A Tale of Two Yusifs: Recovering Arab Agency in Palestine Exploration Fund Excavations 1890–1924

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Abstract

The scholarly literature on the history of archaeology and archaeological organisations in late nineteenth/early twentieth century Palestine focuses almost exclusively on the Western excavators and scholars who headed this work. But Arab workers did the bulk of the actual digging, and on a daily basis they were often overseen by fellow Arabs as foremen and gang leaders. This paper applies lessons from relational history as it has been used in Levantine intellectual and labour contexts to understand the roles of two particular men, Yusif ‘abu Selim' Khazin and Yusif Khattar Kanaan, who worked for the Palestine Exploration Fund between 1890 and World War One, acting as foremen, researchers, site directors and many other roles for Frederick Bliss, R.A.S Macalister, and Duncan Mackenzie. Despite their often slim and ghostly presence in the records, in which both men are often referred to only by their shared first name, the writings of Bliss and Macalister reveal them to have been indispensable on-site and as offering insights and knowledge which influenced how both archaeological finds and indigenous life in Palestine was understood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalPalestine Exploration Quarterly
Volume149
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Lebanon
  • Palestine
  • Yusuf Kanaan
  • Yusuf Khazin
  • agency
  • archaeology
  • colonialism
  • subaltern

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