travel – The Kelsey Blog


From the Archives #69

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

This summer we celebrated the birthdays of three figures who played a crucial role in the early days of what would become the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. In May we celebrated Francis W. Kelsey, namesake of the museum. June gave us the birthday of his son, Easton T. Kelsey, who accompanied Francis on his expeditions and has a collection of photographs in the archives. And in July we observed the birthday of George R. Swain, primary photographer for the University of Michigan in the early 1900s. These three provided a great deal of materials and inspiration for the Kelsey Museum, and their work is often cited to this day.

We want to continue the summer birthday theme, and turn our attention to another important individual in the history of the Kelsey Museum. On 6 August 1862, the world was introduced to Mary Isabelle Badger. Twenty-four years later, on 22 December 1886 in Niles, Michigan, Isabelle married Francis Willey Kelsey. They went on to have a long marriage that saw the birth of three children—Ruth, Charlotte, and Easton. 

Much of what we know about Isabelle Kelsey comes to us from John Pedley’s 2012 book, The Life and Work of Francis Willey Kelsey: Archaeology, Antiquity, and the Arts. We know she was born to a family in Niles, Michigan, and that her father was a businessman in the area. She enrolled in Lake Forest University, where she met young Francis Kelsey, who had just joined the faculty. Isabelle was interested in antiquities, writing about Livy and Roman art. She contributed to the Lake Forest Review on her studies, but also on topics such as Chinese immigration.

We know that throughout his career, busy as he was, Francis Kelsey remained a devoted family man. The archives are littered with his daily letters to Isabelle while he was traveling. And he made time for his children as well. Isabelle and Francis encouraged the children to read (Pedley lists examples such as the Bible, Iliad, Odyssey, and popular current books such as Little Women and Black Beauty), enjoy music, and take part in theater productions. 

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we present a selection of photographs from the Kelsey archives showing Isabelle Kelsey on her voyages with Francis and team. Francis did not travel alone, as we have seen him travel with family and friends, particularly on the voyage to Europe, Asia, and Africa following the conclusion of the Great War in 1919. In this collection of photographs, we see Isabelle in a variety of locations. She is seen taking in the Great Pyramids in Egypt, traveling by mule and donkey, and taking in the sights of the sites they visited. We have already seen many stops along this journey, from England to France to Belgium to Turkey to Palestine to Egypt. And then they returned back to England after a long year of travel.

It is not hard to imagine that on these trips Francis relied on Isabelle and had a great many conversations about what they saw, what they were planning, and future work. Though the Kelsey Museum does not currently contain any of Isabelle’s work, we do know that she was a curious, intelligent, and engaged person. 

Mary Isabelle Kelsey died on 3 July 1944, 17 years after the passing of her husband. She left behind her three children and several grandchildren. The Kelsey Museum owes much to her and her presence, as she was a champion of Francis and his work. Happy birthday, Mary Isabelle.

