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Experts et expertise dans les mandats de la société des nations : figures, champs, outils

 | 
Philippe Bourmaud
, 
Norig Neveu
, 
Chantal Verdeil

L'internationalisation des mandats : processus normatif et constitution de champs des savoirs

Locating Archaeological Expertise: Debating Antiquities Norms in the A Mandates, 1918‑1926

Situer l’expertise archéologique : les débats sur les normes relatives aux antiquités dans les mandats A, 1918‑1926

Sarah Griswold

Résumé

Les archéologues des mandats A de la Société des Nations ont établi de nouvelles normes disciplinaires par le biais de négociations à caractère juridique, de leurs liens professionnels et d’énonciations localisées tenant au rattachement à différents régimes de mandat. Cet article se concentre sur les débats spécifiques entre ces représentants du mandat britannique en Palestine et ceux du mandat français en Syrie et au Liban entre 1918 et 1926. Pendant cette période, les archéologues ont créé les nouvelles lois sur les antiquités de ces mandats tout comme des départements d’archéologie basés respectivement à Jérusalem et à Beyrouth. Cet article traite des tensions qui ont marqué ce processus et qui ont mis en évidence les divisions émergeant entre les archéologues des mandats et leurs homologues dans leurs métropoles d’origine. Plus généralement, cet article démontre que les débats relatifs aux lois sur les antiquités dans les mandats A ont révélé différentes conceptions de l’expertise archéologique y compris parmi les scientifiques qui avaient supposé, ou du moins affirmé, qu’il existait un consensus à propos des priorités et des valeurs de ce champ.

Note de l’auteur

I would like to thank Herrick Chapman, Robert Griswold, Rachel Kantrowitz, Eva‑Maria Muschik, and Arianne Urus, as well as the anonymous reviewers, for their insightful feedback on various drafts of this article.

Texte intégral

Origins: new lands, new laws

  • 1 From 1914 to 1936 Pierre Lacau, an Egyptologist, presided over Egypt’s Department of Antiquities, (...)
  • 2 Archives du ministère des Affaires étrangères, La Courneuve (AE), E‑Levant, Syrie 103. Pierre Laca (...)

1Days after the Great War ended in November 1918, the French Egyptologist Pierre Lacau wrote to his compatriots at France’s Embassy in Cairo.1 As head of the Egyptian Service of Antiquities, Lacau offered advice on the future of archaeological administration in the Near East. Presuming imminent European control of the region, he focused his comments on how to ensure that French archaeologists would obtain optimal access to future excavation sites. He did not, however, necessarily push for exporting the artifacts found in those excavations. Lacau explained the situation as ambiguous, referring to the landmark 1884 Ottoman law on antiquities, which had henceforth banned the previous policy of dividing artifacts with excavation teams. Lacau called the Ottoman decision to restrict division “completely normal from a scientific point of view.”2 By that he meant that archaeological principles now encompassed the argument that objects belonged in their lands of origin. This perspective marked a departure from earlier practices, when European archeologists had automatically funneled artifacts back to institutions in their home countries. Lacau instead gave his counterparts reason to uphold the Ottoman ban as they considered new antiquities laws for any future Middle Eastern possessions.

  • 3 Trigger, 1989; Reid, 2002; Bernhardsson, 2005.
  • 4 Bernhardsson gives a sense of the discipline as dynamic in this period, as it developed in mandate (...)

2Lacau’s counsel may seem rather surprising now, especially following years of productive scholarly work on the appetite Europeans and Americans showed for removing Egyptian tombs, Assyrian reliefs, and Hittite statues and installing them in Paris, London, Berlin, and New York.3 Yet debates about disciplinary precepts did exist within the archaeology community in the first decades of the twentieth century, and the introduction of the mandates as both an idea of governance and an arena of scientific practice catalyzed them further.4 Those currents of ambivalence are especially telling, not just for what they may reveal about archaeology as a science and a set of policies but for what they reveal about the limits of expertise.

  • 5 The Transjordan mandate was derived from the Palestine Mandate in 1921. An antiquities service cam (...)
  • 6 Chevalier, 2002, pp. 300‑301.
  • 7 Article 19 covered division of excavation finds. See « Arrêté no 207 portant règlement sur les Ant (...)

3With the end of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, a series of archaeological debates about new antiquities laws played out. The League of Nations “A” mandates—Palestine (and Transjordan from 1923), Iraq, Syria and Lebanon—were the key site for this development. Great Britain and France took control of the former Ottoman provinces that became mandates, and in the years that followed archaeologists established the laws that bound archaeological practice in the region.5 Law writing and enforcing did not happen seamlessly and was an expansive process that assessed the (asymmetrical) input of metropolitans, archaeologists in the new Middle Eastern territories, and mandate subjects. Indeed, what some archaeologists held as beneficial to the science did not necessarily prevail in the laws that took shape. For example, by 1926, when Syria and Lebanon became the third “A” mandate to ratify an antiquities law, the scientific view on division as expressed by Lacau had shifted, or been obscured.6 As in the case of Palestine (1920), Iraq (1924), and Transjordan (1924), the French mandate’s law authorized that a share of the finds go to the institution sponsoring the excavation.7 The recommendation Lacau had made for archaeology in the region, in short, dissolved in the early years of the “A” mandates.

  • 8 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 139; Goode, 2007, p. 4; Dyson, 2006, p. 207.
  • 9 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 11‑12; Watenpaugh, 2004, p. 200.

