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American EgyptologistThe Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute$

Jeffrey Abt

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226001104

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226001128.001.0001

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A Historical Laboratory

A Historical Laboratory

(p.345) 9 A Historical Laboratory
American Egyptologist

Jeffrey Abt

University of Chicago Press

Abstract and Keywords

On April 28, 1930, a new building for the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago was inaugurated. When James Henry Breasted first requested a new building in 1923, he saw the need to alleviate crowded conditions in the Haskell Oriental Museum, which shared space with the Oriental Institute, the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures, and Chicago's Divinity School. Completed in 1931, the design of the three-story Oriental Institute building reflects the theme “East Teaching the West,” hailing the ancient Near East as the wellspring of Western civilization, with pride of place going to Egypt and America. The facility opened on December 5, 1931, with Breasted, John H. Finley, and Raymond Fosdick delivering the dedication speeches. Most of the institute's growth came from field projects throughout the Middle East, including Egypt and Palestine as well as expeditions focusing on the Hittites, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Keywords:   expeditions, oriental institute, university of chicago, James Henry Breasted, ancient near east, egypt, middle east, palestine, hittites, rockefeller foundation

An Institute, Not a Museum

On 28 April 1930 Breasted wrote in his diary, “At ten o’clock this morning, the members of the Oriental Institute, the Dep’t. of Oriental Languages, the History and Art Departments, in a procession headed by Pres. Hutchins, Dean Laing, and the Director of the Institute marched from Haskell Museum to the site at 58th St. and University Ave., where [I] was given the ceremonial spade and formally ‘broke ground’ for the new Oriental Inst. building. In the background stood the steam shovel, and as I write I can hear it already at work.”

Breasted’s laconic account belied the ceremony’s importance for him. It marked the culmination of seven years of efforts to create a home especially designed for the institute’s particular needs. When he first asked for a new building in 1923, it was to alleviate crowded conditions in the Haskell Oriental Museum resulting from its being shared by the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures, the Oriental Institute, and Chicago’s Divinity School—the latter occupying about half the building’s space. At the time, university officials did not expect to find another home for the Divinity School any time soon and shared Breasted’s hope that Rockefeller, in renewing his 1919 gift for another five years, might throw in a new building (p.346) as well. When Rockefeller didn’t, Breasted looked elsewhere, even approaching the American-born London department-store magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, whom Breasted had probably met in the early 1900s when Selfridge was still a junior partner of Chicago merchant Marshall Field.1

Not long after Ernest DeWitt Burton became Chicago’s president, he launched a fund-raising campaign for buildings and endowment that quickly yielded gifts for a “Theology Group,” including a Divinity School building. After the Divinity School moved out of Haskell in 1926, the Oriental Institute took over the top three floors, and Oriental Languages and Literatures remained on the lower level. Breasted allocated the first and third floors for galleries; and he obtained funds for new exhibition cases, placing a high priority on professionally installing materials for “Public Exhibition” in which collections were to be “educationally available.”

The chronologically organized display he planned earlier in the decade was only partially implemented, and only for the Egyptian collections. The third-floor display included sections on Palestine, Mesopotamia, and western Asia, but it was mostly left “incomplete and temporary” because Breasted expected to augment the holdings with acquisitions from excavations and purchases. The first-floor installation of the Egyptian collections, in contrast, was far more thoroughly articulated, reflecting the much larger quantity of objects on hand thanks to Breasted’s aggressive acquisition efforts. Half the floor was designated for “chronological exhibits” and the other half for “topical exhibits.” Visitors were advised to go through the chronologically arranged side first, following the lettered sequence of alcoves in alphabetical order and within each alcove to follow the numerical sequence of display cases. The chronological side ran from the prehistoric, “before 3000 B.C.,” to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, “about 400 A.D.” The topically arranged section was similarly organized as a sequence of alcoves and cases. It illustrated a range of subjects from “Plant Remains” and “Color” to “Games” and “Toilet Articles.”2

Shortly after taking over most of Haskell, however, Breasted began lobbying for more space to accommodate facilities then unavailable there, including a large classroom or lecture hall and especially “room for research work.” Installing the Haskell exhibits heightened Breasted’s awareness of the differences between public education and scholarly research and how these differences affected the disposition of space within a “museum.” In addition to the first- and third-floor public galleries, for example, there was a room for “museum study collections” on the second floor, which was closed offto the public because it was reserved for administration and research. Located just outside Breasted’s office, the study-collection room—which was equivalent in size to about two-thirds of a gallery on the other floors—was reserved for teaching and research rather than public display, and apparently Breasted needed yet more space for “research work.”

(p.347) At the same time, Breasted was contemplating the potential of public exhibitions for donor cultivation as well as community education. Commenting on the new installation, Breasted added, “We must have an opening… at which our Chicago friends… may have an opportunity to look over the Museum. Our work is attracting great interest and I hope that such an exhibition may contribute to the development of this interest and bring us additional support.” He also decided to issue “an illustrated brochure… with pictures… and other highly interesting and attractive features of our work.… We have done very little… printed propaganda, and I want to see that literature of this kind shall be available at this opening so that our friends will carry away a very brief outline, graphically indicating what we are trying to do.” The resulting booklet, The Oriental Institute, was the first in what became a series of “handbooks.” Published in time for the Haskell exhibits’ public opening on 9 December 1926, it was an introduction to the institute’s research programs at home and abroad, however, not a gallery guide.3

The exhibits garnered praise from the press and individuals alike, as well as Chicago’s board of trustees. A display on Medinet Habu that contained a photograph of a relief, a drawing derived from it, and related materials was arranged to illustrate the work of the Epigraphic Survey. Breasted was amazed by the public’s enthusiastic response and wrote to Nelson, “You would be surprised to hear the admiring comments offered by all visitors as they contemplate [the drawing] as a work of art.” When planning the Medinet Habu publications the following year, Breasted remarked, “Since putting in the exhibit… my ambitions… have grown considerably.” He now wanted to include more photographs along with the drawings, all “on as large a scale as possible” so as to permit “the temple and its records to make the impression of a great work of art as well as a body of historical records.” This interplay of education and cultivation, display and discovery, research and publication strengthened Breasted’s conviction that, as he said at the public opening, “This is not a museum, it’s a workshop.”4

When the Haskell Oriental Museum opened in 1896, it was the first discipline-specific, university-based, and purpose-built structure for the collection and study of ancient Near Eastern objects. It was intended to house not just exhibition galleries but museum storage, offices for faculty (some of whom, like Breasted, doubled as curators), museum staff, a research library, and classrooms. Although the university compromised the museum’s original functions, Breasted hoped to restore them when he reclaimed Haskell for the institute. He found, however, that the institute’s collections were beginning to outgrow Haskell’s capacity and that the building’s design was not well suited for the other functions of a “workshop.” As Breasted began to imagine a building to replace Haskell, the facility he had in mind incorporated all the types of specialized spaces that existed in Haskell—and by then many other museums, but with (p.348) a crucial difference. The priority of space for public exhibitions versus that for research was inverted. Whereas public museums allocated most space to galleries, the building Breasted contemplated shrank exhibition space to less than a quarter of the physical plant. While exhibitions remained an important feature of the institute’s public service and development, like the place of textbooks in Breasted’s personal scholarship, exhibitions were nonetheless secondary to research and graduate training.5

Laboratory, workshop, institute—these terms typically served a rhetorical function in Breasted’s drive to create an ideal, permanent research center. While this nomenclature often corresponded to the predispositions of his audiences, especially the language of “scientism”—as in “historical laboratory,” Breasted was groping for the right characterization of an institutional structure that did not yet exist. Designing the research institute that was to have been part of the Egyptian museum project clarified Breasted’s ideas about the kind of building he wanted. When it became clear that nationalist movements throughout the Middle East meant a permanent, Western-owned research institute there was untenable, Breasted merged the most essential features of the Egyptian plan— museum, research institute, endowment—with the educational mission of a university. The result was a center in Chicago equipped with its own building and endowed funds adequate to support research and teaching at home and in the Middle East.

After receiving the grant for the institute’s new home, Breasted was offered the possibility of naming the new building “The Oriental Institute, Haskell Oriental Museum” to satisfy the terms of the Haskell gift once the institute moved to the new building and was replaced in Haskell by other university departments. He turned down the idea. The new building was to be a research and teaching center, and having “museum” in its name would imply the institute was placing a higher priority on public service than was actually the case. A few years later Breasted reiterated that “the Institute disavows being a museum and its exhibits of monuments are purely incidental.”6

The architectural plans for the new building were developed over the course of 1929 under Breasted’s close supervision. The principal architect was Oscar Harold Murray, a junior associate of the better-known Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who had all but finished designing Chicago’s University Chapel before his death in 1924. Murray joined with two others to create a successor firm to Goodhue’s and completed plans for the chapel, which opened in 1928. The land allocated for the institute is diagonally across the block that houses the chapel and, as Breasted noted, “Because of the nearness of the Chapel, the new Institute building was planned to harmonize with it externally.” The result is a building in a somewhat modernized Gothic style in which exterior features—such as window (p.349) enclosures and faux buttresses—are flattened, and the overall design is less heavily ornamented than earlier neo-Gothic buildings (figure 9.1).

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.1 Oriental Institute building from the northwest, designed by Oscar Harold Murray and completed in 1931, ca. 1931. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

By the time the building plans were completed, in late February 1930, the stock-market crash of the previous fall had depressed construction costs, allowing the university to erect “a more extensive building” in size and finish than initially planned. Exterior decorations such as stone medallions, plaques, and a tympanum above the main entrance, as well as relatively rich interior decorations in the building’s more public spaces, reflect the substantial funds available. Breasted specified sources for ornamental designs, selected symbols, and corrected errors in depictions of ancient Near Eastern images. Nowhere is his involvement more evident than in the tympanum over the building’s main entrance.7

Breasted wanted a “scene which will suggest the flow of time and the gradual unfolding of the human career.” Breasted recommended a central feature be “the disk of the sun, with some indication of radiating brilliance, diffused over the whole scene.” He thought the background might contain symbols from the ancient past, such as the pyramids at Giza, and the foreground might show recent motifs such as “human figures and buildings of an unmistakably” modern type to illustrate “later human development.” Breasted was far more precise about (p.350) what he didn’t want: “The plow and the anvil have been rather overworked in such connections; ships and steam locomotives likewise. Probably modern architecture would serve the purpose better.” The resulting design, titled by Breasted “East Teaching the West,” represents a now-favorite theme: the ancient Near East as the wellspring of Western civilization with pride of place going to Egypt and America (figure 9.2):

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.2 Clay maquette for tympanum over Oriental Institute building entrance, conceived by Breasted and sculpted by Ulric Ellerhusen, ca. 1931. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

The East is represented by an Egyptian figure.… On his shoulder hangs an Egyptian writing outfit consisting of a little vase for water and a tube for… reed pens…, and a palette.… The West is symbolized by a youth who reverently holds in his hands a fragment bearing the hieroglyphic words “… We behold thy beauty.”

The figure of the East is flanked by a lion of Amenhotep III, … the figure of the West, with a bison.

Above and between the figures is a Sun Disk with the Symbol of Life and diverging rays terminating in human hands. Ancient ruins are indicated by broken blocks…, a broken capital from the Temple of Sahure, and the Step-Pyramid at Saqqara. Above the animals, outstanding figures of Eastern and Western civilizations are shown.

(p.351) The most remote figure in Eastern history…, placed in upper row nearest central group, is King Zoser; followed by Hammurapi and Thutmose III. In middle row Assurnasipal and Darius, and in the… left hand corner the Sassanian king Chosroes.

Back of the figure of the West…, in the upper row nearest center is Herodotus.… Behind Herodotus is Alexander the Great; then Emperor Augustus of Rome. In the middle row a Crusader and a Field Archaeologist. In the lower right… a Museum Archaeologist examining a vase. On the left the columns of Persepolis, the Sphinx, and three pyramids… indicate the Art and Architecture of the East; while on the right the Parthenon, the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Nebraska State Capitol represent… the West.8

The iconographic symmetry seems strikingly off balance in places. Why, for example, are the ancient rulers on the left complemented by archaeologists on the right? Perhaps Breasted conceived of them as students eager to learn from their forebears as did, one might argue, Herodotus and Alexander. The crusader makes less sense in this reading, although he might represent a very different sentiment on Breasted’s part. Rather than signifying the medieval warriors dispatched by Christendom to seize the Holy Land from Muslim control, Breasted may have been drawing on a more personal analogy. Starting with the 1920 convocation address attended by his son, Breasted began using “crusade” to express the zeal with which he hoped a new generation of students would pursue ancient Near Eastern studies. He reworked and expanded the address eight years later for delivery to an American Historical Association conference at the conclusion of his term as its president. It was titled “The New Crusade.”9

Another tympanum image, the thirty-four-story tower of the Nebraska state capitol—visible for miles on the plains surrounding Lincoln—is an homage to Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who designed it. However, there is an even more subtle image in the tympanum, one that would be lost on most save those Egyptologists who took the time to study it closely. In the background behind the figures representing “East” and “West” are rays of light emanating from the sun disk. The rays end with hands that appear to be touching the heads and arms of the two figures before cascading further down the scene. This distinctive configuration of sun disk, rays, and hands is taken from depictions of Ikhnaton after the advent of the pharaoh’s religious revolution (compare with figures 1.12 and 3.7).

