ABSTRACT

Archival material can shape the future of archaeological research and cultural heritage preservation, but it must be made accessible to the academic community and general public. This is especially true for conflict zones, as archives of various kinds are often all that remains as a record of sites and monuments. Palmyra, Syria, is important for understanding the ancient world and modern global cultural heritage; however, it has been destroyed by conflict, thus making archival material crucial to the site's future. By fully publishing the archive of Palmyrene sculpture compiled by the Danish archaeologist Harald Ingholt, researchers, adhering to the FAIR principles, set an example of best practice that includes holistic publication of archaeological projects both in print and digitally to make the data accessible to a wide audience. In this article, Palmyra's Tomb of Maqqai serves as a case study to demonstrate some of the potentials of open-data publication.

Archival material remains an underused resource in current archaeological scholarship, particularly for the archaeology of conflict zones where documentation is critical for the knowledge of now lost or damaged objects, the preservation of cultural heritage, and future restitution initiatives. Archives documenting early archaeological research in regions such as the eastern Mediterranean offer a different kind of future for research practices, as their content has the potential to generate research when fieldwork is not possible. However, such research possibilities require archival best practices, holistic publication being a prime example of one such practice. Yet, it can be difficult to secure funding through universities or external funding bodies for the publication of archival material: in archaeology, the funding often goes to “new” basic research, such as fieldwork. While this is understandable in many ways, it is also to the detriment of that crucial information which still lies buried in paper archives of research institutions and museums across the world. Therefore, it is important to flag projects that have taken their point of departure from archival material in order to demonstrate how such material can generate new knowledge about archaeological sites.

Developing archival best practices for regions such as the eastern Mediterranean is critical to the future of archaeological research there. Excavators and researchers, especially those who worked in the early twentieth century, published the results of their undertakings with different degrees of completeness. Archaeologists often publish only parts of their findings because the finds are numerous and they decide to concentrate on those that are representative. Publishing in this manner may be useful, ensuring that the main results of archaeological research are accessible to the academic community; however, the question whether this approach furthers research more broadly is another matter. Archaeology is a discipline that is rapidly developing and has more recently started to incorporate the natural and digital sciences (Raja and Sindbæk 2018; Romanowska, Lichtenberger, and Raja 2021; Romanowska et al. 2021). In principle, just like other sciences, to test whether results are valid, archaeological projects must make all their data available, at least upon final publication. A good way forward in archaeological research and cultural heritage preservation is the rigorous adherence to the FAIR principles—Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable (Wilkinson et al. 2016)—and the incorporation of material from earlier excavations of the same site or location (if available), even if only in archival form. Yet, another issue for archaeological research, and perhaps more critical in the field of cultural heritage studies, is that many times academic publications are not readily available in the libraries of the countries in which the fieldwork was undertaken. This restricts local academics' access to knowledge about findings that concern their own culture, to say nothing of the access limitations that local populations face. Although numerous projects have now begun to address the issues of digital colonialism and are working toward making material widely available online or as open data—sometimes providing commentaries or captions in the language of the country from which the material originally stems—this approach also has its own problems. No matter what, the keepers of the original documents are at the core of selecting what and how to make the data available. This is not a matter that can be solved in one article, but it is important to bring these issues to the forefront in order to begin to develop more holistic approaches to archival material within the field of archaeology. By initiating this discussion, productive discourse may occur over the coming years around the development of best-practice scenarios for various kinds of archival material.

The potential of archives and the benefits of the holistic publication of archival material is exemplified in the treatment of the archive of the Danish archaeologist Harald Ingholt (Raja 2019b, 2019c, 2021b; Raja and Sørensen 2015a, 2015b), who, at the time of the French mandate, worked with French colleagues in Palmyra, Syria. Located on the border between Rome and Parthia, Palmyra was a flourishing trade hub in the first three centuries AD, its wealth manifested in monumental buildings and in tombs that contained multiple burials marked by funerary portraits (Figs. 12), which constitute the largest known corpus of funerary portraits outside of Rome (see Raja 2021b; Nielsen and Raja 2019 for the history of the site). UNESCO recognized Palmyra as a world heritage site in 19801 (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/23/), but since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011, Palmyra has suffered extensive damage (Raja 2016a, 2016b). This leaves researchers with the challenge of preserving what is left while not being able to do work at the site, while also assessing the amount of damage done. The archive of Harald Ingholt has proven an important resource and has played a central role in the research undertaken on the sculpture from the site (see, e.g., Krag 2018, 2019a, 2019b; Krag and Raja 2019a, 2019b; Raja 2018b, 2019d, 2019f) since the start of the Palmyra Portrait Project2 in 2012, led by Rubina Raja. The archive has been digitized, and this is the first step to making the information it holds available to the academic community. In the following we will discuss the importance of archives to archaeological study and cultural heritage preservation using the specific example of Ingholt's archive. To demonstrate best practices, revealing some of the potentials of archival material when published holistically and offered as an open-data source, the Tomb of Maqqai in Palmyra is offered as a case study.