4Instead, the “A” mandates all legalized antiquities division—also called “partage”—and the decision prompted an influx of European and American excavation teams into the mandates.8 Historians have provided ample evidence of the political ideas that inspired the archaeological policies, conduct, and laws of the interwar period in the Middle East.9 In most accounts, the antiquities laws are rightfully analyzed as lop‑sided: aimed at serving the interests of foreign institutions and facilitating the dominance of the mandatory powers. This assessment is quite accurate, but a focus on the imperial politics embedded in the laws has tended to eclipse the scientific debates about those very laws that archaeologists took part in. This article focuses on those dilemmas and argues that an estrangement took root among archaeologists over the issue of partage in this period. For heuristic purposes, we can identify two general positions: metropolitans favoring partage (museum directors, curators, académiciens, and foreign officers) and mandate officials, who suggested that partage could compromise the presumed task to create both a sense of local social coherence and a local scientific legitimacy.

  • 10 Diplomats and archaeologists in the immediate postwar period anticipated that antiquities would be (...)

5Archaeologists thus engaged in a multilayered debate as they planned out archaeology for the mandates. And in debating the law they produced a forum for defining new principles. That forum reflected a broader aspiration: that the mandates territories would not simply channel preexisting knowledge but actually produce new ways of knowing, by putting experts in more proximate contact with one another. The edict from London, Paris, and later Geneva to write antiquities laws in the mandates thus generated hopes for clarity.10 Legal instruments could codify who was fit to excavate, and reassess what the excavation was really for: metropolitans, local subjects, a broader scientific community, or some melange? Taking part in the law in this way proved stimulating and confounding for European archaeologists. This article explores the dialectic—among archaeologists, mandate officials, and museums—that emerged as they discussed whether or not to reinstate “partage” there and shows how that debate created divisions about where exactly expertise should derive from: from the mandates or the metropoles.

6To do this requires looking at cross‑mandate situations in which archaeologists, who drafted the antiquities laws while stationed there, talked to each other extensively. This article looks first at the antecedent antiquities laws that served as the templates for archaeologists in the mandates to emulate (and also break with). The article then focuses on the early 1920s in mandate Palestine and Syria, the litmus period when British and French archaeologists debated whether or not to revive partage. Experts in the mandates found themselves caught between dueling imperatives: to satisfy the demands coming from home for an equal share of artifacts, or to place primacy on building the collections of the mandates and keeping artifacts in their place of origin—in their original context. This article underscores the point that both imperatives elided local leadership in this early period and dismissed the idea that mandate subjects in Palestine and Syria might take issue with their lack of participation. The article finds, however, that there is analytical merit in taking on the oppositions that the European framers did address. Archaeological expertise is shown to have fragmented due to the new possibilities—and experiences on the ground—that the mandates opened up. The article ends by reflecting on the ultimate success of those who favored partage in the mandates as a testament to the imbalance of expertise that existed in the 1920s. That success marked the temporary failure of one formulation of the science’s priorities by more dominant forces in the metropole. The mandates’ early years were a pivotal moment when archaeological norms on the ground began to deviate from antiquities laws bound to metropoles, creating more friction in the field as the 1920s progressed.

Legal foundations

Greek and Egyptian models

  • 11 Abu El‑Haj, 2001, p. 43.
  • 12 Greece’s government passed a first antiquities law in 1834, and Egypt decreed its first antiquitie (...)
  • 13 Gran‑Aymerich, 1998, p. 94.
  • 14 Ibid., pp. 180‑190.

7From the mid‑nineteenth century, as archaeologically rich realms became concerned about the steady westward exodus of artifacts from their lands, law became a tool favored by their governments for trying to control that flow. The laws intervened on the practice of partage but they did more than that. Indeed, the law became an essential element for defining the very practice of archaeology. Most often written by men who were either trained as or self‑identified as archaeologists, archaeology became defined as lawful behavior—as a science that had illegal antitheses (such as looting, treasure hunting, or dilettante digging). To make this distinction, the archaeologists behind the laws identified specific legal categories: antiquity, national property, museum, service of antiquities, exportation and division, and protection of monuments, among others.11 Egypt and Greece are usually recognized as the first governments to draw up such legal terms.12 Yet, if the laws encompassed a comprehensive framework for archaeological rights and services, it was one heated issue—the division of finds—that tended to drive forward such wholesale changes in the legal and scientific landscape. For example, “partage” went in different directions in Greece and Egypt. Whereas the Greek government instituted a ban on division and exportation once it seceded from the Ottoman Empire, Egypt’s self‑proclaimed Khedive invited French administrators to spearhead an antiquities service there and made division a cornerstone.13 Initially run as a quasi‑monopoly for France by Frenchman Auguste Mariette, in the 1880s Gaston Maspero took control in Cairo and modified the terms of partage. Under the watchful eye of the British occupiers, Maspero opened up Egypt’s terrain to an international group of scholars, who came in no small measure for the government’s concessionary policy on division.14 This made Egypt unique among Mediterranean territories at the fin‑de‑siècle, leading to widely diverging conceptions about archaeology’s core purpose that carried into the twentieth century.

Ottoman enforcement to Anglo‑French occupation

  • 15 Bahrani, Celik & Eldem, 2011, pp. 28‑32.
  • 16 Ibid., p. 124.
  • 17 National Archives of the UK (TNA), FO 141/687, Palestine Antiquities Ordinance (1920).

8In the 1870s and 1880s, the Ottoman Empire, too, had began to enact legal controls, eventually passing a landmark 1884 law written by Osman Hamdi Bey that defined the nature of an antiquity, established the sultanate as owner of all antiquities in the realm, made the Imperial Museum in Istanbul the seat of power of an antiquities directorate, and, most important, ended all alienation of artifacts without the express permission of the Sultan.15 In 1906, the Ottoman Empire passed a revised law—its last major antiquities law—which intended to shut down a clandestine antiquities trade that had managed to subvert the 1884 law’s ban on division and exportation.16 Not until 1920 did another overhaul of antiquities regulations in the region take place. It was the Great War that ushered in this change in the legal landscape. As the war came to an end in 1918, the British military, now firmly entrenched in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, issued a provisional decree meant to protect antiquities in the Southern zone it had carved out and taken control over—what became the mandate for Palestine.17 The French, likewise, issued proclamations in their own zones of the Allied Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA). These decisions happened amidst a tumult of shifting political alliances and accords.

