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Delta State University author to speak at The British Museum

By September 18, 2008General

Miriam C. Davis, Professor of History at Delta State University, will depart for a tour of England and Scotland on Oct. 2, speaking on her recent biography of the greatest field archaeologist of the 20th century, Dame Kathleen Kenyon: Digging Up the Holy Land.

At the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the Jewry Wall Museum in Leicester, England, Dr. Davis will explain how Dame Kathleen went to biblical Jericho to find the walls brought down by Joshua. But her excavations instead pushed back the accepted date of town life by at least 2000 years. Moreover, Kenyon’s work was responsible for spreading the Wheeler-Kenyon digging method to the Middle East, where it revolutionized archaeology.
Davis’s tour will culminate on Oct. 9 at one of the world’s great museums, the British Museum, whose collection includes one of the Neolithic portrait skulls Kenyon found at Jericho – the oldest known examples of realistic human portraiture.  She will explain how Kenyon’s career began on an all-woman expedition at Zimbabwe in 1929 and how it culminated in the discovery of the biblical City of David in Jerusalem in the 1960s.
Davis’s talk at the British Museum will be sponsored by the Palestine Exploration Fund, whose speakers’ program this year includes lecturers from some of the world’s most distinguished institutions, including the Oriental Institute (University of Oxford), the University of Helsinki, and the Institute of Archaeology (University College London).
Dame Kathleen Kenyon: Digging Up the Holy Land has already begun to receive television coverage as well as rave reviews. Archaeology Magazine calls it “a lively biography of ‘the most influential woman archaeologist of the 20th century’ . . . providing both detailed insights into many of archaeology’s most significant developments and fun anecdotes of excavations of that period.”
Other Critical Praise for Dame Kathleen Kenyon: Digging Up the Holy Land, by Miriam C. Davis
“Kathleen Kenyon was the outstanding woman archaeologist of the twentieth century, famous for her excavations at Jericho and Jerusalem.  In this penetrating biography of ‘K’, as she was known to friends, students and colleagues, Miriam Davis has written the definitive account of K’s life of action and scholarship in England and the Middle East.  Never shirking the difficulties, academic, political, personal, Davis offers balanced judgements, drawing a portrait true to those of us who knew K and owed her so much.  Essential reading for everyone interested in the development of archaeology as a modern intellectual quest as seen through the life of one of the pioneers”.
            Martin Biddle, Professor of Archaeology, Oxford University
“… It gives me much pleasure to note that Miriam Davis has done a terrific job describing not only ‘K’s’ archaeological career, but also the great influence she had upon her professional associates, students, and many friends, even though at heart she was a fairly shy person. This biography sheds much light on Dame Kathleen’s attempts to excel in ground breaking new archaeological techniques…”
            Thomas A. Holland, Research Associate, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
“Miriam Davis has written a critical yet colorful biography of Dame Kathleen Kenyon, one of the legendary figures in the archaeology of the Holy Land. Drawing on extensive archival work and scores of personal interviews, she charts in detail Kenyon’s early struggle as a lonely woman in a man’s field; her extraordinary life on the digs she dominated at Samaria, Jericho, and Jerusalem; her frequent involvement in political intrigue in the Middle East; and her flamboyant personal style. As someone who knew Dame Kathleen well in Israel in the 1960s –1970s, I can attest that Davis has successfully captured the persona of this remarkable woman, with all her peculiarities, yet with full appreciation of her genius. A splendid accomplishment! As I read it, I could see Dame Kathleen in my mind’s eye. Davis has got it right.”
            William G. Dever, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Archaeology, University of                                    Arizona
Davis is a professor of European history at Delta State University. She studied archaeology and history at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), received an M.A. in archaeology from the University of York (England) on a Fulbright Scholarship, and received her PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara.