Generally recognized as the world’s greatest field archaeologist and clearly Great Britain’s leading Biblical archaeologist, Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon is dead at 72.
Dame Kathleen died in August, less than a week after suffering a stroke. She was stricken at her home in Wrexham, North Wales.
Dame Kathleen’s name will always be associated with the so-called Wheeler-Kenyon method—which, in its numerous variants, is used by virtually all Near Eastern archaeologists digging today. This excavation method, which she developed with Sir Mortimer Wheeler at Roman sites in Britain, consists of laying out five-meter squares over the area to be excavated, and leaving balks or catwalks between the squares, thus forming a grid. The five-meter squares are excavated but the balks are not—at least initially, for they form a record of the various strata which formerly lay within the excavated squares. As developed and applied by Dame Kathleen, this method requires slow, careful excavation, detailed field records of all finds, and frequent drawing of stratigraphic sections. The latter are often referred to as section drawings; they record the various levels revealed in the balks. Only in this way, Dame Kathleen contended, could finds be securely dated.