Friday, April 15, 2016

Fragment: Home schooled...

Fragment from: Ward, William Hayes. What I Believe and Why. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915.
I think my first unrecognized doubt as to the historical certitude of the Bible came in the three years between the ages of six and nine, during which my father required me to read the Bible through in Hebrew, he being my teacher. He believed, I am glad to say,  that Hebrew was an easier language to learn than Greek or Latin, and with three years for each, and in this reverse order, he required me to read the whole Bible in the original tongues, with the Old Testament also in Greek, and the New in Hebrew, and both in Latin. It was during those years given to Hebrew that I learned from my Gesenius's "Lexicon" that Babel in Arabic means the gate of God, Bab-Il, and not confusion as the Genesis story tells us...
p. 6-7

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fragment: Lonely? Not a bit of it!

Fragment from: Fairclough, Henry Rushton. Warming Both Hands: The Autobiography of Henry Rushton Fairclough Including His Experiences under the American Red Cross in Switzerland and Montenegro. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1941.
 It was a good many years after our first meeting that I had the honor of appearing on the same platform with Dr. Breasted.  This was in St. Louis in 1916, on the occasion of the annual  banquet of the Archaeological Institute of America. Chicago's great Hellenist, Paul Shorey, had returned from California, and on his way East had prepared for this event an address on "The Loneliness of the Scholar." The tone was distinctly morbid, but we auditors were hardly prepared for the heat shown by Dr. Breasted, who as next speaker denounced his colleague's views with all the fire of a Hebrew prophet. "I suppose," he said, "that there are not half a dozen men in this country working along the same lines as I do. But am I lonely? Not a bit of it. If I can dig out a scrap of fresh knowledge to give to the school-children of America, I am as happy as a king."
p. 198-199

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fragment: Gordon on Kramer and Poebel

 Fragment from: Gordon, Cyrus H. A Scholar’s Odyssey. Biblical Scholarship in North America 20. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000.
He [George Aaron Barton] also published Sumerian texts and gave courses on Sumerian in which Samuel Noah Kramer and I were the only students. Interestingly enough Barton's repelled Kramer and discouraged him from pursuing the language. Years later, however, when he was at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Kramer decided to study Sumerian with Arno Poebel, a great Sumerologist. When Poebel told him "Unless you admit that all your previous education is worthless, I cannot accept you as a student," it was precisely the shock treatment Kramer needed.He studied with Poebel for only a few months, but the experience was so intense that it proved to be the foundation on which Kramer's career as a famous Sumreologist was built.
p. 18

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Fragment: A terrible teacher

Fragment from: Kramer, Samuel Noah. In the World of Sumer. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986.
Pedagogically speaking Peobel was a terrible teacher, no better in some ways than my Talmud teachers of yeshivah days who chose to teach the laws of divorce before those of marriage. But in other respects he was stimulating and inspiring, at least for me - and I was at times the only one attending his classes. His speech was rather slow and monotonous; his English was far from idiomatic; he was given to numerous and prolonged digressions and tended to be repetitive and diffuse. But none of these pedagogical failings were defects as far as I was concerned. Not blessed with a quick mind or a superior memory, I found that Poebel's repetitions, digressions, and obiter dicta were just what I needed to help me understand and digest the principles of Sumerian grammar underlying  the intricate and often misleading cuneiform system of writing, as well as the methodology of transforming the dead inscriptions into living informants.
p. 38

Fragment: Nimrud sleeps

Fragment from: Christie, Agatha. Agatha Christie: An Autobiography. London: Collins, 1977.
As for the mound itself, it lost its early beauty, owing to all the great dumps.  Gone was that innocent simplicity, with the stone heads poking up out of the green grass, studded with red ranunculus. The flocks of bee-eaters - lovely little birds of gold, green and orange, twittering and fluttering over the mound - still came every spring, and a little later the rollers, bigger birds, also blue and orange, which had a curious way of falling suddenly and clumsily from the sky - hence their name. In the legend, they had been punished by by Ishtar by being bitten through the wing because they had insulted her in some way.
Now Nimrud sleeps.
We have scarred it with our bulldozers. Its yawning pits have been filled in with raw earth. One day its wounds will have healed, and it will bloom once more with early spring flowers.
Here was once Calah, that great city. Then Calah slept. ...
Here came Max Mallowan and his wife. Now again Calah sleeps.
Who shall disturb it next?
We do not know.
p. 514

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fragment: My way of thanking him

Fragment from: Collingwood, Robin George. An Autobiography. London: Oxford Unversity Press, 1939.
Because an autobiography has no right to exist unless it is un livre de bonne foi, I have written candidly, at times disapprovingly about men whom I admire and love. If any of these should resent what I have written, I wish him to know that my rule in writing books is never to name a man except honoris causa, and that naming anyone personally known to me is my way of thanking him for what I owe to his frienship, or his teaching, or his example, or all three.
p. [i]

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fragment: To get on in the profession

From: MacNeice, Louis. The Strings Are Flase: An Unfinished Autobiography. London: Faber and Faber, 1965.
If I wanted to get on in the profession, Dodds told me, I must do some research. Edit a Greek play perhaps. He recognized that much of the 'research' done at universities was done merely from careerist motives, and much of it was a waste of time.  Pun provided you had a critical faculty, provided you had you had imagination and provided you did some work you might contribute something to Scholarship. Scholarship for Dodds was a living and humane activity, an antidote to sentimentality,  to our more muddled or trumpery brands of civilization...
page 137

Fragment: A Time of sadness

From: Evans, Joan. Prelude and Fugue: An Autobiography. London: Museum Press Limited, 1964.
The autumn of 1914 was in any case inevitably a time of sadness. The friendliest of my nephews, who under the compulsion of a premonition of war had given up scientific work to join the Royal Fusiliers a year or two before, was killed in France early in the term; a friend whom I might well have married was killed a few days later; and I felt the senseless destruction of Rheims as an acute personal loss. Morover I was the only woman working in archaeology, my sole companion being an Australian undergraduate - Gordon Childe - whom I hardly knew to speak to, and I did not make friends so easily as I might have done had I belonged to a more popular "school"...
page 72

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fragment: What sort of men the Swedes are

From: Gjerstad, Einar. Ages and Days in Cyprus. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology., Pocket-Book 12. Göteborg: P. Åstrom, 1980.
I shall never forget one spicey, heavy evening at Alambra, when young Polykarpos  sang his song of love and suffering, so the stars trembled in the heavens, nor one afternoon with Andreas, the paralyzed café landlord at Ormidhia. He lay silent in bed, contending with his rheumatic pains while the farmers were making a noise all round him. Suddenly he raised his huge head and shouted to the boys in the room to be quiet. Then, with blazing eyes, he sang a dithyramb about the heroic deeds of Charles XII to show what sort of men the Swedes are.
page 82

Fragment: Approbation

From: Wilson, John A. Thousands of Years: An Archaeologist’s Search for Ancient Egypt. New York: Scribner, 1972.
It is a commentary on the attitudes of the faculty at an American university that I received more approbation from my colleagues in other departments for resigning from administrative office than I had ever received for accepting such an office.
Page 85