The inspiration for its use in this context may have come from George Ellery Hale. After retiring from his directorship of the Mount Wilson Observatory in 1922, Hale built a solar observatory for his personal work in Pasadena on the edge of Henry Huntington’s estate, now home of the Huntington Library. Completed in 1925, the tiny observatory permitted Hale to resume the solar studies (p.352) that launched his career, and he made important discoveries there. In it “Hale became in truth… the ‘Priest of the Sun.’” Thanks to his lifelong friendship with Breasted, Hale was familiar with Ikhnaton and the centrality of the sun as symbol and life source in the pharaoh’s new religion. Hale incorporated two references to Ikhnaton in the observatory, one a copy of an ancient portrait relief in the observatory’s interior, the other a sun disk and rays on the tympanum over its entrance (figure 9.3). Breasted, who visited the observatory about a month before the groundbreaking for the Oriental Institute’s new building, wrote that (p.353) its Ikhnaton references “touched my imagination.” Of the many traces of Breasted’s hand in the institute’s conception and design, Ikhnaton’s sun symbol is his most personal.10

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.3 Tympanum over Hale Solar Observatory entrance, conceived by George Ellery Hale and completed by Lee Lawrie, ca. 1924–25. Detail of photograph of Walter Adams (out of view) by the observatory entrance. This item is reproduced by permission of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

The building is three stories tall with a lower level that extends just high enough above grade to include windows. It was designed so future growth could be accommodated with additions to the building’s south face “without disturbing the unity and symmetry of the whole.” The institute’s public areas are confined to the first floor, which contains a lecture hall and suite of galleries framing an interior open-air courtyard (figure 9.4). The lecture hall seats about 200 people and was “equipped with every modern device” to illustrate “scientific lectures, including automatic curtains for daytime darkening and… a projection chamber… with openings for… two cinemas… and two still-life projectors. Here the Institute will hold talking ‘movie’ lectures showing its field operations.” Upon (p.354) entering the building, visitors were directed to the Egyptian Hall, where an alphabetical arrangement of gallery alcoves was employed to help visitors follow the exhibit’s chronological organization (figure 9.5). But after the Egyptian Hall it was not “practicable to continue the chronological arrangement,” so visitors were advised to follow the “circuit of the halls” and reenter the building lobby via the “Hittite-Palestinian Hall.” One gallery, designated “Persian-Moslem Hall,” was offthe “circuit” and used for displays on the institute’s expeditions then in the field. To further aid visitors, “each important exhibit is accompanied by a map of the Near East… on which a red arrow indicates the site at which the monument or monuments was discovered.” The map also showed institute expedition locations throughout the Middle East (figure 9.6).

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.4 Oriental Institute building first-floor plan, ca. 1931. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.5 Egyptian Hall, Oriental Institute, ca. 1931, with human-headed winged bull, limestone, Khorsabad, Palace of Sargon II, ca. 721–705 BCE visible in the distance. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.6 Map highlighting Oriental Institute expeditions, ca. 1931. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

The machinery of research, instruction, and museum work was behind the (p.355) scenes. The lower level was designated for collections storage, workshops, and equipment for conservation and exhibit preparations—including presses for label printing and four photography labs for publications, research, and record keeping. A ground-level loading dock opens onto a freight elevator with a six-ton capacity for lowering large statuary down to the basement, where a “trolley rail” running along the ceiling through the workshops allows “a single workman to shift stones weighing several tons.” The second floor contains offices for the institute’s administration, research and teaching faculty, publications, and a spacious library reading room. Each faculty office is sufficiently large to accommodate small seminars. Because Breasted did not expect the institute to host many large classes, only two classrooms were incorporated in the design. The third floor contains library stacks, space for projects like the Assyrian dictionary, and offices for research fellows and doctoral students.11

The new building opened 5 December 1931 with a program attended by about three hundred members of Chicago’s elite and visiting dignitaries including the (p.356) Egyptian minister to the United States. Dedication addresses were given by John H. Finley, Raymond Fosdick, and Breasted. Finley was an associate editor of the New York Times, whose professional life included stints in higher education as well as journalism, and a public intellectual whose writings were often “sprinkled with quotations from the ancients,” and Fosdick represented Rockefeller and his foundations. Robert Maynard Hutchins, who had been appointed University of Chicago president a few months before the institute’s groundbreaking, was the master of ceremonies.

Finley’s speech, “The West Orienting Itself,” discussed the institute’s accomplishments in illuminating the West’s indebtedness to and interests in the ancient Near East. In a play on a Greek word from Homer’s Odyssey, Finley saluted Breasted “as Ptolisoter, the ‘saver of ancient cities.’” Fosdick’s speech, “Archeology the Interpreter,” likened archaeology to astronomy but as a more “sobering science” because unlike astronomy, which impresses us with our insignificance in the immensity of the universe, archaeology reminds us of the “impermanence of human institutions.” Thus, although “bricks and mortar are not substitutes for creative scholarship, … sometimes creative scholarship can be given a reasonable degree of permanence if it is suitably clothed.” Fosdick compared Breasted to Louis Pasteur and Niels Bohr, for whom, Fosdick said, “we erect monuments while they yet live—institutes and laboratories by which… their contributions to human knowledge can be made more effective.”

Breasted’s address, “The Rise of Man,” recapitulated some favorite themes before turning to a topic that was becoming increasingly important for him: “man’s earliest triumph over material forces.” The Egyptians, in discovering “inner values,” evolved “from savagery to civilization,” signaling the “dawn of conscience… the emergence of social idealism.” In his boldest terms yet, Breasted declared that this step occurred “entirely independent of religion.” It was not “projected from the outside into a world of unworthy men by some mystic process which our old school theologians called inspiration or revelation”; rather, it arose “out of man’s own life illumining the darkness of social disillusionment and inner conflict.” Indeed, Breasted marveled, “It is the greatest discovery in the whole course of evolution…, a new realm at whose gates we are still standing hesitant,” when “evolution of man passed to a higher level than that of merely biological processes.” Breasted dedicated the building to more fully understanding this “highest process in the Universe… the unfolding life of man.”12

The institute’s opening attracted widespread press coverage, including a cover story in Time magazine and months of follow-up pieces, many of which featured Breasted’s life and work (figures E.2 and 9.7). A groundswell of popular interest ensued, “very greatly to the surprise of all members of the Institute.” Twenty-three thousand people visited in the first three months, attendance totaled over 50,000 just past the six-month mark, and by May 1935 it had reached 250,000.

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.7 “Orientalist,” one of a series of 1930s drawings called “Topnotchers” by a cartoonist who signed his work as “Ket.” The image was copyrighted and distributed in fall 1932 by the Western Newspaper Union, no longer in business, which provided news and feature services to a consortium of papers. This particular copy appeared in the Bristol, Pennsylvania, Courier, 14 September 1932. Public domain, reproduction by author.

(p.357) “The situation… proved to be embarrassing,” Breasted wrote, “for a great many of these visitors came in companies representing clubs, educational institutions of all sorts, … social organizations, etc.,” wanting guided tours. Of ninety-five such groups in the first three months, eighty-one requested tours, overwhelming the museum’s administrative secretary, who called on other institute staffers for assistance. Breasted realized that each group, in organizing its visit, became “itself a center of advertising” that further swelled its ranks. He cited the (p.358) Geographic Society of Chicago, whose “party consisted of approximately 200 members.” Breasted hoped a third, enlarged version of the institute’s handbook might alleviate this distraction by facilitating self-guided tours. However, that edition, like the first two, only introduced the institute’s research programs and field operations. There was also a flyer containing the gallery floor plan and brief self-guided tour instructions; but Breasted admitted that “all these provisions, however well intended, were totally inadequate.” He thought one solution might be a “talking movie.” If the institute had a “movie lecture” that could be screened several times daily in the institute’s lecture hall, visitors would “be able to… inspect the exhibits much more intelligently” on their own.13


Not long after establishing the institute, Breasted began receiving leaves from teaching. Early in the 1920s they were for research projects like the Coffin Texts and Epigraphic Survey, but by the mid-1920s the leaves compensated for his growing administrative responsibilities. He continued to chair the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures and to oversee a gradual merging of its curriculum and research programs with the institute’s. By fall 1925, after Breasted had reached his sixtieth year, his relief from regular teaching became permanent, though he continued to supervise doctoral students and teaching fellows. He missed teaching, however, remarking, “My head is now all woozy because I can not sharpen it on the minds of those bright young men.” Breasted’s salary grew as the institute expanded, from $7,000 to $8,000 a year in 1923 and to $10,000 in 1920, when he was appointed distinguished service professor. Two years later he was given the first of two named professorships, the second established by Rockefeller in 1930 in honor of Breasted’s old friend Ernest DeWitt Burton.

Breasted reached the nominal retirement age of sixty-five that year, but his workload and salary continued as before. It wasn’t until 1933 that Breasted retired from his department’s chairmanship, but he carried on as the institute’s director. He had become a skillful administrator, and the institute’s increasingly large staff at home and abroad depended on his leadership. With the renewal and enlargement of Rockefeller’s personal support in 1923, augmented with ever-larger grants from his foundations, the institute expanded from a handful of staff to thirty-eight in 1926, fifty-one in 1928, and seventy-three in 1931—numbers that did not include Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures faculty, teaching fellows, and institute collaborators like Gardiner. Breasted’s dream of a publishing program also became a reality, and he assumed another large task as its editor in chief. Between the institute’s founding and 1926, it issued four publications, in the next three years twelve more, and in the following three years another twenty-three, with many more planned or under way. There were times (p.359) when Breasted wondered if he had bitten off too much. To Hale he lamented, “You call it Americanitis and I think that about right.”14

Most of the institute’s growth came from field projects throughout the Middle East (the starred locations in figure 9.6; see also map 1). The first was at Megiddo in Palestine. Although others had probed it before, Breasted believed the site held great scholarly potential if subjected to a systematic excavation that cleared the entire very large mound down to bedrock. In 1921, Rockefeller pledged support for the project if Breasted could raise matching funds. None were found, and in 1925 Breasted turned again to Rockefeller, who funded the entire plan with a $215,000 grant for five years’ work. Next was an architectural survey at Medinet Habu that involved excavating the twenty-acre site surrounding the main temple. Begun in 1920, it was one of the few field projects to be completed during Breasted’s lifetime. In addition to important discoveries of pharaonic building foundations, it also yielded two statues of Tutankhamun, one of which is now in the Oriental Institute (figure 9.8). Also in Egypt were two copying projects: tomb paintings and reliefs in the necropolis at Saqqara, begun in 1930, and similar works in the temple of Seti I at Abydos, begun in 1929 in collaboration with the Egypt Exploration Society.

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.8 Colossal statue of Tutankhamun, quartzite and pigment, temple of Aye and Horemheb (Medinet Habu), New Kingdom, 18th dynasty, ca. 1332–1322 BCE, photograph ca. 1931. The onlooker is Watson Boyes, Oriental Institute museum secretary. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

Beyond Egypt and Palestine there were expeditions focusing on the Hittites. They resulted from institute surveys between 1926 and 1929 that singled out two sites, one in Anatolia, or modern-day Turkey, at a mound east of Ankara near the village of Alishar, the work there beginning in 1920, and the other in western Syria, west of Aleppo, at a site called Çatal Hüyük that Breasted conjectured was the biblical town of Calneh, where work began in 1931–32. Along the eastern side of the Fertile Crescent, Breasted launched three excavations between 1928 and 1930, all at sites he had visited during the 1919–20 survey: the Assyrian city and palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad, fifteen miles northeast of Mosul in present-day Iraq, where the institute obtained a great human-headed, winged bull (rear of figure 9.5), and Mesopotamian sites in the Diyala region twenty-five miles northeast of Baghdad—Tell Asmar, Khafajah, Ishchali, and Tell Agrab.

