The collaboration of the three victorious powers of World War One—Great Britain, France and the US—on archaeological issues during the interwar period in Palestine can be told through the history of their respective archaeological organisations deployed on the ground.Footnote 1 Foreign archaeologists returned to the Middle East at the end of WWI to take over the digs they had been forced to leave and to start new excavations. An influential rivalry stood out between Great Britain and the US. The former was supposed to take over the role of decision makers over archaeology in Palestine, while the latter wanted to be involved in writing legislation and working on a shared digging method, specifically in support of biblical archaeology and linked to the Western Judeo-Christian traditions of the Jewish nationalist project.Footnote 2 The political aftermath of WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire led to a revision of archaeological policies in the former provinces of SyriaFootnote 3 and Palestine. The Paris Peace Conference discussed a new set of regulations for archaeology and antiquities management in 1919, which was included into the official text of the Mandate in 1922. The newly designated mandatory powers, Great BritainFootnote 4 for Palestine and France for Syria, collaborated with other member states of the League of Nations to supervise the archaeological field throughout the Middle East. The archaeological field came under the supervision of the British and French mandatory authorities in their zones of influence, with some benefits reserved for other League of Nations signatories. Although the US did not receive a mandate and shied away from any involvement regarding the political reorganisation of the region when its Congress refused to ratify the League of Nations Covenant in 1921, the US government established bilateral diplomatic relations with the British and French governments.Footnote 5 American archaeologists suggested that the scientific delegations—designated by each country to discuss archaeological issues of the Middle East region at the Peace Conference—establish a common inter-allied scientific project in Jerusalem with the aim of associating themselves with British-French archaeological regulatory body which was already debating these issues.Footnote 6 This work will mainly focus on Palestine, while Syria will be mentioned in order to compare British and French approaches to the archaeological field under their respective Mandates.

At the beginning of the 1920s, the British authorities founded new institutions in Palestine—a Department of Antiquities under the auspices of the League of Nations Mandate High Commission and a school of archaeology—both to develop archaeology as a scientific discipline and to protect antiquities.Footnote 7 At the same time, scholars themselves created organisations and learned societies to promote international research dedicated to Palestine. In the 1920s, diplomats and Western scientific committees, in the new post-WWI political context, used the establishment of a new archaeological policy in Palestine as a way to renew their cultural diplomacy and to ensure political stability throughout the region.Footnote 8 In the 1930s, however, economic issues related to archaeology began to take over and the Americans, with their abundant funding and experts pouring into the region, established a kind of informal domination over the British mandatory institutions and influenced both archaeology and politics.

The new political order initiated under the Mandate system offers a comparative vision of the archaeology led by British and French administrations over Palestine and Syria.Footnote 9 Until now, however, no in-depth analysis has been done on the role of their institutions which were established in the Middle East and the relationships between them. Previous literature concerning the history of archaeology in the Middle East during the interwar period tends to focus on Western powers’ national agenda. It adopts a one-sided approach to the study of the archaeological field, by concentrating on the work of one country.Footnote 10 In these works, archaeology is studied through national state and non-state actors such as ministries, scientific academies and delegations in the field.

The subject of field practice has generated a copious literature and many intensive case studies which are complementary to the main argument of this paper. This examines the practice of colonial archaeology in Palestine using the concepts of informal imperialism and cultural diplomacy by the countries involved. Bruce Trigger was the first to distinguish three types of archaeology, nationalist, colonialist and imperialist.Footnote 11 Nationalist archaeology refers to the combination of archaeology and history to glorify a common national past and regain the prestige of a declining power. Colonialist archaeology involves the practice of archaeology by a colonial power over another country, with the aim of better knowing the area’s past for scientific purposes. Finally, imperialist archaeology is equivalent to historiographical superiority from the actors of the colonial power over a discipline that excludes ideas from local scholars writing the history of their own country. These concepts have been reused and refined by scholars such as Margarita Díaz-Andreu, who expanded the concepts of colonialist and imperialist practice of archaeology with an informal dimension. This can be found in situations when one or more nations try to dominate the same territory through implicit means, without exercising official sovereignty.Footnote 12 She locates the characteristics of colonial archaeology in the establishment of three institutions on the dominated territory: a museum, a university and a governmental institution or branch dealing with archaeological issues.Footnote 13 Her approach and the wider literature helps this work to characterise the British-American relationship in terms of archaeological supervision and diplomatic issues under the British Mandate in Palestine.

