2000–2001 Annual Report
Donald S. WhitcombOnce again, this year brought Oriental Institute students and the author to Syria, the excavations at Hadir Qinnasrin, an unassuming village just south of Aleppo. This town which had once ruled north Syria and coordinated attempts to conquer the remainder of the Byzantine Empire in the eighth century ad, now has quite forgotten its past, a past that can only be recovered through archaeological research. The first account of this research remains languishing in a Parisian publishing house; the second season, in August and September, is recounted for the first time in this Annual Report. It is important to note the role of Chicago students in this excavation: Elena Dodge, Katherine Strange, Ian Straughn, and Tasha Vorderstrasse; and no less, the wisdom and experience of Dr. Alexandrine Guérin.
Preliminary syntheses of the research at Hadir Qinnasrin were presented in a lecture for the Byzantine workshop on campus and another for the Historians of Islamic Art majlis, happily held at the Oriental Institute. A more theoretical approach was presented for the Anthropology workshop, “Toward an Archaeology of Nomad Settlement: Tribes and the Early Islamic State in North Syria.” Another subject which Don has pursued this year resulted in a lecture for the École Biblique at the Chicago Cultural Center entitled, “From Earliest Church to Earliest Mosque - Archaeological Discoveries and Places of Worship.” This was followed with a lecture on “The Early Mosque in Arabia” in St. Petersburg, Florida, for a conference entitled “Religious Texts and Archaeological Contexts,” soon to be published.
Don has taught “Islamic Archaeology of Coptic and Islamic Egypt” and the “Introduction to Islamic Archaeology” this year, between which he had a study season in the Damascus Museum. Settled into the laboratory of the museum, he spent weeks pursuing further understanding of Qinnasrin artifacts. Finally, he obeyed a “call to the north” and spent two pleasurable weeks at Mar’ash in Turkey with Elizabeth Carter (as recounted in News & Notes).
Revised: July 30, 2007