Ladies of the Field

For fun and fodder for my classes next quarter I am reading Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure by Amanda Adams.  Adams focuses on seven women of the Victorian Era whose work influenced the field during a critical period in the discipline.  She profiles Amelia Edwards, Jane Dieulafoy, Zelia Nuttall, Gertrude Bell, Harriet Boyd Hawes, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Garrod.  Embarrassingly, before picking up this book I was only familiar with the work of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Garrod.

Amelia Edwards (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

Amelia Edwards (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

I just finished the section on Amelia Edwards.  In addition to being a successful novelist, Amelia Edwards could be considered the mother of Egyptology.  She traveled to Egypt for field work, learned to read hieroglyphics, co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1882, and popularized Egyptian archaeology in part through her rewriting of Flinders Petrie’s field journals.  After 10 years of working to promote the Fund and to protect Egyptian artifacts and sites, Edwards became worried that her own scholarly work would go unrecognized even as she supported and promoted other archaeologists.  To remedy this, and to deal with a decline in her finances, Amelia undertook a wildly successful archaeology lecture tour of the U.S. in 1892.  Unfortunately, she experienced a rapid decline in health while on tour and died in April of 1892.

Adams, Amanda (2010) Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure.  Greystone Books. Vancouver, B.C.

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