Studio portrait of Mary Isabelle Kelsey. Detroit, Michigan, 1919. Photo by Frank Scott Clark. KAP00472.
“A bit of the old city wall, cathedral towers in the distance. Professor and Mrs. Kelsey on the wall, but not very clear.” York, England. September 18, 1919. Photo by George Swain. KS010.02.
“In the square in front of the cathedral. Mrs. Kelsey and Rediger, our chauffeur and the army Cadillac.” Rheims, France, October 17, 1919. Photo by George Swain. KS.019.10.
“Another view, seniors of the school, at the left. Mrs. Christie, Mrs. Kelsey and Dr. Christie. Professor Kelsey at
the right.” St. Paul’s School at Tarsus, Turkey, Tarsus. January 2 1920. Photo by George Swain. KS066.07.
“General entrance to Propylaea and present entrance to ruins. Mrs. Kelsey and Mrs. Norton near top of steps. Ancient steps to Propylaea missing.” Baalbek, Lebanon. January 13, 1920. Photo by George Swain. 7.0212.
“Our party starting for the Mount of Olives. Beginning at the left; Easton Kelsey, Mrs. E.M. Norton, G.R. Swain, Mrs. Kelsey, the guide and Professor Kelsey.” Jerusalem. January 21, 1920. Photo by George Swain. KS111.01.
“Mrs. Kelsey on donkey, with guide, under olive tree, Mt. of Olives.” Jerusalem, January 21, 1920. Photo by George Swain. KS111.06.
“Lunch by the Inn. At the left, Dr. Worrel, Professor Kelsey, Mrs. Norton, Mrs. Kelsey, Easton Kelsey. Crusaders’ castle in the distance.” Inn of the Good Samaritan, near Jericho, January 22, 1920. Photo by George Swain. KS113.04.
“Mrs. Kelsey and Mrs. Norton by the flooded Jordan, near Al Kantara.” January 23, 1920. Photo by George Swain. KS114.06.
“Pyramids. Mrs. Kelsey on donkey with guide in foreground, Kephren and Cheops in the distance.” Cairo, Egypt, March 25, 1920. Photo by George Swain. KS155.08.
“Pyramids. Mrs. F.W. Kelsey in the desert. Cheops and Kephren in the distance.” Cairo, Egypt. March 26, 1920. Photo by Easton Kelsey. KK089.
“Sakkara trip. Guide with Mrs. Kelsey on a donkey, ruined pyramid in the background.” Saqqara, Egypt, March 30, 1920. Photo by Easton Kelsey. KK118.
“Sakkara trip. Mrs. Kelsey, Easton Kelsey, and G.R. Swain on mules, Sakkara trip; guides by road, palms back.” March 30, 1920. Photo by Easton Kelsey. KK119.

From the Archives #67

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

For our last “From the Archives,” we celebrated the birthday of Francis W. Kelsey, professor of Latin at the University of Michigan from 1893 to 1927, and namesake of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. We know a lot about Professor Kelsey through his letters, his writings, and his work (beautifully distilled in John Griffiths Pedley’s biography, The Life and Work of Francis Willey Kelsey: Archaeology, Antiquity, and the Arts). Kelsey’s body of work is quite impressive, and it is no wonder why he was regarded as an expert during his time.

One other fact about Kelsey we learn through his letters is how devoted a father he was. In this blog and in Pedley’s book we learn more about Kelsey’s personal life, his background, and his family. He wrote to his wife, Mary Isabelle, on a seemingly daily basis when traveling, and often corresponded with his three children, Ruth, Charlotte, and Easton. In a previous blog post, we dedicated Father’s Day to Francis Kelsey, and highlighted his relationship with his offspring.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we take time to shine the spotlight on the youngest Kelsey, Easton. Easton Trowbridge Kelsey (named after his great-grandmother on his father’s side) was born 22 June 1904 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a full decade after eldest sibling Ruth (born 1894), and seven years after Charlotte (born 1897). He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and received his AB from the University of Michigan.

From the Kelsey archives:

“During the 1920s Easton Kelsey traveled extensively with his father in Europe and the Near East, as photographer’s assistant and chauffeur. Mr. Kelsey entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1930 and was initially posted to the Foreign Service School of the Dept. of State, followed by assignment to Cairo. Subsequent assignments included Beirut, Oslo, Fort William, Port Arthur, Toronto, Lisbon, and Sao Paulo.

After his retirement from the U.S. Consular Service, Easton Kelsey settled in the Toronto area, where he served as secretary of the Quetico Foundation. He and his wife, the former Vida Kennedy McClure, made a number of gifts to the Kelsey Museum, for the most part, ancient coins which they had collected in Europe and the Near East. Mr. Kelsey passed away on December 18, 1975 in Toronto Canada.”

We have had a chance to see Easton often through these blog posts, as he traveled with his father and his colleagues in Europe, southwest Asia, and northern Africa. 

This month, we highlight not only photographs of Easton during his travels (George Swain often placed him next to the monuments he was photographing, for scale), but also his own contributions to the archives. Easton had his own Kodak which he used to capture the sights and sites he visited on his travels. His 500+ photographs are indicated in the archives by the prefix “KK” (Kodak Kelsey). In the sample below, we see photographs of Easton standing next to the pyramids in Giza, with his family in Jerusalem, in Istanbul (then Constantinople), in a wrecked vehicle in France at the end of WWI, standing in a wheat field in England, in Greece. And we also get a glimpse of what he was seeing: views of Dimé (ancient Soknopaiou Nesos) and Cairo, the Parthenon, his mother taking in the pyramids at Giza and Sakkara, his bunk on a ship crossing the Mediterranean. He even captured Swain at work in Patmos, Greece. 

