Sir Charles Leonard Woolley (17 April 1880 – 20 February 1960) was a British archaeologist
best known for his excavations
. He is recognized as one of the first "modern" archaeologists who excavated in a methodical way, keeping careful records, and using them to reconstruct ancient life and history. Woolley was knighted in 1935 for his contributions to the discipline of archaeology
. He married the British archaeologist Katharine Woolley
Woolley was the son of a clergyman
, and was brother to Geoffrey Harold Woolley
, and George Cathcart Woolley
. He was born at 13 Southwold Road, Upper Clapton
, in the modern London Borough of Hackney
and educated at St John's School, Leatherhead
and New College, Oxford
. He was interested in excavations from a young age.
In 1905, Woolley became assistant of the Ashmolean Museum
. Volunteered by Arthur Evans
to run the excavations on the Roman site
(near Hadrian's Wall
) for Francis Haverfield
, Woolley began his excavation career there in 1906, later admitting in ''Spadework'' that "I had never studied archaeological methods even from books ... and I had not any idea how to make a survey or a ground-plan" (Woolley 1953:15). Nevertheless, the Corbridge Lion
was found under his supervision.
Woolley next traveled to Nubia
where he worked with David Randall-MacIver
on the Eckley Coxe Expedition to Nubia conducted under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum
. Between 1907 and 1911 they conducted archaeological excavations and survey at sites including Areika, Buhen
, and the Meroitic town of Karanog
. In 1912–1914, with T. E. Lawrence
as his assistant, he excavated the Hittite
city of Carchemish
. Lawrence and Woolley were apparently working for British Naval Intelligence
and monitoring the construction of Germany's Berlin-to-Baghdad railway
During World War I
, Woolley, with Lawrence, was posted to Cairo
, where he met Gertrude Bell
. He then moved to Alexandria, where he was assigned to work on naval espionage. Turkey captured a ship he was on, and held him for two years in a relatively comfortable prisoner-of-war camp. He received the Croix de Guerre
from France at the war's end.
In the following years, Woolley returned to Carchemish, and then worked at Amarna
[Crawford (2015), p. 10.]
Excavation at Ur
Woolley led a joint expedition of the British Museum
and the University of Pennsylvania
, beginning in 1922, which included his wife, the British archaeologist Katharine Woolley
. There, they made important discoveries, including the Copper Bull
and the Bull-Headed Lyre
[Copper figure of a bull](_blank)
British Museum, accessed July 2010
in the course of excavating the royal cemetery
and the pair of Ram in a Thicket figurines
. Agatha Christie
's novel, ''Murder in Mesopotamia
'', was inspired by the discovery of the royal tombs. Agatha Christie later married Woolley's young assistant, Max Mallowan
Ur was the burial site of what may have been many Sumer
ian royals. The Woolleys discovered tombs of great material wealth, containing large paintings of ancient Sumer
ian culture at its zenith, along with gold and silver jewellery, cups and other furnishings. The most extravagant tomb was that of "Queen" Pu-Abi
. Amazingly enough, Queen Pu-Abi's tomb was untouched by looters. Inside the tomb, many well-preserved items were found, including a cylindrical seal bearing her name in Sumerian
. Her body was found buried along with those of two attendants, who had presumably been poisoned to continue to serve her after death. Woolley was able to reconstruct Pu-Abi's funeral ceremony from objects found in her tomb.
In 1936, after the discoveries at Ur, Woolley was interested in finding ties between the ancient Aegean
and Mesopotamian civilisations. This led him to the Syrian city of Al Mina
. From 1937 to 1939, he was in Tell Atchana
Local Genesis flood theory
Woolley was one of the first archaeologists to propose that the flood
described in the Book of Genesis
was local after identifying a flood-stratum at Ur
"400 miles long and 100 miles wide; but for the occupants of the valley that was the whole world".
World War II
His archaeological career was interrupted by the United Kingdom's entry into World War II
, and he became part of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section
of the Allied armies.
After the war, he returned to Alalakh
, where he continued to work from 1946 until 1949.
Woolley married Katharine Elizabeth Keeling
(née Menke; born June 1888 – died 8 November 1945), who was born in England to German parents and had previously been married to Lieut. Col. Bertram Francis Eardley Keeling (OBE
). He had hired Keeling in 1924 as expedition artist and draughtswoman; they married in 1927 and she continued to play an important role at his archaeological sites.
Woolley died on 20 February 1960 at age 79.
* republished by Penguin Books, revised 1950, 1952
* , based on talks originally broadcast by the BBC
Syria as a Link Between East and West
* (with Jaquetta Hawkes)
* Crawford, Harriet. ''Ur: The City of the Moon God.'' London: Bloomsbury, 2015.
* Winstone, H. V. F. (1990). ''Woolley of Ur''. London: Secker and Warburg.
*''The Ancient Near Eastern World'' Oxford 2005
* PBS (WNET, New York)
"The Rape of Europa."
24 November 2008.
Category:People educated at St John's School, Leatherhead
Category:Alumni of New College, Oxford
Category:20th-century English writers
Category:Archaeologists of the Near East
Category:British Army personnel of World War II
Woolley, Charles Leonard
Category:People associated with the British Museum
Category:People from Upper Clapton
Category:Place of death missing
Category:World War I spies for the United Kingdom
Category:British World War I prisoners of war
Category:World War I prisoners of war held by the Ottoman Empire
Category:Recipients of the Croix de Guerre 1914–1918 (France)
Category:British military personnel of World War I