The material from the excavations at Samarra, except for the photographs mounted in Photo Files 19--3, and drawings which are in Series 5: Drawings.
"Two campaigns of excavation at Samarra in Iraq, carried out by Ernst Herzfeld on behalf of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin between the years 1911 and 1913 mark the beginning of large-scale archaeological research on Islamic antiquities. During this time, Herzfeld was supported for brief periods by the swiss architect Samuel Guyer, Commander von Ludloff, various technical assistants, and finally Friedrich Sarre, who was the director of the Islamic department at the museum and initiator of the expedition. For most of the time, however, all tasks that today would be divided among a team of archaeologists rested solely on Herzfeld's shoulders: coordinating hundreds of workmen at various sites, measuring buildings, drawing architecture and objects, and cataloging finds, but also negociating with local authorities who were often uncooperative. Still working at a time when the success of a venture such as the Samarra expedition was measured by its spectacular finds in both architecture and precious objects, the immense responsibility for bringing this expedition through the unexplored territories of Islamic archaeology to a successful conclusion presented an enormous physical and psychological challenge. In an effort that from the perspective of modern archaeology must be called Herculean, he excavated and examined nineteen sites [Great Mosque of al-Mutawakkil, Congregational Mosque of Madinat al-Mutawakkiliyya, Shiite Shrine Complex, Qubbat al-Ṣulaibiyya; palaces of Balkuwārā, Ṣūr ʿĪṣā, and the Qaṣr al-ʿĀshiq; the Cemetery at Shabbat al-Hawā; Mausoleum of Imām al-Dūr; Tall al-ʿAlīq; Ḥarba Bridge and finally the residential architecture at al-Quraina, al-Qāṭūn, al-Jubairiyya, and west of Ṣūr ʿĪṣā, and the baths] and collected a stupendous corpus of material, one that in many respects still forms the foundation for our knowledge of the city of Samarra and ʼAbbāsid art in the 3rd/9th centuries. What is astonishing is that Herzfeld himself considered his achievements during the first campaign in Samarra to be merely a dress rehearsal for the more ambitious second campaign which focused on the Dār al-Khilāfa." [Leisten, Thomas, 2003: "Excavation of Samarra, v. I. Architecture : Final report of the first campaign 1910-1912. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz am Rhein, 2003. Preface, p.IX."]
135 units of original materials; numbered subseries, kept in the order in which they arrived, and housed in document boxes.
Biographical / Historical:
"Ernst Emil Herzfeld (1879-1948) was an orientalist whose many talents led him to explore all phases of Near Eastern culture, from the prehistoric period to Islamic times and from linguistics and religion to art and architecture." [Margaret Cool Root, 1976: "The Herzfeld Archive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol. 11, pp. 119-124."]
FSA A.06 07
- Title is provided by Xavier Courouble, FSg Archives cataloger, based on Joseph Upton's Catalogue of the Herzfeld Archive, Thomas Leisten's publication, "Excavation of Samarra, vol 1," and Alastair Northedge's publication, "An Interpretation of the Palace of the Caliph at Samarra (Dar Al-Khilafa or Jawsaq Al-Khaqani). In Ars Orientalis, Vol. 23."
Series title in Joseph Upton's Catalogue of the Herzfeld Archive reads, "Records of Samarra Expeditions."
Date/Time and Place of an Event Note:
Field notes related primarly to the two campaigns of excavation at Sāmarrāʼ (Iraq), carried out by Ernst Herzfeld on behalf of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin between the years 1911 and 1913.
Collection is open for research.
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.