Papers of Professor David Storm Rice relating to the Harran Excavation

Scope and Content

The material comprises the papers of Professor D. S. Rice relating to the Harran excavations, 1951-1959. The papers include documentation of the planning for the expeditions (including correspondence with funders and suppliers); details of the journeys to and from Harran; correspondence written during the excavations (some of which discusses finds and their significance); pay registers and details of expenses; and photographs of the excavations at Harran and of other sites.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Storm Rice (1913-1962), archaeologist, was born Sigismund Reich in Austria. His family emigrated to Haifa, Palestine when he was young and he was educated at the Reali School, Haifa. In 1931 Reich travelled to Europe to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Florence, and the École Nationale des Langues Orientales Vivantes, the Sorbonne, and the École Pratique des Hautes Études. He completed his doctoral studies in 1937, working on Aramaic-speaking villages, later published as 'Études sur les Villages Araméens de l'Anti-Liban' (Paris, 1939).

During the Second World War Rice served with the British Army in Military Intelligence, before working for the Allied Control Commission in Germany after the war. It was during his service in the army that he changed his name to David Storm Rice. On leaving the army, Rice returned to academic studies, and in 1947 he took a position as Lecturer in Near and Middle Eastern History with the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He became a Reader in Islamic Art and Archaeology in 1950, and a professor in 1959.

Rice wrote on many aspects of Islamic art and archaeology, notably on metalwork, including monographs on the Baptistère de Saint Louis and the Wade Cup and a series of six 'Studies in Islamic metal work' ('Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies', 1952-1958). In the years before his death, Rice was working on Islamic antiquities in Italian collections. Much of his work was illustrated by his own photographs and drawings.

From 1951, Rice worked on a series of excavations at Harran, Turkey, extending previous work by K.A.C. Creswell and a 1950 survey by Seton Lloyd. A preliminary survey in the first year was followed by expeditions in 1956 and 1959, and further expeditions were planned. Rice excavated the area around the Great Mosque, establishing its plan. He also excavated and surveyed other areas in Harran, including the walls, gate, and castle, as well as monuments in Şanlıurfa and in Tektek. Rice's work identified the site as the location of the Assyro-Babylonian Harranu.

Further reading:

British Institute at Ankara. 'Harran Survey' (accessed 1 March 2017)

British Institute at Ankara. 'Harran Excavations' (accessed 1 March 2017)

Pinder-Wilson, R. H. 'D. S. Rice (1913-1962).' Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, no. 1/2 (1963): 121-23

Segal, J. B. 'David Storm Rice.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 25, no. 03 (1962): 666-671


The material is arranged chronologically, with undated material at the end of the sequence.

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