Clarence S. Fisher Giza Expedition records
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives [Contact Us]3260 South Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104-6324
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Overview and metadata sections
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 the methods of meticulous record keeping he would use in his later work.
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 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 in Giza in 1924.
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 worked at the Giza and Memphis sites. In addition to his own sites, 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.
From January 28 to March 9, 1915 Clarence Stanley Fisher (1876-1941) conducted excavations at Giza, assisted mainly by Ashton Sanborn, but also by H. Lyman Story and Alan Rowe. Bechari Mahfud was the field photographer. Fisher had worked as expedition architect at Giza with George Andrew Reisner in 1908-1910. A graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Architecture, Fisher began his career as an archaeologist during the University Museum’s Fourth Expedition at Nippur (modern Iraq) in 1899-1900.
The results of the Giza excavations, one of the “Eckley B. Coxe, Jr. Expeditions,” were published by Fisher as The Minor Cemetery at Giza (Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1924). The material in this series relates to the 1914 excavation and its subsequent publication, including extensive field notes, diaries, and photographs.
The overlapping of some of these series is inevitable. Please note that since Fisher conducted excavations simultaneously at Giza, Memphis, and Dendereh, one site will be frequently mentioned in the other site's series. This is especially true of Memphis and Dendereh, since from 1915 to 1919 Fisher alternated seasons at the two sites. In some instances, e.g., Giza/Tanis, references are made to other sites at which the Museum unsuccessfully tried to establish excavations. Furthermore, since both Fisher and Rowe also excavated in Palestine, some references to that area are contained within these papers. (See also Near East/Palestine.) Please see the Administrative Records — Egyptian Section Curatorial records for papers relating to field directors who also served as curators.
The overall arrangement of these papers is chronological, but in instances where the original order diverted from the chronological (especially in Fisher's Memphis papers, since detailed indices had been previously prepared), the original (field cards, etc.) has been placed in appropriate-sized boxes within the collection, but a large amount of oversized material is located either in the map cases (plans, maps, etc.) or on the book shelves (photo and object registers, etc.). For each series, check photographic prints and negatives, Director's Correspondence, the Bound Volume inventory, and published books and articles (see Publications of The University Museum, 1973). A detailed overview of the accomplishments and importance of the Museum's Egyptian excavations is available in Expedition, Vol. 21, no. 2 (Winter 1979). Among the Dendereh publications, see R. A. Slater's University of Pennsylvania dissertation, "The Archaeology of Dendereh in the Third Millennium B.C."
- Fisher, Clarence Stanley, 1876-1941
- Mahfud, Bechari
- Rowe, Alan, 1892-1968
- Sanborn, C. Ashton, b. 1882
- Story, H. Lyman
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