The present chapter is based on an archival analysis and comparison of six institutions’ records. I collected data from the American School of Oriental Research (ASOR),Footnote 14 the Archaeological Advisory Board (AAB),Footnote 15 the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (BSAJ),Footnote 16 the Department of Antiquities (DoA),Footnote 17 the French École biblique et archéologique de Jérusalem (EBAF),Footnote 18 and the Palestine Oriental Society (POS).Footnote 19 I compared their Boards of Directors, their lists of members and their treasury reports to observe the scholarly networks and financial influences of each upon the others. This provides insights into the local networks operating in the broad field of archaeology in Palestine, and determines its key players within the sectors of government, business and academia.

This chapter will study the extent to which the regulation of archaeology during the interwar period was influenced by political and religious tensions as the interests of Western countries in Palestine changed from 1918 to 1938. The period of analysis opens in 1918 with the end of WWI and the introduction of collaborative archaeological projects by Western archaeologists in Palestine. It ends in 1938 with the opening of the Palestine Archaeological Museum mostly because after this the records of the different organisations are incomplete. I start my narrative by introducing the leading archaeological institutions in Palestine and Western powers’ aims when designing these institutions. I then investigate the changes in archaeological policies brought about by American dominance. I argue that these changes were guided by the American actors’ ideas of equality among the foreign parties and to include local elites in archaeological projects in order to advance Biblical archaeology, with the aim of settling diplomatic and political controversies.

The Institutionalisation of Archaeology in Palestine in the Early 1920s

In 1917, the British army succeeded in conquering Middle East, giving Britain a diplomatic advantage in the negotiations over the former Ottoman provinces at the WWI Peace Conferences. From Egypt to Palestine, martial law was imposed as a transitional regime before the officialisation of the Mandate, to protect the Suez Canal and the shipping route to India.Footnote 20 This established military rule over the archaeological field, controlled by the British army. Subsequently, the Triple Entente powers started to worry about their archaeological interests in the face of British political dominance in the region. American and French intellectuals and diplomats worked together to establish international archaeological collaboration to slow down British exclusiveness over the Middle East,Footnote 21 with the US administration in charge of the Middle Eastern affairs acting as a buffer between the British and French governments. In addition, from 1918, US scholars started to lead international scientific cooperation to expand archaeological research in the Middle East.Footnote 22 The inter-allied initiative was first named the “American project” before the British requested involvement in it. It was then called the “Garstang Project” in reference to Professor John Garstang, an archaeologist from the University of Liverpool appointed by the British authorities as the representative of British archaeological issues in Mandatory Palestine. The US and Great Britain submitted an invitation to the French ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Public Instruction for France to become the third founding member of the project. The renewal of archaeology in the Middle East—in terms of legislation for Western governments and in terms of practice for archaeologists, and the wishes from both of greater institutionalisation of the discipline—sketched a “shy diplomacy”Footnote 23 between the powers of the Triple Entente. Archaeologists, supported by their governments, suggested collaborative archaeological works with the equal involvement of other Western powers in the archaeological field and to avoid the hegemony of one country, which could destabilise their relationships on a diplomatic level. This “shy diplomacy” was, in fact, implemented to deal with diplomatic and political issues arising through the cultural and scientific level.Footnote 24 In Palestine itself, it was strengthened by religious concerns around Jerusalem’s holy places and the politics of the recent Balfour Declaration. This stated that Britain would support the foundation of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Such a decision had consequences for the archaeological field, as excavations in the Holy Land might well lead to discoveries of a controversial nature for the various communities living in Palestine. The aim of the Western powers was to use scientific and cultural diplomacy to promote collaboration,Footnote 25 and founding archaeological institutions aimed at maintaining cohesion between foreign and local elites and to spread tolerance within society.

An American archaeological institution had been present in Palestine since the beginning of the twentieth century with the foundation of the American School of Oriental Research (ASOR) in Jerusalem in 1900. The school was closed between 1914 and 1918. At its reopening in 1918, the American scholar Albert T. Clay, Assyriologist and annual lecturer at the ASOR that year, suggested the establishment of an inter-allied organisation based in Jerusalem.Footnote 26 When this project was submitted to the British and French authorities, one of the main conditions imposed by the Americans was the equal status as founding members and the local role of the future organisation within the archaeological scientific network of Palestine.Footnote 27 Their equal status meant that the British and French had to establish schools of archaeology, or at least a “permanent [archaeological] mission”Footnote 28 with an office in Jerusalem, parallel to ASOR.Footnote 29 The British government had already envisaged founding a school prior to the US’s request. The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (BSAJ) opened its doors in 1919. The French already had a base in Palestine, the Dominican convent of Saint-Etienne, which had been a school for Biblical studies since 1890. Although not being recognised by the French government as an official archaeological delegation before the war, the work of missionaries from the French École biblique in Jerusalem on epigraphic deciphering was well known in Palestine and they were frequently invited by foreign archaeological missions to collaborate on excavations. Following the US offer of an inter-allied organisation, the French government decided—with the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres as coordinator—to add an archaeological branch to the École biblique which became in 1920 the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem (French Biblical and Archaeological School in Jerusalem, EBAF) with a new syllabus including archaeological topics.Footnote 30 These three schools—ASOR, BSAJ, EBAF—were named the “Associated Schools”Footnote 31 by the British Mandate administration in Palestine and led the renewal of the archaeological field in Palestine after the war in the framework of international collaboration.