The most distant expedition started excavating sites principally of the Achaemenian period (about 560–330 BCE) in 1931 in and around Persepolis, northeast of Shiraz in southern Persia, or modern-day Iran. All the projects were funded by Rockefeller or the Rockefeller foundation boards with the exception of Persepolis, which was underwritten with a $100,000 gift from Ada Small Moore, widow of a somewhat less-than-reputable financier and promoter. Overall, in “selecting projects for research and sites for excavation,” one scholar later observed, Breasted pursued “fundamental undertakings [over] easy and sensational ones. All credit must be given him… for having made his choices with such discrimi-nation.”15

The challenges of successfully pursuing a large number of field projects, most (p.360) in remote locations scattered along a 2,000-mile “front” nearly half a world away, were considerable. There were unanticipated problems, such as a malaria outbreak at Megiddo spawned by a nearby wetland. There were the occasional appointments of personnel who didn’t work out and had to be fired. And there were the difficulties that arose when individuals from different countries and cultures were thrown together in close quarters for months at a time in isolated outposts. (p.361) “Internationalism in the abstract,” Breasted wryly observed, “is a very different thing from internationalism in daily practice on an expedition!” There were also the intrigues and frictions of negotiating permits and security agreements with six different governments and their antiquities officials, as well as settling mutually agreeable terms for allocating finds. Breasted justly maintained that the institute’s fieldwork was “not conditioned on a division of antiquities,” but he was determined to assure that his expeditions received their fair share of finds in comparison to other institutions in the field. All in all, Breasted concluded, “from the beginning of the Institute’s development…, one of its most important activities has unavoidably been the creation and maintenance of a diplomatic sphere of action, which has demanded a great deal of thought and investigation, a large body of correspondence, and much of [my] time and energy.”16

Few knew better than Breasted how arduous life could be for those dispatched to digs in often remote and inhospitable conditions. He firmly believed “the rigorous conditions of field work demand a reasonable measure” of staff comfort that required erecting “suitable” buildings comparable to Chicago House to house staff and facilitate fieldwork. As the expeditions multiplied, the nature of the buildings varied in accordance with “each expedition’s probable period of occupation,” its annual working season, and its staff size. Breasted expected the institute to work for a long time in the vicinity of Luxor and, with additional Rockefeller support, acquired land along the east bank of the Nile about halfway between the Luxor and Karnak temple complexes to build a second Chicago House that was larger, more durable, and readily secured during off-seasons (figure 9.9). Breasted anticipated a similarly long-term commitment to excavations in ancient Babylonia and built near Tell Asmar an expansive expedition headquarters (figure 9.10). At Persepolis, the expedition cleared and reconstructed what remained of an ancient palace, built a “modern roof” over it, and housed the expedition’s staff and workrooms at the back. A colonnaded hall at the front was restored into “a museum where the sculptures and smaller monuments discovered… [were] set up as the nucleus of a national museum of Persian art, the gift of the Oriental Institute to the people of Persia.” By contrast, believing the institute’s work in Alishar would be less long-lived, Breasted authorized less extensive accommodations: a few plain buildings, sheds, and tents (figure 9.11).

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.9 Second, and current, Chicago House, Luxor, Egypt, completed in 1931. Library, work rooms, and offices on the left; residence and dining facilities on the right; support facilities in the rear. The Nile access and most of the land between the buildings and the Nile have since been taken by the Egyptian government for a corniche and related walks and parkways. Photograph 1933 by James Henry Breasted Jr. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.10 Iraq expedition headquarters, Tell Asmar, Iraq, completed in 1930. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.11 Anatolian-Hittite expedition camp, Alishar, Anatolia (Turkey), 1929. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

The better of the institute’s outposts were criticized for being needlessly grand. The Tell Asmar headquarters was denounced as a “palace” and a “scandal among expedition houses.” Such condemnations were not uncommon among archaeologists. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Egyptian expedition created a new base in the 1920s that one scholar called “a Ritz among dig-houses.” On the other hand, as another scholar said of the Tell Asmar complaint, it was undeniable “that members of the institute’s expeditions were generally healthier than those at other excavations.” The trend toward establishing better working (p.362) (p.363) conditions was spearheaded by several American institutions, but the Oriental Institute led the way, as noted by the British archaeologist and historian Seton Lloyd, who worked at Tell Asmar between 1930 and 1937:

Most European institutions… appeared to grudge every penny beyond the absolute minimum necessary to keep their expeditions in the field.… The result was a tradition… of personal austerity and discomfort.… In the early 1930s this circumstance was sharply emphasized by the arrival… of better-equipped and more heavily subsidized expeditions sponsored by the richer American universities. Notable among these was Chicago’s Oriental Institute.… Breasted’s conception for the institute… accorded with and even anticipated improvements in communications and security which were then beginning to appear.… These excavating establishments need no longer be envisaged as groups of intrepid explorers braving the perils and hardships of a savage country in the cause of science. They were to be research centres… established in these countries with the collaboration and protection of the local government….

It may well be imagined that such… developments in the field caused some raising of eyebrows in circles where vocational austerity was still the order of the day.

(p.364) The stock-market crash and deflation that made the institute’s new Chicago quarters less expensive lowered expedition costs too. Within a couple of years, however, the economy slipped into the Great Depression, and Rockefeller officials scrambled to honor past pledges and more closely scrutinized grant recipients as the several boards’ assets shrank. An officer monitoring the Oriental Institute reported an “impression of lavishness” in its operations, and as the Depression deepened, uncertainty grew about whether “in comparison with other archaeological work, … the work of the Institute was being expensively conducted.” The concern was “not so much that money is being wasted but that a degree of completeness and accuracy is being obtained which [is not] always justified.” Rockefeller stood by Breasted, regarding such judgments as “a matter of opinion” and countering that “there was no use to do the work at all unless it were perfectly done.”17

Social Responsibilities

When Rockefeller asked about Breasted’s personal work during their Middle Eastern tour, the latter’s reply broadened into what he viewed as “the social responsibilities of the modern scientist, to make his technical results more widely of use to society.” Breasted had been writing various types of essays for popular consumption, but he was thinking specifically about his textbooks, which he continued to update. In their various iterations and translations, Outlines of European History and Ancient Times were finding ever-larger audiences around the world, by 1920 reaching an annual circulation of nearly 100,000 and by 1923 over 125,000. Breasted’s royalties came to about $750 a month, and he was grateful for the added income, but he was also aware that the books’ growing circulation had “enormously increased” the influence of his ideas. He began contemplating a trade edition of Ancient Times aimed at an adult readership. Because “A. T. did more than anything I have ever written to advance our interests,” Breasted wrote to his wife, “I am convinced I could not do a better piece of work for oriental science than to get the book out in form for wide circulation among our people.”

Ginn and Company did not have this kind of reach, so Breasted and his partner for Outlines of European History, James Harvey Robinson, agreed to issue popular versions of their books with the trade publisher Harper and Brothers. Initially, Breasted was going to retitle his book “Victorious Man.” After discussing it with Robinson and a Harper editor, however, he settled on “The Conquest of Civilization,” with Robinson’s book to be titled “The Ordeal of Civilization.” Harper planned to issue the books as a boxed set, as well as individually, and the box title—at Breasted’s suggestion—was “The Human Adventure.” Conquest, issued in 1926, was closely based on Ancient Times. The most obvious changes (p.365) were the removal of teaching aids and additions on recent discoveries such as the paintings at Dura-Europos and the tomb of Tutankhamun.

The critical response to Conquest was tepid. Reviewers knew of Breasted’s ability to make “the ancient past live again” and of Ancient Times as “one of the most fascinating books that was ever written,” so they looked forward to what they thought was an entirely new book. They were disappointed to find that Conquest was essentially a repackaged Ancient Times and, in rather backhanded compliments, reviewers expressed their dismay by underscoring his achievement with Ancient Times. Because the textbook was “printed beautifully, profusely illustrated, and impressive in format,” it transcended mere pedagogy to attract and inspire a much broader audience, setting a high standard that the only slightly revised but more costly Conquest did not surpass.18

Among Breasted’s revisions in Conquest was a brief discussion and accompanying illustration of a seventeenth-century BCE papyrus containing remarkable insights about human anatomy, diagnoses of medical ailments, and treatments including surgical procedures. It was the Edwin Smith Papyrus, named after an American adventurer, amateur student of hieroglyphs, and dealer who found his way to Luxor, where he lived between 1858 and 1806. While there, Smith acquired the over-fifteen-foot-long and remarkably well-preserved scroll and brought it to America, and his daughter donated it to the New York Historical Society in 1906. One of Breasted’s former doctoral students, Caroline Ransom Williams, then curator of Egyptian antiquities for the society, brought the relatively unknown papyrus to his attention in 1920, and he immediately realized its significance. Breasted decided it merited publication in a critical edition, not only because of its subject, but because the text included a great many previously unknown or exceedingly rare usages, suggesting it had been copied in antiquity from a much earlier source. Breasted published two preliminary studies on the papyrus, one for a general readership and another for Egyptologists, in 1922. He hoped to finish the critical edition in 1923, but the task took most of the 1920s, as Breasted’s attention was diverted to institute affairs and other projects.19

Preparation of the critical edition returned Breasted to the type of research that marked the beginning of his career, requiring the deep knowledge and rigor that informed his first major publication, Ancient Records of Egypt. Breasted’s analysis of the papyrus included comparisons with relevant texts, research in the Egyptian dictionary files in Berlin, and consultations on “difficult passages” with old colleagues like Kurt Sethe, who had now succeeded Erman as head of Berlin’s Egyptology program. The result, published in 1930 as The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, reflects not only the breadth of his knowledge in ancient Egyptian language and history but his awareness of the study’s potential meaning for a world of scholarship outside Egyptology as well. Breasted’s task was complicated by the papyrus’s compilation: one side contains the medical treatise; the other contains (p.366) incantations and recipes associated with ancient magical rituals. He treated both sides with equal care. But Breasted underscored differences between the two to highlight the medical text’s significance while downplaying the magical text as a “grotesquely incoherent hodge-podge” to head off its adoption by those interested only in promoting mistaken beliefs about Egyptian occultism.

Breasted mustered generous resources and a lifetime of publishing experience to produce a text both scholarly and handsome. The work was produced in two volumes, the first a larger-than-standard six-hundred-page-long translation with an extensive scholarly apparatus, and the second an even larger folio containing a full-size foldout facsimile of the papyrus divided into twenty-two plates with hieroglyphic transcriptions of the original hieratic text, hand-lettered by two of Breasted’s colleagues, on facing pages. The typesetting, photoengraving, and printing were done by the same pairing of forces that produced the Egyptian museum-project booklet.20

While Smith was intended for Egyptologists, Breasted added several features to make it accessible for others. These include “General Explanatory Notes, for Physicians and Other Non-Egyptological Readers” and a separate “Consecutive Translation” of both sides of the papyrus so readers could peruse the texts without being distracted by the scholarly apparatus. He hoped these steps would render the book more approachable “to medical men and historians of science.” In the introduction Breasted highlighted what he considered the papyrus’s most notable aspects: a remarkably accurate understanding of human physiology— including the earliest words for brain and pulse, a strikingly modern diagnostic method, and numerous glosses, which Breasted saw as its “most valuable… materials”—and the designation of corrections with a marginal cross mark that Breasted called the “earliest known asterisk.” The corrections, along with paleographic comparisons with other papyri, suggested to him that the papyrus was a copy of a yet more ancient text.

The many glosses, in turn, caused Breasted to wonder if they were necessary because the copyist’s source was, itself, an edited version of a yet earlier papyrus. Based on a minute analysis of the hieratic signs, Breasted conjectured that such “scientific and pedagogic” explanations would not have been necessary unless, at some point between when the original text was written and the source papyrus for the present copy was made, the meanings of certain concepts and terms had already been forgotten. Breasted dated the original text to the beginning of the Old Kingdom, around 2600 BCE, and the glossed version—from which the Smith Papyrus was copied—to the end of the Old Kingdom, or about five hundred years later. The Smith Papyrus, which he placed at around the seventeenth century BCE, thus contained text from almost a thousand years earlier, or about forty-five hundred years before Breasted’s study.

Most striking of all, however, was the papyrus’s division into forty-eight (p.367) “cases,” each subdivided into an “examination,” “diagnosis,” and “treatment.” Among these Breasted found evidence of three diagnostic methods: “ocular,” “olfactory,” and “tactile,” the last very similar to palpation. The translation and commentary follow, and the rest of the first volume is filled with pages of transcriptions set in hieroglyphic type and interwoven with translations, comments, and notes, often with hieroglyphic annotations laced into the commentary as well (figure 9.12).21

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.12 Page from Breasted’s Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, vol. 1 (1930). Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

Reviews of Smith focused approvingly on the papyrus’s medical interest, and when it was thought to have gone out of print in the late 1970s, a press specializing in reprints of medical “classics” issued a limited-edition facsimile of the first volume. George Sarton, representing the young discipline of the history of science, wrote an essay-length review because he believed Smith to be of such great significance. Midway through the review he was so taken with the papyrus’s content that he interrupted himself to ask: “When did science begin?” Sarton recognized that the origin of science in antiquity was a subject that, as Breasted showed, could be illuminated by humanists, and Sarton saw it as a place to build bridges of understanding between the sciences and humanities. Breasted had begun corresponding with Sarton years before, in 1916, they remained in touch over the years, and in 1926 Breasted was elected the second president of the History of Science Society, which Sarton helped found. Breasted followed Sarton’s writings, particularly when the latter began articulating what he called the “new humanism,” a theory that paralleled Breasted’s notions concerning “humanistic science.”

