Left Coast Press Home
15% off all online book orders
30% off selected hardbacks
Quick Search    

Dame Kathleen Kenyon
Digging Up the Holy Land
Miriam Davis
280 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / Mar, 2008
Paperback (978-1-59874-326-5)
Hardback (978-1-59874-325-8)
eBook (978-1-61132-476-1)
eBook Rental - 180 Days (978-1-61132-476-1)
Learn about eBooks
  - University College London Institute of
    Archaeology Publications

Related Interest
  - Archaeology
  - Gender Studies

Dame Kathleen Kenyon has always been a larger-than-life figure, likely the most influential woman archaeologist of the 20th century. In the first full-length biography of Kenyon, Miriam Davis recounts
"This is a serious and honest attempt to provide an informative biography, and the notes and references testify to the enormous amount of work put in by Professor Davis...Davis is candid. This is a well-informed honest biography, which does nothing but enhance one's respect for a great and memorable person."

- John R. Bartlett, Palestine Exploration Quarterly

"A biography of Kathleen Kenyon was long overdue...The appearance of this book is thus a welcome event, especially for those who knew Kenyon and admired her achievements. The writer never met Kenyon, but has a long-standing interest in her subject. The person that emerges from her pages is certainly recognizable. Fair and lucid, Davis' text is carefully and thoroughly sourced."

- Kay Prag, Levant

"Kathleen Kenyon is probably most known for her work in excavating Jericho, but this project was only one of her many accomplishments as a professional archaeologist. Miriam C. Davis’s biography does justice to this remarkable woman and her achievements...Her upbeat and unfailingly interesting account of Kenyon’s life invites admiration of her subject. Miriam Davis illuminates both her accomplishments and the extraordinary person behind them. Her book is a good read with appeal for a broad lay and professional audience. Read the complete review at: http://wings.buffalo.edu/ARD/cgi/showme.cgi?keycode=3324"

- Riva Berleant, Anthropology Review Database

" All too often, academic biographies fail to strike a balance between detailing the personal life of the individual and explaining the intel­lectual context of their activities. Fortunately, Miriam Davis’ biography of Kathleen Kenyon is an exception… this reviewer finished the book with the satisfying sense of having been both educated and entertained. The book is an interesting mixture of the personal and the intellectual, with plenty to interest both archaeologists and others."

- Naomi Farrington, Archaeological Review from Cambridge

"The figure of Kenyon as portrayed in the book is a model of diligence and dedication. The book is based on thorough research, including written and oral testimony. It is well-written and the story is appealing. In my opinion it deserves high praise. The complete review is available at: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/ spages/1067736.html "

- Magen Broshi, Haaretz.com

"The author of this biography deserves all praise. It is based on thorough research including both oral and written sources. It is quite readable and avoids many of the pitfalls common in such monographs."

- Magen Broshi, Biblical Archaeology Review

"Miriam Davis is upbeat...about Kathleen Kenyon. A thumbnail sketch is provided on p. 112: ‘The Kathleen Kenyon who became a modern archaeological legend – even a myth – originated at Jericho in the 1950s. She was in her mid-forties when the dig began, so this legendary figure is a confident, stout, middle-aged woman with intense blue eyes, a low-pitched throaty voice, striding manfully up and down the mound in the battered trench coat she would wear throughout the Jericho excavations, a cigarette ever present in her nicotine-stained hand or mouth, alerting her loafing basket boys to her imminent presence by her rattling smoker’s cough. This is the woman who could consume frightening quantities of gin without showing its effects. . . ’. Yet, as the author shows, this image of the lovable British battle-axe is just one aspect of a more complex character. "

- Madeleine Hummler, Antiquity

"The image of the archeologist has been somewhat warped by the Indiana Jones movies. Davis corrects this with the true story of Kathleen Kenyon, one of the foremost archeologists of the twentieth century. She was part of the all-woman expedition that proved that The Great Zimbabwe was built by native Africans. She made the most extensive excavations at the Biblical town of Jericho, survived the London blitz and helped to develop the standards of stratification in archeological digs. Davis had access to Kenyon's private papers and interviewed her family and colleagues for this fascinating, lively biography. This is not just for archeology buffs but anyone interested in the life of a strong, intelligent woman."

- Book News, Inc.