With this proposal to establish an inter-allied archaeological organisation in Jerusalem, the Americans were certain to remain involved in all diplomatic, scientific and methodological discussions related to archaeology between the French and the British at the Peace Conference and during the Mandate meetings. From the beginning of 1919, victorious governments, with their diplomats and archaeologists, wrote proposals on the establishment of a common archaeological policy in the Middle East. The aims of this new policy were to give an easier access to the excavating field for international scientific standing and to authorise export of antiquities to build collections abroad.Footnote 32 The policy was written to the benefit of Western archaeological research over the Middle East and it established a form of colonial archaeology and domination by Western powers over the field, the local populations and their heritage. Sir Frederic Kenyon, Director of the British Museum and Chairman of the Joint Archaeological Committee,Footnote 33 submitted a memorandum on January 1919 to the British delegation designated to represent Great Britain at the Peace Conference. In this memorandum, Kenyon suggested that the British should lead the creation of an international commission to collaborate on archaeological issues at the Peace Conference under the aegis of the International Commission.Footnote 34 Americans, British, French and Italians were the leading actors in the negotiation and writing of new archaeological treaties,Footnote 35 while German and AustrianFootnote 36 scholars from the losing side in the war were not allowed to take part in the editing board and were also prohibited to dig until the end of the 1920s.Footnote 37 The first four persons appointed to the International Commission were David G. Hogarth, member of the British Academy and Director of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford; William H. Buckler, representative of the American Institute of Archaeology and other learned societies in the US; René Cagnat, member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and professor at the Collège de France; and Roberto Paribeni, Director of the National Museum in Rome.Footnote 38 They would work on the archaeological clauses for the League of Nations Covenant, for the Treaty of Peace with Turkey and for the official text of the Mandates.Footnote 39

The British proposition of the International Commission offered the US a way to remain influential in the diplomatic management of archaeological issues in the Middle East. They were thus involved in some agreements which were supposed to be used only for signatories of the League of Nations Covenant.Footnote 40 This was ratified on April 28th 1919 and included a short mention of archaeological issues which would have to be inserted into the official text of the Mandate. From this time, the International Commission worked on two papers. First, the four representatives drafted the clauses which would be included in the Peace Treaty with Turkey—later ratified as the Treaty of Sevres in 1920. In this treaty, only two paragraphs of the second chapter dealt with archaeological issues: paragraph 11 focused on a new archaeological policy to revise the law implemented by the Ottoman Empire before 1914:

Chapter II. Paragraph 11. The Imperial Ottoman Government will within (12) months from the exchange of ratifications of this Treaty enact a new Law of Antiquities. The objects of such a law shall be to preserve existing monuments, partial excavations and sites, to renew existing rights of exploration and excavation on terms consistent with the provisions of this article, to encourage further exploration and excavations, to prevent illicit dating and smuggling in finds, and, by a prohibition of export except under license, to ensure an equitable distribution of finds between the country of the discoverer and the enactment be submitted to the Allied Governments, who shall have the right to make suggestions to the Imperial Ottoman Government for the improvement of its provisions.Footnote 41

Paragraph 12 dealt with antiquities removed during WWI with a particular context for their assignment, but will not be analysed here.

Paragraph 11 explicitly mentioned the Allied governments as supervisors for the implementation of the law in Turkey so as to facilitate access to the archaeological sites and export of the antiquities, which was not allowed under Ottoman law. By doing this, the Western powers guaranteed a standardisation of archaeology between Turkey and the provinces they would receive as Mandates. The second paper was the articles for the Mandate declaration that Great Britain and France subsequently ratified on July 1922. Article 14 established the conditions for both Great Britain and France to organise the archaeological field and dealing of antiquities within their respective mandatory administrations:

Art. 14. The Mandatory power shall draw up and put into force, within a period of twelve months, an act on antiquities, in accordance with the following provisions. This law guarantees nationals of the States members of the League of Nations equal treatment in excavations and archaeological research.Footnote 42

In both papers, the clauses epitomised Western powers’ ambitions in archaeological affairs in the Middle East. The Peace Treaty with Turkey and the Mandate declaration required the same conditions for the new Turkish government and the mandatory authorities to write their Laws of Antiquities. The League of Nations expected the mandatory authorities to establish a common law for both Syria and Palestine and to standardise the clauses with Turkey.Footnote 43

