Clarence Stanley Fisher (1876–1941) -- By: Milton C. Fisher

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 06:2 (Spring 1993)
Article: Clarence Stanley Fisher (1876–1941)
Author: Milton C. Fisher

Clarence Stanley Fisher (1876–1941)

Milton C. Fisher

Many of the pioneer archaeologists discussed in this series have been strong personalities. Driven by curiosity or a flare for adventure, they were ambitious to explore and discover. Some were practically loners in their work, choosing to perform a whole range of tasks on their own.

Clarence Fisher at Herodian Colonnade, Sebaste (June 4, 1908) - from plate in second Harvard University volume.

One notable exception was George Reisner (see Archaeology and Biblical Research Winter 1992). He recognized the need for a trained staff to care for all phases of the work. It was in his excavation at Sebaste (ancient Samaria) that such a concept was put in practice in the land of Palestine for the first time. The techniques of digging and recording developed in that excavation would be known thereafter as the Reisner-Fisher Method. It was to become the official procedure for archaeological excavation in the land of Palestine for the next three decades.

Now, Reisner we know — but who was Fisher? Well, it certainly wasn’t me! Clearance Stanley Fisher was a University of Pennsylvania trained architect who already had field experience at Nippur in Iraq. Reisner and Fisher’s Harvard excavation at Samaria from

1908–1910, was not only the first systematic large-scale, well organized and well financed archaeological excavation undertaken in Palestine, it was also the first American excavation in that country.

After further field work at Giza in Egypt, Fisher was again back in Palestine in 1921 - this time heading the first large scale post World War I excavation in the country at Beth Shan. It was sponsored by the University Museum at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, where he also had been employed for most of his professional career.

While that excavation continued until 1933, Fisher left the dig after only four years because he received an offer most archaeologists can only dream about. Sponsored by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and financed by the Rockefeller family, C.S. Fisher was invited to direct a thorough excavation at Megiddo. With virtually unlimited funds and all the time required to carry out his work he willingly accepted.

True to its mission, the Megiddo excavation continued until 1939. Even then, it only ceased with the outbreak of the Second World War. Unfortunately, Fisher had to withdraw from the dig after only two years due to ill health. He finished his career as Professor of Archaeology at the American Scho...

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