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29 july 1907 . 15 january 2003


VOL. 149, NO. 2, JUNE 2005


biographical memoirs


HE ANGLO-AMERICAN generation of archaeologists who spanned the period from pre-World War II through the midtwentieth century included numerous giants in the field, such as J. Desmond Clark, Grahame Clark, V. Gordon Childe, Dorothy Garrod, Emil Haury, Jesse Jennings, Kathleen Kenyon, A.V. Kidder, Richard MacNeish, Stuart Piggott, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Sir Leonard Woolley. All are gone. Robert John Braidwood, a central member of this illustrious group, died 15 January 2003. Robert Braidwood was born in Detroit, Michigan, 29 July 1907. All four of his grandparents were Scottish immigrants to the United States. Braidwood's father was a pharmacist in whose shop young Bob Braidwood worked after school. Among other part-time jobs held during his adolescence, those as carpenter's helper were his favorites. He earned an apprentice card in a carpenter's union the summer after he graduated from high school, and made good use of these carpentry skills throughout his archaeological career, especially when setting up and taking down field camps in the rural areas of southwestern Asia where he carried out research for more than sixty years. Before turning to archaeology, however, Braidwood obtained an architectural degree at the University of Michigan (1929), and then spent one year in an architectural office before returning to the university to pursue course work in ancient history and anthropology. His architectural training in drafting and lettering (all rendered freehand in those days) earned him an invitation to join a Michigan expedition to Tell Umar (Seleucia-onthe-Tigris) south of Baghdad for the 1930­31 season. He spent nine months working as surveyor and artist for the Iraq Expedition, then returned to Ann Arbor, completing a B.A. (1932) and M.A. (1933) before signing on as field assistant for the Oriental Institute's Syrian Expedition to the Plain of Antioch, the Amuq (1933­38). The Oriental Institute--directed by Egyptologist James Henry Breasted and sustained by Rockefeller money--consisted of a handsome stone building on the University of Chicago campus and a vigorous field program in western Asia and Egypt. Then as now, the Institute building housed scholarly offices, a research library, a lecture hall, and a museum. The field program of the 1930s included a total of twelve expeditions, working in Iran (1), Iraq (3), Syria (1), Palestine (1), and Egypt (6). The expedition staffs worked full-time during the field seasons (usually nine months long, fall to spring each year), but were not salaried by the Institute during the off-season part of the year. Two aspects of Braidwood's work with the Syrian Amuq expedition are especially significant, and still stand as major contributions to the archaeology of western Asia. He was put in charge of deep sound[234]

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ings at very large mounds, and he carried out a comprehensive site survey for the entire Plain of Antioch (Braidwood 1937). The deep trenches yielded stratigraphic information enabling relative dating of the survey sites, as well as data for his dissertation. They also provided a basic time-space systematics framework for much of the northern Levant and northwestern Syria (Braidwood and Braidwood 1960). In fact, the Amuq phases defined by Braidwood in the 1930s are still central to chronological discussions for that part of Southwest Asia. Braidwood's regional survey of the Amuq was highly innovative at the time, and especially impressive because the overwhelming emphasis within Near Eastern archaeology then, and for many decades afterward, was on long-term excavation of big single sites that could be linked to cities named in the Bible or in other ancient writings. Actual fieldwork designed to place these sites in their physical settings and in geographic relation to older, younger, and contemporaneous communities was virtually unheard of. During Braidwood's return voyage to the United States from the Amuq in 1936, he encountered on shipboard a young woman, Linda Schreiber, whom he had first met when both were University of Michigan students. They renewed their old acquaintance and forged a new one that lasted sixty-six years: for nearly three score years and ten they worked very closely together in the field, on campus at the University of Chicago, and wherever else their research took them. They died within hours of each other on 15 January 2003. Linda Schreiber became Linda Schreiber Braidwood in January 1937, and joined the Amuq field staff. Following the last Syrian Expedition field season in 1938, the Braidwoods entered graduate work at Chicago that autumn, immediately joining a group of young students and scholars who participated throughout the war years in a class that ran continuously each academic year from fall 1938 to spring 1945. This legendary seminar was conducted by Henri Frankfort, Bob Braidwood's dissertation professor, under whose guidance the young scholars analyzed and discussed all published materials from Near Eastern and Aegean archaeological sites predating 2000 b.c. In 1935, the Oriental Institute was merged administratively with the University of Chicago because--owing to the Depression--Rockefeller could no longer support it. In 1942, Bob Braidwood completed his Ph.D. in the Oriental languages and literatures department of the Institute, although a third of his courses had been in anthropology. Linda earned an M.A. at the Institute, but was prevented by nepotism rules in force at the time from entering a doctoral program or being employed there. From 1941 to 1945, Bob was a part-time faculty member at the University of Chicago. In 1945, he was promoted to a permanent full-