  • 18 TNA, FO 608/82, Memo on the Joint Archaeological Commission’s Draft of Law of Antiquities for Pale (...)
  • 19 TNA, FO 608/82, Dos. Antiquities in Palestine at Paris Peace Conference 1919, Louis Mallet to Fred (...)
  • 20 TNA, FO 608/82, Dos. Antiquities in Palestine at Paris Peace Conference 1919, Proposal by William  (...)
  • 21 TNA, FO 608/82, Memo on the Joint Archaeological Commission’s Draft of Law of Antiquities for Pale (...)

9Thus, just as the political snarls were being negotiated over sovereignty, mandate borders, and legal jurisdiction in this period, so, too, were the rules of archaeology. Scholarly bodies and museum directors in London, Paris, Rome, Washington D.C., and New York sent delegates to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 with instructions to ensure that antiquities laws in the former Ottoman Empire be established through international oversight.18 It became expected that the League of Nations would eventually ratify mandates—the actual legal texts—that included a specific section or article on antiquities. The mandate text would require that an Antiquities Law be created for each territory, and that the Laws would be generous (or at least flexible) to other nations’ archaeological ambitions. Therefore, even before the mandates became official in 1923, archaeologists and mandates administrators acted in anticipation of an antiquities injunction from Geneva. Neither British nor French officials seriously considered creating an “A” mandates‑wide antiquities department, though the idea did get proposed.19 Paris Conference delegates also rejected the idea of an “A” mandates‑wide law that would regulate antiquities and archaeology across Iraq, Palestine, and Syria.20 The powers decided instead to aim for parallel structures for archaeology in the mandates, particularly in the realm of antiquities law and particularly in terms of the law on division. If international law was deemed undesirable, ensuring legal compatibility within the OETA zone was encouraged.21 In all three territories, an antiquities department or service soon formed—all three European‑directed—and the process of drafting a law of antiquities was begun in Jerusalem, Beirut, and Baghdad.

Drafting laws across mandate borders

  • 22 Vrdoljak, 2006, p. 86.
  • 23 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 122.
  • 24 Watenpaugh’s article is one of the only English‑language publications on the subject of archaeolog (...)

10A sense of opportunity but also pressure pervaded the process, as the archaeologists strove at once to meet their respective national interests in the mandates while also achieving some degree of compatibility.22 The British authorities in Palestine managed the task comparatively quickly, decreeing an Antiquities Ordinance in 1920. Drafted by many hands (archaeological, diplomatic, juridical, and military counselors among them) but shepherded through by Palestine’s Antiquities Director, John Garstang, the ordinance remained the law when Palestine passed from unofficial to official mandate status in 1923. In the case of Iraq, the antiquities legislation was written by the British orientalist and adventurer, Gertrude Bell, and passed through the Iraqi parliament in 1924—with serious difficulty—a year after the establishment of that mandate.23 The French experienced the most obstacles in their endeavor. Although the archaeologist Joseph Chamonard began the drafting process in 1920 from Beirut, interministerial debates and bureaucratic wrangling back in Paris bogged down the law’s passage, and the French High Commission in the mandate did not decree the Antiquities Law for Syria and Lebanon until 1926.24 Despite such differences, the laws’ actual texts were more remarkable for their textual similarities, owing to the primacy placed on compatibility. Each of the antiquities laws contained thirty‑some articles, generally grouped under rubrics that regulated Administration (including museums); Antiquities Trade; Excavations; and Exportation.

  • 25 Chevalier, 2002, p. 299 ; Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 123.
  • 26 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 125; Goode, 2007, p. 1.
  • 27 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 120. To read how such a case of “inferiority” was made, see also TNA, FO 14 (...)

11The drafters of these laws borrowed from precedent, meaning the terms that resulted were a mix of old and new. The antiquities laws already in place in Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, and the moribund Ottoman Empire served as references.25 But both the scale and kind of creation, promulgation, and enforcement was new. The antiquities service under the Ottoman Empire had proved fairly inconsistent at enforcing its reach, especially to the peripheries that included its Arab provinces.26 Centered in Istanbul, with only one official permanently appointed in the Syrian provinces (the curator at Baalbek in present‑day Lebanon), the Imperial Museum and its directorate had issued laws but struggled to control unchecked excavations and exportation of antiquities from Beirut, Jerusalem, and Alexandretta. The mandates’ comparatively robust antiquities administration aimed to provide for more thrust to bolster the definitions, prohibitions, and entitlements inscribed in the 1920s‑era antiquities laws. And as mandate administrators did in other sectors, officials involved in planning the antiquities service invoked the Ottoman legal landscape as an inferior precedent.27 Such comparisons were self‑serving and should be treated cautiously, but they do reveal something indisputable: the understanding that the antiquities law reflected a regime’s scientific precepts and prowess and, even more generally, the legitimacy and base allegiances of that regime. It was, in part, for this reason that partage became an especially sensitive issue as archaeologists conferred over the new mandates’ laws.