This June, we wish the youngest Kelsey child a very happy birthday. He was much loved by his father and was able to enjoy some amazing adventures with him. The archives are a testament to that relationship, and his photographs attest to the excitement they shared together. Happy birthday.

“Wrecked armored car, camouflaged, probably French, on the Miette side of the slope of the ridge. Easton Kelsey inside for scale.” Berry-au-Bac and vicinity, France. October 18, 1919. KS021.05.
“Part of train and Easton Kelsey at Agram.” Zagreb. November 16, 1919. KS024.01.
“Nearer view of Easton Kelsey and the side of the sleeping car, at Agram.” Zagreb. November 16, 1919. KS024.02.
“Easton Kelsey by the parapet of one of the Seven Towers.” Constantinople, Turkey. December 24, 1919. KS053.12.
“Easton Kelsey by the flag in the stern of the launch.” Constantinople, Turkey. December 24, 1919. KS054.08.
“Our party starting for the Mount of Olives. Beginning at the left; Easton Kelsey, Mrs. E. M. Norton, G. R. Swain, Mrs. Kelsey, the guide and Professor Kelsey.” Jerusalem. January 21, 1920. KS111.01.
“Easton Kelsey by the base of one of colossi.” Karnak. February 13 or 14, 1920. KS140.24.
“Statues in the second court.” Karnak. February 13, 1920. KK010.
“Ruined colossus of Rameses II, Easton Kelsey on top.” Karnak. February 13 or 14, 1920. KK012.
“Two of the statues in the Temple of Ammon. Easton Kelsey for scale.” Karnak. February 13 or 14, 1920. KK025.
“Guide, with Mrs. Ellen M. Norton (veiled) on a donkey.” February 13 or 14, 1920. KK033.
“Statues of Thotmes III, 7th pylon, temple of Ammon.” Karnak. February 13 or 14, 1920. KK034.
“Easton Kelsey standing in front of painted reliefs.” Deir el-Bahri, February 13 or 14, 1920.
“Sakkara trip. Easton Kelsey on a donkey near the site of Memphis.” Near Memphis, Egypt, February 17, 1920. KK041
“Shepheard’s. Easton Kelsey on an upper balcony of the hotel.” Cairo. March 1, 1920. KK071.
“Pyramids. The Sphinx and Cheops, with sundry tourists and other animals.” Cairo. March 3, 1920. KK073.
“Pyramids. Mrs. F. W. Kelsey in the desert. Cheops and Kephren in the distance.” Cairo. March 26, 1920. KK089.
“Pyramids. Easton Kelsey by the base of the first pyramid, Cheops. Shows size of stones.” Cairo. March 26, 1920. KS156.10.
“Sakkara trip. Mrs. Kelsey, Easton Kelsey, and G. R. Swain on mules, Sakkara trip; guides by road, palms back.” March 30, 1920. KK119.
“Sakkara trip. Guide with Mrs. Kelsey on a donkey, ruined pyramid in the background.” Cairo. March 30, 1920. KK118.
“Mosque of Ibn Tuloun, looking from the minaret toward the Citadel and Mosque of Ali.” Cairo. April 19, 1920. KK137.
“Mosque of Ibn Tuloun, view from the minaret; somewhat similar to KK 135.” Cairo. April 19, 1920. KK138.
“Dimay. Ruins of the temple enclosure, Dimay.” Dimé, Egypt. April 27, 1920. KK156.
“Smith-Thompson No. 212 (U.S. Destroyer). Easton Kelsey’s bunk.” Mediterranean, Alexandria to Patmos. May 3, 1920. KK176.
“Monastery. G.R. Swain photographing manuscripts on the roof of the monastery.” Patmos, Greece. May 7, 1920. KK195.
“Views. Easton Kelsey on a rock in the foreground. Looking toward the harbor and monastery, from north of La Scala.” Patmos, Greece. May 8, 1920. KK204.
“General views. Splendid wall of squared stone at the Acropolis, bevelled down the exposed corner. Easton Kelsey for scale. This is the finest masonry on the Acropolis.” On verso of photo: “Patmos. Some of the masonry on the summit of the acropolis. No one knows when or by whom the stone work (of excellent technique) was constructed.” May 15, 1920. 7.0386
“Bosporus. Roumeli Hissar. Detail of the stairway inside with Easton Kelsey carrying a camera case.” Constantinople, Turkey. June 14, 1920. KS203.06.
“Acropolis. Parthenon, first view as you come up through the Propylaea.” Athens, Greece. June 22, 1920. KK271.
“Cookham. An English wheat field, with Easton Kelsey standing in the grain.” Cookham, England. July 18, 1920. KK311.
“Easton Kelsey, Swain, guard and the truck.” Ak Shehir Chaussée, Turkey. September 2, 1924. KR098.06.