Despite their mutual regard and shared interests, however, Sarton’s review was thoroughly objective. Though impressed with the scholarship in Smith, Sarton encountered instances in which Breasted overstated the insights of the papyrus’s author and the successor who glossed it. Regarding Breasted’s declaration that they discovered the human pulse and its association with the circula-tory system, Sarton commented, “It is unwise to exaggerate the achievements of those early Egyptian physicians.… It is better to understand their limitations. The greatest of these, with regard to this case, was their failure to distinguish between blood vessels, tendons, and nerves.” Although Sarton was devoted to the humanities, he was a scientist by training and uncomfortable with Breasted’s literary ebullience.22

When Breasted explained to Rockefeller the importance of making “technical results more widely of use to society” and modern scientists’ “social responsibilities,” Breasted was also contemplating how he might apply his knowledge to society’s moral and spiritual renewal. Breasted believed his struggles with the religion of his parents, and the calming inspiration he drew from his research, might be relevant to the young people of his time. He shared with his contemporaries a sense that the “cumulative impact of a half-century of social, economic, (p.368) and intellectual changes, as well as the host of new forces unleashed by the [First World] war, … created a new America.… [They] contributed significantly to changes in morals, manners, and mobility.… As old ways changed, so did old certainties.… Gone was that ‘ineffable certainty which made God and his plan as real as the lamp-post.’”

(p.369) Being an activist by nature, Breasted had long wanted to confront these changes. In 1916 he observed to Frederick Gates:

The current false impression of the origin, nature and career of man, gained by the average person largely from religious teaching, have formed a serious obstacle to human progress. My own early training in an orthodox religious home… has made clear to me… how much we need a tactful but uncompromising presentation of the main facts of man’s career.… Such a presentation intelligible to the youth of the country would contribute essentially toward the creation of a reverence for man and his spiritual possibilities, which would help to fill the void left by the inevitable displacement of the old emotional type of religious faith.23

Yet Breasted recognized that the research of his generation helped displace the “old emotional type of religious faith,” and as a result the “human career has thus… gained a secular aspect, as we suddenly see it placed against a background of geological ages and… evolution.” That “secular aspect” not only undermined religious faith, it dehumanized society, rendering “the Universe… for us and our youth only the action of a vast machine.” Accordingly, Breasted believed, “there is now a grave responsibility to avoid such stark materialism, and to aid in disclosing the full story of man and his introduction of spiritual values into an otherwise mechanistic universe.” He considered the institute’s work a means toward this end but also recognized its limitations. In 1924, writing about organized worship to Frances Breasted, he remarked:

The service is a good thing. It brings about an attitude of mind which is reassuring and consoling; but its forms have buried deep and far out of ordinary reach the greatest truths we know. To create a new literature of religion, a new service and a new ritual built up out of our experience…, but enriched also from our new knowledge of nature and of the human career, —that is the great task of coming generations. I like to think that our Oriental Institute will contribute a body of new fact which will one day take its place in future efforts along this line; although it would be a great mistake to make this a motive for our work. We are organized merely to discover and recover the truth. It is for the future to do with it what it will.

His views on this point never changed, but Breasted believed the “secular aspect” had grown into a more urgent problem, and by early 1931 he had decided to address it in a book. He chose the title before the book was written: “The Dawn of Conscience.”24

Breasted expected it to be “especially timely in our present situation when (p.370) the younger generation has very largely cast off the old moorings and doesn’t like the word ‘conscience.’” The book would be a “reply to the current disillusionment regarding the future of mankind, but based of course entirely on his past.” While Breasted hoped it would be a “work of real importance, which will substantially influence human life and character,” he feared it might instead turn into “an academic performance” of little interest. In the end he decided to organize the text around one goal: “the first historical demonstration that the evolutionary process, which seems to have operated so largely in the rise and development of material forms, has culminated in ideals of human conduct and has thus given rise to an age of character, which we have little more than begun. For the first time our world, if not the universe, is historically demonstrated to possess a value and a meaning.” He completed the manuscript in June 1933 and published The Dawn of Conscience the same year.25

It is based on his Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt with additions from two unpublished lecture series, one presented at Cornell University in a program “devoted to ‘Evolution, ’” the other delivered at Bryn Mawr College. Other additions consist of new findings; reinterpretations of known sources, including results from the Coffin Texts project; and fuller treatments such as those addressing Ikhnaton’s theological innovations. The result consists of a core—Development revised and enlarged—with new front and back material including a fresh foreword, additional first chapter and last chapters, and an epilogue. The main points of Breasted’s argument are contained in these new materials. In the foreword he notes: “Some of these ancient sources are delightfully picturesque oriental tales, and such the reader will traverse with ease and even pleasure. Others,” Breasted admits, “are not so easily assimilated and if the young reader… finds himself mired in rather heavy going and inclined to give up, I suggest he read at least the epilogue.”26

“The most pressing need of America at the present critical juncture,” Breasted declared, “is not more mechanisation but more character.” He singled out for particular scorn “technocrats”: social scientists and theorists of the time who believed the Great Depression resulted from governmental and economic inefficiencies. The technocrats believed neither “business nor representative government were capable of bringing about the required adjustments” and that certain “dominant institutions and values” blocked the “path of the massive social engineering project the crisis demanded.” Their “clarion call for technicians to plan and engineer the new order” came in 1932 and 1933, just as Breasted was completing Dawn, and he was responding to the technocrats just as the national debate they provoked was rising to a crescendo. A lifelong advocate of technology and the efficiencies it offered his own field, he was not opposing the spirit of technological innovation. Rather he feared the fascination with “technocracy” (p.371) would replace schools’ humanities curriculums with “a vague miscellany called ‘civics’ or ‘social studies.’”

Breasted believed the way out of the Great Depression was not through more grim “mechanisation” but rather through the inspiration of “the dawn of conscience, the rise of the earliest ideals of conduct, and the resulting Age of Character—a development not only wonderfully fascinating to follow step by step, but also a new vision of hope in times like these.” Explaining that the book was “especially for the new generation,” Breasted burnished his credentials with youth doubting traditional religious verities by recalling “disquieting experiences” from his younger years. He told the story of discovering an imperfection in the Ten Commandments and hoped “the present generation of young people, who may be troubled with such fundamental questions,” would be inspired by the development of morality in ancient Egypt.27

An aspect of Breasted’s Ten Commandment story, that the Egyptians articulated a moral code superior to the Decalogue long before the latter was “revealed,” was characteristic of an argument running through Dawn: “Our moral heritage… derives from a wider human past enormously older than the Hebrews, and it has come to us rather through the Hebrews than from them.” While scholars had been exploring Egyptian influences on Old Testament writings for a while, Breasted knew the notion was still new and even radical to the general public, and he was particularly concerned about its implications for the Jewish community. He underscored his “admiration of Hebrew literature,” noting that he had taught Hebrew for years, that his students included “many future rabbis,” and that “among modern Jews he has many valued friends.” Breasted went to such lengths because of Nazism’s rise. In “a world in which anti-Semitic prejudice is still regrettably evident it seems appropriate to state that the book was not written with the slightest anti-Semitic bias.” Nonetheless, he refused to compromise. The truths he found were “a result of the social experience of man himself” and were not “projected from the outside into a world of unworthy men by some mystic process.… It is the greatest discovery in the whole sweep of the evolutionary process.”28

Breasted’s reference to evolution signaled an additional step in his thinking that had begun years before. Though he was not a strict Darwinist in the sense that he never discussed natural selection, Breasted believed the model of evolution was applicable to the development of conscience. He foreshadowed this idea in addresses and grant proposals written for, or inspired by, his collaborations with Hale in the 1910s, and it was refined in subsequent years. In Dawn Breasted pointed to the continuity of Egypt’s long history as an “isolated social laboratory”—an evolutionary crucible—where “during some three thousand years, beginning about 4000 b.c.… human society… moved from stage (p.372) to stage of the longest ethical evolution which we can follow in the career of any human society.” The incremental “emergence of conscience as a social force” was an essential feature of this “great transformation.” Thus, Breasted argued, the “career of man, like other processes of nature, is a slow development, and the great transformation may be as slow in completion as the process of man’s physical evolution.” By declaring that morality was not revealed, but the product of an evolutionary process, Breasted was not only clarifying an idea that had been solidifying over the course of the past two decades, he was also affirming his side in one of the great disputes of his day.29

The conflict, which pitted fundamentalist Christians against adherents of evolutionary theory, began brewing in the late 1910s and boiled over with the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in July 1925. As the author of textbooks that incorporated evolution in their treatment of early history, Breasted was invited to testify as an “authority” during the Scopes trial. The invitation came from Clarence Darrow, the attorney defending the public-school teacher—John T. Scopes—who had violated a Tennessee state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution. Darrow lived in Chicago, and he contacted “distinguished colleagues” of Breasted’s at the University of Chicago, who recommended him. The unspecified colleagues could have been either scientists or Divinity School faculty. The Divinity School might seem an odd place for Darrow to contact, but several of its faculty members noisily opposed the fundamentalists. In the school’s “relatively open [theological] atmosphere Biblical criticism and liberal theological tendencies appeared early among Baptists in the Northern United States and soon flourished as in no other evangelical denomination, except perhaps the Congregationalist”—the denomination in which Breasted was raised. Under Harper’s leadership, the mostly Baptist Divinity School became “the leading American center for aggressive theological liberalism.”

Breasted was traveling abroad when Darrow’s invitation arrived and did not testify, although there is some evidence that Darrow drew on Ancient Times during the trial. A few months later, while reworking it into Conquest of Civilization, Breasted commented to Hale that the changes “made it distinctly a presentation of certain chapters in evolution, and I expect to have an awful row with the fundamentalists. I have some apprehensions that it may affect unfavorably the use of Ancient Times in the schools.”30

In bringing Dawn to a close, Breasted reiterated the “sources of our moral heritage” with particular emphasis on Egyptian influences on Hebrew scripture: that the name Moses is Egyptian, that Moses “enjoined his countrymen to adopt an enormously ancient Egyptian custom, the rite of circumcision,” and that the Old Testament psalms echo Ikhnaton’s writings. “It would be interesting to know also,” Breasted speculated, “what place the hymn of Ikhnaton may have (p.373) had among the influences which gradually led the Hebrews to monotheism.” All in all, this evidence reveals that the process of moral development is ongoing and the “incompleteness of the great transformation” provides an incalculable opportunity. If people recognized “the nature of moral progress… to have been a product and an outgrowth of social experience, modern man [would be] for the first time in a position to put forth his hand and… influence and expedite the process of moral advancement.”31

The beginning and conclusion of Dawn come closer to a public expression of personal faith than anything else Breasted published. If judged by his uses of biblical literature to contextualize ancient Near Eastern research, he might appear to be a devoted adherent of some Christian denomination. But that was not the case. Although he attended church services throughout his life, he was hardly a pious or attentive participant. During dull moments in church, Breasted would jot notes for projects he had under way. After hearing a minister speak, Breasted once remarked, “There is such a lot of dry sticks in this world that I often wonder why there is not a tremendous conflagration, … if someone should touch a match to it, what a lot of cut & dried theology would go up in smoke.” To a friend who was also a minister, Breasted wrote, “You would probably be scandalized if I were to tell you that I think there is more of the reality and sincerity of religion in the native beliefs of our Southwest Indians than I can find anywhere in the Christian Church.”

Although Breasted’s beliefs shifted early in his life from a faith in the authority of biblical scripture to a far more complex understanding of human spirituality and morality, he continued to believe in God. Breasted articulated his beliefs in response to a survey of a thousand “persons of different professional and occupational classes of America” conducted in 1921 by a group of Chinese students at Chicago. They posed three questions: “(1) What is your idea of God?; (2) Do you believe in God?; (3) Why?” In replying, Breasted changed the order, taking up the second and third questions first:

  1. (2) I do believe in God, although this belief has undergone great changes in the course of my life.

  2. (3) I cannot conceive of an intelligible universe like that in which we live, without a guiding intelligence controlling it. Furthermore that universe is not static but is evidently passing through successive stages, which [is] very tangibly illustrated in the course of the human career, which we are now able to follow for probably several hundred thousand years… to a lofty and humane civilization which brought forth teachers like Jesus, Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, and the Hebrew prophets. This progress has gradually lifted us to a level where we not only possess teachers like these…, but where great multitudes (p.374) of men… are devoted to such visions and ideals, and are striving to follow them, in spite of such vast and tragic mistakes as the world war just concluded. To me these facts constitute a logical and convincing basis for belief in God.

  3. (1) A Being who controls the universe for purposes glorious beyond my full comprehension, but of whose glorious work, if not of himself, I catch some gleams in the splendor of the universe and the inspiring career of man. That career inspires me with the belief that he is interested in my efforts not only toward a worthy life and character for myself, but also toward the uplifting of all my fellow men, of whatever race, to attain similar ideals. In this way I am thrilled with the belief that I am aiding and sharing in his purposes.

As one scholar wrote of the time, “God became the world, man, and his dreams; religion became human experience.”32

Dawn of Conscience attracted more reviews than any of Breasted’s previous books, in all manner of print media including scholarly journals in several disciplines, popular magazines, and newspapers. Breasted clearly had raised a topical issue. With the exception of one scathing critique from a Theosophical Quarterly reviewer, who couldn’t abide Breasted’s decidedly nonmystical treatment of Egypt, the reviews are mostly laudatory with some reservations. Two reviewers focused on what they perceived as inconsistencies in Breasted’s argument, such as that between the power of Egypt’s top-down theological system and the force of its bottom-up ethical insights or between Egypt’s function as an isolated “social laboratory” and the fact that its most novel changes came during times of conflict and contacts with neighboring cultures.