Establishing archaelogical norms

An open‑door policy for archaeology in the mandates

12The French mandate for Syria and Lebanon and the British mandate for Palestine, due to a combination of geographical proximity, similarities of mandate governance structures, and nationals living in each other’s mandates (mostly in Beirut and Jerusalem, respectively), most actively pursued the goal of aligning their respective antiquities laws. Indeed, French and British archaeologists met on multiple occasions in the mandates to compare legislation. Appointed by their foreign offices, John Garstang and Joseph Chamonard, replaced soon after by Charles Virolleaud, began conferring under OETA auspices about which values the mandates’ antiquities laws should reflect. The three men all came directly from academia and less from the museum world, though those distinctions were only then beginning to emerge. Garstang had trained under William Flinders Petrie in Egypt, the pioneer of field archaeology, and become a professor of archaeological methods and practice at Liverpool University in 1902. Like Garstang, Chamonard and Virolleaud had spent much of their careers in academic posts. Chamonard had served since the 1890s in various capacities at the École française d’Athènes, where he took part in excavations at Greek and Ottoman sites and developed an acknowledgment of the arguments for keeping artifacts in situ. In the hands of Garstang and Chamonard, the negotiations over mandates antiquities laws bore the early marks of an emerging group of archaeologists, stationed abroad, who developed new priorities due to their immersion in field archaeology and local contexts.

  • 28 For this, see (for France) AE, E Levant, Syrie 103; and (for Great Britain) TNA, FO 608/276 and FO (...)
  • 29 Vrdoljak, 2006, pp. 85‑86.
  • 30 In Britain and the United States museums tended to sponsor excavations that took place in the mand (...)
  • 31 Minutes from the Meeting of the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, 26th Session of the League (...)

13Yet, if these archaeologists’ exposure to other primacies ultimately left them conflicted about the principle of partage, they did agree on the precept of institutionalizing open access to excavations, at least among those who could prove themselves qualified. From the beginning of 1919, correspondence between British and French archaeologists made clear that any antiquities laws passed by a future mandate power would need to ensure equal access for excavation to any competent institution or party, regardless of nation.28 This “open door” policy for archaeology went on to precipitate a steep rise in the number of foreign excavation teams working in the region over the next twenty years, but the provision originated in nationalistic concerns. Particularly France, Great Britain, and the United States viewed the open door principle as a means to prevent a mandatory power from instituting a monopoly on archaeological research in its subject mandate.29 This principle, however, soon became a strategic tool for arguing that the mandates were about progress: and not necessarily for the subject populations, which, of course, was the entire conceit of the mandates system. Instead, the “A” mandates purported to offer a new site for pioneering scientific networks on territory that welcomed international collaboration. Archaeologists thus had a good reason to apply to dig in the mandates, and it was not only because institutions seeking artifacts—the British Museum, University of Pennsylvania, and the Louvre, to name a few—offered to sponsor them.30 This was now a place where one might stand to benefit from an aura of scientific disinterest.31

  • 32 “Cooperation” in the archaeological field was promoted in 1922 at a session of the Union internati (...)
  • 33 It remained predominantly an exclusively European and American science, for political and structur (...)

14The pay‑off to touting a more collaborative spirit within archaeology became clearer as archaeologists settled physically in the mandate territories—still technically the OETA—and sought to reverse the competitive, even antagonistic, relationship that the discipline’s prewar “scramble for the past” was now seen to have engendered among them32. But if the immediate years after the Great War ushered in a desire to reframe the science as cooperative33 by embracing mutuality in the mandates, disagreements existed about how the mandate laws should handle partage. It was unclear, as we saw above in Lacau’s letter from 1918, what the scientific norm was now meant to be. We can look at a spirited disagreement among mandate officials to understand the complexities of writing antiquities law in the mandates. While the British and French archaeologists involved often referenced, obliquely, the inhabitants of Palestine and Syria, this dispute remained a largely European affair; indeed, the representatives who shuttled between Jerusalem and Beirut referred to the Ottomans’ centralization of the antiquities service at Istanbul to make the justificatory case that no local experts existed (yet) to bring into the talks.

Debating the principles and politics of partage

15In Palestine, John Garstang spearheaded the drafting process; in Beirut, the analogous law for Syria and Lebanon, at least in its initial drafts, came from the pen of the Joseph Chamonard. Together, the two men struggled over how to write respective laws that would appease museum and diplomatic institutions back home, find adherents in the mandate among local and foreign contingents, and satisfy colleagues within the fledgling academic discipline. It mattered keenly to them how they represented archaeology in the law, not only because they had to, but also because they wanted to: law helped them to carve out the objects and objectives of the discipline. The argument over partage was thus much more than simply a political issue.

  • 34 Centre des archives diplomatiques de Nantes (CADN), Mandat Syrie‑Liban, 1SL/20/32 (Dossier personn (...)

16Chamonard came to Beirut in early 1920 at the service of then High Commissioner Henri Gouraud. Formerly a student and later a secretary of the prestigious École française d’Athènes, he specialized in the archaeology of ancient Greece. His secondment to Beirut was planned as temporary; indeed, he only served eight months. But in a short time, he took key preliminary measures to systematize the scrappy network of antiquities inspections that two repurposed soldiers, Claude Prost and Charles‑Léonce Brossé, had initiated.34 More precisely, Chamonard took charge of founding a service of antiquities for Syria and Lebanon that would protect monuments by creating an inventory and sending out inspectors on a routine basis. The Service of Antiquities would also be charged with setting up several museums. A third task involved overseeing excavations; this meant discerning scientific competence, assisting in the acquiring of supplies, and thwarting illegal excavations.

  • 35 TNA, FO 141/687, The Residency (Cairo) to Foreign Office, 30 April 1920.
  • 36 Thornton, 2012, p. 197.

17Standing before all these priorities was writing the law. Therefore, despite the fact that the mandates had not yet even informally been sanctioned, Chamonard and Garstang began to discuss the specifics of potential laws in the first months of 1920.35 Like Chamonard, Garstang was an eminent archaeologist. Since 1904 he had served as Professor at Liverpool, and his colleagues respected him as an expert on Egypt as well as on the ancient Hittites.36 The two men had experience working within the Greek, Ottoman, and Egyptian legal formulations, and they had both spent ample time observing—and also working within—those systems, where it had become ever clearer that a sensitivity to competing sovereignties and a willingness to adapt was necessary for archaeologists to continue working. They now marshaled this background and tried to integrate it with input from ministers and museum directors writing from London and Paris.

