Papers of John Hansman and David Stronach

Scope and Content

These Papers are mainly concerned with excavations undertaken by David Stronach and John Hansman at Šahr-e Qumis in 1971 and 1976, and by David Stronach at Pasargadae in 1963. There is also the manuscript for Hansman's book, "Julfār, an Arabian Port", and more recent correspondence between Hansman and RAS Archivist, Nancy Charley.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Hansman graduated from the State University of Iowa and subsequently served with the U.S. Navy Submarine Staff Corps. From 1957-1960, he worked in the administration of an economic development program of the Kurdish region, Northeast Iraq. In Iraq, he had been introduced to archaeology when salvage excavating a 6000 year old simple burial site. During the early 1960s, he served two years on the administrative staff in Southwestern Iran. He moved to Britain during the mid-1960s to complete a PhD in archaeology at the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. His thesis required historical surveys of ancient cultural sites in adjoining areas of Southern Iraq and Iran. Following graduation in 1970, Hansman remained in Britain some 20 further years, researching and publishing papers on ancient Middle Eastern cultures and historical geography, while periodically revisiting those regions to excavate and carry out archaeological reconnaissance. His excavations include:

  • 1965 – Located Spasinou Charax. Capital of the small Parthian (Iranian) vassel state of Mesene (Characene) located on the Tigres river flood plain of Southern Iraq, a city that flourished ca. 129 B.C. – 220 A.D.
  • 1966 – Located Hecatompylos, Greek name of an early Persian settlement refounded by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.; later Iranian Qumis, flourished second and first century B.C. as winter capital of the Parthian empire. Cultural debris of this now isolated site, which extends some 2.5 miles, contains eroded remains of large mud brick structures.
  • 1970 – Identified the site of Anshan, a royal capital of the Elamite civilization in South Iran; which flourished ca. 2300-1600 B.C.
  • During three seasons, Hansman served as co-director, under the British Institute of Persian Studies, at the Hecatompylos site. The last of these operations closed down after four weeks following outbreak, in 1979, of the Iranian revolution.
  • Over two seasons, he directed archaeological excavations at the medieval Islamic port site of Julfar on the Persian Gulf, in the United Arab Emirates.

In 1971-72, while based at London, Hansman organized an appeal for the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Royal Asiatic Society. He also mounted an exhibition of the Society's history and co-organized a symposium of international scholars on un-deciphered and little understood ancient Asian languages.

In 1977 and 2002 Hansman was commissioned by the successive curators at Iolani Palace (former residence of the Hawaiian kings), Honolulu, to identify ceramic material recovered from utility trenches successively opened on the palace grounds. These pieces consisted mostly of sherds from a variety of formal dinner ware used in two older, smaller palace residences that occupied that property earlier in the 1800s.

In 1980 he was elected a Research Fellow at Clare Hall graduate college, Cambridge University. Hansman was decorated in 1983 by Shaykh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qasimi, ruler of Ra's-al-Khaimah, of the United Arab Emirates, for excavations undertaken over-several-years at the early, port site of Julfar on the Persian Gulf.

Dr. Hansman is an affiliate of Clare Hall, Cambridge University; a Life Fellow, Society of Antiquaries and Fellow Honoris Causa, Royal Asiatic Society, all in the United Kingdom.

David Stronach (born 1931) is a Scottish archeologist of ancient Iran and Iraq. He is an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is an expert on Pasargadae. Stronach was educated at Gordonstoun and Cambridge University. During the 1960s and 1970s he was Director of the British Institute of Persian Studies in Tehran. In the 1990s, he excavated several parts of Nineveh. His scholarship has earned him several honors and awards, including the invitation to deliver endowed lectures at Harvard and Columbia. He is also the recipient of the 2004 Archaeological Institute of America Gold Medal for "Distinguished Archaeological Achievement".

During his time in Iran, he met Ruth Vaadia (1937–2017), an Israeli archeologist who was also working in Iran, and married her. They have two daughters, The family left Iran at the time of the 1979 Iranian Revolution He became a professor at Berkeley in 1981 and retired in 2004.

Warwick Ball is an Australian-born Near-eastern archeologist. In the past 30 years, Ball has mainly excavated in Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Ball was formerly director of excavations at The British School of Archaeology in Iraq. He currently resides in Scotland.

Arrangement

The Papers cover a range of material which were organised mainly according to their archaeological site thus:

  • JH/1 - Pasargadae
  • JH/2- Correspondence
  • JH/3 - Šahr-e Qumis - drawings
  • JH/4 - Šahr-e Qumis - notes and articles
  • JH/5 - Šahr-e Qumis 1976 notebook
  • JH/6 - Julfār manuscript
  • JH/7 - Correspondence with Royal Asiatic Society Archivist

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the archivist. nc@royalasiaticsociety.org The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID

Acquisition Information

The actual date of acquisition is unknown. Most of it was probably left at the Society's premises when Hansman was actively involved in the Society in the 1970s and his Julfār manuscript on submitting to be published by the Society in the 1980s.

Archivist's Note

These Papers were catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in 2019.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Appraisal Information

This material was found in several locations within the Society's holdings. It has been brought together and catalogued as one set of Papers because of the overlap between the items and the correspondence with Hansman to suggest it was left here when he worked with the Society.

Custodial History

This material was compiled by John Hansman and David Stronach. It seems to have been left at the Society when Hansman was working here.

Related Material

The Society possesses photographs collected by Hansman and Stronach. Photo.82 are pictures from the Šahr-e Qumis excavations in 1971 and 1976. Photo.83 consists of aerial photographs of Iran. Hansman and Stronach wrote articles in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of which we have copies. Also within the Library Collections is "Julfār, an Arabian port: its settlement and Far Eastern ceramic trade from the 14th to the 18th centuries" by John Hansman, published by the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1985.

Within the Collections are also "Pasargadae: a report on the excavations conducted by the British Institute of Persian Studies from 1961 to 1963" by David Stronach (1978) and "Ancient Iran from the air" edited by David Stronach and Ali Mousavi (2012), plus copies of "Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies" in which Stronach published articles. Further details can be found on the Library Catalogue .

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