The Robert Houston Smith Archaeological Collection of Ashland Theological Seminary -- By: Delbert B. Flora

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 07:0 (NA 1974)
Article: The Robert Houston Smith Archaeological Collection of Ashland Theological Seminary
Author: Delbert B. Flora


The Robert Houston Smith
Archaeological Collection of
Ashland Theological Seminary

Delbert B. Flora

Introduction

In June 1970 a letter from Dr. Robert Houston Smith, College of Wooster, brought me the news that he was ready to offer for sale his fine collection of Palestinian antiquities of about 1200 pieces. As soon as possible information was relayed to Dr. Joseph R. Shultz, Dean (now Vice President) of Ashland Theological Seminary, and Dr. Glenn L. Clayton, President of Ashland College and Seminary. An ad hoc committee1 was formed to discuss advisability, ways and means of the purchase. The net result was that on New Year’s Day 1971, Mrs. Flora and I were in the attic of the Smith home confronted with the intimidating task of wrapping and packing hundreds of artifacts. Some large pieces were already in boxes and barrels, while small pieces were in a variety of small containers. All had to be accounted for. Faculty members responded to telephone calls and brought their cars from Ashland to Wooster for transportation of the whole lot which was then stored in a room of the Seminary library.

Probably some background should be inserted here. It occurred in the course of change of administration of Ashland Theological Seminary that I was given a year’s leave of absence for travel, study and archaeological experience in Palestine. Therefore, my wife and I became established at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem for the year 1963–64. During that winter we became acquainted with Dr. Smith who was associated with Dr. James B. Pritchard

in the first excavation at Tel es-Saidiyeh. We saw him a number of times at the American Schools of Oriental Research; in fact, we now believe we saw him in some of his activity of assembling the collection which is the subject of this article. After our return to the States the pleasant contacts continued from time to time at lectures and archaeological meetings. Perhaps this is why he said in his initial letter, “I naturally thought at once of you because of your long-standing interest in Palestinian archaeology and Ashland’s concern with the world of the Bible.”

During the extended stay in Jerusalem, and in previous visits, the antiquities of Bible history had become more and more fascinating and significant for me. Between field trips and some excavation, a good many visits were made to the Rockefeller Museum for study and photography of objects on display. A whole new dimension of Bible study and understanding began to appear. After considerable inquiry I was permitted to bring home a small collection of my own and to send a few pieces back to the Seminary. Therefore,...

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