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Breaking Ground

Pioneering Women Archaeologists

Getzel M. Cohen and Martha Sharp Joukowsky, Editors

Publication Year: 2004

At the close of the Victorian era, two generations of intrepid women abandoned Grand Tour travel for the rigors of archaeological expeditions, shining the light of scientific exploration on Old World antiquity. Breaking Ground highlights the remarkable careers of twelve pioneers---a compelling narrative of personal, social, intellectual, and historical achievement. -Claire Lyons, The Getty Museum "Behind these pioneering women lie a wide range of fascinating and inspiring life stories. Though each of their tales is unique, they were all formidable scholars whose important contributions changed the field of archaeology. Kudos to the authors for making their stories and accomplishments known to us all!" -Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill This book presents twelve fascinating women whose contributions to the development and progress of Old World archaeology---in an area ranging from Italy to Mesopotamia---have been immeasurable. Each essay in this collection examines the life of a pioneer archaeologist in the early days of the discipline, tracing her path from education in the classics to travel and exploration and eventual international recognition in the field of archaeology. The lives of these women may serve as models both for those interested in gender studies and the history of archaeology because in fact, they broke ground both as women and as archaeologists. The interest inherent in these biographies will reach well beyond defined disciplines and subdisciplines, for the life of each of these exciting and accomplished individuals is an adventure story in itself

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Title Page

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pp. v-viii

The modern science of archaeology did not originate as a science. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries archaeology was essentially treasure hunting.1 Wealthy Europeans or their agents went out to Mediterranean lands and the Middle East in order to collect museum pieces and send them back home. Others made voyages of exploration to find biblical...


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: Women of the Field, Defining the Gendered Experience

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pp. 1-33

The biographies assembled here characterize aspects of the professional and personal lives of selected women archaeologists of the pioneering era, primarily though not exclusively women from Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. Their dates of birth range from the middle of the nineteenth century to the early years of the twentieth century. In my introductory...

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Jane Dieulafoy (1851-1916)

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pp. 34-67

Jane Dieulafoy was born at the dawn of the Second Empire and died in May 1916, just as the battle of Verdun was raging. A contemporary of George Sand, Marie d'Agoult, and Colette, she was among those who heralded the arrival of the modern woman. While these women were accomplished as writers, artists, or philosophers, Jane Dieulafoy gained notoriety by venturing into a domain where no French woman before her had ever...

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Esther B. Van Deman (1862-1937)

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pp. 68-108

One hundred years ago a number of gifted women made the then unorthodox decision to become classical archaeologists. Among this group was an American woman, Esther Boise Van Deman. Esther Van Deman was the first woman to earn an international reputation in Roman archaeology. She was the first Fellow in Latin at Bryn Mawr College, one of the...

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Margaret Alice Murray (1863-1963)

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pp. 109-141

As a subject for academic study, archaeology is comparatively new, in spite of the awakening interest in antiquity in the nineteenth century. Field archaeology was not regarded as a suitable subject for the universities of the Western world until the last decade of the nineteenth century, though Egyptian hieroglyphs and Babylonian cuneiform were taught, with Latin...

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Gertrude L. Bell (1868-1926)

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pp. 142-197

"It was only when she died suddenly in the summer of 1926, and The Times thought the event worthy of a leading article, that the public at large awoke to the fact that it had lost perhaps the greatest woman of her generation. . . Yet since the publication of her Letters in 1927, her story has become an epic. Indeed it threatens to become a legend."1 Bell's life and work have been the subject of political, social, cultural, anthropological...

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Harriet Boyd Hawes (1871-1945)

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pp. 198-273

Harriet Boyd Hawes's dual role as a scholar and humanitarian sets her apart from many of her peers. Her activities were not confined to archaeology. Her strong character, selfless courage, and natural compassion, reinforced by her commitment to Christian beliefs, found expression and fulfillment in humanitarian work. She nursed the wounded in three wars. She championed social causes raising funds for refugees and lobbying...

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Edith Hayward Hall Dohan (1879-1943)

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pp. 274-297

As one of the first american women to become a field archaeologist, Edith Hall Dohan excavated in Crete, on behalf of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, at Gournia (1904), Sphoungaras (1910), and Vrokastro (1912). She was instrumental in collecting and cataloging materials for the Mediterranean Section at the University Museum established a short time...

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Hetty Goldman (1881-1972)

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pp. 298-350

Hetty Goldman's career in archaeology was conducted against the backdrop of a series of world upheavals, yet throughout, she persevered not only in her desire to engage in field archaeology, but also in her philanthropic devotion to those people in the Mediterranean touched by turbulent times. Goldman was part of the first generation of American archaeologists...

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Gertrude Caton-Thompson (1888-1985)

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pp. 351-379

Gertrude Caton-Thompson must be considered one of the most outstanding archaeologists of her generation, all the more remarkable because she was born into a well-to-do family, privately educated, and had sufficient means to lead a comfortable life of leisure. Not until she was in her midthirties did she begin seriously to study archaeology, first distinguishing...

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Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod (1892-1968)

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pp. 380-424

Dorothy Garrod, Disney professor of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge from 1939 to 1952, was the first woman to hold a chair in either of Britain's ancient universities. Her name is well known to any prehistorian who works in the Old World and, more specifically, in the Mediterranean basin. Her excavations on Mount Carmel, which led to the uncovering of human fossils in the caves there, identify this undertaking as one of...

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Winifred Lamb (1894-1963)

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pp. 425-481

Winifred Lamb is honored among archaeologists for her pioneering fieldwork and her significant contribution to the study of Greek bronzes. She was involved with a series of excavations in Greece---at Mycenae, at Sparta and in Macedonia---before directing her own excavations at Thermi on Lesbos. She also excavated in Anatolia, at Kusura, and it was her interest in the prehistory of Anatolia that helped to establish the British Institute...

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Theresa B. Goell (1901-1985)

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pp. 482-524

As a woman of fortitude and perseverance Theresa Goell carved out a lasting place in the annals of archaeology. Her pioneering work included the use of new geophysical techniques for her excavation at Nemrud Dagi in Turkey and a fresh approach in interpreting the finds. The period of time covered by Goell's career in archaeology exhibits many characteristics of a...

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Kathleen Kenyon (1906-1978)

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pp. 525-553

it is both an honor and a challenge to write a brief summary of the life and career of Kathleen Kenyon and to assess her role as one of the first women in Near Eastern archaeology. Despite formidable obstacles, her pioneering efforts and achievements placed her at the forefront of her field. Kenyon needed neither imagined competition with men nor feminist...

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pp. 554-560

Over the years, the women we call "pioneers" have been recognized, individually, for their outstanding contributions to the field of archaeology. They have enjoyed respect for their fieldwork, innovative technological methods, and published research. Some have been recognized with honorary degrees from distinguished institutions, while others received recognition...


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pp. 561-564


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pp. 565-568


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pp. 569-572


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pp. 573-581

Image Plates

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pp. 582-605

E-ISBN-13: 9780472025367
E-ISBN-10: 0472025368
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472031740
Print-ISBN-10: 0472031740

Page Count: 616
Illustrations: 1 drawing, 9 maps & 47 B&W photograph section
Publication Year: 2004