Guide to the Research Collections



The library's rich collection of archaeological works reflects a comprehensive collecting policy. The acquisition of works stresses the artistic, architectural, historical, anthropological, and ethnological aspects of the subject. Archaeology is not the collecting responsibility of any single division of the library. Cataloging of nonclassical archaeology is generally by geographical area rather than by subject: a work on British archaeology appears under the subject heading "Great Britain--Archaeology" in contrast to a work on British art, which is cataloged as "Art, Great Britain." It should be noted that important holdings on Roman Britain appear under headings such as "Great Britain--Archaeology--Roman Remains" and that a large proportion of the resources on the archaeology of the Americas is classed with American Indian materials.

In addition to standard works, handbooks, museum catalogs, and such material, the collection

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has two noteworthy features. There are numerous finely illustrated folios, many of which came from the Astor Library, among them Piranesi's Antiquities, and Lepsius's Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien. The Tilden collection contained a number of the now famous "galleries" relating to art and archaeology. The Stuart collection brought rarities such as the Spencer-Stanhope Olympia (1824) and Lord Kingsborough's Antiquities of Mexico (1831-48).

The second important aspect of the archaeological holdings consists of the extensive files of archaeological journals, many of them substantially complete. Among these are the Acta archaeologica (1930-), Antiquity (1927-), and Revue archéologique (1844-). Institutional and society publications are represented by imprints such as the Föreningen Urd, Upsala, the Münchener Altertums-Verein, and the Archaeological Institute of America. There is a good representation of the proceedings of archaeological congresses. Among many museum and other institutional publications are those of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden te Leiden, the Reale Istituto d'Archaeologia e Storia dell'Arte, the Archaeologiai Értesito, and Johns Hopkins University.

The library has a rich collection of society publications relating to Greece and Rome, among them those of the Deutsches archäologisches Institut, the Osterreichisches archäologisches Institut of Vienna, and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei at Rome.

Related materials occur within many other subject areas in the library. Archaeological contributions, both monographic and serial, are often indexed in the library's catalogs.


American History Division

The extensive collection relating to the archaeology of the Americas and the American Indian includes the publications of local societies and museums. The dictionary catalog in the division contains references not only to books in the collection but also to articles in American historical journals and other varieties of material. The Picture Index maintained by the division is of particular value for various aspects of Indian archaeology. Travel books and the personal narratives of members of exploratory or scientific expeditions included in the holdings of the division often contain archaeological and ethnological observations.

Art and Architecture Division

Archaeology as a subject discipline is not a collecting responsibility of the division. As materials on the arts of all ancient cultures are collected, however, the division offers considerable archaeological resources.

Jewish Division

The Jewish Division collects materials covering ancient Jewish archaeology and modern excavations in Biblical countries.

The subject of Biblical archaeology relates to the ancient domestic, civil, and religious institutions of the Near East, especially those of Palestine. Jewish Division holdings document the history of the Jewish people from the earliest period to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and beyond, and include comprehensive studies on the Oriental, especially Semitic, civilizations; closely associated with these are works on the civilizations of Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt in the Research Libraries.

The archaeology of Palestine covering the period of the Second Commonwealth is intimately connected with the social and economic life of the Jews during the time of Christ. The literature dealing with the archaeology of the Talmud, although forming a separate section, is closely related to this period.

The library's rich collection of general surveys contains a fine group of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Latin works by authorities such as the Buxtorfs, Arias Montano, John Selden, Fabricius, Thomas Godwin, Johannes Leusden, and others. Modern works are equally well represented. The division's files of the publications of learned societies and institutions concerned with promotion of archaeological study in Biblical lands is virtually complete.

Special sections in the holdings deal with inscriptions, numismatics, metrology, sacred antiquities, sacrifices, the priesthood, and secular archaeology. The Picture Index, although no longer active, includes illustrations of subjects related to Biblical archaeology.

Local History and Genealogy Division

A wealth of archaeological information on early English cultures, including Celtic and Roman Britain, is available in the collection of British county archaeological and historical journals administered by the Local History and Genealogy Division.1 Entries for the more significant articles in these journals appear in the Public Catalog. Among these titles are Archaeologia (1773-) published by the Society of Antiquaries of London, and Archaeological Journal (1844-) of the Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. The initial volume of each county history in the "Victoria County Histories" contains archaeological information. Some of the town and county histories of the United States include archaeological information.

Oriental Division

The resources for ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian archaeology are very extensive, with a particular concentration on publications available before 1941.2 Materials on Egypt include

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works such as the studies conducted during Napoleon's expedition, the researches of Lepsius, and the many publications of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. An item of seminal importance is Jean François Champollion's Lettre à M. Dacier (1822) in which are established the principles for deciphering hieroglyphics; the library has, in addition, examples of the earlier attempts at interpretation by Horapollo and Athanasius Kircher.

Related to the holdings of the Oriental Division is a fine set of Egyptian archaeological maps in the Map Division, along with 624 Sumerian and Babylonian clay and stone inscriptions housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.3

Slavonic Division

Russian materials are strong, with an extensive collection of serial publications of Czarist archaeological societies, the Russian Archaeological Commission, and the Academy for History of Material Culture, along with finely illustrated works. There are important materials relating to the Caucasus and the ancient Hellenic and Scythian cultures of southern Russia. More recent works include reports on the Soviet excavations at Pazyryk in Siberia and the sites of Iranian cultures of Central Asia.