biographical memoirs

time position with joint appointment in the Oriental Institute and the Department of Anthropology. Between 1948 and 1990, the Braidwoods carried out fieldwork in northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, and southeastern Turkey under the aegis of, respectively, the Iraq-Jarmo Project (1948­55); the Iranian Prehistoric Project (in collaboration with Ezat Negahban, 1959­60); and the Joint Istanbul-Chicago Turkish Prehistoric Project (1963­ present, but project direction was passed on by the co-directors [Halet Çambel and the Braidwoods] to Mehmet Özdogan in 1990). Robert J. Braidwood's major contributions to world archaeology are usually thought, quite correctly, to center upon the research problem-- the origins of agriculture and pastoralism--he and Linda first addressed at the site of Jarmo in the three field seasons they were able to spend there: 1948, 1950­51, and 1954­55. (The name "Jarmo" is derived from the Kurdish designation Qala'at Charmay ["white fort"] for a topographic feature near the site; the 1958­59 Jarmo season had to be canceled because of a nationalist revolution that broke out in Iraq during the summer of 1958.) As a student of ancient history at Michigan, Bob Braidwood had read Peake and Fleure's series of slim volumes summarizing highlights of the human past (Corridors of Time), as well as V. Gordon Childe's The Most Ancient East. In fact, for a short period in the mid-1930s, Braidwood had made preliminary plans to enroll in a doctoral program at the University of Edinburgh under Childe's supervision. That did not happen, but when Braidwood became a professor himself, he always assigned Childe's books and articles to his students, spoke of him often with respect and affection, and freely acknowledged his debt to Childe's early discussions of the Neolithic or Agricultural Revolution. Childe drew attention to the significance of early food-producing economies in the Near East, which not only marked a major transition in the human past from foraging, hunting, and gathering wild species to dependence upon domestic ones, but also provided the basis for development of those state-based, urbanized, Bronze Age societies in the ancient Near East, so well known from the Old Testament and other ancient historical sources. Braidwood's great contribution was to design a long-term research project specifically aimed at recovering empirical archaeological evidence for the food-producing revolution in western Asia, one of the first--if not the first--of these transformations in human prehistory. Sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, wheat, barley, and several kinds of legumes were all domesticated in the Near East thousands of years ago and are, of course, still of great economic importance worldwide. Prior to Braidwood's Iraq-Jarmo Project, however, no archaeologist had deliberately set out to recover the remains of the

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earliest domestic plants and animals in any world region, and to infer the cultural and non-cultural processes central to that, or any other, prehistoric agro-pastoral revolution. Braidwood thought--contrary to Childe's speculations, which focused upon alluvial and oasis locales-- that the earliest agricultural and pastoral communities would have arisen in the natural habitats of the first domesticated species. In Southwest Asia, for most of the plants and animals in question, those habitats overlap significantly in the uplands surrounding what James Breasted called "the Fertile Crescent": a great arc stretching from the Nile Valley, up the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea across northern Mesopotamia and the upper Euphrates and Tigris Valleys, to the foothills along the western slopes of the Zagros Mountains. Braidwood referred to a nuclear zone for early west Asian agriculture and pastoralism, which he dubbed "the Hilly Flanks of the Fertile Crescent" (Braidwood 1974, 1981; Braidwood and Braidwood 1950, 1953; L. Braidwood et al. 1983; Braidwood and Howe et al. 1960). Jarmo in the western foothills of the Zagros Mountains was the first "oldest food producing community" to be revealed. It was the precursor in archaeological knowledge of many other such communities along both the eastern and western slopes of the Zagros, in Central Asia, in southern Turkey, and in the Levant. Braidwoodian interdisciplinary search for the origins of food-producing economies was carried well beyond the original Hilly Flanks locale by Braidwood's students and colleagues. Similarly organized work was initiated in southeastern Asia, and the Americas beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. A major component to Braidwood's first and best-known archaeological achievement was assembling a group of scientists with the appropriate expertise to identify and interpret archaeologically-retrieved floral and faunal remains, and to locate and interpret clues to ancient topography and climate relevant to prehistoric Jarmo. Moreover, he had to obtain sufficient funds to transport these scientists to northern Iraq and maintain them in good working order during part or all of a standard nine-month field season. The thoroughgoing interdisciplinary collaboration that Braidwood proposed was first fully implemented in the last of the three Jarmo field seasons, 1954­55, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (the first one awarded to any Old World archaeological project). Robert McC. Adams, who had been a graduate student field assistant during the 1950­51 Jarmo season, tells the story (letter to P. J. Watson dated 4 January 1994, when Adams was Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution): "I was still a graduate student, with a desk in Bob's office, a couple of years later [i.e., after the 1950­51 Jarmo season] when the NSF first began to think that perhaps it could figure out a way to get into the social and behavioral sciences.


