Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Monday, October 10, 2011

Samarra 1911: Squeeze Making and Continued Resistance in Herzfeld's Samarra

Trouble continues to follow Ernst Herzfeld's 1911 excavation of Samarra.  Even after he negotiates the spy allegations from the last Samarra 1911 segment, he continues to run into resistance from the police, administrative offices, and locals of the area. 

On October 5th and for two weeks following in Manqur, the removal of stuccos from the main iwan at Balkuwara and squeeze making took place for the Jubairiyya (House XVII, later House XIV) and Sur Isa (House IX).  Unfortunately his documentation later in Qatun could not go forward as the earth that had been placed to protect the stuccos against weather and sabotage had been removed by the locals for their plantations. This left the stuccos almost complete ruined from the winter rains.

In early November Herzfeld took measurements of Qubbat al Sulaibiyya and continued to document Qasr al-Ashiq.  Unfortunately trouble continued to plague him in the second week of November when Herzfeld traveled to Imam al-Dur to copy the inscriptions and facades. Thomas Leisten describes the scene in his book Excavation of Samarra, Volume 1 Architecture. Final Report of the First Campaign, 1910-1912: "standing on a ladder 4.5 m above the ground in almost complete darkness, he [Herzfeld] continued copying the characters while and angry crowd yelled at him from below and rattled his ladder.  Apparently he had neglected to show the credentials that would have explained and authorized his mission to those in charge."  Herzfeld had been shaken by this encounter and spent only two more days making squeezes with police protection.

However, his troubles did not end there, as Leisten continues to describe: "[e]ach morning there were new little obstacles: one day the keys for the mausoleum vanished and the next a mob assembled at the mausoleum, incited by a person who would call upon the others to kick the "Christian" out of the shrine."  Leisten continues to explain the police men assigned to protect Herzfeld "wrote secret reports to the Qaimmaqam that they then used to fuel the hostility" of the local crowds.  Herzfeld had to cancel gathering more information on al-Mutawakkiliyya and returned to Samarra to await reinforcements. On November 20th, Fredrich Sarre and Dr. M. Hesse assembled with a committee to investigate the schemes of the Qaimmaqam and two saiyids of al-Dur.

Image: Excavation of Samarra (Iraq): Jubairiyya, House XVI (Bartus House), View of Wall Decoration, 1911-1913 [graphic].  The Ernst Herzfeld papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Related Posts:
Samarra 1911: The Life of an Alleged Spy: Guns, Kissing, and the Excavation of Balkuwara Samarra 1911: Excavation of Shabbat al-Hawa, Qasr al-Ashiq, and Qubbat al-Sulaibiyya
Samarra 1911: Clashes with Authority led to Sabotage
Samarra 1911: Excavation of the Great Mosque Finishes, al-Quraina Begins
100th Anniversary of the Samarra Excavation by Ernst Herzfeld

Samarra Resource

Rachael Cristine Woody

Freer|Sackler Archives

No comments:

Post a Comment