Charles Leonard Woolley

Dates: 
1880-1960

British archaeologist; he was born in London, 17 April 1880, son of the Revd George Herbert W. and Sarah Cathcart; he was educated New College, Oxford where he took a degree in Theology; MA, Oxon; Hon. DLitt Dublin; Hon. LLD St Andrews; Hon. Fellow of New College, Oxford and of Türk Tarih Kurumu; Hon. ARIBA; FSA, OBE, MC; he married Katharine Keeling, 1926, who accompanied him on his excavations until her death in 1945; Assistant Keeper in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1905-7 under Sir Arthur Evans (q.v.); he excavated in Nubia for the Eckley B. Coxe Jnr. Expedition, 1907-11; also for the Oxford Univ. Expedition to Nubia in 1912; at Karanog Woolley dug the first big Meroitic cemetery on record; he then left Egypt for Sinai where he carried out archaeological work for the PEF in 1914; during the First World War he was a Capt. RFA and did intelligence work while on the Staff in Egypt, 1914-16, dispatches, Croix de Guerre; he was a prisoner in Turkey, 1916-18, and only released at the end of the war; after excavating at Carchemish he again returned to Egypt, this time working for the EES at El-Amarna, 1921-2; he then returned to Mesopotamia to carry out his most famous excavations of all, i.e. his 12 seasons at Ur, 1922-34; one of his architects on this expedition was F. G. Newton (q.v.), 1922-4, who had done work at El-Amarna, and it is interesting to note that he had trained his foreman Shaikh Hamoudi ibn Ibrahim from 1912 onwards at Carchemish, the latter teaching Lawrence (q.v.) Arabic and initiating him in the ways of Arab life; in the Second World War he was promoted Lt.-Col. GS Archaeological Adviser to Civil Affairs Directorate 1943-6, a position in which he had to act as full-time archaeological adviser; on his advice the Allied Supreme Commander Gen. Eisenhower issued an order preventing the looting and damaging of buildings which also included art treasures such as those of the Uffizi; Woolley was Univ. of London Petrie Medallist 1957; he published a vast output among which may be cited: Areika, 1909; Karanog, 1910; Karanog: the town, 1911; Buhen, 1911 with D Randall-MacIver relating to excavations in Nubia on behalf of the University Museum, Philadelphia; the Wilderness of Zin, 1936, in conjunction with T.E. Lawrence; The City of Akhenaten, vol. i, 1923, with T. E. Peet, relating to excavations carried out or the EES in the Southern City and Workmen’s Village at El-Amarna; he died in London, 20 Feb. 1960.

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