FIG. 1

Example of a loculus relief, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (Purchase, 1901; Creative Commons Zero [https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/].)

FIG. 1

Example of a loculus relief, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (Purchase, 1901; Creative Commons Zero [https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/].)

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FIG. 2

Example of a complete sarcophagus, Palmyra Museum. (Photo by Dosseman, CC BY-SA 4.0 [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0].)

FIG. 2

Example of a complete sarcophagus, Palmyra Museum. (Photo by Dosseman, CC BY-SA 4.0 [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0].)

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Archive Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

In some ways, the history of the Ingholt Archive3 is exemplary of the histories of other archaeological archives created during excavations in lands of the former Ottoman Empire from the late nineteenth century to the Second World War. This was the period when the core of the Ingholt Archive was formed, when nations were created out of empires and the Middle East played a central role in international politics (Hingley 2014; Melman 2020). The ruins of Palmyra had already attracted the attention of European travelers from the seventeenth century onward, but it was from the 1850s that research on Palmyra and acquisition of its artworks for major European museums intensified (Sartre-Fauriat 2019: 71). The Ottoman government took measures to safeguard the site's antiquities, and objects found to have been exported illegally were taken to the Musée Ottoman, which formed the core of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum (Çelik 2016). With the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Syria came under the French Mandate of the League of Nations. A Service of Antiquities was instituted and reorganized in 1929 by Henri Seyrig (Sartre-Fauriat 2019: 72; Delplace, n.d.). In the 1920s, while Seyrig worked in the area of the Temple of Bel, Ingholt was given a concession to work in the area of the southwest necropolis of the city (Sartre-Fauriat 2019: 72).

In his notes, Ingholt seemed unconcerned with contemporary politics but only interested in the archaeology of the site.4 Even in his photography, and Ingholt was an avid photographer (Fig. 3), his focus was on the artifacts: the portable objects were presented in front of neutral backgrounds, the larger reliefs and sarcophagi as they were found during excavations (Figs. 45).

FIG. 3

Harald Ingholt photographing sculptures in Palmyra. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 3

Harald Ingholt photographing sculptures in Palmyra. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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FIG. 4

Two loculus reliefs with male busts. Ingholt Archive PS 936 and PS 937. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 4

Two loculus reliefs with male busts. Ingholt Archive PS 936 and PS 937. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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FIG. 5

Complete sarcophagus. The lid shows a sitting female and a reclining male, while the box contains four portrait busts. Ingholt Archive PS 58. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 5

Complete sarcophagus. The lid shows a sitting female and a reclining male, while the box contains four portrait busts. Ingholt Archive PS 58. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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There are a few photographs in the archive, however, that preserve images of Palmyra as it was in the earlier part of the twentieth century, providing testimony to the site before its systematic exploration and transformation to a display of Palmyra's Roman phase (Figs. 67). The archive sheet shown in Figure 6 contains four photographs of the city of Palmyra. Three of the four photographs, like the two photographs of Figure 7, are devoid of human presence; in their effort to produce a scientific record, the photographs present a fantasy of the city's architecture as if it were a stage set (for a similar phenomenon in the early photography of Dura Europos, see Baird 2011: 428). The fourth photograph in the sheet's lower right corner shows Palmyra populated by (possibly) local workmen from Ingholt's excavation (Fig. 6). Some of the men look at the camera, others look away, and several individuals appear at different distances down the avenue. As J. A. Baird has suggested for the photographing of Dura Europos, whether unconsciously or not, the Western excavators documenting this scene are attempting to capture a particular past, one that collapses the time between past and present (Baird 2011: 431). In Ingholt's archive sheets and in the photography of Dura Europos, locals are placed in the past, and this simultaneously, Baird claims, positions the Syrians as inferior to the contemporary world, also disinheriting them from their own history by using them as “passive props” (Baird 2011: 430).