Another reviewer complained Breasted used his sources “as a springboard for diving into the treacherous waters of philosophical speculation and moral” disquisitions and as “an excuse for preaching a sermon” inappropriate in “a sober scientific study.” The same author, writing for a Jewish scholarly journal, noted that Breasted was “anxious to put over the point that too much credit is commonly given the Hebrews for our moral legacy.… His enthusiasm…, however, almost leads him to make the infinitely more serious error, understandable but not forgivable, of reversing the situation.” A scholar writing for a second Jewish journal expressed the concerns of others who challenged Breasted’s claims of originality for the Egyptians by asking, “May it not be that each people was adding to its own culture while digesting creations of other peoples, far and near?”33

Cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict, who pioneered the application of psychological theory to the comparative study of culture groups, wrote that Dawn was in effect “a treatise in the history of ethics, and students of comparative ethics… will wish that [Breasted] had not interpreted the birth of conscience as such a primal miracle.… Psychology and ethics and history are at one in accepting (p.375) conscience as the individual’s reaction to the mores of his country and his age.” Because “conscience is inevitable in human culture” and all “peoples… in terms of their customs distinguish good from bad,” Benedict argued, “when such a distinction is found it does not by any means connote, as Professor Breasted assumes, that high ethical standards are associated with it.”34

Another probing assessment came from William Foxwell Albright, an American Orientalist who helped improve archaeological standards in Palestine. Like Breasted he was interested in ancient Near Eastern religious beliefs, but from a foundation in biblical archaeology, a particular subset within the larger field that is guided by the interanimations of archaeological investigation and biblical studies. Unlike Breasted, Albright remained a faithful Christian throughout his life, and he believed the teachings of Christianity to be both unassailable and the best navigational aids for interpreting ancient Near Eastern finds. Whereas he regarded Breasted as America’s leading proponent of “atheistic humanism,” others knew Albright as the chief advocate of what he called “Christian humanism.” As Albright saw it, Breasted “stressed the view that man is the creator of his own achievements, possessing boundless capacity for self-improvement.” In responding to Breasted’s oftrepeated assertion that man’s destiny is to “rise,” Albright countered that the “theist” would “contend that man has been raised in spite of his nature, by infinitely skillful manipulation on the part of a superhuman agency.” Albright labeled Breasted’s approach “individualistic meliorism” and attributed it to Breasted’s falling under the sway of “theological liberals of the Divinity School, who reacted more and more vigorously against the place attributed to the Bible and historical Protestantism and saw religion primarily as a social and ethical phenomenon.” In this environment, Albright contended, “it was impossible to escape the conviction that man’s destiny is to improve steadily and irresistably. In such remorseless progress a teleological goal is inevitable.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge Breasted posed to Albright and other biblical archaeologists was his then radically different rationale for Western interest in the ancient Near East. John A. Wilson, one of Breasted’s former students, who later developed an interest in historiography, put it best. Both sides believed that “archaeology would recover a story which was our story,” but the “we” trying to “recover our story” functioned within almost diametrically opposed belief systems. Thus Breasted’s “logic was different from the argument” of biblical archaeologists: “it was no longer our story because Near Eastern archaeology would prove the accuracy of the biblical account; it was our story because our secular beginnings were in that ancient world.”35 Yet of all the thinkers who seriously engaged with Breasted’s ideas, the most original was an amateur antiquities student and collector, Sigmund Freud.

Having been educated in the canons of Western literature and history, Freud was well prepared to read widely outside the professional works of his field. He (p.376) possessed a particular affinity for the myths of ancient civilizations, and they became touchstones for a number of his most penetrating insights in human psychology. Freud’s writings abound with references to mythological and literary figures—Thanatos, Eros, Narcissus, Sphinx, Antigone, and most famously, Oedipus. His interests included antiquities as well, and he began collecting them in 1899. By the 1930s visitors to his consulting room and study could not help but notice the small sculptures and vessels filling glass-front cabinets or arrayed across virtually every flat surface, including his desk. Freud particularly sought representations of figures from ancient history and mythology, especially those of Greece, Rome, and Egypt. His book collecting embraced archaeological studies too.

Freud’s fascination with antiquity coincided with his attempts to explain psychoanalytic theory, and in the process archaeology became a “mighty metaphor” for the practice of psychoanalysis. Freud characterized a person’s lifetime of memories as being like an archaeological mound and analysis like the archaeologist’s meticulous digging down through the accumulated layers. The top levels, or most recent recollections, are encountered first, and as the archaeologist / analyst probes more deeply, ever-earlier stages of the past come into view. The archaeology metaphor served another purpose as well: to explain psychoanalytic theory’s differentiation between surface appearances or the symptoms of neuroses and the “buried” causes that underlay them.

Among the works Freud collected and read were three by Breasted: the 1906 British edition of History of Egypt; the 1934 British edition of Dawn of Conscience; and, unbeknownst to many because Breasted’s name doesn’t appear on the volume’s title page, his contribution to the second volume of The Cambridge Ancient History. Breasted wrote six chapters, over 150 pages, covering the period from the eighteenth dynasty (about 1539 BCE) to the end of the twentieth dynasty (about 1075 BCE). Breasted’s History of Egypt was among a handful of books that “delighted” Freud, and if we may judge by the frequency of Freud’s underlinings and marginal notations, he studied all the books closely—especially Dawn. All three became sources for Freud’s last and perhaps most controversial work, a small, troubling collection of three essays titled Moses and Monotheism. Despite his best intentions in writing Dawn, Breasted may inadvertently have helped set Freud’s project in motion.36

Freud began contemplating the cultural ramifications of the Moses story before the turn of the century. The first public manifestation of this interest was an essay on Michelangelo’s statue of Moses that Freud published anonymously in 1914. Around 1933 Freud turned to the figure of Moses per se, and in the summer of 1934, not long after the British edition of Dawn was issued, he began writing the first two essays for what ultimately became Moses and Monotheism. They were completed and published in a journal in 1937, the final essay was (p.377) completed in 1938, and the three were issued together in simultaneous German and English editions the next year.

Within the first few pages of the first essay, Freud has an extensive quotation from Dawn, Breasted’s proof that the name Moses is Egyptian. Freud was struck by the fact that several scholars had made similar observations but none, including Breasted—even after his thorough study—arrived at what Freud considered to be an obvious deduction: Moses had an Egyptian name because he was Egyptian. In the remainder of the first two essays, based in part on numerous citations of Breasted’s work, as well as the work of other scholars including Breasted’s friends Adolf Erman and Eduard Meyer, Freud spins out an astonishing scenario.37

Moses, Freud asserts, was not only Egyptian but probably the governor of an eastern Egyptian province at the time of Amenhotep IV’s theological revolution. Inspired by the monotheism of Amenhotep-cum-Ikhnaton, and distraught by the pharaoh’s death and the religion’s demise, Moses gathered a following of tribes and led them eastward beyond Egypt’s control. Freud theorizes that Moses’s followers met up with other tribes in the Sinai with whom they shared a common proto-Jewish heritage though the latter had no experience of Egyptian rule and religion. Indeed, the tribes to the east had evolved their own magical-ritual cult based on a “volcano god,” “Jahve” (Yahveh or Yahweh). Freud derived the notion from Breasted’s observation in Dawn that the “peculiar manifestation of Yahveh as ‘a pillar of fire’ or ‘a pillar of cloud’ and his appearance on Mount Sinai by day with ‘thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud’ are obviously volcanic phenomena.”

According to Freud, as Moses’s followers intermingled with the eastern tribes, he imposed an even more severe version of Ikhnaton’s monotheism. But things did not go well. The volcano-god worshipers chafed against the elimination of their cult, which resulted in the golden-calf incident and other defiant acts. Freud, inspired by the speculations of German theologian and biblical archaeologist Ernst Sellin, concluded their fury was so great that they murdered Moses. Out of guilt, however, the volcano-god worshipers made peace with his followers. The Judaism we know today is thus an amalgam in which elements of Egyptian monotheism and the magical-ritual cult uneasily coexist, but the cause of that forced coexistence—guilt over the murder of Moses—seemed to have faded with the passage of time.

Drawing on the “documentary paradigm” of biblical criticism, Freud points out the separate literary traditions from which the five books of Moses were composed. He concentrates on two literary sources that are identified by the different names each gives to God, specifically the “J” source for Yahweh and the “E” source for Elohim. The latter name is literally the Hebrew plural for El, or God; thus Elohim means “gods,” though in the Jewish tradition the name is (p.378) understood to mean “the one God.” Freud, however, chose to read Elohim literally, seeing in it evidence of many gods in the same presumably monotheistic text, and he regarded that internal dissonance as proof of the ancient merger of two disparate traditions after a long-forgotten crisis, a “traumatic experience,” at the very moment of Judaism’s creation. It was that notion of cultural trauma that led Freud to his third essay.38

Having “established historically” the forgotten origins of Judaism, Freud explains how they had been buried in collective memory by expanding his concept of individual “psychopathology, in the genesis of human neurosis,” to the scale of “mass psychology.” By this means Freud could apply to an entire people the “formula” he established for explaining the development of individual neuroses: “early trauma—defense—latency—outbreak of the neurosis—partial return of the repressed material.” The “early trauma” was the murder of Moses, the “defense” was the guilty merger of monotheistic and polytheistic religions, and “latency” was the period in which the conflicting tribal beliefs were integrated in sacred texts and historical traditions. For the last two steps in his formula, Freud moves beyond the ambit of Judaism to Christianity.

In a yet more remarkable turn, Freud describes “a growing feeling of guilti-ness” that “seized the Jewish people.” It went on, Freud writes, until

Paul, a Roman Jew…, seized upon this feeling of guilt and correctly traced it back to its primeval source. This he called original sin; it was a crime against God that could be expiated only through death.… In reality this crime… had been the murder of the Father [Moses] who later was deified. The murderous deed itself, however, was not remembered; in its place stood the phantasy of expiation.… A Son of God, innocent himself, had sacrificed himself, and had therefore taken over the guilt of the world. It had to be a Son, for the sin had been murder of the Father.

The Mosaic religion had been a Father religion; Christianity became a Son religion. The old God, the Father, took second place; Christ, the Son, stood in his stead.

Judaism is reduced to a neurosis and, with an Oedipal twist, Christianity is born in a “return of the repressed.”39

Freud’s reliance on Breasted in particular is evident throughout the first two essays. In addition to Breasted’s observations on the Egyptian origin of Moses’s name and circumcision, Breasted’s writings on Amenhotep IV are essential for Freud’s purposes. He acknowledges his account “follows closely” History of Egypt, Dawn, and the Cambridge chapters, and he even adopts Breasted’s spelling of “Ikhnaton” over the by-then equally common “Akhenaton.” However, where (p.379) Breasted responded to rising anti-Semitism in the 1930s by issuing a disclaimer, Freud moved in the opposite direction. Although well aware of the incendiary nature of Moses for Jews, Freud wrote, “To deny a people the man whom it praises as the greatest of its sons is not a deed to be undertaken lightheartedly—especially by one belonging to that people. No consideration, however, will move me to set aside truth in favour of supposed national interests.”

Despite this declaration, Freud initially suppressed the particularly inflammatory third essay. His reason is abundantly clear. Between 1934 and 1938, when Freud wrote Moses, anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria had escalated from hateful speech and government-approved discrimination into the murderous violence and destruction of Kristallnacht. After the forced Anschluss (union) that bound Austria to Germany in early 1938, what few illusions of security Austrian Jews like Freud could entertain quickly dissipated. His family and friends hustled the elderly and ailing Freud out of Vienna to London, where he died a year later. Freud was in Vienna in March 1938 when he filed the third essay away; he changed his mind three months later, only after arriving in the relative safety of London.

At a time of worldwide economic and social distress, Breasted and Freud drew very different lessons from ancient Egyptian and biblical texts. Dawn is infused with Breasted’s belief in humanity’s destiny to “rise,” while Moses is permeated with Freud’s belief that the dark “mental residue of those primeval times has become a heritage which, with each new generation, needs only to be awakened.”40 The Egyptologist probed the past to inspire a better future, while the physician probed the past to explain a troubled present.

