by Sarah Fairman SEPTEMBER 20, 2016
The fellows have arrived in Jerusalem at the Albright Institute for the Fall 2016 semester. With their orientation last Thursday with the director, the programming year has officially begun. In the first weeks, the fellows will visit other area institutions, including the École Biblique et Archéologique Française and the Rockefeller Museum, Archives, and Library. The program of field trips will begin in October with a visit to Megiddo and other sites in the Jezreel Valley, also known as Marj Ibn Amer.
The fall fellows have traveled here by plane, perhaps with a layover or two, from the United States, China, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
In 1907, how did the appointees get to Jerusalem? It was the year that the permit or firman was finally granted by the Ottoman government for the establishment of an American institute in the Turkish Empire, and seven years after Charles C. Torrey, the first resident director at the Jerusalem School stopped in Constantinople en route to Jerusalem for his first (unsuccessful) attempt to secure the firman (King 1983: 29). And it was one year before a large plot of land would be purchased as a permanent location for the institute (King 1983: 43), the same plot where the Albright Institute is located today.
A handwritten and unpublished trips journal from the academic year of 1907-1908 tells us about those long journeys to reach the institute. The record keeper writes of the director at the time, Francis Brown and the students traveling for a month just to arrive in Jerusalem. This very same week, 109 years ago, the director was climbing Mt. Hermon en route to Jerusalem. From an entry dated October 3rd, 1907, the record keeper tells us:
“Professor Francis Brown, the director, arrived in Beirut on July 30th, travelling by way of Constantinople. On August 2nd he went to ‘Aleih, departing thence for Shumlan on the 10th. At Shumlan he remained till September 23rd, with the exception of the days September 11th to 20th, which days were devoted to an ascent of Mt. Hermon.”
Following Shumlan, the record keeper tells us that Brown met three students in Beirut: Benjamin Willard Robinson, Thayer Fellow, 1907-1908; Harold Harrison Tryon, Fellow of Union Theological Seminary, 1906-1908; and Murray Scott Frame, Fellow of Union Theological Seminary, 1907-1909. From there, the director seems to have continued his journey to Jerusalem alone, with the students left to their own devices, traveling via train, boat, and finally horseback:
“On the 25th of September the director set forth by carriage to Sidon, continuing his journey thence on horseback along the coast to Jaffa. He arrived in Jaffa on October 1st, and in Jerusalem on October 2nd. On the 25th of September Messrs. Robinson, Tryon, and Frame started for Jerusalem by way of Damascus. Their journey as far as Samakh was by rail. They arrived in Baalbek on the 25th, in Damascus on the 26th, and in Samakh on the 29th. From Samakh they took boat to Tiberias where they spent the night of the 29th. They rode from Tiberias to Nazareth by way of Mt. Tabor on September 30th. At Nazareth horses were secured for the three days ride to Jerusalem. They arrived in Jenin on October 1st, in Nablus, by way of Sebastiyeh, on the 2nd, and in Jerusalem on the 3rd.”
After such arduous journeys, “[t]he first days in Jerusalem were devoted chiefly to recuperating from the journey, to correspondence, and to desultory walks.”
We will follow this cast of characters throughout the year, including their camps, wadi crossings, and encounters in a land that was vastly different than the 2016 fellows will experience it today. We have been working on the program of field trips, conferences, and workshops and will publish it online shortly, and we look forward to seeing both familiar and new faces as the programming year begins!
King, Philip J. American Archaeology in the Mideast: A History of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1983.