The Establishment of a Transnational Archaeological Network in Palestine

The British and French governments started to draft the law in 1920. The High Commission for the British Mandate in Palestine created the Department of Antiquities with the aim of having a referee organisation for the negotiations on the terms of the Law of Antiquities with the French authorities. The Department of Antiquities was divided into two decision-making branches, the Director and the Archaeological Council (see Table 1). Both supervised the other official positions; the Director was in charge of the Keeper of Museums and the Inspector in Chief, while the Archaeological Council was composed of the Keeper of Monuments and the Associated Schools. The Archaeological Council and Associated Schools, named after the Archaeological Advisory Board (AAB), was created to work in collaboration with the Director as an advisory entity, especially on archaeological practice and methodology on the field.

Table 1 Department of Antiquities’ organisation (Kew, National Archives. FO 141/687. Antiquities. Memorandum of April 1, 1919, 14)

The AAB is particularly illustrative of the British government’s attempt to establish an international consortium of scholars as a consultative entity on archaeological decisions, with the British government at the centre of this consortium with the Director of the Department of Antiquities acting as head of the AAB Committee. The Committee was composed of five persons: its President and one representative of each Western archaeological school in Jerusalem—ASOR, BSAJ and the École biblique.Footnote 44 In addition, the High Commissioner appointed four persons to represent Jewish and Muslim interests.Footnote 45

The organisation of the AAB Committee reflected the wish of the British administration to take into account the interests of every issue in an attempt to maintain stability. It seems that British authorities did not consider Palestinian Christians as a source of tension in the archaeological field.Footnote 46 The AAB could be read as a tool of cultural diplomacy, of both direct and indirect influence. As a mandatory institution, some decisions taken by the Committee followed the League of Nations’ agenda. For example, it allowed German and Austrian archaeologistsFootnote 47 to have a representative member at the AAB in 1926, the same year as they were allowed to go back to their excavations by the League of Nations.Footnote 48 It was also a way for the Jewish and Muslim representatives to implement their local influence and to collaborate with Western diplomatic entities. Moreover, the High Commissioner was involved in the appointment of the Committee members and as such, foreign and local representatives were selected by the British authorities to be part of the AAB.Footnote 49 Through the AAB, the British authorities dealt with the expectations of the “Promised Land”.Footnote 50

In comparison, the French Mandatory authorities in Syria, subject to the same archaeological regulations from the League of Nations, founded a Department of Antiquities—le Service des Antiquités de Beyrouth—with the same internal organisation. It consisted of a Director, two Keepers and an Inspector. However, no international advisory board such as the AAB in Palestine was associated with the French mandatory archaeological institutions. Archaeology in Palestine dealt with many diplomatic and religious issues that Great Britain decided to deal with through the institution of the AAB. By expanding the membership of the AAB to the US and some representatives of religious communities related to the practice of archaeology, the British authorities went beyond the League of Nations’ regulations to lead mainly with the signatories. The whole supervision of the archaeology in Palestine relied on close collaboration between American, British and French diplomatic and archaeological organisations. This arrangement helped the US to become one of the most influential archaeological powers in Palestine, even though they were not supposed to have any diplomatic influence and advantages in the region at that time. For example, during the drafting process of the Law of Antiquities, started in 1920 by British and French administrations, the Director of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine, John Garstang, and the Archaeological Counsellor of the High Commission of the French Republic in Beirut, Joseph Chamonard, met and corresponded between Jerusalem and Beirut to work on the clauses. The texts were proofread by the consuls of both countries and then sent to the organisations in Europe—the Joint Archaeological Committee in London and the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in Paris. Diplomatic representatives were also involved in these discussions.Footnote 51 For the British part, it was explicit that Britain wanted to satisfy foreign powers’ interests and especially American ones. This is shown in the fact that John Garstang was often accompanied by an American scholar, Albert T. Clay. He was in charge of drafting the clauses corresponding to the status of American archaeologists. As they were not members of the League of Nations, the law did not apply to them and archaeologists had to ask for special exemptions to claim the same rights.Footnote 52 Through this, Americans were involved in diplomatic issues surrounding the renewal of archaeological legislation in the Middle East, where they planned to increase their scientific authority. To guarantee their interests and the same benefits as League of Nations’ members, US instituted bilateral treaties with the French and British Mandate authorities. These were ratified on July 13th 1924Footnote 53 and December 3rd 1925.Footnote 54 The content was almost the same for both treaties, except for some articles dedicated to the Balfour declaration and the Zionist project within the British one.