New Prospects, Old Constraints

While in the midst of completing Dawn, Breasted was asked to report on the Oriental Institute for the University of Chicago Survey, a series of book-length studies sponsored by the General Education Board. Designed to foster a searching self-examination of the university’s accomplishments, problems, and prospects, it was aimed at “students of education literature” and focused primarily on academic-administration issues such as institutional growth, enrollment, physical plant, and instructional problems. Breasted’s contribution, The Oriental Institute, was the twelfth and final volume in the series and the only one on a research program. He completed most of the nearly 450-page text “in rough state, … in 60 days” by drawing heavily on previously published papers, reports, and institute handbooks. Many passages are new, however, particularly those summarizing the latest results from projects at home and abroad. Taken as a whole, the book is the most comprehensive single account of the institute’s origins, development, and accomplishments through the mid-1930s. Although Breasted had (p.380) long argued for a systematic and broad approach to ancient Near Eastern studies, the book contains his first and only statement of how the institute’s programs corresponded with that large view:41

Stages of Human Development

Oriental Institute Projects

A. Prehistory Earliest human evidences down to fourth millennium B.C.

Prehistoric Survey, Persian Expedition, Megiddo Expedition, Anatolian

B. History of civilization: the rise and development of nations

1. Earliest advance in control of material world

a) Earliest pictorial representations of human activity…

b) Development of material life and government in Western Asia

Sakkarah (Memphis) Expedition

Iraq Expedition (Babylonian… ), Anatolian Expedition, Persian Expedition

2. Earliest advance in… human conduct and mind

a) Dawn of conscience…

b) Initial steps toward inductive science

c) Earliest art in the historic age

Coffin Texts

Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus

Sakkarah Expedition, Iraq Expedition

3. Earliest advance in business and economic life

a) Creation of earliest commercial and economic world

b) Origin of business practices and their documentary forms


Assyrian Dictionary, Iraq Expedition

C. History of civilization: the rise and development of empires

1. Egypt…

a) Political history

(1) Historical records of… Theban temples…

(2) Historical records of… Abydos Temple of Seti I

Epigraphic Expedition

Abydos Expedition (jointly with Egypt Exploration Society)

b) Art and architecture

(1) Paintings of… Theban cemetery

(2) Paintings of… Abydos Temple of Seti I

(3)… Medinet Habu

Davies-Gardiner Paintings

Abydos Expedition (jointly with Egypt Exploration Society) Architectural Survey

2. Western Asia…

a) Hittite Empire…

b) Assyrian Empire…

c) Babylonian Empire…

d) Chaldean Empire…

e) Persian Empire…

f) Palestine and the Hebrews…

g) Roman Empire

(1) Forerunners of Byzantine art…

(2) Syriac Christianity

Anatolian Expedition

Iraq Expedition (Assyrian… )

Iraq Expedition (Babylonian… )

Persian Expedition

Megiddo Expedition

Preliminary Reconnaissance Expedition [1919–20]


3. Civilization of Islam

a) Moslem wisdom…

Kalīlah wa-Dimnah

(p.381) Although The Oriental Institute was ostensibly for higher-education scholars and administrators, reviews suggest it was read most closely by scholars in ancient Near Eastern studies. None could resist commenting on the institute’s financial resources, it being “the first to be able to carry out a programme on a proper scale unhampered by lack of funds.” Awareness of the institute’s comparative wealth was heightened by the Depression because the “generosity of the Institute’s supporters has enabled it to employ the best men available…, and to skim the cream from most of the dormant or defunct expeditions which have suffered from lack of funds.”

By the time The Oriental Institute was published, however, pressure was increasing for Breasted to economize. His annual budget passed the $677,000 mark during the 1929–30 academic year, well before the new Chicago building was completed. As the financial crisis deepened, Chicago began cutting its budget, and in the fall of 1931 Breasted was asked to reduce his university appropriation of about $5,300 by 10 percent. He complied and was subsequently told that his salary was to be cut by about a third as well, the assumption being that the sum—$3,000—could be made up out of institute funds. Breasted was offended, partly because he had worked hard to raise that money for other purposes, and partly because the institute was paying over $71,000 to the university for faculty salary subventions and student fellowships. He was also upset by the timing. The cut was demanded on the very day the institute dedicated its new building. Breasted sent an angry response that concluded with his resignation. The cuts and his resignation were mutually withdrawn.42

While Breasted could face down his superiors at Chicago, Rockefeller officials were much tougher. The Depression all but erased the International Education Board’s assets, and the General Education Board and Rockefeller Foundation (p.382) stepped in to honor its pledges, including those to the institute. A representative announced the plan to Hutchins and Breasted in April 1932, assuring that the foundation would continue to support the institute but demanding that “substantial reductions… be made.” Breasted reduced his spending across the board, suspending the Hittite expedition and “virtually wiping out” the antiquities-purchasing fund. He pushed back as well, however, arguing that further cuts would mean “scattering of personnel built up by years of labor, loss of idle equipment, decay of unoccupied field headquarters, forfeiture of concessions and sacrifice of political influence indispensable to operations under oriental governments.” The Rockefeller officials were unmoved, and moreover a few were uncomfortable with the institute’s spending priorities, one commenting on the lavishness of its building and more. “Permanent looking and extremely comfortable headquarters have been built or are being built at each excavation,” he wrote. “The motion picture record of all the work has recently been completed.… [Yet] B[reasted] is talking about necessity for more space.” Charles Breasted, as the institute’s executive secretary, was singled out in particular for his “extravagance.”43

The references to a motion picture and Charles Breasted were connected. In 1932 Hutchins contracted with an educational film company to produce a series of “sound films under the direction of the university faculty.” Charles Breasted seized the opportunity to create a two-part film initially titled “The New Past.” The plan was to present the “scientific ideas and ideals” that led to the institute’s creation, to show its new “headquarters” building, and by using a “carefully selected group of… significant objects” from the institute’s collections and “editing in especially taken ‘shots, ’… show the work of its field expeditions in active operation.” He began by having over eight reels of film shot of his father. The scene was his father’s institute office, where, with “artifacts and other vividly illustrative materials, [he]… described in a clear, dignified, human, and almost epic manner, the advent of the creature man and his amazing… upward struggle.” The footage closed with “a scene of [Breasted] descending the stairs in the main lobby [of the institute] to lead his invisible audience through the exhibition halls.” This aspect of the project was comparatively inexpensive, however. To film expeditions distributed across the Middle East required a plane to swiftly traverse the long distances between sites. Charles Breasted estimated an additional cost of about $12,000 to $15,000.

He could not proceed, however, without university permission to reallocate funds within the institute’s budget. The reallocation would be accomplished with “presumably temporary” assessments of field-expedition budgets. Charles justified the levies by asserting they supported production of a “highly desirable scientific record.” Because his father was traveling abroad at the time and Charles wanted to start shooting in the Middle East right away, he proposed the plan to (p.383) a university official by arguing essentially two benefits. First, he believed the “possibilities are definite for earning a substantial return on this investment and at the same time fulfilling the educational purposes for which it was made.” He offered a few income-producing schemes such as multiple daily showings in the institute’s lecture hall at fifty cents a head or at other locations, such as the city’s Orchestra Hall, for one dollar a head, “especially if introduced… by the Director in person.” Charles also believed the film could be a cost-saving measure by relieving institute staff from introducing the collections to visitors and touring groups, an expense he calculated as equaling “at least two salaried guides.” The second benefit would be its “value as propaganda of the most desirable and dignified sort for the University.”

His father concurred with the reallocation, if uneasily. Breasted knew the university was “taking the lead in the preparation of such films” and that it expected to “profit both educationally and financially.” He noted as well that “one of the most serious and intelligent of the Hollywood directors stated… that there is a wide spread public demand for short… films, especially showing instructive travel and history, and carrying people away from home and its present shadows of depression and discouragement.” He also envisioned a day when such films “will form permanent sections in school, college and university courses” and felt “some responsibility in this matter; just as I did to put out such a book as Ancient Times.” The university approved Charles’s request, but his father remained cautious: “I am a somewhat venturesome, even at times reckless, individual; but the amounts of money we are venturing give me concern. ‘Et haec olim meminisse juvabit’ [time heals all things], perhaps.”44

Filming in the Middle East began in December 1932, and after it was about half done, in mid-February 1933, Breasted, his wife, and their younger son, James Jr., joined Charles and the cinematographer to complete the remainder. At the airfield in Heliopolis, Egypt, they boarded a trimotor airplane—designed for six passengers and two crew members—chartered from Imperial Airways, a British company. For almost four weeks, through mid-March, they hopscotched to expedition sites throughout the Middle East. It was strenuous flying, however, with a number of very bumpy passages that took a toll on the entire group but especially the older Breasteds—Frances had turned sixty a few months prior, and Breasted was sixty-seven. They collected many hours of footage, and Charles needed more than a year to winnow it down to about seventy minutes. It premiered at the University of Chicago with two screenings in early June 1934, the first introduced by Breasted, the second by Charles.45

The film, called The Human Adventure, opens with production credits superimposed over the institute building’s tympanum (figure 9.2), credits for James Henry Breasted’s “scientific supervision” and Charles Breasted’s authorship and narration superimposed over the institute’s Khorsabad bull (figure 9.8), and a (p.384) depiction of a cuneiform panel that morphs into an inscription dedicating the film to the institute’s “devoted personnel both at home and abroad.” The credits are accompanied by the tempestuous opening of Felix Mendelssohn’s Die Hebriden (The Hebrides), the only music in the film with the exception of a repeated measure at the very end. The movie proper begins with its title seen against deep space through which the viewer flies toward a distant sphere that, as it looms closer, turns out to be Earth. The film then cuts to scenes of volcanic and tectonic activity, whereupon Charles begins speaking. Delivered in a grandiloquent style, not unlike old-fashioned theatrical declamation, his narration starts with the beginnings of life, the dinosaur period, the transition from hominids to Homo sapiens, and the advent of tool making and speech, with parts of the narrative illustrated with motor-animated dinosaurs and cavemen. The animated figures were filmed at a Sinclair Oil Company exhibit titled “The World a Million Years Ago” at the Century of Progress Exposition along Chicago’s lakefront in 1933– 34. The Sinclair company, mindful of oil’s origins in the dinosaur age, adopted a brontosaurus (now known as apatosaurus) image as its trademark and included one in its exhibit along with other scenes from prehistory.46

Charles concludes the introductory section with a sequence of quotes from his father’s writings, ending: “[The] promise of man’s future lies in the story of his past. Where shall we learn of man’s conquest of civilization?” The Oriental Institute, of course, and views of the Chicago building accompanied by a description of its work follows. Charles then introduces his father, shown standing in his institute office behind a desk arrayed with artifacts ranging from flints to cuneiform tablets, with a map of the Middle East on an easel to one side (figure 9.13). The elder Breasted welcomes the audience with a brief overview of ancient history, from hunting and gathering to commerce and the “dawn of conscience.” His discussion leads from the historical background to the sites where that history took place as a way of setting up the expeditions tour that will follow. His delivery is enlivened by his picking up and explaining objects and walking over to the map, where, with a pointer, he shows the centers and reach of ancient civilizations.

A Historical Laboratory

Fig. 9.13 Movie still, James Henry Breasted, from Charles Breasted’s The Human Adventure, 1934. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

One is struck by the stiffness of Breasted’s delivery, however. Although there are brief moments of soaring oratory, for the most part his speech seems mechanical and awkward as he looks downward to collect his thoughts or off camera as though seeking a response from a crew member or perhaps his son. It’s hard to believe this is the man who was regarded by colleagues, students, and the public as such a captivating and inspiring speaker. But he was disarmed by the circumstances. Prior to being filmed Breasted wrote, “My chief worry is to learn a speech verbatim.… There are 16 paragraphs in my speech. Fifteen seconds additional in each paragraph would mean 4 minutes excess and add 360 (p.385) feet of film. My speech must not exceed 10 minutes at the utmost. There are… 900 feet of film in ten minutes. A reel is a maximum of 1000 ft. long. If I add 360 ft. my speech will exceed the reel! And I forget the actual terse wording of my speech as fast as I learn it! Humiliating experience!” Breasted realized that “the very ease with which I can find the words for extemporaneous delivery is my undoing.”47

The expeditions tour begins in Egypt with aerial views of Cairo and the pyramids of Giza before heading south to the institute’s fieldwork at Saqqara and Thebes, the latter with shots of the Epigraphic Survey working at Medinet Habu and in the large temple complex of Karnak. Among the lovely overhead and ground-level scenes of the temples and Chicago House are images of Breasted walking with institute workers or inspecting inscriptions. The next stop is much farther south, near Aswan and the quarries from which obelisks were cut and transported to Thebes. The scenes include a brief view of Breasted and his wife walking on an unfinished obelisk abandoned in the quarry. From there the tour turns north, crossing Jerusalem and Haifa to Megiddo, where aerial and ground views include the staff’s uses of a balloon for overhead photography. The sections from Megiddo and a later stop, Tell Asmar, contain disquieting footage of child laborers and Charles’s often condescending remarks about the adults.

A few years earlier the Union Internationale de Secours aux Enfants (Save the Children International Union) had complained to the university about a clearance (p.386) project at Medinet Habu. The union’s report focused mainly on a Metropolitan Museum of Art expedition nearby, but the Epigraphic Survey was also accused of employing children and harsh working conditions, including the use of whips by Egyptian foremen. Nelson disputed some aspects of the report while also explaining certain practices, arguing in essence that this was the way things were done, noting, for example, that foremen routinely carried whips as signs of authority. Further, Nelson added, the institute fully compensated its workers and concluded each season with a festival for employees that consisted of entertainment, feasts, sports, and games.

