Clarence S. Fisher Dra-Abu-el-Naga Expedition records
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives [Contact Us]3260 South Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104-6324
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
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Clarence S. Fisher was born in Philadelphia in 1876 and attended the University of Pennsylvania, attaining a degree in architecture in 1897 but devoted his entire life to archaeology. His first archaeology field experience was as the architect for the initial Babylonian expedition to Nippur from 1898 to 1900. This was followed by a research fellowship in Babylonian archaeology at the University Museum. Fisher also worked as an assistant to Harvard Archaeologist, George Andrew Reisner in Egypt and Samaria. From Reisner, Fisher learned archaeological techniques and methods of meticulous record keeping that he would use in his later work. From his architectural background Fisher brought a special orientation to architectural recording and history. Fisher believed that "a corpus of all existing Egyptian archaeological material" should be prepared, being made useful for ready reference by mearns of card index systems. Publication of his findings was clearly not his major intent.
Fisher was appointed a curator of the Egyptian section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum by George B. Gordon in 1914. He spent the next nine years in the field collecting data in Dendereh, Giza, Memphis, and Dra Abu el-Naga. Fisher's expedition to the cemetery at Dendereh re-worked a site that had been explored by Charles H. Rosher and W.M. Flinders Petrie, producing more precise data and a wealth of objects from the burial sites. Fisher's time at Dra-Abu-Naga, located on the west bank of the Nile River at Thebes spanned 1921 to 1923. Here he excavated the inscribed and decorated tombs of some of Egypt's highest officials of the period ca. 1320-1085 B.C..
Fisher received an Honorary ScD. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1924, in recognition of his discoveries. Unfortunately, Fisher preferred discovery to publication and his only contribution to the literature was a report on a minor cemetery at Giza in 1924 noted to be thorough but not a major contribution to the archaeological corpus.
Fisher's love of field work made his presence at the Museum infrequent and an argument with George Byron Gordon regarding Fisher's choice of an assistant resulted in his resignation from the Museum in 1925. Fisher then traveled to Jerusalem where he served as Professor of Archaeology at the American School.
Fisher worked tirelessly, often at two sites at the same time, affecting his health. During the excavation at Dendereh, Fisher also toiled at the Giza and Memphis sites. After his resignation from the museum Fisher served as scientific advisor for the first year of the Elihu Grant Beth Shemesh expedition sponsored by Haverford College in 1928.
Fisher was known for his war efforts, working in Egypt on behalf of Near East Relief during World War I and as a representative of the Lutheran Church of America and the YMCA during World War II. In 1939, Fisher was the moving spirit in founding the Dar el-Awlad Home for Children. He was also a member of the Directorate of the German(Schneller)Orphanage during WWII.
Clarence S. Fisher died in Jerusalem in 1941, while serving as the Administrative Director of the American School of Oriental Research. He is buried at the Protestant Cemetery on Mt. Zion. Much of Fisher's data was recovered later but has never been published.
Clarence S. Fisher was born in Philadelphia in 1876 and attended the University of Pennsylvania, attaining a degree in architecture in 1897 but he devoted his entire life to archaeology. His first archaeology field experience was as the architect for the initial Babylonian expedition to Nippur from 1898 to 1900. This was followed by a research fellowship in Babylonian archaeology at the University Museum. Fisher also worked as an assistant to Harvard Archaeologist, George Andrew Reisner in Egypt and Samaria. From Reisner, Fisher learned archaeological techniques and the methods of meticulous record keeping that he would use in his later work. From his architectural background Fisher brought a special orientation to architectural recording and history.
The Clarence S. Fisher Dra-Abu-el-Naga expedition records consist of one archival box, five card file boxes, two bound photo registers plans and drawings. Fisher's records from this site are almost all tomb related. In addition to extensive field notes, related lists, some finanial records, photographs, plans and drawings and a limited publication folder complete the series organization. This organization was imposed at processing.
The field notes are meticulously organized under Fisher's system. He provides keys to the system filed with the data or in the lists folder. These include color coding within the card notes. Only minor regrouping was required when notes were clearly not conforming to his order or misfiled. One group of miscellaneous notes are contained in a folder and not with the card files. As these did not appear to fit the existing system, they were left as found.
Some of the material is fragile and on the verge of disintegration. whenever possible these items were encased in mylar and/or placed in envelopes for protection.
- University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Jody Rodgers
- Finding Aid Date