Albert T. Clay was involved from the initiation of the inter-allied project in 1918, which led to the establishment of an international organisation dedicated to scientific archaeological collaboration a few years later.Footnote 55 This institution was the Palestine Oriental Society and was founded by a consortium of scholars as a learned society on January 9th, 1920, with a focus on the archaeological and ethnographic study of Palestine. The Associated Schools were the founding members of the Society. To strengthen the collaborative characteristic of this initiative, it was decided that each school would have a specific task and, in this way, create dependency between them.Footnote 56 ASOR was designated to manage the common library, the BSAJ dealt with the archives produced by the society, and the EBAF was to supervise the publication of a review, the Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society (JPOS).Footnote 57 The POS did not have a proper headquarters. It was decided at the beginning of the collaboration that the three schools would establish their buildings in the same neighbourhood, close to the Old City of Jerusalem.Footnote 58 Each of them had to provide accommodation for the society.

The Palestine Oriental Society became a triple-headed organisation administrated by three different archaeological schools which were supposed to maintain some autonomy (lectures, classes, excavations, etc.). The aim of the society was to share scientific progress with the international community of scholars based in Palestine. It was also to host archaeological expeditions which were not associated with an institution—as specified in a compulsory clause of the Law of Antiquities on requesting excavation permits from the Department of Antiquities.

The POS underwent two phases during the interwar period.Footnote 59 In the 1920s, the society expanded and asserted itself locally as an archaeological actor. It was created with the aim of gathering together scholars and editing common publications. According to its official constitution,Footnote 60 the society was supervised by a quorum of eight, known as the Board of Directors (Art. 3). This board was composed of a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Secretary and a Treasurer who were appointed for a year (extendable) and also three directors appointed for three years (Art. 5). The Board was elected each year during an extraordinary general meeting, usually in October (Art. 6.). The administrative structure of the society was strategically designed to deal with the three-headed supervision and avoid any ambitions of one of the institutions. Scholars from other institutions or societies were also allowed to sit on the Board of Directors. The main peculiarity of the POS was its transnational nature with members from various countries, communities and religious belonging.Footnote 61 The core of the POS was composed of representatives of the founding schools—ASOR, BSAJ and EBAF—and representatives of the Jewish community, Palestinian (Christian and Muslim) society and later the Germans, all cooperating to establish a scientific community for Palestinian studies. At the beginning, Presidents of the three founding schools rotated to serve as the President of the Palestine Oriental Society. All of them served on the board in different positions until 1929 and they embodied the stability of the society. Within the Board of Directors and the Editorial Board of the JPOS, members tried to appoint scholars from each archaeological school or learned society established in Palestine and from the different communities and religious denominations. According to the publications of the journal, the Editorial Board encountered difficulties in finding a printer equipped with Greek, Arabic and Hebrew type, as they wanted to have at least one article of each language in addition to those in English or French, and sometimes German.Footnote 62 Members mostly belonged to institutions abroad such as universities, archaeological institutes or museums, or they were temporarily affiliated to one of the Associated Schools during their stays in Palestine. Other members included Palestinian scholars from the Christian and Muslim communities who were present in their personal capacity; for them, the POS acted as their scientific institution of affiliation. For example, Omar Eff. El-Barghuthy, Tewfiq Canaan or Stephan Hanna Stephan held several positions in the POS between 1920 and 1938, as successively: President, Vice-President, Director and Secretary. They were all members of the Editorial Advisory Board for the JPOS. Some of them were also members of the AAB or worked for the Department of Antiquities. However, no learned society or scientific organisation from an Arab initiative was founded at the time. As Palestinians did not have their own institution, there was no official representation of a Palestinian scientific community of scholars. In comparison, Jewish scholars managed to develop local organisations integrated to the international network and to do archaeological research which could justify their presence in the Holy Land. The Jewish community established their own archaeological learned society in 1912—the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society (JPES)—and a Department of Archaeology was founded at the Hebrew University in 1935. Therefore, the Jewish scientific community in Palestine during the interwar period produced and kept their own written sources and archival funds. Whereas Palestinian views, scientific works and publications were diluted in the archives of the Western organisations they were involved in or hired by during the Mandate. Palestinians are the “missing voices” of the history of Mandatory Palestine.Footnote 63 Recently, research on Tewfiq Canaan and Stephan Hanna StephanFootnote 64 has started to shed light on Palestinian scholars, on their involvement in international scientific networks and organisations, and on their contribution to the history of Palestine.