FIG. 6

Images of the old village of Palmyra, situated in the sanctuary of Bel. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 6

Images of the old village of Palmyra, situated in the sanctuary of Bel. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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FIG. 7

Two views of Tomb Cantineau with the city of Palmyra in the distance. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 7

Two views of Tomb Cantineau with the city of Palmyra in the distance. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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In another image from the archive, Ingholt photographs a local workman against a neutral background (Fig. 8). The Syrian sun is so bright that the dirt under the man's bare feet is indistinguishable from the pale wall behind him. In this photograph it does not appear that Ingholt has any other aim than to make a portrait of the worker. On the sheet, beneath the photograph, Ingholt writes, “Den ældste af mine Arbejder” (“the oldest of my workers”). This image, in conjunction with anecdotes from Ingholt's excavation diaries (Raja, Steding, and Yon 2021), demonstrates Ingholt's engagement with Syrians and acknowledgment that their participation in the excavations was instrumental to the work being done in Palmyra. Nevertheless, although the material documented in the Ingholt Archive is heritage—understood as inheritance from the past (Harrison 2009: 9; Prott and O'Keefe 1992: 311)—the question remains: Who stands to inherit? This question not only applies to the work of excavation and cultural heritage preservation but also physical archives and digital initiatives.

FIG. 8

Portrait of a local Syrian worker. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 8

Portrait of a local Syrian worker. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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March 2021 marked ten years of civil war in Syria.5 In these ten years, the importance of the material collected by the archaeologists who work there has grown. The archive of Paul Collart, the Swiss professor of archaeology who led the systematic excavations at the Sanctuary of Baalshamin, is at the heart of the effort to create a digital reconstruction of this now-lost temple and to present his archive in a digital database (project “Collart–Palmyre”).6 In addition, thousands of photographs taken by tourists are used for the digital reconstruction of Palmyra (#NewPalmyra).7 The project Archive Archaeology: Preserving and Sharing Palmyra's Cultural Heritage through Harald Ingholt's Digital Archives,8 at Aarhus University, operates alongside these and other such projects (Experience Ancient Palmyra in 360° and in 3D; Palmyra GIS).9 A major goal of the project is to publish Ingholt's archive according to the FAIR principles in several volumes that consist of the archive sheets and commentary, as well as making the archive accessible online as an open-data resource (Bobou et al. forthcoming; Bobou, Miranda, and Raja, 2021; Raja 2018a, 2019a). In current discussions of digital resources, awareness of “digital colonialism” is raised as a major issue in the sharing of data (for a discussion of digital colonialism with Syrian archaeology as an example, see Stobiecka 2020). FAIR principles help mitigate some issues, but with the forthcoming publication of the archive on figshare, a specific and inclusive platform choice, Ingholt's original data will be freely available. The online platform on which the archive sheets appear as high-resolution PDF files attempts to democratize digital resource through its format. The forthcoming publication of the archive, including its online accessibility, sets the stage for future collaborations and interdisciplinary work that will have implications for scholars of the ancient world and the field of cultural heritage preservation. The publication of the archive both in print and online presents all of Ingholt's material from Palmyra, not only representative finds. Such a holistic publication aims to generate future research avenues and change how researchers assess archaeological sites such as Palmyra. The Ingholt Archive presents a case for fully appreciating archaeological contexts and, consequently, suggests an alternative way forward in the archaeology of conflict zones and cultural heritage preservation.

The Ingholt Archive: History and Current Studies

Beginning in the 1920s, Ingholt kept meticulous records of the funerary sculptures of Palmyra through photographic documentation supplemented by his annotations, forming the foundation of his archive (Raja 2019e; Raja, Steding, and Yon 2021). His archive is essential to the understanding of Palmyra's complex history—in both the ancient world and its more recent past.