The union’s secretary-general was mostly understanding but did not accept the local-standards argument, countering, “Western institutions employing native labour… have a noble opportunity of showing a good example.” Nelson agreed. Up to that point large work crews had not been employed by the Epigraphic Survey. Things changed in 1920 when Breasted authorized the architectural survey of Medinet Habu that required clearance of the surrounding site, a project that employed hundreds of laborers over five seasons. To oversee the project, Breasted appointed a German Egyptologist, Uvo Hölscher, who insisted that he report directly to Breasted rather than through Nelson. Prior to the union complaint, Nelson had told Hölscher that Americans found his practices objectionable. The latter replied that the Egyptians were an “undisciplined people” and “rough” treatment was justified, and he ignored Nelson. In the end, Nelson felt the union’s criticism was “just,” and he asked to be excused from defending Hölscher’s conduct any further.

By growing the institute so quickly and relying on an ever-larger corps of subordinates to whom he delegated considerable autonomy, Breasted exposed the institute to this kind of problem. Shortly after receiving the grants that enabled the institute’s expansion into fieldwork, Breasted commented, “The hob-goblin that haunts me now is the question where I am to find the young men to man these projects.” As John A. Wilson later observed, “The rapid growth of the institute was not wholly to its good. Many of the new persons appointed were inexperienced, and some of them were temperamental.” Often loyal to a fault, Breasted’s instinct was to defend his lieutenants first and ask questions later. In most cases, the people he recruited to head the institute’s field operations proved to be effective leaders and productive scholars in their own right—examples being Henri Frankfort, who headed expeditions in Iraq, and Ernst Herzfeld, who headed the work at Persepolis. When things went wrong and Breasted was slow to react, however, the results reflected poorly on the institute in ways that contradicted the high professional standards he espoused.48

The last stop of The Human Adventure is Persepolis. The aerial and ground views of the palace complex and adjacent sites make up one of the longer segments in the film as it recapitulates themes established earlier including the (p.387) contrast of ancient ruins and the technologies of modern archaeology, important discoveries, the behavior and incomprehension of local workers, and the “timeless” grandeur and “immortality” of the site. Charles’s narration concludes there, observing that “the trooping sunset clouds above Persepolis give warning that our own day too is done.” It’s an abrupt and inconclusive end by today’s cinematic standards, but that did not disturb contemporary audiences, who were enthusiastic about the film. A Chicago critic reported that the audience there regarded it as “vivid and exciting,” and a New York critic remarked that “although the picture falls within the unhappy category known as ‘educational films, ’ it is nevertheless entertainment in a full sense.”

The New York showing took place in fall 1935 at Carnegie Hall, which was rented by the institute for four screenings. An endorsement from the United Parents Associations of New York was lined up in advance, and the showings were locally advertised. To the surprise of Carnegie Hall’s management, its theater was filled “almost [to] capacity” for all the showings. The hall’s president commented that, from “long experience, we fully appreciate the difficulty of successfully producing entertainment of high informative value.… [It] is no small feat to crowd an Auditorium seating approximately 3000 persons with an attraction of this nature.” School showings were equally popular. The head of the New Jersey State Normal School (now Kean University) was “moved to write” that The Human Adventure attracted so much interest that it had to “run six matinees and four evening performances” to accommodate the nearly six thousand people wanting to see it. Charles publicized the film’s Carnegie Hall showings to Rockefeller officials and followed up with attendance reports. He also reported the Carnegie Hall box-office income, which, despite the large attendance, barely covered the screening costs, much less its production. In his eagerness to transmit this information, Charles hardened impressions of his “extravagance” by sending the report to the Rockefeller offices via air mail special delivery—an unnecessary indulgence in a time of fiscal distress.49

Throughout 1934 and into 1935 the Depression continued to take a toll, and the elder Breasted struggled to maintain the institute’s funding with budget maneuvers and appeals to Rockefeller or his associates, but without much success. Around June 1935, Rockefeller officials began debating a plan for Breasted to gradually wind down expeditions for which his annual grants would end in 1939 and to operate on endowment income alone. Though they did not say as much, a consensus was forming that the institute’s ten-year expedition grant would not be renewed and Breasted and his colleagues ought to prepare for this change. Rockefeller was apprised of the discussions and told Fosdick it seemed “unthinkable” that Breasted “should not be fully and amply supported so long as he lives.” On the other hand, Rockefeller acknowledged, “I fancy the officers are opposed to the work.… How this feeling… can be reversed tactfully and (p.388) wisely is the question.” His associates were particularly wary of doing anything to encourage future requests from Breasted. One officer, noting Breasted’s pattern of leveraging new opportunities into fresh appeals, worried, “Now he might discover something else. I should like the limitation of approved budgets.” Another replied, “The more it is nailed down, the better.”50

Breasted contemplated the ten-year grant’s conclusion with rising alarm. Despite his previous cuts, the institute’s budget had grown to a projected $660,000 for the 1935–36 fiscal year. When that grant ended, the institute’s budget would shrink to about $150,000 per year. In October 1935, Breasted turned to Rockefeller yet again. He recalled the beginnings of their association, expressed gratitude for Rockefeller’s backing, and confided, “That I can now seek your advice as a friend is to me a precious privilege.” Breasted sought his patron’s counsel on “whether the work of the Oriental Institute is to be made permanent or become a memory.” He estimated that, on the basis of the current year’s budget, it would require an additional endowment of about $15 million to permanently sustain its present level of activities. “I am really standing with my back to the wall,” Breasted wrote, “fighting for the survival of the noble scientific organization which you have made possible. I will be most grateful if you will tell me as a friend whether you think it wise in times like this for me to… struggle” to maintain the institute’s many projects.

Although Breasted and Rockefeller had a warm and durable relationship, it remained courtly, and Breasted treaded lightly around funding questions, seeking Rockefeller’s “advice” rather than asking directly for money. Breasted hoped his friend would once again either move things behind the scenes or personally tender the needed cash. Rockefeller understood this. But the Depression, his philanthropies’ struggles to meet prior commitments, and the growing independence of their trustees and staff—which Rockefeller sought and carefully nurtured—had altered his sense of the Oriental Institute’s needs.

Rockefeller replied to Breasted’s appeal by observing that the institute’s situation was “both unsound and precarious” and that it called for a “complete review… having in mind its future.” With regard to Breasted’s implied hope for Rockefeller’s personal assistance, the latter responded, “In making the contributions… in the earlier years of its development, … I did not for a moment assume I was putting myself in the position of becoming the patron of the vast enterprise that has since developed.” His personal commitment, Rockefeller continued, did not extend “beyond what each gift was specifically intended to cover.” More to the point, he wrote:

I have been as enthusiastic as you… about the great central purpose of your work.… However, I cannot but feel, much as I regret to say so, that in your enthusiasm you have been led to expand the scope of your operations far beyond (p.389) what was prudent or permanently possible to maintain. I have no thought of making further contributions…, and much of the pleasure which I have had in contributing to the various specific projects… would have been taken away had I felt for a moment that gifts that I made… for specific matters could be construed by you as evidences of a larger and more enduring interest in the whole enterprise on my part….

… Were I in your place, I would feel very uneasy and insecure until I had very greatly deflated the whole enterprise at any early date.

Breasted’s entreaty was sent from Egypt, and he was still traveling in the Middle East when Rockefeller’s reply, written about a month later, was mailed. Breasted never saw it.51

Keen as a Boy

The filming trip through the Middle East took a particular toll on Frances Breasted’s health, and by the fall of 1933, just months after their return to America and a vacation in the Southwest, it began to decline. By May 1934 she had “been confined to bed for months,” suffering from bacterial endocarditis, and she died in mid-July at the age of sixty-one. Her funeral service, held in Bond Chapel on Chicago’s campus, “was marked by its simplicity—a short tribute, the reading of several poems, prayer, and at the beginning and end almost joyous music” performed by a string quartet. Breasted was a devoted husband, and he wrote to her almost daily when he was away. The letters may also have been his way of helping her alleviate what seems to have been a lifelong struggle with depression. Charles felt “the fact that everyday life was for my mother such a constant struggle caused my father the profoundest distress of mind. Yet by his own admission he ‘had not the courage to face the reality’; and as always, with a fine Victorian chivalry, he attributed to their relationship whatever it may have lacked.” At one point Frances wrote in her diary, “Among my husband’s trials and problems the greatest has been my peculiar temperament.… Not even my intense love for him has helped me to conquer it.”52

Breasted mourned her death and sought solace on a trip to Alaska and the Canadian Rockies, places he had not yet visited, with his daughter, Astrid, who was then about twenty. As ever, he derived his greatest comfort from work. He published a long review of the first of the eleven volumes of The Story of Civilization, titled Our Oriental Heritage, by the popularizing historian and philosopher Will Durant, and he completed an article-length manuscript on a bronze base for a small Ramses VI sculpture discovered at Megiddo. Before long he also rediscovered romance. Sometime in the months following Frances’s death, Breasted began seeing her younger sister, Imogen. She was previously married to a New York (p.390) stock broker she had met in France during the war while he was an intelligence officer and she was doing “Y. M. C. A. social work.” They had two children, but the marriage fell apart “on grounds of incompatibility,” and Imogen raised them alone. After a courtship of well less than a year, Breasted and Imogen married in early June 1935, he approaching the age of seventy, she at fifty. That fall he took her to Italy and the Middle East. They toured Palestine, especially Jerusalem and the recently completed Palestine Archaeological Museum, and of course Egypt.

The trip combined business with pleasure, and the itinerary included visits to several of the institute’s expedition sites. Just as the institute’s funding successes depended on Breasted’s personal leadership, his presence was vital to raising morale among its workers in the field, a point Nelson periodically made in appealing for the “inspiration” of Breasted’s visits. The journey buoyed his spirits and energy immeasurably. “I have never seen him more youthful or exhilarated than he was this season,” Harold Nelson wrote. “I only hope that he did not overdo for he was game for any enterprise that was suggested.” Breasted continued to keep in shape by doing a “daily dozen” fitness routine, and he enjoyed competing “with the young men of the staff in athletic exercises.”53

Although he caught a debilitating cold on the voyage home, Breasted was “keen as a boy” to return to Chicago and revise his History of Egypt. “Think of it!” he wrote. “Not a syllable of all the results which all my expeditions have been bringing in for sixteen years nor any of my own researches for over thirty years, have gone into the book.” A year prior, hinting at thoughts of retirement, he wished he “were not obliged to live such a busy life” and fretted about not having “time to think,” being so occupied “merely… assembling evidence.” Ideally, Breasted wrote, he would like to “contemplate the evidence with some tranquility of soul and some feeling of leisure.” Yet he was torn about retiring from the institute’s directorship, fearing he would miss its many activities and conceding that he would just as soon “die in the harness.”

The shipboard cold turned into strep throat complicated by “a latent malarial condition” that may have dated back to his 1919–20 expedition. When Breasted’s ship arrived in New York, he was rushed to the hospital, where for five days doctors tried to cure him. They were able to quell the malaria, but the strep infection proved fatal, and Breasted died 2 December 1935. In a twist he would have enjoyed, his five attending physicians issued “a signed statement” on the precise cause of his death. As solemnly reported by the New York Times and picked up by the Chicago Daily Tribune, “The emphasis placed… on a post mortem substantiation of the diagnosis was… to eliminate any possibility that Dr. Breasted’s death might be attributed to the oft-discredited story of ‘King Tut’s curse.’ According to this fable, a fatal curse was fastened on the scientists, of whom Dr. Breasted was one, who in 1922 entered the tomb of King Tutankhamun.”

Within a day, word of Breasted’s death spread across America, Europe, and (p.391) the Middle East, touching not only friends, but many others who expressed their sadness in letters to Breasted’s family. Several came from fellow Egyptologists. Percy Newberry, who first met Breasted during his honeymoon trip in 1894–95, consoled the family with words of Breasted’s “great success… achieved in the later years of his life for he had a very hard struggle in the earlier part,” declaring that “every one interested in the study of ancient history owes him an immense debt of gratitude for it was he more than anyone, who raised the standard of Egyptological scholarship in the world.” Others came from American pre-Columbian archaeologists such as Alfred Kidder, who recalled that “it was, in fact, the reading of his ‘History of Egypt’… just after I’d left college which turned the scales, for me, between archaeology and business.”