  • 37 IFAPO/SAHC, Box 2, Dos. Legislation, Chamonard to Gouraud, 20 June 1920.

18Assuring compatibility was a key objective, but the dialogue necessary also forged heady debate. In early summer 1920, Chamonard wrote to his superiors in Beirut and Paris. He reported that he had gone to Jerusalem in June and met productively with Garstang.37 His main purpose for the visit, he reported, had been to ensure that the antiquities laws that both men were writing aligned. On all the major provisions, Chamonard wrote, his draft agreed with the British draft. Both drafts defined an antiquity as man‑made and predating 1700 CE. They mandated that a formal system of application and permit be put in place to authorize excavations. All antiquities discovered within the state’s boundaries—even on private land—belonged to the (mandate) state and could only be alienated by it. Searching for artifacts without a permit was illegal. Accidental discoveries must be reported and the finder would receive an indemnity. The two regimes would set up museums in their mandates and ensure open access to all qualified nationals. In general, the laws matched, and Chamonard expressed satisfaction about his time working with Garstang.

  • 38 Ibid.
  • 39 Kaufman, 2004, pp. 123‑124.

19There was one major issue, however, on which they disagreed. Garstang explained that the British government wanted to institute partage in the Palestine mandate. The division would be shared between the mandate state (mediated by the mandate antiquities service) and the foreign excavating team. In Garstang’s formulation, Chamonard wrote, the excavator would have the first choice; the remaining lot would eventually go to the planned Palestine Museum in Jerusalem. Partage would thus not only be revived as a concept in the region but also on terms favorable to the excavator. Chamonard’s letter to his superiors indicates a level of dismay about this design. He noted that he had duly expressed concern to Garstang: “I insisted again on the fact that in our mandate, having as much in Syria as in Palestine the object of helping the country to organize itself, it would be surprising if we appeared to agree amongst ourselves to dispossess it of a part of the archaeological riches.”38 Although Chamonard cited no specific people or groups that might object to such dispossession, his past experience in Greece informed his stance. His situation in Beirut also likely fed such fears, where transplants like Henri Lammens of the Université Saint‑Joseph and affluent local leaders like Jacques Tabet and Alfred Sursock angled for a museum of antiquities to clarify and consolidate a burgeoning Lebanese identity.39

  • 40 Ibid.
  • 41 TNA, FO 141/687, Palestine Antiquities Ordinance, Article 30.
  • 42 Decree 207, Regarding regulations on Antiquities in Syria and in Lebanon, 1926. For full text, see (...)

20Intriguingly, Chamonard noted that Garstang had confessed privately to being of a similar viewpoint to the Frenchman; Garstang said he, too, believed that the entirety of a find should stay in the mandates. Nevertheless, Chamonard wrote, “Mr. Garstang appeared to me to be receiving his directions from England and showed himself little disposed, whatever be his personal sentiment,” to reverse direction.40 Indeed, later in 1920, when the British authorities issued their Antiquities Ordinance, it included a provision making partage legal in the mandate.41 That provision, article 30, did, however, reflect one change from its draft stage: the Antiquities Director would have first pick of the objects “needed for the scientific completeness of the Palestine Museum.” When the French finally promulgated an antiquities law six years later, article 19 allowed for division “for free or at a price, on the condition that the alienation does not in any way damage or undermine the interests or strengths of the [mandate] collections”.42

Museums’ great expectations: mandates

The case for metropolitan‑mandate partage

  • 43 Corbett, 2015, pp. 103‑104.
  • 44 The position on partage taken by the British had support among certain “internationalist” initiati (...)
  • 45 Chevalier, 2002, pp. 300‑301.
  • 46 Bernhardsson, 2005, pp. 120‑122.

21It seems clear that one reason Lacau’s norm did not hold, and partage was ordained in the mandates, related directly to metropolitan museum institutions. The British Museum’s director, Frederic Kenyon, had an influential role in planning the antiquities law for Palestine. As the powerful director of the country’s flagship museum, Kenyon pressed hard on his acquaintances at the Foreign Office, High Commission in Jerusalem, and on Garstang directly.43 And thus Garstang, the archaeologist in charge of writing the law, despite any personal standpoint about partage as confided to Chamonard, wrote a law that superiors in London would approve.44 In the case of France, a similar outcome eventually unfolded.45 Echoing the arguments of their British Museum colleagues, and supported by the Académie and the Société asiatique, the Louvre’s curators of Near Eastern Antiquities, Edmond Pottier and René Dussaud, pushed successfully within French circles for the reinstitution of partage. Unlike in Iraq, where Gertrude Bell clashed with Sāṭi’ al‑Ḥuṣrī46 over the legality of reintroducing such a practice, in Palestine and Syria this specific provision did not generate the same local resistance—at least not yet.

  • 47 Bahrani, Celik & Eldem (eds.), 2011, p. 16.
  • 48 Dyson, 2006, p. 207.

22If advocates for partage—men like British Museum director Kenyon and his keeper of Near Eastern antiquities, E.A. Wallis Budge, and the Louvre’s curators Dussaud, Pottier, and Georges Contenau—eventually prevailed, the outcome did not fully bury the debate that had transpired. Not only had it forced debate about whom the mandate was supposed to serve, and how this effected archaeology, but it also caused the archaeologists invested with the task of establishing services in the mandates to recognize that ideas about both the science and the law had begun to diverge. The removal of moveable artifacts had been the core objective and raison d’être of archaeology, at least as Europeans had practiced it, for most of the nineteenth century.47 In 1900, English curators at the British Museum and French curators at the Louvre would have agreed that the science hinged on the moveable and exportable artifact. Yet that focus was expanding, and the interwar years became a crucible of shifting purposes for archaeology.48 The mandates came into existence as archaeology’s primary object was extending beyond possessing the exportable antiquity, to encompass the benefits of keeping artifacts contextualized—that is, in their original place of discovery. That intellectual shift pushed archaeologists in the mandates to question if the foreign removal of artifacts, even if they made it legal, was best. Their experience in the mandates only reinforced that simmering debate—about from where exactly they derived their expertise.