Ingholt created the archive while he was writing his higher doctoral dissertation (disputats) on Palmyrene sculpture and while he was employed as a curator at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. As part of his work, he also excavated in Palmyra and began to connect with the world of art markets in Beirut (Raja and Sørensen 2015a: 60; 2015b: 60). In his dissertation, Ingholt put together material from excavations, the art market, and the museum world in order to establish a chronological sequence of Palmyrene sculpture. He used inscriptions to understand the genealogy of the families buried in the tombs he excavated and thus find connections between the objects he was studying. His dissertation was published in 1928 and included 540 Palmyrene funerary portraits. It became a standard work, despite being written in Danish (Ingholt 1928; see Bobou et al. 2021 for the English translation with commentary of his book). Apart from studying Palmyrene art, between 1924 and 1928 and in the mid-1930s, Ingholt also conducted excavations in the southwest necropolis of Palmyra. He documented his work and finds in his excavation diaries and took several photographs of the tombs he excavated (Raja and Sørensen 2015a, 2015b; Raja 2019b, 2019c, 2019e, 2021b). Following his dissertation's publication, Ingholt continued to maintain and revisit his archive; objects that were published in 1928 are on sheets that carry notes and references to subsequent publications, elucidating transcription problems of the inscriptions or containing quotes that illuminate issues of use or dating of the object.

Several of the objects recorded by Ingholt in his archive have never been the focus of scholarly attention. This includes pieces such as the loculus relief of a man now in the Okayama Orient Museum in Japan. Ingholt recorded the object in the art market of Damascus, and its inscription was known to the editors of the most important epigraphic corpora; yet the object's afterlife, which included its voyage from Damascus to Japan at some point, is to this day an enigma (Okayama Orient Museum, inv. no. 1–110; RES no. 1012; CIS no. 4441; PAT no. 0801)10 (Fig. 9). Ingholt also studied artifacts in the European and US art markets, as well as in private collections. A good example is a portrait first recorded in an American collection in 1928 by Ingholt, then sold through the American art market, and now in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Ingholt Archive, PS 727; funerary relief of Hadirat Katthina)(Fig. 10).11 Several of these pieces have not been seen on the art market since the time that Ingholt studied them, and are known only on account of his images and notes (Fig. 11). Additionally, Ingholt's images preserve the objects as they were when he studied them. This means that objects are documented directly after their excavation, before any restorations were performed but also before their loss or any damage they incurred, be it through natural causes or human intervention (Raja and Kvist Johnson 2020).

FIG. 9

Loculus relief with male bust, now in Okayama Orient Museum, inv. no. 1–110. Ingholt records the transcription of the inscription, its publication, information about family relations, and its location as “Commerce, Damascus.” Ingholt Archive PS 818. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 9

Loculus relief with male bust, now in Okayama Orient Museum, inv. no. 1–110. Ingholt records the transcription of the inscription, its publication, information about family relations, and its location as “Commerce, Damascus.” Ingholt Archive PS 818. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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FIG. 10

Loculus relief with female bust, now in the Getty Museum, inv. no. 2019.12. Ingholt records the owner of the object as “Messayeh.” Thanks to the partly photographed relief to the right of the relief with the female bust, it is possible to identify him as A. Massayeh of New York. Ingholt Archive PS 772. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 10

Loculus relief with female bust, now in the Getty Museum, inv. no. 2019.12. Ingholt records the owner of the object as “Messayeh.” Thanks to the partly photographed relief to the right of the relief with the female bust, it is possible to identify him as A. Massayeh of New York. Ingholt Archive PS 772. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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FIG. 11

Loculus relief with male bust. The relief is only known through the archive and was recorded as being in Damascus. Ingholt Archive PS 601. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 11

Loculus relief with male bust. The relief is only known through the archive and was recorded as being in Damascus. Ingholt Archive PS 601. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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In 1981, Ingholt chose to donate a central part of his research archive relating to Palmyrene art to Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, where he had also served as curator (1925–1930) and where his interest in Palmyra was first spurred (Raja and Sørensen 2015a, 2015b; Raja 2019b, 2019c) (Fig. 12).12 His archive arrived in Copenhagen in 1983 and it remained at the museum where the Danish archaeologist Gunhild Ploug organized it while working on the Palmyra collection (Fig. 13).13 After permission had been given to Professor Rubina Raja,14 the archive was temporarily transferred to Aarhus University in 2012, where it was digitized within the framework of the Palmyra Portrait Project. Then it was moved back to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Raja and Sørensen 2015a: 61, 2015b: 61).

