new age. Cross was one of the core members of the original team of experts piecing together and deciphering the often fragmentary Scrolls, and worked on all aspects of them, publishing editions especially of the biblical manuscripts, and a path-breaking study of the entire Dead Sea Scroll community, The Ancient Library of Qumran, which went through three English editions and one German from 1958 to 1995.
Several features distinguished the scholarship just described. There was first a combinatorial talent: Cross's ability to bring to bear on a particular problem an integrated range of skills, linguistic, literary, historical, archaeological, philosophical. Cross also was able to move in a fluent dialectic between the painstaking examination of minute details and a vision of the larger issues and structures to which the details could belong. And one cannot forget the skill at communication: the explanations were always lucid, if at times complex, and in a chiseled prose that could manage in a few pages what others would need many more to express.
These same features also distinguished Cross' teaching. His courses introducing the Hebrew Bible and on the history of ancient Israelite religion became staples for a large and broad range of students from beginners to more advanced. At the doctoral level students came to him from North America and beyond, and in his three and half decades at Harvard, he was the primary director of over one hundred of them and their dissertations, serving many more as a member of their dissertation committees -- ] a record unsurpassed and probably unequaled internationally in his field. Cross was a demanding teacher, setting the bar high in terms of technical competence and broad, humanistic learning. He also had a remarkable knack for taking his students to the very frontiers of knowledge in the field, and imbuing them palpably with the excitement of standing at the brink of new discoveries. To be sure, he could at times appear formidable, even fearsome, but beneath the austerity was a warm human being who followed his students' careers long after they had graduated, and who loved hearing as much as telling good jokes. Humor was indeed a deep part of his character, and Mark Twain one of his favorite authors. The gentleness could be found as well in his passion for horticulture: he was an expert cultivator especially of orchids.
The honors that come from such a record of achievement were many.
Seven honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, Canada, and Israel; elections to several scholarly academies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society; the presidencies and directorships of several of the major professional organizations in his field, like the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Schools of Oriental Research; co-founder and co-chair of the Hermeneia Biblical Commentary Series and editor or editorial board member of other major series and journals; recipient of several major awards for scholarship, including the Percia Schimmel Prize in Archaeology of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the Medalia de Honor de la Universidad Complutense of Madrid, Spain; three volumes of studies in his honor (Festschriften) by colleagues and former students, with a fourth in preparation.
Frank Moore Cross is survived by three daughters, Susan Summer, Ellen Gindele, and Rachel Cross, and six grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned at Harvard University, the Memorial Church, on Saturday, November 10, at 4 PM, with a reception to follow.
Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages Harvard University
October 19, 2012
Frank Moore Cross, Biblical Scholar, Dies at 91 By WILLIAM YARDLEY
Frank Moore Cross, an influential Harvard biblical scholar who specialized in the ancient cultures and languages that helped shape the Hebrew Bible and who played a central role in interpreting the Dead Sea Scrolls, died on Tuesday in Rochester. He was 91.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, family members said.
“When you walked into his classes, you felt you were on the frontier of knowledge in the field,” said Peter Machinist, who studied under Dr. Cross as an undergraduate at Harvard and now holds the endowed professorship there that Dr. Cross had held until his retirement in 1992. “Whatever happened in the field would come to him first, before it got published, because people wanted to know what he thought.”
Dr. Cross grew up in Birmingham, Ala., the son of a Protestant minister. After earning a divinity degree, he went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and became one of the most prominent students of William F. Albright, whose work is part of the foundation of biblical archaeological studies.
The field was shaken in 1947 after a Bedouin goatherd stumbled across ancient scrolls in a cave west of the Dead Sea. More scrolls were eventually found in other caves near the site of an ancient settlement called Qumran, and many people believed that they would reveal new insights into the Bible.
Mr. Albright and some of his students were among a small group of scholars given exclusive access to the scrolls. Dr. Cross was given responsibility for Cave No. 4, and he published his findings in “The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies” in 1958.
Mr. Albright, writing that year in The New York Times, praised his student’s work as an “authoritative survey on the bearing of the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Bible.”
“It is now demonstrated,” he wrote, “that there were many different Hebrew versions of such books as Exodus, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Kings, etc., and that the uniformity of medieval Hebrew manuscripts is chiefly the result of careful editing by Jewish rabbis in the first two centuries A.D.”
