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Leonard Woolley
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Scientist
    (April 17, 1880-February 20, 1960)
    Born in London, United Kingdom
    Birth name was Charles Leonard Woolley
    Archeologist
    Known for his excavations at Ur in Mesopotamia (1922-34)
    Wrote ‘Dead Towns and Living Men’ (1920), ‘Digging Up the Past’ (1930), ‘Spadework: Adventures in Archeology’ (1953) and ‘History of Mankind’ (with Jaquetta Hawkes, 1963)
    Knighted (1935)
    He originally planned to become a clergyman until Dean William Spooner convinced him to take up archeology.
    He admitted that during his first excavation (at a site near Hadrian’s Wall in Britain), ‘I had never studied archaeological methods even from books ... and I had not any idea how to make a survey or a ground-plan.’
    A critic noted that in his attempts to recreate ancient civilizations ‘his imagination sometimes outran the facts.’
    After finding a thick layer of sediment in Ur, he declared that he had found evidence of the Great Flood of the Bible.
    Although he claimed the flood covered only the area of the lower Tigris and Euphrates rivers (‘for the occupants of the valley that was the whole world’), later evidence indicated that the flooding he had discovered was local, not even covering all of Ur.
    One of his assistants on his pre-Ur digs was T.E. Lawrence.
    While serving with British naval intelligence during World War I, he survived his ship being sunk by a mine (1916).
    He was rescued by a Turkish ship and spent the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war.
    He was an advisor to the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives project that protected historical and cultural monuments during World War II.
    He was one of the first ‘modern’ archaeologists, who excavated in a methodical way while keeping detailed records.
    His discoveries at Ur enabled scholars to trace the city’s history from its beginnings (ca 4000 BC) to its final days (4th century BC).

Credit: C. Fishel


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