FIG. 12

Letter from the director of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, thanking Ingholt for his donation of the archive to the museum. (© R. Raja; courtesy of M. E. Underdown.)

FIG. 12

Letter from the director of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, thanking Ingholt for his donation of the archive to the museum. (© R. Raja; courtesy of M. E. Underdown.)

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FIG. 13

Image of the archive as stored in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. (© R. Raja.)

FIG. 13

Image of the archive as stored in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. (© R. Raja.)

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The archive came to Aarhus with the individual sheets in blue folders, which had been placed in moving boxes. The first nine folders were labeled according to date ranges, starting from AD 100 and ending at AD 250, interspersed with two folders labeled Palmyra. The sheets in those folders almost exclusively carried images of loculus reliefs. The next four folders were labeled according to the type of objects: statues, stelai, sarcophagi, votive reliefs, while one folder was simply labeled “12”; the other four folders contained images of the objects in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and images of miscellaneous ancient Palmyrene objects. In addition to these, sheets with photographs from the site of Palmyra and Ingholt's own excavations were placed in another moving box. All the sheets were digitized in the order that the folders were labeled (1–19) and in the exact order in which they had been placed in the folder. Each sheet carried two numbers, one at the top of the sheet and one on the upper right corner, on the side, both numbers preceded by PS, for Palmyrensk Skulptur (Palmyrene Sculpture), leading to the realization that one number must have corresponded to Ingholt's number in his archive and the other to the number given to the sheet by Ploug during her study of the material: these were called by the project team the “Ingholt” and the “NCG” PS numbers respectively. The numbers are not randomly assigned. It appears that Ingholt attempted to organize his sculptures typologically and then by date within each typology. However, even this description of Ingholt's organization system is flawed, as he was constantly revising his opinions and adding to his archive. The numbers at the top of the sheet reflect Ploug's organization of the archival material. As such, Ingholt's original organization of the material is lost, though there are indications to his thinking. However, these numbers are the same for the first 527 PS numbers, documenting objects published fully by Ingholt in 1928.

Objects were often depicted and discussed in multiple sheets, either showing several different photographs of a sculpture or carrying additional information. The sheets themselves offer another clue as to the history of the archive. First, there are a number of sheets without a PS number. Second, there are a number of sheets, all with objects from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, that are not brown or yellow as almost all the sheets in the archive but of a gray paper. Whether these sheets are later additions to the archive or an act to preserve original material is not known. Although the unnumbered sheets will be published as part of the archive, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek sheets have already been published in a 1993 catalog.

The Tomb of Maqqai: A Case Study

To illustrate the contributions and potentials of holistically published archives in archaeological discourses here, Ingholt's work on the Tomb of Maqqai and the current research at Aarhus University on this material will serve as a case study.

The Tomb of Maqqai in Palmyra was first excavated during Ingholt's 1924 campaign at the southwest necropolis of the city (Ingholt 1932: 12–14; 1935: 58–75; Gawlikowski 1970: 113; Raja and Sørensen 2015a: 46–47, 52–53; 2015b: 46–47, 52–53; Schnädelbach 2010 catalogs the tomb under R252). It was a separately dug and decorated recess, an exedra, inside the existing underground Tomb of Atenatan, created in AD 98 (Ingholt 1935: 58). The tomb was later sold to the family of Maqqai by the descendants of Atenatan. According to the inscription on the lintel of the tomb, Julius Aurelius Maqqai constructed an “exedra, house of eternity, which is inside the cave” at his own expenses in AD 229 (Ingholt 1935: 60). “Cave” is a term usually used for underground tombs in Palmyra, while the designation “house of eternity” is common for all tombs in Palmyra. The term “exedra” is used for a separate space within the tombs, which similar to exedrae in civic architecture could be clearly demarcated for high visibility and status. In the case of the Tomb of Maqqai, the exedra has an arched roof with floral decorations and two winged Victories, one on each side, possibly used in order to enhance the prestige of Maqqai and glorify him as the builder of the tomb (Ingholt 1935: 62–63). Inside the exedra, there are three sarcophagi used for the burials of Maqqai and his family. They are typical of Palmyrene sarcophagi: the box is in the shape of a bed (kline), while the deceased is depicted on the lid as taking part in a banquet, reclining, with his wife seated by his side and his children standing between them (Fig. 14). The imagery on the lids is not unusual, but that of the boxes is rare in the art of Palmyra, with figural decoration between the legs of the kline: one the depiction of a sacrifice scene and the other a trading scene. A fragment of a third box shows that the last sarcophagus also had a sacrifice scene.