The case for ground‑level expertise

  • 49 Goode, 2007, p. 70.

23At the turn of the 1920s, archaeologists increasingly advocated the excavation not of “stuff” but of “sites,” that is to say, a more holistic study of an ancient site. Context was becoming a most important archaeological principle. Energized by the publications and the prewar digs in Egypt of the American George Reisner and William Flinders Petrie of Great Britain, as well as ideas advances by Jacques de Morgan, archaeologists after 1918 considered a new ideal: the stratigraphic dig.49 These kinds of excavations aspired to “read” the soil in layers, contextualizing artifacts in respect to the level of their discovery and requiring serious investment—temporally, spatially, monetarily, and socially—in a place. With no end date set for European control in the Middle Eastern mandates, Europeans scientists now planned long‑term excavations here; the dense soil strata literally began to reshape the object of archaeological expertise. It also threw into question if partage did not confound that objective of context.

  • 50 Some archaeologists—Henri Seyrig and Maurice Dunand—stayed most of their professional lives in Bei (...)

24This shifting landscape of disciplinary practice and purpose affected the debate over partage and what types of archaeological expertise the laws should facilitate, or, alternatively, stymie. The changing nature of the discipline, as it played out in the mandates, explains, in part, why the debate over partage deepened. For the first time, the British and French had nearly absolute control over antiquities services, and in territories that had gone comparatively unexcavated due to strict Ottoman laws. It was an opportunity to plant down roots, and for this reason, archaeologists interested in adopting the systematic excavation methods endorsed by luminaries in the field took great interest in the mandates.50 They also heeded the “scientific” view expressed by Lacau. The specific ideals of the mandate, furthermore, constituted an intriguing opportunity: to abet the construction of local museums and the shape of local archaeological awareness. And though many archaeologists saw their science in terms of filling European museum, men like Garstang and Chamonard clearly had ambiguous feelings about archaeology’s priorities. Field archaeology and the home museum had begun to fissure.

Conclusion

25The beginnings of the mandates coincided with—and catalyzed—debates among archaeologists about their science. They began to make room for a new central object of study: the excavation site and local context. In response, the insistence on partage by museums in Paris, London, and increasingly the United States can be seen as a way of perpetuating the metropolitan museum as a critical site of the science. Partage was also a way for curators and museum directors to remind the mandate‑based archaeologists (not just local politicians like al‑Ḥuṣrī in Iraq) of the enduring power of metropolitan museums to authorize, fund, and publicize the science. Revival in the mandates of antiquities division is thus interesting not simply for the fact that it was an imperialist outlier of the times, but for the dilemmas it raised within the science.

26If the advocates of partage eventually convinced their diplomatic counterparts to push through partage, the officials on the ground in Jerusalem and Beirut did not go quiescent. Archaeologists in the mandates—Garstang, Chamonard, Virolleaud—encountered a new institutional, political, and professional context that was at once perplexing but also promising. In short, there was no overarching authority writing the laws for them, or providing uniform advice. The League of Nations did not set the rules, but it certainly expected archaeologists to find common ground in the mandates. This expectation was complicated by tensions at the national, professional, and local level. The expectation of local actors, as Chamonard’s letters reveal, also weighed on the archaeologists’ minds as they drafted the mandates’ antiquities laws. To find some balance within these interstitial expectations, Garstang and Chamonard and later Garstang and Virolleaud formed fast professional bonds, meeting regularly and writing often to each other about issues like their porous borders (where an antiquities traffic was active) and the problems they faced building museum institutions. In 1926, their commitment to creating some mandate‑centered locus of expertise was celebrated in a month‑long “International Archaeological Congress of Syria and Palestine,” which unfolded in plenaries, panels, and excavation site visits from Beirut and Aleppo to Jerusalem and Hebron. Though attended by leaders of the European museums that were reaping the benefits of so many of the mandates’ digs, the conference proceedings centered on internal developments within Palestine and Syria and how expertise of method and entirely new knowledge bases had flourished there since 1919.

27Chamonard and Garstang both realized, even if the law did not ultimately reflect it, that ending partage would have the effect of recentering the discipline—to the country or territory of artifacts’ origin. This implication tied in with the changing nature of archaeology’s object, which increasingly was elevating the importance of sites, not just extracted artifacts. Archaeology as a science practiced on the ground, within the mandate situation, was having a direct effect on how archaeologists began to recast the norms of the discipline. They embraced emerging professional and scientific rationales that soon became inextricably entwined with political struggles. Those currents of ambivalence are telling for what they reveal about the workings of archaeology as both a science and a politics. Legal codes and scientific norms were created in the specific colonial circumstances of the “A” mandates; but they diverged here, marking the path the discipline took.

Bibliographie

Sources

« Arrêté no 207 portant règlement sur les Antiquités en Syrie et au Liban », Syria, vol. 7, no 2 (1926), p. 187‑192.

Archives

Archives of the French Ministry of Forgien Affairs (La Courneuve) : Correspondance politique et commerciale (CPCOM) : E‑Levant Series.

Centre des Archives diplomatiques de Nantes (CADN, Nantes, France) : Fonds du Mandat français en Syrie et au Liban (1920‑1946).

Institut français du Proche‑Orient (Beirut) – Ifpo‑Bibliothèque : Archives du Service des antiquités du haut‑commissariat.

