In the latest issue of the Palestine Exploration Quarterly (January–June 1979), P. R. S. Moorey of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford has written a remarkably candid assessment of the achievements and failures of Dame Kathleen Kenyon who for a quarter of a century before her death in August 1978 dominated the British contribution to Palestinian archaeology.a
Encased in an elegant and understated British prose style, Moorey’s article not only assesses Dame Kathleen in comparison with other colossi in the field, but also touches on the dismal failure of archaeologists to publish their primary data, attributing this failure in part to strictures of a too-meticulous methodology. These are enormously important subjects, rarely discussed in print.
Of Dame Kathleen’s personality and character, Moorey has only praise: “brilliant excavator,” “shrewd administrator,” “outstandingly energetic and instructive lecturer and writer,” “decisive manner,” “infectious enthusiasm,” “boisterous sense of humor,” “essential warmth of heart,” “generously encouraging and vigorously stimulating, never aloof or patronizing.”
Moorey appraises her contributions in two categories: First as an excavator; secondly as a writer and especially as an historian.
Her significance as an excavator stems from the importance of the sites she dug—Samaria, Jericho, Jerusalem—and from her important methodological contributions.