Biblical Archaeology Review 22:6, November/December 1996

Backward Glance: An Archaeologist Before His Time

George Reisner and the first American dig in the Holy Land

By Kenneth Atkinson

In the spring of 1942, knowing he was about to die, archaeologist George A. Reisner asked to be taken from a Cairo hospital back to the pyramids he had excavated at Gizeh. In his will, he bequeathed his extensive excavation notes to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and left a collection of 1,300 detective stories to Harvard University, where he had been a professor for almost 40 years.

These final acts were characteristic of this brilliant pioneer of archaeological field techniques, Egyptologist, excavator of Biblical Samaria, lover of detective stories, museum curator, passionate advocate of Egyptian self-rule and football coach. But even though William F. Albright praised him as “the father of the field methods which revolutionized the practice of Palestinian archaeology,” Reisner himself remains relatively obscure.

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