National Archives of the United Kingdom: Foreign Office: Peace Conference (FO 608) and Embassy in Egypt (FO 141).

References

Abu El‑Haj Nadia, 2001, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self‑Fashioning in Israeli Society, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 352 p.

Bahrani Zainab, Çelik Zeynep & Eldem Edhem (eds.), 2011, Scramble for the Past. A Story of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire, 1753‑1914, SALT, Istanbul, 519 p.

Bernhardsson Magnus T., 2005, Reclaiming a Plundered Past. Archaeology and Nation Building in Modern Iraq, University of Texas Press, Austin, 327 p.

Chevalier Nicole, 2002, La Recherche archéologique française au Moyen‑Orient, 1842‑1947, Éditions Recherche sur les civilisations, Paris, 630 p.

Corbett Elena, 2015, Competitive Archaeology in Jordan: Narrating Identity from the Ottomans to the Hashemites, University of Texas Press, Austin, 292 p.

Dyson Stephen L., 2006, In Pursuit of Ancient Pasts. A History of Classical Archaeology in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Yale University Press, New Haven, 316 p.

Goode James F., 2007, Negotiating for the Past. Archaeology, Nationalism, and Diplomacy in the Middle East, 1919‑1941, University of Texas Press, Austin, 293 p.

Gran‑Aymerich Ève, 1998, Naissance de l’archéologie moderne : 1798‑1945, CNRS Éditions, Paris, 533 p.

Kaufman Asher, 2004, Reviving Phoenicia. In Search of Identity in Lebanon, I. B. Tauris, London & New York, 277 p.

Kersel Morag M., 2010, “The Changing Legal Landscape for Middle Eastern Archaeology in the Colonial Era, 1800‑1930” in Emberling Geoff (ed.), Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East, 1919‑1920, The Oriental Institute Museum Publications, Chicago, pp. 85‑90.

Marchand Suzanne, 2007, “From Antiquarian to Archaeologist? Adolf Furtwängler and the Problem of ‘Modern’ Classical Archaeology” in Miller Peter (ed.), Momigliano and Antiquarianism: Foundations of the Modern Cultural Sciences, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, pp. 248‑285.

Méouchy Nadine & Sluglett Peter (eds.), 2004, The British and French Mandates in Comparative Perspectives. Les Mandats français et anglais dans une perspective comparative, Brill, Leiden & Boston, 743 p.

Reid Donald M., 2002, Whose Pharaohs? Archaeology, Museums, and Egyptian National Identity from Napoleon to World War I, University of California Press, Berkeley, 409 p.

Shaw Wendy M. K., 2003, Possessors and Possessed. Museums, Archaeology, and the Visualization of History in the Late Ottoman Empire, University of California Press, Berkeley, 269 p.

Thornton Amara, 2012, “Tents, Tours, and Treks: Archaeologists, Antiquities Services, and Tourism in Mandate Palestine and Transjordan” in Public Archeology, no 4, vol. 11, pp. 195‑216.

Trigger Bruce G., 1989, A History of Archaeological Thought, University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge, 500 p.

Vrdoljak Ana Filipa, 2006, International Law, Museums and the Return of Cultural Objects, University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge, 342 p.

Watenpaugh Heghnar Zeitlian, 2004, “Museums and the Construction of National History in Syria and Lebanon” in Méouchy Nadine & Sluglett Peter (eds.), The British and French Mandates in Comparative Perspectives. Les Mandats français et anglais dans une perspective comparative, Brill, Leiden & Boston, pp. 185‑202.

Notes

1 From 1914 to 1936 Pierre Lacau, an Egyptologist, presided over Egypt’s Department of Antiquities, the post traditionally held by a French national since Mariette had founded the service at the request of the self‑proclaimed Khedive. Lacau’s directorship was marked by an increasingly fractious relationship between Egypt and European governments. He provided counsel to semi‑autonomous Egypt in its efforts to keep Tutankhamen’s artifacts from going to London in the 1920s (Goode, 2007, p. 97).

2 Archives du ministère des Affaires étrangères, La Courneuve (AE), E‑Levant, Syrie 103. Pierre Lacau to Pierre Lefèvre‑Pontalis, Consulat général of France in Egypt, 30 November 1918.

3 Trigger, 1989; Reid, 2002; Bernhardsson, 2005.

4 Bernhardsson gives a sense of the discipline as dynamic in this period, as it developed in mandate Iraq (Bernhardsson, 2005, pp. 118‑125).

5 The Transjordan mandate was derived from the Palestine Mandate in 1921. An antiquities service came into being in 1923 and an antiquities law followed the next year. The Transjordan department of antiquities had close ties to the Palestine department, effectively sharing similar templates for laws, institutions, and personnel. Indeed, debates hammered out by John Garstang for Palestine and Joseph Chamonard for Syria and Lebanon on the concept of partage were extended to Transjordan upon its creation; the emirate played no specific separate role, in other words, in the early shaping of dilemmas about division. For archaeology in Jordan: Corbett, 2015; Thornton, 2012, p. 20.

6 Chevalier, 2002, pp. 300‑301.

7 Article 19 covered division of excavation finds. See « Arrêté no 207 portant règlement sur les Antiquités en Syrie et au Liban », Syria 7, 2 (1926), p. 191.

8 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 139; Goode, 2007, p. 4; Dyson, 2006, p. 207.

9 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 11‑12; Watenpaugh, 2004, p. 200.

10 Diplomats and archaeologists in the immediate postwar period anticipated that antiquities would be addressed in each mandates’ legal text; they shared drafts outlining desiderata. Antiquities ultimately had their own article in each mandate’s text: Article 21 for the Palestine Mandate and Article 14 for the French Mandate.

