Book Series Studies in Palmyrene Archaeology and History, vol. 4

Harald Ingholt

Excavating Palmyra

Harald Ingholt’s Excavation Diaries: A Transcript, Translation, and Commentary

Rubina Raja, Jean-Baptiste Yon, Julia Steding

  • Pages:2 vols, 1846 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:22 b/w, 1027 col., 2 maps color
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59531-3
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59533-7
  • E-book
  • Available

The Danish archaeologist Harald Ingholt’s diaries from his excavations in Palmyra in the 1920s and 1930s are for the first time transcribed and translated into English, and published here with a full commentary.


“After decades in the dark of Ingholt’s office drawers in New Haven and then on museum storage shelves in Copenhagen, Raja and her colleagues have done a great service in ensuring this important documentation of Palmyra’s ancient and Mandate-era past is brought into the light.” (Jennifer A. Baird, in Antiquity, 66, 2022)

« On est impressionné par le soin et la rigueur de ce modèle de publication consacrée à l’activité d’un chercheur de terrain comme H. Ingholt, à sa démarche scientifique rigoureuse d’archéologue et d’épigraphiste, à son environnement, et, bien entendu, à ses nombreuses découvertes (…) Il s’agit donc là d’un instrument précieux qui permet d’étudier avec précision, et dans les meilleures conditions, des aspects majeurs de l’art et de l’histoire de Palmyre, cette cité si particulière que les travaux d’H. Ingholt ont largement contribué à faire connaître aussi bien du monde savant que du grand public. » (Pierre Leriche, dans Histara, 27/02/2023)


Rubina Raja is professor of Classical Archaeology and directs three projects on Palmyra: The Palmyra Portrait Project; Archive Archaeology: Preserving and Sharing Palmyra’s Cultural Heritage through Harald Ingholt’s Digital Archive; and Circular Economy and Urban Sustainability in Antiquity. She specialises in the archaeology of the Mediterranean and the Levant and has published widely on Palmyra and the region in general.

Julia Steding is a research assistant in the Circular Economy and Urban Sustainability project directed by Professor Rubina Raja. Her doctoral thesis focused on sculptural production in Palmyra and she has published on that topic in recent years.

Jean-Baptiste Yon is researcher at the CNRS, IFPO in Beirut, Lebanon and a world-leading expert on Palmyrene Aramaic and Palmyrene culture.


When the Danish archaeologist Harald Ingholt conducted his ground-breaking excavations of Palmyra in the 1920s and 1930s, during which time he investigated several grave monuments and carried out the first observations of Palmyra’s famous funerary portraits, he kept detailed diaries of his work. For a long time, these have been stored at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen together with the extensive Ingholt Archive, while further photographs and notes on Palmyrene sculpture have been kept with Ingholt’s family in the United States. Now this material and Ingholt’s diaries, written primarily in Danish, have for the first time been transcribed and translated into English with a full commentary written by Professor Rubina Raja, Dr Julia Steding, and Dr Jean-Baptiste Yon, in order to make these unique texts available to a wider public. The diaries contain a wealth of information on Palmyrene sculpture, grave complexes, and inscriptions from the city, as well as offering previously unpublished details into Ingholt’s excavations, and his time in the field that will provide essential new insights for scholars working on Palmyra.




Reading the Ingholt Excavation Diaries and Acknowledgements —RUBINA RAJA

‘Den smukkeste Kvindebuste, jeg endnu har set’: The Palmyra Excavation Diaries of Harald Ingholt, 1924–1928 — RUBINA RAJA

Figures: Life in Syria and a Trip to Palmyra

Diary 1 – 1924

Figures: Monuments in Palmyra

Appendix – 1924

Figures: At Work in Palmyra

Diary 2 – 1925–1928

Figures: Uncovered Objects

Diary 3 – 1925

Figures: The Tombs of Palmyra


Diary 4 – 1928

Figures: To Those at Home

Diary 5 – Tombs

Figures: The Near East and Hama

Supplementary Material

Map of graves

Map of graves – degrees (locations)

List of All Tombs Mentioned in the Diaries of Harald Ingholt

A List of Tombs from Diary 3

Concordance of Published Inscription in the Diaries

Concordances of Inscriptions from the Diaries

Prosopography of the Unpublished Inscriptions in the Diaries

Bibliography, Diaries

Selected Bibliography of Harald Ingholt

Palmyra Portrait Project — List of Publications


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