From the Archives #57

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

In 1919 and 1920, just after the end of the Great War, Francis Kelsey took a long journey, from England to continental Europe, to Turkey and Syria, through to Egypt. He brought with him a group of people to assist in these travels, including photographer George R. Swain and his own son, Easton Kelsey. This was their first opportunity in a long time to visit this side of the world. They had quite a lot of work to accomplish on this trip, for its purpose was twofold. They were there on humanitarian grounds, visiting Red Cross refugee camps in Turkey and Syria following the Armenian genocide. They were also there to visit colleagues, collections, and historical and archaeological sites. In Egypt, they began planning future archaeological expeditions.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we present a selection of twenty-five photographs showcasing the group’s travels exactly 100 years ago. In August of 1920, they found themselves in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. The photographs from this leg of the trip, taken by George Swain and Easton Kelsey, show the range of their adventures and activities. We see Windsor Castle in England, with tourists milling about outside. The team connects with Herr and Frau Reindjes and her sister, as they rent a car in Germany. We also see them dealing with their vehicles, extracting them from ditches and changing their tires.

We also get a chance to see post-war life in the respective countries. A man with plow and oxen in Tongeren, Belgium. Another man in Koblenz, Germany, with his dog-pulled cart. An amorous couple (“Local color,” according to the photo label), also in Koblenz, Germany. In Dijon, France, we see a view of one of the castles of the Dukes of Burgundy, and in Paris, we get a glimpse of the Place de l’Opera. Swain and Kelsey provide us with views of other structures, both natural and human-made. In some captions, they include the words “Good,” or “Excellent,” attesting to the quality of the photograph.

Along with these images of resilience, we find ourselves looking at the devastation brought about by the Great War. In La Fere, France, we see “piles of war wreckage” where buildings, including homes, once stood. In Alsace, we see barbed wire entanglements scattered through a field and a shell-hole with wrecked woods in the background. Throughout the war, Kelsey was in frequent communication with his friends and colleagues in Europe and Southwest Asia. The plight of people and areas affected by the war was on his mind, as it was for many Americans.

By the end of August 1920, Swain’s and Kelsey’s photographic documentation of this trip seems to have come to an end. Thanks to their work, we get to see how Europe was one hundred years ago. People were getting back to their lives after years of war, trying to find their new normal. After almost an entire year traveling through Europe, Southwest Asia, and Egypt, it was time for these Americans to return to their normal as well.


