WOOLLEY, Sir C. Leonard
(1880–1960)
   British archaeologist and writer. Educated in Oxford, where he read Theology, he became assistant keeper to the Ashmolean Museum in 1905–1907 and had his first experiences with archaeology in Italy and southern Egypt. In 1912 he joined T. E. Lawrence in his excavations of Carchemish (until 1914). He served as intelligence officer in Egypt during World War I and joined Lawrence again in 1919. He particpated in the Egypt Exploration Society’s seasons in Amarna in Egypt, but his most important commission was to direct the joint British Museum and Pennsylvania Museum expedition at Ur (1922–1934). He showed great self-restraint in not persisting in the excavation of fragile remains found in the so-called Royal Tombs until he had perfected a suitable method. His spectacular finds in the richly furnished tombs, and the mysterious burial practices that he believed to have been sacrificial, were followed by the careful excavations of residential parts of Old Babylonian Ur. Woolley’s religious convictions made him anxious to interpret his findings in the light of the Bible, such that Ur for him became the city of Abraham and the silt deposits proof of the biblical flood. These views were expounded in a series of highly popular books (Ur of the Chaldees: A Record of Seven Years of Excavations, 1929; Digging up the Past: The Romance of Archaeology, 1930). He was knighted in 1935. In 1936 he worked on Al Mina, in Syria, and at Tell Atchana from 1937 to 1939 and 1946 to 1949.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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  • Woolley, Sir Leonard — ▪ British archaeologist born April 17, 1880, London died Feb. 20, 1960, London       British archaeologist whose excavation of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur (in modern Iraq) greatly advanced knowledge of ancient Mesopotamian civilization. His… …   Universalium

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