But the scrolls were a continuing source of debate. Some scholars disagreed with Dr. Cross’s interpretations — or revised them through newer archaeological work — while others were critical of him and his colleagues for not sharing their access to the scrolls and publishing them more quickly in their entirety. Some suggested that the scholars were withholding material that could be sensitive to one religious group or another. (This concern proved largely unnecessary after the documents were eventually published in their entirety.)
Criticism over the delays, led by Hershel Shanks, the founder and editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, crested in the 1990s. But on the publication’s Web site, Bible History Daily, Mr. Shanks wrote on
Thursday: “All this concerning the scrolls was a blip that fades into insignificance with the passage of time. Frank’s scholarly achievements have had a radiating and lasting influence.”
In 1994, Mr. Shanks published a book-length series of interviews with Dr. Cross.
“The more light we can shed on crucial moments in the history of our religious community — or on the birth of Western culture, to speak more broadly — the better,” Dr. Cross said of the scrolls in the interview. “The longer and more precise our memory is, the more civilized we are.”
Dr. Cross studied culture, religion and politics of the period in which the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, was written and revised, and he traced the ways different nations and cultures had translated its early texts. He also traced the evolution of ancient script and developed expertise in dating documents by the slightest shifts in writing style.
“That we know that a particular scroll comes from 100 B.C. and not 50 A.D. is almost entirely due to the study of the scripts and their development that he worked out,” Mr. Machinist said. “That may seem like a trivial point, but if you don’t have a sense of when these texts are dated, you have no sense of their historical importance.”
Once, several colleagues said, after carbon dating confirmed dates that he had established through script analysis, Dr. Cross joked that he was happy to hear that his script studies had validated the practice of carbon dating.
Frank Moore Cross Jr. was born on July 13, 1921, in Ross, Calif. (He dropped the Jr. after his father died.) His family moved to Alabama when he was a young boy. He graduated from Maryville College in Tennessee and received a divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins.
At his death he was emeritus Hancock professor of Hebrew and other Oriental languages at Harvard, where he had supervised the doctoral work of more than 100 students.
“There are very few areas in which you do not meet with Frank Cross,”said Jack M. Sasson, a biblical scholar at Vanderbilt University, who did not study under Dr. Cross. “If you do not meet with Frank Cross, you meet with one of his students who had ideas he had launched.”
Dr. Cross is survived by his daughters, Susan Summer, Ellen Gindele and Rachel Cross, and six grandchildren. His wife of more than 60 years, the former Elizabeth Anne Showalter, died in 2009.
Dr. Cross often sequestered himself in his study at home until late into the night.
“He was very intense, and we would just kind of tiptoe by the study,”
Ms. Gindele recalled. “My mother liked to say you could feel the wheels turning and not to bother him.”
From Mary Jo Arnoldi
I am saddened to announce that Gus Van Beek passed away today [August 21] after an extended illness. Many in our museum community will remember Gus as an engaging colleague and amazing raconteur. Dr. Van Beek received his PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from Johns Hopkins University in 1953. He joined the Department of Anthropology at NMNH in 1959 as served as the Curator of Old World Archaeology until his retirement in 2007.
Dr.Van Beek conducted several field projects in the Arabian Peninsula, although his most extensive excavations were in Israel. Beginning in
1970 and over 12 field seasons he carried out excavations at Tell Jemmeh in the northwestern Negev desert about 10 km south of Gaza.
This site was inhabited continuously from the Middle Bronze Age IIB (ca. 1700 BCE) until the Persian period (ca. 400 BCE). Funding for fieldwork came from the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities and private donors. Work on reconstructing pottery from the site was carried out over several decades by a loyal group of volunteers working in the Pottery Lab in the basement of the Natural History museum. The final report on these excavations is currently in preparation and includes all of the architectural features and material culture from the site. It is being jointly published in the Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology series by Van Beek and Dr.
David Ben Shlomo, an Israeli archaeologist and Smithsonian Post Doctoral Fellow.
In 2008 Gus’ book on vernacular mud architecture, Glorious mud! :
ancient and contemporary earthen design and construction in North Africa, Western Europe, the Near East, and Southwest Asia was published by Smithsonian Scholarly Press. The book is an amazing compendium of what people have done architecturally with simple and readily available materials. This book was written in collaboration with his wife, Ora Van Beek.
Dr. Van Beek was a delightful person and will be deeply missed. A memorial service will be held this Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm at the Lutheran Home, 9701 Viers Drive, Rockville, MD. Condolences can be sent to the family in care of his son, John P. Van Beek.