FIG. 14

One of the sarcophagi in the exedra of Maqqai. Photograph taken during the Ingholt excavations of the tomb. Ingholt Archive PS 984. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 14

One of the sarcophagi in the exedra of Maqqai. Photograph taken during the Ingholt excavations of the tomb. Ingholt Archive PS 984. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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The painted decoration and the sculpture from the tomb were published separately (paintings: Ingholt 1932: 12–14; sculptures: Ingholt 1935: 58–75). From the various publications we know that the exedra included sarcophagi, sarcophagi boxes, and loculus reliefs. Most of these seem to have been left inside the tomb after Ingholt's excavation; however, some of the sculptures were broken off and stolen in 1966 (Gawlikowski 1970: 113 n. 30). This was not a unique situation. Already before 1937, one object found its way to the art market of Aleppo and was then donated to the Baalbek Museum (Seyrig 1937: 40–43, pl. 5) (Fig. 15).15 A third fragment was also sold on the art market of Aleppo and was associated with the exedra on stylistic grounds (Sarre 1923: 69–70, pl. 3; Seyrig 1937: 41).

FIG. 15

Fragment of a sarcophagus box from the exedra of Maqqai, now at Baalbek Museum, no known inventory number. Ingholt Archive PS 564. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 15

Fragment of a sarcophagus box from the exedra of Maqqai, now at Baalbek Museum, no known inventory number. Ingholt Archive PS 564. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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Thanks to the information from the archive and the excavation diaries, it is possible to recreate the assemblage as it had been prior to 1966, when parts of the sarcophagi were broken off. This exercise becomes even more important in light of the civil war in Syria and all the disruptions it has caused in the preservation of Syrian heritage. Seven sheets document the sculpture program in the Tomb of Maqqai. The material consists of two loculus reliefs (both depicting male busts), two sarcophagus boxes, and three sarcophagus lids. PS 99116 is a brown sheet with a single photograph mounted at the sheet's center, showing a fragmentary relief with a headless, male bust in an exterior setting (Fig. 16). The sculpture is on the ground in front of a blank wall. Although the photograph is not accompanied by many annotations, there is still valuable information to be gained about the Tomb of Maqqai. A note in the sheet's top left corner reads, “2. handel 2. årh,” which suggests a date for the sculpture from the second half of the second century AD. This information contributes to a timeline for the tomb and its rich family history. The second loculus relief with a male bust that Ingholt identifies as belonging to the Tomb of Maqqai is PS 1002 (Fig. 17).17 This is another brown sheet with a photograph of the sculpture mounted at the center and a few, but valuable, annotations. The photograph shows the headless relief in the landscape. The sheet's few annotations reaffirm the later-second-century dating and the original context for the reliefs. Whereas PS 991 simply stated that the relief was from the Tomb of Maqqai, PS 1002 gives the more specific information “Tomb V2.” The timeline for the tomb is extended into the third century AD, when PS 564 is considered (see Fig. 15).18 The sheet comes with a small yellow post-it note that assigns a date of AD 210–230. This date is confirmed by a sarcophagus box with a religious scene from the tomb, documented on several separate archive sheets—labeled either PS 984 or PS 984–985 (Fig. 18). One of these archive sheets for PS 984 contains a small yellow post-it note that suggests the dates AD 210–230 for the sarcophagus (see Fig. 14). These notes, likely additions by Ploug,19 clearly illustrate the tomb's use over generations.

FIG. 16

Loculus relief with male bust. Ingholt Archive PS 991. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 16

Loculus relief with male bust. Ingholt Archive PS 991. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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FIG. 17

Loculus relief with male bust. Ingholt Archive PS 1002. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 17

Loculus relief with male bust. Ingholt Archive PS 1002. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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FIG. 18

Complete sarcophagus from the exedra of Maqqai. Ingholt Archive PS 984–985. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 18

Complete sarcophagus from the exedra of Maqqai. Ingholt Archive PS 984–985. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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In his 1935 publication, Ingholt also mentions that several traces of color were found on the sculptures. These were documented on drawings mounted on archive sheets, which give an invaluable impression of the objects, as color traces are among the most perishable of evidence (Fig. 19). In fact, Ingholt was so keen to make sure that the colors were recorded properly that, in addition to the drawings, he colorized one of his images of the sarcophagi in the exedra (Fig. 20).

