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Friday, March 4, 2011

An Archaeologist's Tools for the Trade

Drafting tools, courtesy of David Hogge, Freer|Sackler Archives.Traditionally when you think of archival collections you envision correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, or the odd doodle.  You think mostly 2 dimensional.  However, if you're in the field or a frequenter of archival collections, you know that not everything you find in the archives is 2d.  As you can see in  The Bigger Picture's "I Found It in the Archives," there are all sorts of 3d ephemera that you wouldn't traditionally think would be found in an archives.  Sometimes these objects are in the collections for no easily discernible reason.  Perhaps they can be blamed on a softhearted archivist, an eccentric collector, or the fact that no one knew it was there in the first place.  Other times, the objects very much belong with the collections they're nestled into.  Today the Freer|Sackler Archives would like to highlight some of our unusual 3d materials from the Ernst Herzfeld papers.  Pictured to the right are the tools that archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld used when creating and documenting his findings of archaeological sites across the Near East.  (All photographs courtesy of David Hogge, Freer|Sackler Archives).

Khargird (Iran): Madrasa al-Ghiyasiyya, Groundplan, 1903-1936 [drawing]. Freer|Sackler Archives. Herzfeld began his studies of architecture at the University of Munich, and the skills and passion he cultivated for the subject stayed with him his entire life.  All of the drawings we have from the archaeological sites he studied are drawn with his architectural training and tools.  The image above are the tools he took with him to each site as he reconstructed the landscape in maps, drawings, watercolors, and photographs.  To the left is one of the 1500+ architectural drawings he created.  His penchant for precision is indelible in the images he created while excavating and exploring the ancient Near East sites.

 Former Freer|Sackler Archivist, Colleen Hennessey describes his tools in "The Ernst Herzfeld Papers at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Archives," Bulletin of the Asia Institute, Volume 6, 1992.  She states:

"Artifacts: Two sets of drafting and surveying tools used by Herzfeld on his various expeditions are catalogued, in addition to a military metal tag and his personal seal with Kufic lettering, "Dr. Ernst Herzfeld photo," which he applied to many of his photographs and drawings in his papers."

Herzfeld seal, courtesy of David Hogge, Freer|Sackler Archives.Collection Description
A foremost scholar in the field of Iranian studies, Ernst Herzfeld (1879–1948) explored all phases of Near Eastern culture from the prehistoric period to Islamic times. The collection documents Herzfeld's archaeological activities including Samarra, Persepolis, Pasargadae, Paikuli, and Aleppo and includes correspondence; field notebooks; drawings; sketchbooks; inventories of objects; squeezes of architectural inscriptions and details; and photographs.  Original cataloging and organization of the collection was undertaken by Joseph Upton.

Preservation, digitization, and cataloging have been made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation. The cataloging of this collection commenced in September 2009, and will be ongoing until summer 2011. Please be advised that some of the Series may not have records or images yet as we are in the process of making them available.

Series 1: Travel Journals
Series 2: Sketchbooks
Series 3: Notebooks
Series 4: Photographic Files
Series 5: Drawings and Maps
Series 6: Paper Squeezes
Series 7: Records of Samarra Expedition

1 comment:

  1. Great article. Had a lot of fun after reading.