John P. Van Beek <<selink linktype="MAILTO" externallink="" newwindow="No" showtoolbar="No" objectid="" class="" popupwidth="" popupheight="" title="" localanchor="" linkanchor="" mailtoaddress="email@example.com" mailtocc="" mailtobcc="" mailtosubject="">firstname.lastname@example.org> Goldman & Van Beek P.C.
510 King Street, Suite 416
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
(703) 548-4742 fax
Congratulations to Our Near Eastern Studies 2012 Graduates:
- Heath Dewrell
- Isabel Cranz
- Andrew Knapp
James Osborne--Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow--Concepts of Diaspora Program
James Osborne has been appointed a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Near Eastern Studies in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences for the 2012-2013 academic year.
James Osborne is currently the 2011-2012 Postdoctoral Scholar for the Institute of European and Mediterranean Archeology (IEMA) at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He received his PhD. in 2011 from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at Harvard, focusing on the archaeology of the Levant, with a thesis on Spatial Analysis and Political Authority in the Iron Age Kingdom of Patina, Turkey, which was awarded with distinction. He already has one book in press with Wiley-Blackwell – Territoriality in Archeology (Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association) -- and another edited work forthcoming with SUNY press: Approaching Monumentality in the Archeological Record. These join eight articles either published or in preparation. In addition, there is a collection of essays stemming from his thesis that examine the Iron Age culture of the Syro-Hittites of the eastern Mediterranean. One of the dominant themes of the book is the diasporic origins of the Iron Age political system of the ancient Near East, a system in which competing ethnicities and cultural identities, he demonstrates, never lay far below the surface of the city-states’ self- portrayal politically homogeneous.
A basic component of all Osborne’s work is his insistence that ancient polities, unlike the idealized nation-state of today, did not necessarily use land and territory as a means to and justification for the exercise of power. Thus, in exploring the Syro-Hittite kingdoms at the dawn of the Iron Age (ca. 1200 BCE), he shows that diaspora was not only an important component of the rise of the state at this time but both an unavoidable and, indeed, defining one. These ancient city-states emerged as amalgams of different cultural groups. In the Levant after 1200 BCE, peoples as diverse as the Luwians from Anatolia, Aramaeans from inland Syria, and Philistines and other Sea Peoples from the Aegean congregated there, adjoining the neighboring kingdoms of Israel and Judea in this city-state system. Inscriptions from the period, no matter what the language, tend to present the travails of migration as a crucial element in the ideological narratives of political legitimacy, a prime example of which is the Exodus story of Israelites in the Hebrew Bible, whose decades of wandering in the desert preceded their re-territorialization in the Holy Land. At stake in these studies is the question of the role ethnic identity played in the creation of political institutions and the formation of “landscapes of power” during this formative era of western civilization.
While at Hopkins Osborne will continue to investigate the contradiction presented by ancient polities as politically coherent entities characterized by mixed diasporic origins, now specifically through an examination of material culture. Although archeologists tend to rely on material artifacts in their study of ancient cultures, they rarely have done so in order to excavate the diasporic character of the populations they study. Osborne will use material culture as a means to inquire whether the mixing of diasporic communities created a unified material culture that was a hybridization of all peoples, or whether one culture’s assemblage of objects became the dominant material expression of that society. To find answers to these questions, he will explore the materials used by the various peoples settled in the Syro-Hittite world, including their pottery, sculpted works of art, jewelry, textiles and buildings, all of which, he believes, constitute silent objects that nevertheless speak volumes about the cultural identity of their users.
Osborne’s focus on the study of diaspora through materiality remains an underutilized approach in the examination of diasporic cultures and, from that perspective, his work has the potential to contribute to many disciplines in the humanities dedicated to an investigation of diasporic phenomena. The questions that he will ask of his material relate to issues of cultural identity and diaspora across a wide range of areas and peoples: How does a diasporic community’s relationship with the physical world around them change when they finally achieve some degree of political stability? How do these communities change when they come into contact with each other? How do rulers and subjects negotiate their relationship if and when the former is using diasporic narratives to legitimize their subjugation of the latter. In that sense, his work promises to add a new perspective to the program on Concepts of Diaspora by elucidating the centrality and value of studying diaspora through the lens of materiality.
--Written by Gabrielle M. Spiegel, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of History
Special Assistant to the Dean for the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows Program
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