Erich F. Schmidt excavation records from Tepe Hissar, Iran
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.
Overview and metadata sections
Archaeologist Erich F. Schmidt was born in Germany in 1897. He studied political science at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin after serving in the German army in World War I. In 1923, Schmidt came to the United States, completing a Ph.D at Columbia University in 1929. While at Columbia, Schmidt joined the staff of the American Museum of Natural History. Schmidt’s position with the museum introduced him to William B. and Gertrude H. Thompson, who were to become his long-term benefactors, and to Fiske Kimball, Director of the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, which co-sponsored the Damghan Project. Schmidt became professor, and eventually professor emeritus, at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. At the time of his death in 1964, Dr. Schmidt was writing the third volume in a series on Persepolis.
After the completion of one season of work (February-May, 1931) at Fara in Southern Iraq (c.f. Near East/Iraq/Fara), Erich F. Schmidt directed excavations at Tepe Hissar, a site located near Damghan on the Northeast Central Iranian Plateau. The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Museum of Art in Philadelphia (now the Philadelphia Museum of Art) collaborated on this expedition during June, 1931-February, 1933 due to the proximity of Islamic period sites to the prehistoric mounds of Tepe Hissar. The American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology contributed funds for the second season. Although limited, excavations were undertaken at other sites in the Damghan area: the Damghan Citadel, Tepe Muman, Tari(kh) Khaneh, Nareshan and Shir-i-Shian. Primarily, the excavators worked at Tepe Hissar, focusing on the site of the Sassanian Building and the prehistoric mounds, which dated from the mid-5th to 2nd millennium BCE. After the second field season, the expedition staff went on a reconnaissance trip traveling through Luristan, Fara and other provinces in Iran.
Records concerning excavation at Tepe Hissar were grouped into subseries: general correspondence; reports and publications; field notes; drawings and plans; burial sheets; indexes and catalogs and financial records. For the most part, the original order has been maintained.
The general correspondence series includes as major correspondents Horace H. F. Jayne, the Director of the University Museum; Erich F. Schmidt, the Field Director of the Iranian Expedition; Arthur Upham Pope, the Director of the American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology; Wilton M. Krogman of the Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio; Mrs. William Boyce Thompson, the principal patroness of the Iranian Expedition, and E. Herzfeld. Schmidt's correspondence files appear to be arranged alphabetically by the last name of the correspondent, but the letters are sometimes signed only with a first name.
Schmidt's correspondence with colleagues and friends during his association with the University Museum is mixed with correspondence and financial records from Alishar Huyuk, a site in Turkey, which Schmidt excavated in the 1920's for the Oriental Institute, Chicago. These records were kept within the latter correspondence, so as not to disrupt the original order.
The field registers/catalogs and survey/architect notebooks should be used together to provide information concerning the provenience of objects. A Road Diary dated February, 1931, similar to one kept in the Fara subgroup, describes visits to sites of Schmidt and his crew in the vicinity of Fara and the trip from Baghdad to Damghan. The excavations focused on the burials in the mounds of these sites, and each one was documented with individual "X blanks" sheets, which illustrated and described the position of the remains, and the burial goods associated. Schmidt and his surveyor worked to reconstruct the structures built over many eras, but some of the survey documents were damaged by water and may not be useable.
The drawings and plans are notable for watercolors of some of the burials, of ceramics and other objects, and of the burned building. These are located in the print cabinet or flat files. In addition, there are ink drawings of Damghan scenes done by Ivan Gerasimoff (the painter of the watercolors), who Schmidt reports (1937:9) drew every recorded object.
Included within the indexes and catalogs subseries are two sets of photograph negative cards. One is arranged by object type and within this by field number and another duplicate set, arranged by photographic negative (P.E.) number. The numerically ordered set has the current Museum negative number written on the right corner of each card.
- Archaeology--Architecture, ancient
- Damghan (Iran)--Antiquities
- Excavations (Archaeology)
- University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by K. Moreau
- Finding Aid Date
- Use Restrictions
Although many items from the archives are in the public domain, copyright may be retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. The user is fully responsible for compliance with relevant copyright law.
Letters, telegrams, and other correspondence related to finances, invoices and shipping documents, and Schmidt's files in alphabetical order. In English, French, German and Farsi. Arranged chronologically.
Photocopies of letters in the file: Schmidt/Kimball, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, 1931 February-1932 December.
Field Journals and Road Diaries, survey/architect notebooks,cross-section books, architectural descriptions, notes, fieldbook of quadrants and plots. Also Field Catalogs and Registers, 1931-1932, and Photograph Register, 1931-1932.
Handwritten and typed burial sheets, arranged by quadrant and/or plot and thereunder by skeleton number. Each burial sheet records an individual burial, field nmbers of the associated burial goods, and the period. A skeleton number is an X and a numeral.
Typed versions of the X(burial) sheets from DF quadrant. Often have data that's more refined from the hand-written sheets.
Typed copies of X (burial) sheets from DH quadrant. Often have data that's more refined from the hand-written sheets.
Typed copies of X (burial) sheets from EF and EG quadrants. Often have data that's more refined from the hand-written sheets.
Typed copies of X (burial) sheets from FF quadrant. Often have data that's more refined from the hand-written sheets.
Watercolor and ink drawings of burials, arranged by lot number; ink drawings of artifacts arranged first by material, object type and then by period; ink drawings of Damghan scenes; and architectural reconstruction. Some object drawings are separated further by provenience and/or by season.
Object cards, arranged by object type and field number; photograph/negative cards and duplicate sets(one set arranged by object type and the other by photograph [P.E.] number); skeleton cards arranged by University Museum accession number, mortuary data and statistics; potsherd catalog (1931); pot descriptions, arranged by field number; photographs with captions; and drafts of negative cards (arranged by object type). Object card catalog may be an incomplete set. Hissar photograph numbers start with number P.E. 473. Because P.E. 1-472 are negatives of Fara (Iraq) photographs, the Fara Photographic Register is the first section of the Hissar Register.
Expense books, receipts, and related correspondence and payroll book and sheets. Arranged chronologically.
Formal reports from the field, handwritten and typed drafts and manuscripts, some with photographs within texts, report and related correspondence concerning the Hissar skeletons, summaries of the progression of excavation and expedition memoirs. Arranged topically and thereunder chronologically.
General correspondence, survey and field notes, pottery descriptions, sherd catalogs, drawings of burials and finds, reports with photographs, and drafts of photographic/negative cards. Arranged by site and thereunder topically.
Albums made of small prints of every photograph from the expedition. The photos are numbered P.E.(for Persian Expedition)and a number. In some cases, their Penn Museum archives negative number will be written by the image in the notebook, but most do have one of these numbers, whether the image is labelled or not. Negatives for most of these images exist, though often they are copy negatives, as the originals were nitrate film. Several images in the large-format album were from negatives held by the Oriental Institute. P.E. 1-472 are images of Fara (Iraq), and their captions are in the first section of the Hissar Register.