In the early 1930s, the POS encountered economic difficulties which weakened it and its influence. The work of the Society remained notable insofar as the major projects conducted during this period were mostly joint expeditions between different institutions. The archaeologists who led these missions were usually members of the Society. However, the name of the POS was eclipsed by the discoveries and the notoriety of the universities that carried them out. The POS acted as a tool of scientific and cultural diplomacy by connecting scholars, whose first ambition was to work together for scientific progress, even if nationalistic or religious issues remained underlying. The status of the POS did not include clauses related to political issues, in comparison with the Archaeological Advisory Board for which the appointment of members from Jewish and Muslim communities was compulsory.Footnote 65 The AAB was an organisation attached to the British Mandate, integrated into the Department of Antiquities, working with the High Commissioner, and thus dealing with some diplomatic issues. The Palestine Oriental Society, from an American initiative, did not belong to any single political or religious body and endeavoured to keep its neutrality both in its internal administration and in its works and publications. The three Associated Schools, the mandatory institution of the AAB and the scientific initiative of the POS were all founded with the aim of establishing a collaborative and productive background to the development of archaeology. Palestine in the wake of the WWI became a flourishing scientific environment, the laboratory of archaeological research in the Middle East during the interwar period.Footnote 66

Excavation Methods and Archaeological Tourism as Diplomatic Tools

The effects of this collaboration can also be observed on excavation itself, as it caused methodological and institutional changes in the development of the discipline. These came with the Law of Antiquities of 1920 which forbade individual requests for excavation permits. It was a way for the mandatory powers to record archaeological resources, to prevent any undeclared diggings from taking place, and to better control the territory. This new clause led to the formation of scientific teams and helped to modernise archaeology, from being a hobby to an academical and scientific discipline with historical and religious issues to explore. Permits had to be requested by the institutions the team was representing.Footnote 67 It was easier to ask if scholars on the team were members of an Associated School, of the Palestine Oriental Society, or of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society.Footnote 68 If it was not, the institutional collaboration also ensured that an archaeologist from one of these institutions was appointed director of the expedition to guarantee collaboration with the Department of Antiquities. The request for the permit was first sent to the Department and then transferred to the Archaeological Advisory Board in which the scientific value of the excavation was discussed and the Board would decide whether or not to issue a permit. The benefits of sitting on the AAB for Western foreign powers included the ability to implement direct negotiations with the Directors and authorities for permits to excavate or to export antiquities. This clause from the law was useful to strengthen the scientific networks and some of the most famous archaeological excavations were led under joint expeditions with scholars from different countries, institutions and religions. For example, Jerash (Gerasa) campaign was supervised by the University of Yale and the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (1928–1934)Footnote 69 and that at Sebaste (Sebastia) by Harvard University, the Palestine Exploration Fund, Hebrew University and the BSAJ (1931–1933).Footnote 70

The collaboration was also effective in terms of archaeological methodology at the beginning of the 1920s. The Presidents of the BSAJ, John Garstang (1920–1926), and of ASOR, William F. Albright (1920–1929/1933–1936), joined by a French scholar from the École biblique, Father Louis-Hugues Vincent, reflected together on a new dating method to classify antiquities.Footnote 71 This classification was designated as that of the “Three Ages”Footnote 72; dating of the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Modern period was modified to adapt to recent discoveries and ethnographic information on Palestine. The three scholars submitted their method to the scientific community during meetings of the POS. Adopted in 1922, the classification was implemented in archaeological sites for antiquities registration and analysis. The political context was also a reason for the policy, in an attempt to avoid subjective interpretations in favour of a particular civilisation.

This classification is an example of the effects of international collaboration within a foreign intellectual knowledge network, which developed in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1920s. The three scholars were from “the three archaeological Schools in Jerusalem”Footnote 73 and two were on the Board of Directors of the Palestine Oriental Society in 1922, Albright as President and Garstang as Director. The “New Chronological Classification of Palestinian Archaeology” was published in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (no. 7. October 1922) and the Revue Biblique (vol. 32. 1923) of the EBAF. This example demonstrates the openness of the scientific community based in Palestine and the shared aim of anchoring Palestinian archaeology as a scientific and formal discipline.

The atmosphere stemming from the international collaboration of foreign and local scholars led to increasing interest in archaeological research. It helped increase funding for the campaigns. In terms of funding, European and American archaeologists were sponsored differently. The British and French organisations (BSAJ, EBAF, archaeological delegations) were funded by state institutions or public actors such as ministries and academies (British Academy, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres) and from the revenues of their annual membership fees. Conversely, Americans were mostly financed by private institutions and philanthropic foundations which started to invest in the archaeological field. American archaeological organisations added to their inner organisation a board of trustees dedicated to investment. In 1921, the American School of Oriental Research, for instance, established a branch to attract patronage titled the “Fund for Biblical and Archaeological Research”. American Board of Trustees members and philanthropists were mostly Protestant and they funded activities in the field in the hope that archaeological discoveries would support the scriptures.Footnote 74 Archaeological research therefore became subject to the political and religious interests of donors, many of whom were focused on biblical issues.