11 Abu El‑Haj, 2001, p. 43.

12 Greece’s government passed a first antiquities law in 1834, and Egypt decreed its first antiquities in 1835 (Kersel, 2010, p. 87).

13 Gran‑Aymerich, 1998, p. 94.

14 Ibid., pp. 180‑190.

15 Bahrani, Celik & Eldem, 2011, pp. 28‑32.

16 Ibid., p. 124.

17 National Archives of the UK (TNA), FO 141/687, Palestine Antiquities Ordinance (1920).

18 TNA, FO 608/82, Memo on the Joint Archaeological Commission’s Draft of Law of Antiquities for Palestine, April 17, 1919.

19 TNA, FO 608/82, Dos. Antiquities in Palestine at Paris Peace Conference 1919, Louis Mallet to Frederick Kenyon, 5 March 1919.

20 TNA, FO 608/82, Dos. Antiquities in Palestine at Paris Peace Conference 1919, Proposal by William Westermann (American delegation to Peace Conference) on antiquities, 15 March 1919.

21 TNA, FO 608/82, Memo on the Joint Archaeological Commission’s Draft of Law of Antiquities for Palestine, April 17, 1919. Also see Chevalier, 2002, p. 299.

22 Vrdoljak, 2006, p. 86.

23 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 122.

24 Watenpaugh’s article is one of the only English‑language publications on the subject of archaeology during the French mandate era (Watenpaugh, 2004). Chevalier covers the mandate as part of her sweeping coverage of French archaeology in the region (Chevalier, 2002, pp. 283‑321).

25 Chevalier, 2002, p. 299 ; Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 123.

26 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 125; Goode, 2007, p. 1.

27 Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 120. To read how such a case of “inferiority” was made, see also TNA, FO 141/687, Memorandum Drawn up by the Archaeological Joint Committee for the International Control of Antiquities existing in Countries under Turkish Rule, Submitted to the UK Foreign Office, 11 January 1919.

28 For this, see (for France) AE, E Levant, Syrie 103; and (for Great Britain) TNA, FO 608/276 and FO 608/82.

29 Vrdoljak, 2006, pp. 85‑86.

30 In Britain and the United States museums tended to sponsor excavations that took place in the mandates (the British Museum, Princeton University, etc.) while for France it was the state.

31 Minutes from the Meeting of the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, 26th Session of the League of Nations Council (August 1923), League of Nations Archive (LNA). In November 1923, the contents of the Council’s meetings were published; see Point 1054 for minutes of the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation and Point 1054(B) for specific discussion on “Cooperation in Scientific Research, Protection of Scientific Discoveries: Archaeological Excavations.” Despite such enthusiasm, colonial powers and mandatory governments remained skeptical about these “international” projects under development (Bernhardsson, 2005, p. 79).

32 “Cooperation” in the archaeological field was promoted in 1922 at a session of the Union internationale académique held in Brussels. There the (mostly European) academy members expressed the need within archaeology to come together to save antiquities “exposed to…damage by ignorant prospectors.” Ibid. (Minutes from the Meeting of the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, 26th Session of the League of Nations Council, August 1923, LNA).

33 It remained predominantly an exclusively European and American science, for political and structural reasons. Inhabitants of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq had little opportunity in the field before and after World War I, though this situation began to change starting in the mid‑1920s.

34 Centre des archives diplomatiques de Nantes (CADN), Mandat Syrie‑Liban, 1SL/20/32 (Dossier personnel : Léonce Brossé) and 1SL/20/136 (Dossier personnel : Claude Prost).

35 TNA, FO 141/687, The Residency (Cairo) to Foreign Office, 30 April 1920.

36 Thornton, 2012, p. 197.

37 IFAPO/SAHC, Box 2, Dos. Legislation, Chamonard to Gouraud, 20 June 1920.

38 Ibid.

39 Kaufman, 2004, pp. 123‑124.

40 Ibid.

41 TNA, FO 141/687, Palestine Antiquities Ordinance, Article 30.

42 Decree 207, Regarding regulations on Antiquities in Syria and in Lebanon, 1926. For full text, see Syria 7, 2 (1926), pp. 187‑192.

43 Corbett, 2015, pp. 103‑104.

44 The position on partage taken by the British had support among certain “internationalist” initiatives that developed first around the time of the Paris Conference in 1919 and later at League institutions in Geneva in the early 1920s. Kenyon and his Joint Archaeological Commission recommended in January 1919 that priorities must be instantiated at the Paris Peace Conference that would prevent the imposition of “harsh conditions on foreigners” (i.e. limitations on excavation and partage) in what became of Ottoman territory. See TNA, FO 141/687, Memorandum Drawn up by the Archaeological Joint Committee for the International Control of Antiquities existing in Countries under Turkish Rule, Submitted to the UK Foreign Office, 11 January 1919. Once League institutions took fuller shape in Geneva, the debate on archaeological partage also surfaced there on occasion. In 1923, for example, members of the League’s new Committee on Intellectual Cooperation debated the ethics of partage, with the Italian delegate, F. Ruffini, suggesting that a two‑tiered system should be put into effect, whereby artifacts would remain in situ in countries “where intelligent and strict supervision” prevailed (he gave his own country, Italy, as an example) but be allowed for removal from certain countries “in which antiquities receive no protection” and required shelter in “special museums” abroad. See Minutes from the League of Nations Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (Second Session, July 26‑August 2, 1923).

45 Chevalier, 2002, pp. 300‑301.

46 Bernhardsson, 2005, pp. 120‑122.

47 Bahrani, Celik & Eldem (eds.), 2011, p. 16.

48 Dyson, 2006, p. 207.

49 Goode, 2007, p. 70.

50 Some archaeologists—Henri Seyrig and Maurice Dunand—stayed most of their professional lives in Beirut.

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Oklahoma State University

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