biographical memoirs

Hank Riecken was the NSF emissary and I was there when he told Bob that Bob's work provided precisely the kind of promising bridge that they had been hoping for, rather desperately. Then followed some fascinating weeks as the first NSF proposal in our field got put together (and, naturally, funded). Those were the crucial first steps on a long, long journey." As it happened, having been accepted by the Chicago anthropology department as a pre­M.A. graduate student in archaeology, I arrived at Braidwood's doorstep on the third floor of the Oriental Institute just in time to be included as junior field assistant for that last Iraq-Jarmo Project field season. The NSF grant enabled field participation by a geologist (Herbert Wright), a paleoethnobotanist (Hans Helbaek), a radiocarbon specialist and ceramicist (Frederic Matson), and a zoologist (Charles Reed), as well as several archaeologists. Wright had participated in the 1950­51 season, but the 1954­55 Iraq-Jarmo field staff was the first full-scale interdisciplinary team to elicit Asian prehistory from the earth since Raphael Pumpelly's 1904 Anau expedition (Pumpelly 1908). The interdisciplinary modus operandi had its occasional low points for Bob: finding his personal bathtub inhabited by live turtles, while dead small mammals occupied the rickety refrigerator at the rest-house serving as temporary expedition headquarters during the fall of 1954; drying herbarium blotters and newspapers spread over every available surface at all hours of the day and night; being told that Herb Wright had once again disappeared into the hills for an indefinite period armed with a dozen hard-boiled eggs, a handful of bread, a small tub of peanut-butter-and-jelly (premixed), and the expedition's only functioning jeep. But obviously the results were well worth these petty annoyances. Bob Braidwood never returned to the archaeological style he had known as a student at Seleucia-on-the-Tigris and in the Amuq: excavations employing hundreds of workers digging far and wide to uncover large expanses of well-preserved architecture and a limited range of the fancier artifacts. Braidwood's interdisciplinary archaeological research at and about Jarmo became a double-barreled theoreticalmethodological paradigm that still underlies the practice of prehistoric archaeology in and well beyond the Hilly Flanks. The Braidwoods fully intended to continue working at Jarmo for many more years, but were unable to return to that region after 1958 because of political instability following the nationalist revolution in the summer of 1958. Their next field season (1959­60) was spent in the Kermanshah region of northwestern Iran, surveying and test excavating a number of early rockshelter and open sites. Again, they might have worked there for many more years, had there not arisen a very

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appealing alternative that took them to southeastern Turkey in 1963, where they remained for the rest of their careers, almost exactly forty more years. The Joint Istanbul-Chicago Turkish Prehistoric Project, codirected by Professor Halet Çambel of Istanbul University and the Braidwoods, began with regional survey in the fall of 1963 (when the photo that accompanies this essay was taken) and continued with soundings at several sites in the years that followed, but the primary focus was on a mound called Çayönü (a Turkish word meaning "beside the stream"). Çayönü turned out to be even earlier than Jarmo, and more complex architecturally and artifactually. In addition, it has yielded what is the earliest evidence so far available for finely woven cloth and for the annealing of copper (Braidwood and Braidwood 1982; Çambel and Braidwood 1980). The interdisciplinary, international teamwork pioneered at Jarmo also robustly characterizes research at and about Çayönü, where archaeobotanists, geographers, geologists, and zooarchaeologists, as well as many archaeologists with varied specialties, have been part of the field staffs from the earliest seasons. Senior collaborators and students come from France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, Korea, Turkey, and the U.S. Besides introducing a new research trajectory--the archaeology of agricultural and pastoral origins--that continues to ramify internationally, Braidwood's interdisciplinary work in western Asia gave great impetus to several archaeological subdisciplines initiated in the 1950s to 1970s: archaeobotany (also called paleoethnobotany), ethnoarchaeology, geoarchaeology, and zooarchaeology (also called archaeozoology). Hence, he and his research teams made multiple methodological contributions to archaeology internationally. In addition, Braidwood himself, in his 1950s­1960s publications discussing why and how as well as where and when food-producing villages originated, launched the now massive post-Childean literature addressing theoretical aspects of this major economic transition. Bob Braidwood was honored repeatedly for his achievements. In the U.S., he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the American Philosophical Society. In Europe, he was made a foreign correspondent or honorary fellow of the German Archaeological Institute, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the Society of Antiquaries, among others; he was also awarded honorary doctorates by the Sorbonne and the University of Rome. In 1971, the Archaeological Institute of America presented him with its Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement; in the same year, the American Anthropological Association designated him its Distinguished Lecturer. In 1995, the Society for