black and white photo of Windsor Castle
August 1, 1920, London, England. “Windsor. Approach to the castle, and castle. Tourists.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK322.
August 1, 1920, London, England. “Windsor. Tower on the site of one built by William the Conqueror.” Easton Kelsey, photo KK323.
black and white photo of a man and dog on bridge
August 9, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Four-wheeled cart drawn by a big dog, on the pontoon bridge.” George R. Swain, photo KS225.10.
black and white photo of a stone bridge
August 9, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Stone bridge across the Moselle, at Cobler looking up stream; raft of logs in the foreground.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK324.
black and white photo of a river
August 9, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Confluence of the Rhine and Moselle, looking up the Moselle. Shows considerable of the country.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK327.
black and white photo of crowded bridge
August 9, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Throng of traffic on the pontoon bridge.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK341..
black and white photo of a man and woman embracing
August 11, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Local color at the Kranenberg, above Andernach.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK339.
black and white photo of a 1920s car
August 15, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Our army Cadillac has to change tires.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK369.
black and white photo of army troops in formation.
August 16, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “U.S. soldiers marching along the street. Good.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK355.
black and white photo of a 1920s car with passengers
August 17, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “The German car we rented at the gas station at Coblenz. In front, Frau Reindjes and her sister; on the back seat, GR Swain and Professor (Francis W.) Kelsey; Herr Reindjes standing by car.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK365.
black and white photo of 1920s car and passengers
August 20, 1920, near Tongeren, Belgium. “Views. A stop to fix a blow-out on a tire, near Tongres. Shows Professor (Francis W.) Kelsey, Capt. Minuth and Frau Reindjes.” George R. Swain, photo KS227.05.
black and white photo of a statue
August 20, 1920, Tongeren, Belgium. “Statue of Ambiorix.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK359.
black and white photo of a man with oxen
August 20, 1920, Tongeren, Belgium. “Man with oxen and plow, road beyond.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK361.
black and white photo of man and woman on a bench
August 21, 1920, Spa, Belgium. “Herr and Frau Reindjes on the grounds at Spa. Little out of focus.” George R. Swain, photo KS227.11.
black and white photo of a river
August 22, 1920, Namur, Belgium. “Looking down the Meuse from the top of the Citadel.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK377.
black and white photo of a woman seated on stone steps
August 22, 1920, Belgium. “Picture of Frau Reindjes, somewhere in Belgium.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK378.
photo of a ruined house
August 23, 1920, La Fere, France. “War-wrecked house.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK379.
black and white photo of ruins in French village after WWI
August 23, 1920, La Fere, France. “Another pile of war wreckage.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK380.
black and white photo of people in front of bombed buildings
August 23, 1920, La Fere, France. “Jumble of war wreckage — once houses.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK381.
August 26, 1920, Alesia, France. “The car in the ditch, coming down the hill. Professor (Francis W.) Kelsey at the right.” George R. Swain, photo KS229.07.
black and white photo of a triumphal arch
August 27, 1920, Dijon, France. “Small triumphal arch at Dijon near the hotel.” George R. Swain, photo KS229.10.
black and white photo of a building
August 27, 1920, Dijon, France. “More detailed view of one end of the castle of the Dukes of Burgundy.” George R. Swain, photo KS230.02.
black and white photo of a field with barbed wire
August 28, 1920, near Colmar, France. “Near Colmar. Barbed wire entanglements scattered through a field.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK394.
black and white photo of a parched field
August 28, 1920, near Colmar, France. “Near Colmar. A shell hole in the foreground with water, wrecked woods beyond.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK395.
black and white photo of a building in Paris
August 30, 1920, Paris, France. “Place de l’Opera looking toward the Opera house. Excellent.” George R. Swain, photo KS230.12.

News from the Conservation Lab — Kelsey Dig Wanderlust

By Suzanne Davis, Curator of Conservation, and Carrie Roberts, Conservator

The inability to travel to the Kelsey’s field sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made us, well, crazy to travel to the Kelsey’s field sites. If you, too, are experiencing serious wanderlust, we invite you to take a quick photographic mini-break with us. Here’s a beautiful photo and something we love about each of the four sites we currently support.


Suzanne loves the incredibly good-looking site of Notion, Turkey. It’s got everything a conservator could want — the romantic ruins of an entire ancient city, lots of conservation work to be done, and a beautiful seaside location.

View over a ridge with shrubs onto the ocean below
Notion, Turkey. View of the site from the west at sunset; the ancient city is located on top of the yellow, sunlit hill. If you look closely, you can see the Fortifications.


This spectacular photo of the ancient temple, cemetery, and city site of Jebel Barkal, Sudan, makes Suzanne miss the desert sunshine and all her fellow Jebel Barkal and El-Kurru teammates.

aerial view of small pyramids in the desert
Jebel Barkal, Sudan. This image shows the remains of some of the site’s pyramids, with Jebel Barkal (in Arabic – the holy, or pure, mountain) in the background. Photo by Kate Rose.