FIG. 19

Drawing of sarcophagus from the exedra of Maqqai. Ingholt Archive PS 984. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 19

Drawing of sarcophagus from the exedra of Maqqai. Ingholt Archive PS 984. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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FIG. 20

Photograph of sarcophagus from the exedra of Maqqai and colorized version of image of the same sarcophagus. Ingholt Archive PS 984. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

FIG. 20

Photograph of sarcophagus from the exedra of Maqqai and colorized version of image of the same sarcophagus. Ingholt Archive PS 984. (© Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archive; courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.)

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Ingholt also noted possible comparanda for the sculptures and recorded their location in museum collections. The sarcophagi, probably because of their rare iconography, were discussed in publications, as mentioned above. The reliefs that closed loculus burial niches within the tomb, as well as one sarcophagus fragment, were not recorded in any of the publications mentioning the sculptures from the tomb (Seyrig 1937; Ingholt 1935); they are only known from the Ingholt Archive.20 In the relevant sheets, Ingholt noted their location at the Palmyra Museum, something that can also be corroborated by the background that appears in other images of reliefs photographed there. Thus, in combination with the publications and the information from the excavation diaries, the sheets provide us with the biographies of the objects, and they document objects not known from any other sources. Furthermore, the photographs on the archive sheets make clear that the sarcophagi were left inside the monumental exedra in the tomb. Thus, the assemblage of funerary objects was broken up immediately after its discovery, clearly in an effort to protect the smaller, easily portable objects from theft.

The tomb has been looted at least twice: once before 1937, and once in 1966. As of March 2021, there has been no information on the status of the tomb, the objects that had remained in situ, or those that had been transferred to the Museum of Palmyra. The data from the Ingholt Archive presents us with an impression of the tomb as it was at the time of its discovery. In case this tomb was looted again during the civil war or is even destroyed, the existing documentation and research ensures that the assemblage is preserved for posterity. With the aid of new technologies, and by making the archive openly accessible in a digital format, this knowledge need not be kept within the confines of a single museum.

Archive Archaeology: Results

The case study of the Tomb of Maqqai shows how the meticulous examination of the archival sheets, the cross-references with scholarly publications, and the information from excavation diaries can lead to the holistic presentation of a potentially now lost funerary assemblage. This in-depth investigation and analysis can be applied to all archival material, since all the material that records an excavation can also be treated as an archaeological artifact in its own right.

The impact of new technologies on the presentation and potential uses of the Ingholt Archive needs to be highlighted as well. In addition to a printed publication that will include all archive sheets as well as an accompanying commentary, the archive will also be made accessible online as an open-data resource. This will be a departure from the traditional way that archives are kept, organized, and made accessible. The materiality of archives is an element to their study that scholars only recently started to explore (Dever and Morra 2014). As mentioned earlier, an integral part of the project is the exploration of the materiality of the Ingholt Archive: establishing its original order when possible and tracing Ingholt's thoughts and processes through the remains of red, blue, or black ink and pencil. Though digitization circumvents this materiality in the presented archival material, the benefit is that the digital files can be stored, viewed, and edited on multiple devices, in multiple locations, by multiple people. By using digital files and creating a digital archive, the material moves away from its original space, but also from its original form, into a space that is no longer defined by its physicality. By making this material accessible to scholars and the public via online platforms, the archive is ensured wider accessibility, as one no longer needs to visit a specific library or museum in order to consult the material.

Finally, new technologies can help in the reconstruction of contexts. This has been done successfully in the past, but it is particularly important in conflict zones such as Palmyra (for a discussion of public engagement in the cultural heritage preservation of Syria, see Kamash 2017). This approach was taken when reexamining the archival material relating to the Tomb of Hairan and has resulted in a digital model of the tomb (Raja and McAvoy 2020a, 2020b; Bobou et al. 2020). This reconstruction was an interdisciplinary project showcasing how traditional research can be made accessible to a wider public without sacrificing deep, specialized archaeological knowledge. This is an advantage of using archival material coming from excavations and of archaeologists working together with specialists in 3D reconstructions and new digital technologies.