"Kathleen Kenyon was a towering figure of 20th century archaeology and certainly one of the most renowned and successful women archaeologists. Her excavations, most notably in the Holy Land at Jericho and Jerusalem were noted for their advances in methodology and refined use of stratigraphy. Although the archaeology is fully covered in this first biographical account Miriam C. Davis is as concerned to chart her life and career more widely. It is an entertaining read, and the picture of Kenyon which emerges is that of a highly forthright personality whose career had to be hard fought for in a male dominated world. "

- Oxbow Books

"Miriam Davis' book captures the full life of an extraordinary woman. In addition to describing K's career, it gathers detailed information and testimonials from those who knew her to form a colorful and insightful life story about an incredibly influential dame of archaeology. While Davis claims it is not intended to be an academic nor intellectual biography, the book nevertheless helps understand the environment of an archaeologist and how dedicating oneself to archaeology as a career means having it affect each aspect of their personal life...It shows what it takes to be a great archaeologist. To read the complete review, go to: http://www.archaeology.org/online/reviews/kenyon/"

- Hana Koriech, Archaeology

"Kathleen Kenyon died some 30 years ago. Her impact on the archaeological profession was immense. As time has passed, however, discussions of Kenyon and her impact have become almost one-dimensional caricatures, the gin-drinking delirious digger of precise, narrow stratigraphic trenches. This book reacquaints us with Kenyon as a person, something that is important in order to understand her work."

- Jeffrey A. Blakely, University of Wisconsin

"Kathleen Kenyon was the outstanding woman archaeologist of the twentieth century, famous for her excavations at Jericho and Jerusalem. In this penetrating biography of 'K', as she was known to friends, students and colleagues, Miriam Davis has written the definitive account of K's life of action and scholarship in England and the Middle East. Never shirking the difficulties, academic, political, personal, Davis offers balanced judgements, drawing a portrait true to those of us who knew K and owed her so much. Essential reading for everyone interested in the development of archaeology as an modern intellectual quest as seen through the life of one of the pioneers."

- Martin Biddle, Oxford

" As I worked with Dame Kathleen for many years and received my doctoral degree under her tutelage at The University of Oxford, it gives me much pleasure to note that Miriam Davis has done a terrific job describing not only “K’s” archaeological career, but also the great influence she had upon her professional associates, students, and many friends, even though at heart she was a fairly shy person.This biography sheds much light on Dame Kathleen’s attempts to excel in ground breaking new archaeological techniques, which she honed while working with the legendary Sir Mortimer Wheeler on roman sites in the British Isles. This training allowed her to apply her knowledge to the excavation and study of foreign ancient sites in diverse locations that included southeast and North Africa, as well as the famous biblical sites at Samaria, Jericho, and Jerusalem, which produced many new and marvelous discoveries. "

- Thomas A. Holland, Research Associate, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

" Miriam Davis has written a critical yet colorful biography of Dame Kathleen Kenyon, one of the legendary figures in the archaeology of the Holy Land. Drawing on extensive archival work and scores of personal interviews, she charts in detail Kenyon’s early struggle as a lonely woman in a man’s field; her extraordinary life on the digs she dominated at Samaria, Jericho, and Jerusalem; her frequent involvement in political intrigue in the Middle East; and her flamboyant personal style. As someone who knew Dame Kathleen well in Israel in the 1960s –1970s, I can attest that Davis has successfully captured the persona of this remarkable woman, with all her peculiarities, yet with full appreciation of her genius. A splendid accomplishment! As I read it, I could see Dame Kathleen in my mind’s eye. Davis has got it right. "

- William G. Dever, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Arizona

not only her many achievements in the field but also her personal side, known to very few of her contemporaries. Her public side is a catalog of major successes: discovering the oldest city at Jericho with its amazing collection of plastered skulls; untangling the archaeological complexities of ancient Jerusalem and identifying the original City of David; participating in the discipline’s most famous all-woman excavation at Great Zimbabwe. Her development (with Sir Mortimer Wheeler) of stratigraphic trenching methods has been universally emulated by archaeologists for over half a century. Her private life—her childhood as daughter of the director of the British Museum, her accidental choice of a career in archaeology, her working at bombed sites in London during the blitz, and her solitary retirement to Wales—are generally unknown. Davis provides a balanced and illuminating picture of both the public Dame Kenyon and the private person.

This title is sponsored by Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

    © 2016 Left Coast Press Inc. 1630 N. Main Street #400 | Walnut Creek, California 94596
    925-935-3380 (phone) | 925 935-2916 (fax) | | Contact Us | facebook | facebook