Carrie is inspired by the ancient landscape of Abydos. It’s great to drink a cup of coffee with the team at sunrise and know that the Seti I temple is only a 10-minute walk from the dig house, while the early dynastic tombs below the desert cliffs can be reached in 20 minutes.

photo of a house in the desert
View of the front courtyard of the Abydos dig house at sunrise.


At El-Kurru, Carrie loves village life — walking from the house where we live to the temple site and saying hello and how are you to neighbors on the way, then grabbing a snack at the corner store at the end of the day. She also misses the family we live with, especially the kids.

men in front of a low beige building in Sudan
El-Kurru, Sudan. On the left is Kurru’s hardware store, and on the right is the barbershop.

From the Archives #54

By Sebastián Encina

Each year around May, people in and around Ann Arbor start heading to Nichols Arboretum to see the blooming flowers and trees, the signs of spring returning to our area. This year, Nichols will not be planting their regular peony gardens, but people will still be making their way to the arboretum to see what other colorful flowers are growing. 

And as the weather continues getting warmer, more people will venture out to their gardens and start planting their own flowers and plants. Soon our neighborhoods will be full of brilliant, beautiful colors and amazing smells. (Sorry, allergy sufferers!)

Flowers and natural beauty have been a source of joy and happiness for thousands of years. The natural world decorated the walls, pottery, and other items of the ancient world. Stroll through the galleries of the Kelsey Museum and you will see many examples of nature-inspired motifs on a wide range of objects.

So, too, did our predecessors at the University of Michigan appreciate the beauty of flowers. For this month’s “From the Archives,” we bring their flowers to you. Though not as brilliant and vibrant as the flowers you can see and smell in the gardens of Matthaei and Nichols, they evoke the beauty that people share no matter where they are. George R. Swain captured the beauty of flowers in England, France, Greece, Egypt, Belgium, Palestine, and Turkey, in gardens, placed near monuments, growing in the wild, and for sale. In his photographs presented here, we see a funeral procession, a decorated cenotaph, flower vendors in Brussels, someone’s private home garden. Swain was sure to point his camera everywhere while traveling with the U-M teams.

Soon, Ann Arbor will be full of flowers and beauty. We will wander the parks and gardens appreciating what we see, often stopping to snap our own photos to share. We are continuing a practice so many people have enjoyed for so long.


Desert scene with camel.

International Kurru Archaeological Project — Fieldwork Friday #1

The International Kurru Archaeological Project is back in the field!

Jebel Barkal in a photo taken during 2016 fieldwork.

30 November 2018

By Gregory Tucker

Welcome to the first of a series of blog posts that I plan on writing every Friday over the next few weeks for the Kelsey Museum’s #fieldworkfriday series! This happens to coincide perfectly with our rest day in the field, so I thought I could take the time to share with you a bit of what we’re up to this season in Sudan.

The International Kurru Archaeological Project has been an international project studying the ancient Nubian site of El Kurru in modern-day Sudan near the city of Karima since 2013. As part of this project I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to conduct geophysical survey at El Kurru and the neighboring sites of Sanam and Jebel Barkal, to get a better understanding of the unexcavated areas of these sites without, or prior to, intensive excavation.[1]

In general, geophysical survey attempts to detect features beneath the surface by remotely sensing various properties at, or just above, the earth’s surface. Perhaps it might be useful to think of an x-ray or other medical imagery detecting something within your body without actually touching the bones or other internal body parts; geophysical survey for archaeology works similarly. In the case of this season’s work I will be conducting a magnetic gradiometry survey over two locations at Jebel Barkal. This technique is similar to the one used by metal detectorists who you may have seen at the beach or in parks, but instead of looking for individual objects we are seeking patterns in the subsurface that are indicative of various structures or other features, and our instruments are able to document all of the readings at the surface as I walk across the desert which I then plot them in a map at the end of the day. This technique has proven especially effective in the conditions we are expecting to experience this season at Jebel Barkal and with any luck we will have exciting results once again![2]

Here I am walking with the magnetic gradiometer at Sanam in winter 2017. Photo by Ibrahim Sidahmed.