Conclusion

The Ingholt Archive shows how archives are essential for cultivating deep knowledge of places and cultures, critical for historical understandings of archaeological sites and their material culture but also for present-day work in the field of cultural heritage preservation. The work of the Archive Archaeology Project to preserve and share cultural heritage goes beyond the publication of Ingholt's archive to encourage archaeologists and historians, to name but two examples, to use this and other archives in their research, particularly when the Ingholt Archive becomes an open-data resource. As open data in the form of PDF files, essentially offering scholars and individuals the “raw” data, the digitization of the Ingholt Archive strives to lead in its efforts to counter digital colonialism with a democratization of data. Both the digital archive and its print publication are a sharing of heritage that takes a resource with access limitations and invites the engagement of the global community.

The potential impact of archives on the archaeology and heritage preservation of conflict zones cannot be overstated, as this material is often the only record of the past. Thus, the study of archives needs to be made common practice in archaeological research, but this work is only possible if archives are being made accessible. As such, it is critical for archaeologists to answer the call for holistic publication of archaeological data, especially of conflict zones. Adherence to the FAIR standards in publishing archaeological material is a best practice in making data available to a wide audience. By rendering archives accessible and sharing archaeological data openly through holistic publication, the scholarly community will be able to pursue several fruitful research avenues, such as the reconstruction and recontextualization efforts in Palmyra showcased above. Rigorous publication is not only beneficial to the scholarly community but is also significant in the sharing and preservation of cultural heritage. Making data, such as archival material, accessible ensures the global community, scholars and individuals alike, can work toward deeper knowledge of the ancient world and the survival of at-risk cultural heritage.

Acknowledgments

The authors thank the ALIPH foundation and Carlsberg Foundation for funding Archive Archaeology: Preserving and Sharing Palmyra's Cultural Heritage through Harald Ingholt's Digital Archives, and, respectively, the Palmyra Portrait Project.

Notes

3.

The term “Ingholt Archive” has been given to the archive by Rubina Raja. It is not a term that Ingholt himself is known to have used.

4.

This seems to have been standard Danish practice in excavations of the period: https://hisd.tors.ku.dk/danishworks/.

9.

Experience Ancient Palmyra in 360° and in 3D, a project of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: https://www.smb.museum/en/whats-new/detail/experience-ancient-palmyra-in-360-and-in-3d/; Palmyra GIS—Digitaler Kulturerhalt in Syrien, a project of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut: https://arachne.dainst.org/project/palmyra-gis.

10.

RES: Répertoire d'épigraphie sémitique; CIS: Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum; PAT: D. R. Hillers and E. Cussini, Palmyrene Aramaic Texts, Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press 1996.

12.

See also Raja 2021a for the excavation diaries of Ingholt, which most likely also came to the museum with the archive.

13.

Gunhild Ploug was a classical archaeologist and collaborator of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Among her most significant contributions to Palmyrene sculpture are Ploug 1995 and Hvidberg–Hansen and Ploug 1993. She was working on a book on the chronology of Palmyrene funerary busts based on the Ingholt Archive at the time (Ploug 1995: 7), which she was not able to finish prior to her death.

15.

Without knowing when it entered the Baalbek Museum, it is not possible to hypothesize if the relief was broken off from the Tomb of Maqqai after Ingholt's 1924 excavation, although that is likely.

16.

Or, by the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek numbering system, PS 639.

17.

Or, by the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek numbering system, PS 640.

18.

Or, by the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek system, PS 1028.

19.

Ingholt's notes on the sculptural pieces and his records of where they were when discovered, are supplemented by additional information provided by Ploug. Acknowledging the importance of the sheets, she wrote her observations on post–it notes.

20.

They are in the Palmyra Museum, inv. nos: A224, A 120, A 80, sarcophagus fragment: no inv. number (Ingholt Archive, PS 990, 993, 991, 988 respectively). Two of these reliefs were later studied under the aegis of the Palmyra Portrait Project: Krag 2018, cat. 351 and Raja 2019f, cat. 62.

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