biographical memoirs

American Archaeology (an organization to which he had never belonged) awarded him its Fryxell Medal for Interdisciplinary Research in Archaeology. For more than six decades, the Braidwoods were generous and supportive mentors to numerous students and younger colleagues at the University of Chicago and elsewhere in the U.S., and in Europe, as well as in Iraq, Iran, and especially (because that project was so long-lived) in Turkey. Bob and Linda Braidwood loved and lived their work. Their long list of influential scholarly publications, and the joyful enthusiasm they poured into all aspects of their research, will continue to guide and inspire archaeologists everywhere far into the future.

Elected 1966; Committee on Membership IV 1975­80

Patty Jo Watson

Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology Emerita Washington University, St. Louis


I am grateful to Gretel Braidwood and Ray Tindel for some of the information included in this essay. Other sources are the obituaries published in American Anthropologist 106.3 (P. J. Watson), American Journal of Archaeology 107.4 (Andrew Moore), Journal of Anthropological Research 59.2 (P. J. Watson), the New York Times for 17 January 2003 (Stuart Lavietes), Neo-Lithics 1/03 (G. A. Clark); and the Braidwood memorial issues of two Turkish journals: Arkeoloji ve Sanat 113 and Tüba-Ar (Turkish Academy of Sciences Journal of Archaeology) 7. Additional information is contained in The Encyclopedia of Archaeology: The Great Archaeologists (edited by Tim Murray), 2: 495­505: "Robert John Braidwood"; as well as Linda Braidwood's Digging Beyond the Tigris (1953) and Robert Braidwood's Archeologists and What They Do (1960).


Braidwood, Linda S., and Robert J. Braidwood, eds. 1982. Prehistoric Village Archaeology in South-Eastern Turkey. Oxford: BAR International Series 138. Braidwood, Linda S., Robert J. Braidwood, B. Howe, C. A. Reed, and P. J. Watson, eds. 1983. Prehistoric Archeology along the Zagros Flanks. Chicago: Oriental Institute Publication 105. Braidwood, Robert J. 1937. Mounds in the Plain of Antioch: An Archaeological Survey. Chicago: Oriental Institute Publication 48. ------. 1974. The Iraq Jarmo Project. In Archaeological Researches in Retrospect, ed. G. R. Willey, 61­83. Cambridge: Winthrop Publishers. ------. 1981. Archaeological Retrospect 2. Antiquity 55: 19­26. Braidwood, Robert J., and Linda S. Braidwood. 1950. Jarmo: a Village of Early Farmers in Iraq. Antiquity 24: 189­95. ------. 1953. The Earliest Village Communities of Southwestern Asia. Journal of World History 1: 278­310.

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------. 1960. Excavations in the Plain of Antioch, I: The Earlier Assemblages, A-J. Chicago: Oriental Institute Publication 61. Braidwood, Robert J., B. Howe, et al. 1960. Prehistoric Investigations in Iraqi Kurdistan. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 31. Chicago: Oriental Institute. Çambel, Halet, and Robert J. Braidwood. 1980. Prehistoric Research in Southeastern Anatolia I. Istanbul: University of Istanbul, Faculty of Letters Press, Publication 2589. Pumpelly, Raphael, ed. 1908. Explorations in Turkestan. Expedition of 1904. Prehistoric Civilizations of Anau; Origins, Growth, and Influence of Environment. Vols. 1 and 2. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.



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