Over Thanksgiving and the subsequent few days, I traveled from Sohag to Cairo to London to Doha to Khartoum, leaving another Kelsey Museum project at Abydos, Egypt, to pick up the magnetic instrument that I will be using this season in Sudan from its home in England.

I actually passed through sunny Leighton Buzzard to pick up the equipment, rather than London itself.

I had traveled through Doha to reach Sudan once before, in 2016, but that was before the route was changed due to airspace issues, and the flight from Doha to Khartoum has now become two hours longer than just two years ago. There was some good news for me though: The longer itinerary meant a low passenger load and a mere handful of us had almost the entire coach section to ourselves!

“Boarding complete” on our flight from Doha to Khartoum. Don’t worry, I moved to a window seat. I was very thankful for the empty flight the day after Thanksgiving, with so much travel over the prior 48 hours and so much still to go before reaching Kurru.

Once I arrived in Khartoum I collected my belongings, including the magnetic gradiometer, and I made my way to the hotel for the night to rest for the journey to Kurru the following day. In the morning I met with our colleague and friend Sami Elamin, who is assisting my work as our inspector from the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), and we made the six-hour trip through the desert to Kurru.

This past week has been spent getting started in the field, from arranging logistics related to the work, such as how we would get our breakfast delivered while in the field, to meetings with our colleagues from NCAM and another active project at Jebel Barkal run by the University of Venice, to once again taking part in the vibrant life of the village, for instance by attending a pre-wedding party last night which was open to all and featured a live band and much revelry, at least until the power went out over the entire region for the night.

With the help of my colleagues from Kurru and NCAM we have already collected some very useful data and set out the grid that will guide our work across the landscape.

Proof of work in the desert (and the heat!) while setting out the grid for our survey work using a total station.

Next weekend (and remember: our rest day is on Friday), I hope to share a bit more about the site of Jebel Barkal and the projects that I am working with this field season.

 * * * * *

1. See our publication on the 2016 season work in Tucker and Emberling, “Settlement in the Heartland of Napatan Kush: Preliminary Results of Magnetic Gradiometry at El-Kurru, Sanam, and Jebel Barkal,” Sudan & Nubia 20 (2016): 16–22.

2. In addition to our 2016 publication we have presented our results at the 2018 Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) annual meeting in Boston and the 2018 International Conference for Nubian Studies in Paris.

Craig’s Back!

It’s been pretty quiet in the corridors of Newberry Hall lately. The Kelsey staff is as busy as ever, but the students are all away for the summer; some are taking part in fieldwork projects, others are conducting their own research. (Some might be kicking back, though I’d wager it’s not very many.) The Kelsey research library and the IPCAA study areas — normally hives of activity enlivened by the voices of students chatting about their research, an upcoming exam, or the latest happenings on campus — are dark and deserted.

Frankly, it’s been a little dull around here.

But the new semester is approaching and the students have begun to trickle back, hale and tan and with renewed energy, and we who have stayed behind prod them for details about their adventures abroad.

The first to return this year is one of our favorite Canadians, Craig Harvey, who’s beginning his sixth year as an IPCAA grad student. We sat down with Craig to learn about his summer and (let’s be honest) to live vicariously for a little while as he regaled us with tales of his travels.

* * * * *

The Kelsey: Welcome back, Craig! What have you been up to this summer?
Craig: Quite a lot! My “summer” actually started back in January when I left for what I thought would be a three-month research trip to Israel, Cyprus, and Jordan to collect data for my dissertation. During my trip, I was invited to join a survey project in Saudi Arabia, which extended my travels until June when I presented at a conference in Jordan and participated in a second project in Israel.

Craig in front of al-Khazneh (“The Treasury”), Petra, Jordan. All photos courtesy of Craig Harvey.

Kelsey: Wow. That sounds amazing. What specifically were you working on?
During my time in Israel, Cyprus, and Jordan I was doing a lot of traveling to sites relevant to my dissertation, which is on Roman-period construction in the Eastern Mediterranean. Specifically, I was looking at the extent of local influence on the construction techniques and materials used in Roman baths. When I was not visiting sites, I was conducting research in libraries and meeting with local scholars.

The Sanctuary of Apollo Kylates at Kourion, Cyprus.