The collaborative relationships were challenged in the mid-1920s by the issue of funding and the unequal contributions of the institutions participating in the campaigns. While European funds for archaeology were declining significantly year on year due to a decline in interest and the post-war depression in many countries,Footnote 75 the American archaeological delegations increased in number and in their areas of engagement. With their financial means, Americans could experiment with modern, efficient excavating techniques, and multiply their campaigns, and thus dominate the field. In fact, they tried to introduce American modernity as the standardise form of knowledge in the field. New archaeological methods were developed by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (OIC) headed by James H. Breasted, in close relation with the Rockefeller family and their Foundation, which had funded the University of Chicago since the 1900s. This methodology was established by Clarence S. Fisher, an archaeologist associated with the OIC, in 1925, while working on the Megiddo excavation and writing a guide for “American universities, or other institutions interested in carrying out active field work”.Footnote 76 The aim of this new methodological sampling was to improve the excavating system, based on an American adaptation of the excavation process with ASOR involved in every enterprise as “the common center of activities, where the scientific material could be brought and prepared for adequate publication”.Footnote 77 Instead of improving scientific analysis tools such as dating, this method focused on archaeological practice in order to be as efficient as possible in the field. By applying this method during their excavations, archaeological delegations could apply to American institutions or philanthropic foundation funds.

In the 1930s, American private stakeholders funded the lion’s share of the budget of British mandatory institutions such as the BSAJ or the Department of Antiquities. This led to an asymmetrical relationship between the American donors and the British recipients as the former used their financial means to create a resource dependency as well as to establish American dominance among the institutions operating in archaeology.Footnote 78 One of the most striking donations was made by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1928 for the establishment of a museum of antiquities in Palestine. Rockefeller earmarked two million US dollars to construct the building and to constitute a collection of antiquities and artefacts.Footnote 79 The initiative of building the museum lay with the British authorities, while its fulfilment relied on an American donation.

During this period, the issue of the museum must also be considered in the context of Palestine’s tourist sector. Western and local powers began to use specific tools, including museums, to make archaeology appealing to public opinion.Footnote 80 British rule of Palestine since WWI had helped to increase tourism in Palestine.Footnote 81 The Holy Land was always an attractive place to pilgrims of the three monotheistic religions. During the twentieth century, the traditional religious pilgrimage was transformed into a travel itinerary through Palestine, including visits to archaeological sites in addition to the holy places. However, the increasing tourism also became a source of local tension between Muslim and Jewish communities who sought to promote their own traditions and sense of belonging to the area.Footnote 82 Despite this tension and the rising costs of infrastructure projects, the British authorities saw benefits in opening archaeological sites to tourism. It appeared to them as a way to encourage sponsorship of an excavation if it aroused public interest. Moreover, charging tourist groups for their visits to archaeological sites helped to maintain the sites for the archaeologists.Footnote 83 The Palestine Archaeological Museum became one of the main stops on the tours after its opening in 1938, as tourists could see antiquities excavated from the sites they had visited.

To regulate tourist expansion in Palestine, the British authorities founded the Society for the Promotion of Travel in the Holy Land in 1921 and compelled every tour operator to declare their activities to the government. The aim of this society was to connect all the departments involved in the development of tourism, while considering the community and religious dimensions involved.Footnote 84 In 1927, an ordinance was published to oversee the professionalisation of tour guides. They had to sit an exam which consisted of memorising a list of monuments with their characteristics and histories. This list was composed of eighty places, including archaeological sites, with almost the same number of Christian, Jewish and Muslim places. Scholars of the Associated Schools or of the Palestine Oriental Society attended the meetings of the Society for the Promotion of Travel in the Holy Land to prepare the exhibition tours and share their knowledges on the sites. This initiative reveals that Great Britain continued to follow a politics of collaboration and harmonisation in the archaeological field, expanded to tourism and tried to avoid religious tensions between local communities by standardising the itineraries of the tour operators.

The French Biblical and Archaeological School in Jerusalem and the American School of Oriental Research also organised their own tours. The EBAF mainly offered excursions to their students and local inhabitants to explain the monuments or the sites they saw every day, to understand their values and to encourage people to look after their heritage.Footnote 85 ASOR, meanwhile, organised two types of events. The first were tours planned in spring and autumn to visit current archaeological excavations and allow students to observe other fields. Those tours were open to all the members of the Associated Schools and learned societies of Palestine in the aim of the three-headed cooperation.Footnote 86 Another programme was a summer school in partnership with American universities. ASOR planned the event in collaboration with agencies in Jerusalem which prepared the itinerary from New York to Palestine and Syria. In 1925, a religious pilgrimage was added to the summer school with a programme dedicated to biblical history and archaeology.Footnote 87 Archaeological tourism thus became caught in a circular dynamic, starting with the influence of the public opinion which encouraged donors to invest in a field. If the travellers were satisfied by an itinerary, it generated deeper interest in archaeology from American visitors and invited philanthropists to invest in that area, which helped the research to continue in the fields in Palestine.