Kelsey: And in Saudi Arabia?
Craig: In Saudi Arabia, I was part of a survey project documenting the archaeological remains around the city of al-Ula, and for the project in Israel, I was working as the numismatist and was processing and identifying their coins.

The old city of al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.
Qasr al-Farid, a rock-cut tomb at Mada’in Saleh, near al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.

Kelsey: That sounds like an incredible experience. Did you get to travel around much?
Craig: Yes, I got to travel a lot, although not all that much in Saudi Arabia. I have been going to Jordan since 2008, and yet there were still places I had not seen before, so this trip was a chance for me to finally get to these important archaeological sites.

Kelsey: What did you do in your free time?
Craig: More travel! I tried to visit as many sites as possible, even those not connected to my dissertation. While in Cyprus, I rented a car and visited a number of the Painted Churches in the Troodos Mountains, and I even managed to visit Beirut and a few sites in Lebanon during the month I was in Jordan.

Kelsey: You must have seen some spectacular things. What would you say was your favorite aspect of the trip? Did you discover any “hidden gems”?
Craig: Well, like I said, I have been going to Jordan for over ten years now, but I still cannot get over how friendly and hospitable the people are. In my opinion, they are some of the nicest people in the world. In terms of a hidden gem, I have to recommend Qasr Bshir, which is a Late Roman fort in the Jordanian desert. It is one of the best-preserved Roman forts in the world, with its walls and towers nearly fully preserved. In my opinion it is one of the best hidden sites in the Middle East and is just spectacular.

A view of Qasr Bshir, a Late Roman fort in the Jordanian desert.

Kelsey: Thanks a lot, Craig! What’s next for you?
Craig: Now I’ll go back to writing my dissertation!

* * * * *

Craig would like to express his thanks to the American Center of Oriental Research, the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, and the Rackham Graduate School for the generous grants that funded much of his travel.

Two Conferences — Two Countries — Four Days


From December 6th to 9th, I had the opportunity to participate in two separate conferences on two different continents in different capacities. At the University of Edinburgh, I was invited along with U-M Classics professor Nicola Terrenato to give a talk about early Latin society and state formation based on evidence from Gabii, Italy, at the international conference The Dawn of Roman Law. Back in Ann Arbor, the Kelsey Museum was gearing up for Into the Third Century: The Past, Present, and Future of Michigan’s Archaeological Museums, a graduate and undergraduate student symposium sponsored by the Collaborative Archaeology Workgroup in conjunction with the bicentennial exhibition Excavating Archaeology @ U-M: 1817–2017 (which is currently on display at the Kelsey Museum). As one of the graduate student organizers for the event, I felt that I should do everything possible to make sure it went as smoothly as possible.

I arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the morning of December 6, about two hours before the beginning of the conference. What followed was approximately 36 hours of extended presentations on topics ranging from the use of the dative in the Twelve Tables to an Etruscan inscription that may be one of the earliest moments ever found for the culture, of dining on Scottish delicacies as well as quite odd Italian-Scottish fusion, and sleeping the sleep of the jet-lagged. Following our well-received presentation, however, it was necessary to switch gears quickly from presenter-mode to that of an organizer/administrator for the symposium back in Ann Arbor.

Organizing a conference is not easy. One must arrange and purchase meals, airport rides, and hotel rooms for the participants, reserve and set up lecture venues, create schedules, prepare introductions, cajole speakers, clean up, and deal with the inevitable technology issues that will arise. Fortunately, the team of doctoral candidate Kimberly Swisher from Anthropological Archaeology, Kelsey Museum educator Catherine Person, and myself had each other to help spread the load. After an excellent keynote address by Lisa Çakmak (Associate Curator of Ancient Art at Saint Louis Art Museum and IPCAA alumna) on Friday night, Saturday went smoothly with presentations by numerous graduate students from IPCAA, Anthropological Archaeology, and Classics, as well as remarks from the directors of the Kelsey Museum and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, Terry Wilfong and Michael Galaty, respectively. At the same time, there were multiple posters presented by undergraduate and graduate students and a technology session where participants could try out the newest technology for presenting archaeological materials to the general public. Overall, although an exhausting couple of days, it could not have gone any better!

CAW poster 2017

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