However, ASOR events were aimed at a specified public:

The ending of this term marks the close of another successful year in the history of the school, which, although devoted mostly to archaeological work throughout the Near East, is also an institution for biblical research, receiving its support through the cooperation of Catholics, Protestants and Jews, both liberals and Fundamentalists.Footnote 88

From the mid-1920s, ASOR seemed to be increasingly concerned with biblical issues. As the Americans were dominant in the archaeological field in Palestine—with private donors and numerous institutions leading excavations—Mandate policy was also affected by those issues. Philanthropists were most of the time deeply religious, and by supporting Biblical archaeology and excavations dedicated to the Judeo-Christian past, they helped the Zionist campaign to legitimise the implementation of a Jewish national home in Palestine.Footnote 89 Archaeological tourism and archaeology in general could be used implicitly to convey political issues.Footnote 90 American and British interests shifted away from the idea of neutral, international bases for their collaborations. However, although the British institutions relied on American funds, the authorities tried until the end of the Mandate in 1948 to keep archaeology under an international consortium. For example, it was decided that the Palestine Archaeological Museum would be supervised by a Board of Directors with two members appointed by the High Commissioner, two representatives each of British and French institutions, two members appointed by the Arab League, two members from the Hebrew University and two representatives of American archaeological organisations.Footnote 91 With a similar composition to the Archaeological Advisory Board founded in 1920, this Board of Directors established in 1948 marked the end of interwar archaeological research and embodied the long-term archaeological policies of the British institutions, even if some deviations occurred during this period.

This study of the archaeological institutions in Palestine during the interwar period leads to the conclusion that the history of archaeology, of cultural diplomacy and of international relations in the Middle East during this period cannot be fully understood if the role played by the Americans in the politics of the British Mandate is not considered, even if they were not members of the League of Nations or the Mandate oversight committees. They were founding members of the Palestine Oriental Society, members of the Archaeological Advisory Board and in a way the major creditor of the archaeological field. American actors were also deeply involved with the British authorities over archaeological legislation in Palestine. The three-headed collaboration helped to create a network of scholars and organisations which established Palestine as one of the main archaeological research areas in the Middle East.

From a historiographic point of view, the characteristics of a colonial archaeology determined by Margarita Díaz-Andreu—with a museum, a university and a governmental institution or branch dealing with archaeological issues—could be reinterpreted.Footnote 92 At first sight, this description corresponds to the British archaeological policy implemented in Palestine during the Mandate period, with the foundation of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem in 1919, then the Department of Antiquities in 1920, and finally the Palestine Archaeological Museum inaugurated in 1938. However, comparative analysis of these institutions and especially of their funding reports suggests a new historiographic reading in which financial power really led the archaeological field in Palestine. In fact, the BSAJ and the Department of Antiquities both received money from private American stakeholders, exemplified by the donation for the Palestine Archaeological Museum, renamed the Rockefeller Archaeological MuseumFootnote 93 in gratitude to the philanthropist. Thus, the colonialist characteristics of archaeology in Palestine as conducted under the British Mandate could be reinterpreted as a form of informal imperialism from Americans over the institutions and, by extension, the archaeological field in Palestine.

This case study thus shows the deep connection between cultural diplomacy and archaeology, as both were intertwined throughout the entire time of the Mandate. At first, diplomacy was necessary to get archaeologists onto the ground and to negotiate permits to excavate. Then, archaeology became a tool through which to pursue diplomatic aims. The context in Palestine suggested that archaeology was used as a scientific tool to implement diplomatic ambitions from Western countries on political issues such as nationalist projects, mostly the Jewish rather than the Palestinian one.

Comparing the archives of different Western archaeological organisations also reveals two unexplored aspects of the history of archaeology in the Middle East during the interwar period. The first is the foundation of a three-headed supervision of the archaeological field instead of a British-French collaboration. The expansion from two to three state parties questions some of the historiography of archaeology in Palestine. It suggests that foreign archaeology in Palestine was not a bilateral but, in fact, a multi-lateral project, framed within the international system of the League of Nations and implemented in the national contexts of the Mandates. Moreover, the historiography seems to have underestimated the role and effects of the increasing American influence on the archaeological field. US presence and use of financial capital within the field of archaeology can be explained with the fact that there was a strong belief within certain parts of the US policy that America should be involved in scientific and cultural diplomacy, and use this kind of diplomacy to impose their own diplomatic positions on the political issues of Palestine.