Condolences arrived from prominent figures like the Allenbys and the Egyptian ambassador to the United States, and from “the humble folks of Luxor and Kurna. [They] felt the touch of [Breasted’s] personality.” A note to Charles arrived from Hamed Abdalla, “Dragoman, Luxor,” who wrote, “With deepest sorrow, hearing the sudden death of your kind father, it is a great loss to his Luxor friends.” Breasted’s students were especially stricken. Caroline Ransom Williams wrote, “I never had a truer, kinder, more helpful friend.” Harold Nelson wrote to John A. Wilson, “I am having difficulty in adjusting my thoughts to a situation in which he no longer figures. I constantly think of many… things that turn up in the course of the day’s work which I know would interest him.” Even students of former students were saddened. One recalled “having read from one of his books while I was in the eighth grade” and later finding “‘The Dawn of Conscience’… was an inspiration to read… while in seminary.… I feel the loss of this man; he has been so much a part of me, although I have never known him personally.”54

In accordance with Breasted’s wishes, there was no funeral. His body was cremated, and the urn containing his ashes was buried in the Breasted family plot, located in Greenwood Cemetery, Rockford, Illinois, during a private family gathering. While settling his estate, the family also helped plan a public memorial service that took place in early April 1936 in Chicago’s University Chapel. The program was led by Hutchins and included his remarks “For the University,” quotes from Breasted’s writings read by Hutchins, and selections from works by Schubert, Wagner, and Beethoven performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The closing half hour of the memorial was broadcast live “over the nationwide network of the Columbia Broadcast System.”55

There had been some conversations among Hutchins, Rockefeller officials, and Breasted about his eventual successor as the Oriental Institute’s director, but they had been leisurely at best. Charles had decided a couple of years prior to his father’s death that he wanted to leave, ideally by June 1936. But even if he had aspirations to rise from his current position as assistant director, he lacked the scholarly background to qualify. It was decided to groom a current staff member (p.392) to take over, perhaps in another year or two when the elder Breasted was finally ready to retire. By consensus that person was John A. Wilson, who was by then an associate professor of Egyptology, secretary of the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures, and on the Epigraphic Survey staff. Hutchins regarded Wilson as a “careful and economical administrator,” and Breasted felt he had the requisite scholarly skills. A plan to begin easing Wilson into the institute’s administration was barely under way, however, when Breasted died. The university was forced to issue a statement calming its trustees, who could not imagine the institute without Breasted, assuring them that he had “left an organization… entirely capable of carrying on the work.” Wilson was appointed acting director in January 1936, Charles agreed to remain on until October, and Wilson became director that summer. His first task was to begin scaling down the institute’s activities at home and abroad, an assignment that occupied almost all his time for the next two years.56

During the period of the institute’s most rapid growth, there were at least a few university administrators and trustees who believed the Rockefeller boards’ “large grants to the… Institute were out of line with the other needs of the University.” But they, like the foundation officials, understood Breasted’s special relationship with Rockefeller and kept out of the way. All that changed after Breasted’s death, throwing into even sharper relief his personal influence as one of the university’s most powerful “academic entrepreneurs.” Rockefeller stepped back, and his associates along with university officials asked Wilson to plan for immediate reductions. By early March 1936 he, with Charles Breasted’s assistance, presented a 50 percent reduction in the coming year’s budget. Officers of the Rockefeller Foundation took the lead in monitoring the planning, and though they were “favorably impressed” by Wilson and felt he showed “a refreshing modesty in his outlook,” they believed the cutbacks should go “much further.” They were also willing to provide some additional support, provided the university commit itself to the institute’s long-term future. Shortly thereafter the trustees recorded their “conviction that the Institute should be continued as a major enterprise of the University in teaching and research.”57

Over the next few months, the Rockefeller Foundation and the university agreed to slash the institute’s annual budget from total expenditures of nearly $711,000 during the 1935–36 fiscal year to $205,000 by 1938–39. Most of the cutbacks were accomplished by either shutting down or drastically shrinking expeditions, and Wilson and Rockefeller officials helped the staff of canceled expeditions find other work. The plan preserved the Epigraphic Survey on a much smaller scale, although consideration was given to selling or leasing out the new Chicago House and retreating to the old one. On one point, however, Wilson stood his ground. “The goal of all our work is publication,” he declared, and only (p.393) if the need to publish new results slackened would money be redirected to expeditions. Meanwhile, research and teaching at the institute’s Chicago headquarters would continue as before to the extent possible. Rockefeller kept an eye on the institute’s financial situation, communicating confidentially with Wilson, and he was active behind the scenes in maintaining “vital features of the work.” The Rockefeller Foundation and General Education Board honored their commitments, added $1 million more to fill in for a matching grant the university was to have raised from other sources, and worked to ease the institute into a financially sustainable future. All told, the institute’s endowments raised by Breasted came to about $5 million. However, taking advantage of the terms of one of the grants that allowed the university to reassign funds in a financial emergency, Hutchins transferred $2 million to other purposes in the mid-1940s. A trustee later regretted the move, commenting that he had “no doubt… this transfer was completely legal, but… thinks the ethics involved, to say nothing of the wisdom, is questionable.” Of the more than $11.85 million Breasted raised from Rockefeller and his philanthropic boards, a sufficient amount remained as endowment to assure the institute’s permanence.58

A Lengthened Shadow

During his remarks at the Oriental Institute’s building dedication, Raymond Fosdick quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation that “an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” “If there had been no Breasted,” Fosdick continued, “there would have been no Oriental Institute.” For scholars and others who followed the latest archaeological news from the Middle East, the institute and Breasted were synonymous, and there were few articles that mentioned one without referring to the other. Wilson and his colleagues wanted to memorialize that association by renaming the institute’s building “James Henry Breasted Hall.” The university’s trustees agreed, but the action didn’t quite stick. The building is known on campus as the Oriental Institute, and Breasted’s name is attached only to the building’s first-floor auditorium. But despite the institute’s Depression-era cutbacks, it not only survived but has remained one of if not the world’s leading center of ancient Near Eastern studies, whether gauged by faculty, research at home, expeditions abroad, or publications. To a striking degree, the institute today is very much the one Breasted envisioned in its continuation of programs such as the Epigraphic Survey, its wide geographic distribution of archaeological explorations, its philological studies and compilation of lexicons, its training of new generations of scholars, and its firm commitment to publishing results, and it reflects his appetite for adapting new technologies to attack old problems. Although Breasted’s name has long since faded from collective (p.394) memory, the institute’s steady stream of news-making accomplishments have assured the university’s association with Middle Eastern archaeology in the public mind. Where else would Indiana Jones have studied archaeology?59

In the years following Breasted’s death, there were moments of recollection. One was sparked by publication of Charles Breasted’s Pioneer to the Past: The Story of James Henry Breasted, Archaeologist, in 1943. That flurry of attention may have prompted the naming of a Second World War “Liberty Ship” the James Henry Breasted the following year. Years later, in 1985, a “longtime member” of the American Historical Association endowed the James Henry Breasted Prize for the “best book in English in any field of history” prior to 1000 CE. Neither these nor the Oriental Institute comprise the whole of Breasted’s “lengthened shadow,” however, and when Fosdick quoted Emerson, he was using “institution” a bit differently than the poet and essayist intended. The full quote begins: “Every true man is a cause, a country, and an age; requires infinite spaces and numbers and time fully to accomplish his design;—and posterity seems to follow his steps as a train of clients.” After listing great figures from history and their lasting influence on civilization, Emerson continues, “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man;… and all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons.”

The “institution” Breasted left behind is more subtle and deeply imbedded in American culture than the Oriental Institute. It comprises many insights and ideas, ranging from the expression Fertile Crescent to a persistent conviction among American scholars and teachers that ancient history, especially of the Near East, is not only fascinating but still relevant to modern life. “Sharing with other Americans of his time the sense of living in an amorphous and traditionless present,” one writer observed, Breasted “was impelled toward an all-embracing past, as if the past alone, being secure, could give meaning to the present.”60

The scholars who wrote obituaries, research-journal memorials, and later works encapsulating Breasted’s life approached it as though to illustrate Emerson’s dictum on history’s resolving itself into biography. Breasted’s peers shared Charles’s view of his father as a pioneer, though not necessarily to the past, but rather as a harbinger of his discipline’s future, especially in America. Breasted was “the real founder of Egyptology in the New World”; he “more than any other… persuaded the American academic community that archaeology is a… necessary part of the study of man”; he was “the first American Orientalist to be regarded by competent European judges as fully equal to their best” and “the first American humanist scholar to be so highly respected in Europe”; he was mainly responsible for the “incomparably improved climate for humanities research in America”; for generations “the sense educated Americans had of the pre-classical era came from him”; and “he did for Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, what Pearl Buck did, in a different way, for China.”

(p.395) These themes recurred decades later in an opinion piece published in 1998 by the Archaeological Institute of America’s president at the time, Stephen L. Dyson. Titled “An American Pioneer,” it was written for the fiftieth anniversary issue of the association’s magazine Archaeology. The group had just held its annual conference in Chicago, and the experience “roused memories and associations” for Dyson because it was Breasted’s example “more than any other” that inspired him to pursue archaeology. A few years prior he had traveled to Rockford, Illinois, to give a lecture for the Archaeological Institute’s local chapter, “which mustered its usual overflow audience,” prompting Dyson to remark, “Breasted’s spirit must be pleased to see such vigorous amateur interest in his hometown.” Recalling that Breasted’s ashes were in a Rockford cemetery, Dyson visited it to see “the grave in his native Midwestern soil.” Having just completed a book on the history of classical archaeology in America, Dyson was particularly attuned to the field’s historiography, and it heightened his regard for Breasted’s career as “very much an American academic success story” and his life “the model of the American archaeologist.”61

There are many terms that have been used to characterize Breasted’s career: Egyptologist, Orientalist, philologist, epigrapher, archaeologist, historian, teacher, mentor, humanist, academic entrepreneur, public intellectual, popularizer, and more. American is the most commonly used one of all, but it is an awkward addition because birthplace is hardly a vocation. Yet his contemporaries and successors seemed compelled to add it to whichever one of the other terms they used. Perhaps from the perspective of other American scholars it is to lay claim to Breasted as one of their own. Perhaps from the perspective of scholars abroad it recognizes the distance of his origin, whether viewed from Europe or from the Middle East. Yet Breasted’s work bridged not only widely separated lands but civilizations and eras as well. The juxtaposition of “American” with the other roles he played may, in the end, speak best to the trajectory of his life from the American Midwest to ancient Egypt and how that experience fired his passion to understand and shorten the distances between the worlds he traversed. (p.396)


(1) . JHB, diary entries, 28 April 1930, JHBP. “Pres. Hutchins” is Robert Maynard Hutchins (see below); Dean Laing is Gordon Jennings Laing, who was dean of the Humanities Division at Chicago, of which the OI became a part after the division was formed in 1931 (the OI is today an independent entity within Chicago’s academic administration). On the new building initiative: JHB, “Memorandum of Conversation with Martin A. Ryerson,” 30 October 1923, PP 1889–1925, 51:8, UCA. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. “Harry Gordon Selfridge”.

(2) . On creating the Theology Group: Block, Uses, 126–43, 226. On JHB’s claims on and equipping of Haskell exhibition space: JHB to Martin A. Ryerson, 1 June, and JHB to Harold H. Swift, 2 October 1925, H. H. Swift Papers, 168:3, UCA; JHB, diary entry, 7 June 1925, JHBP; and BTM, 8 October 1925 and 14 October 1926, 15:398, 16:412–13, UCA. The Divinity School possessed a small collection of East Asian objects that were displayed in Haskell before it moved out: TOI, 104–5; and Jeffrey Abt and Richard A. Born, “A History of the Collection,” in A Guide to the Collection: The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago (New York: Hudson Hills, 1990), 14. Haskell Oriental Museum: Contents and Floor Plans (Chicago: [Oriental Institute], University of Chicago, [1926]).

(3) . TOI, 106. About this time JHB renewed his appeal to JDR Jr. for a building gift. The latter inadvertently provided an opening when he decided to purchase the Wimbourne Collection, an important collection of Assyrian bas-reliefs, and sought JHB’s advice on museums to which he might donate them. JHB included the OI among his recommendations, using the topic to discuss the OI’s building needs: JHB to JDR Jr., 19 December 1927, RFA/RG 2, OMR/Educational Interests series, box 117, Gift of Assyrian Bas-Reliefs, RAC. On the Wimbourne Collection and JDR Jr.’s donation of it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: John Malcolm Russell with Judith McKenzie and Stephanie Dalley, From Nineveh to New York: The Strange Story of the Assyrian Reliefs in the Metropolitan Museum and the Hidden Masterpiece at the Canford School (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), 128–72. On the opening and brochure: JHB to HHN, 26 October 1926, DOC. JHB, The Oriental Institute (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, [1926]).

(4) . The trustees’ invitation is in JHB to Harold H. Swift, 2 August 1927, H. H. Swift Papers, 168:3, UCA. JHB to HHN, 25 October 1927, DOC. The Medinet Habu materials on display would have been similar to figures 7.227.24. The last quote is from James O’Donnell Bennett, “Making Ancients Live Again Keeps Breasted Young,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 10 December 1926.

(5) . There were earlier university-based museums, but none focused on the ancient Near East. One of the first, a general-purpose institution that continues to exist and is now focused primarily on art and archaeology, is Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum, established in 1683: R. F. Ovenell, The Ashmolean Museum, 1683–1894 (Oxford: Clarendon, (p.462) 1986). In America, a less well-documented but specialized example is the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, which opened in 1917. Another is what was once called the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania (now called the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology). Founded in 1887 and given its own building in 1899, it served the interests of archaeology and anthropology almost from the beginning, and its collections extend beyond the Middle East to include the Americas, Africa, East Asia, and the Pacific islands: Percy C. Madeira Jr., Men in Search of Man: The First Seventy-Five Years of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1964). See also “Architectural History of the Museum,” University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, http://www.museum.upenn.edu/new/about/masterplan/history.shtml (accessed June 2009). For two other particularly relevant examples built almost simultaneously in Europe and America for art history: Kathryn Brush, “Marburg, Harvard, and Purpose-Built Architecture for Art History, 1927,” in Art History and Its Institutions: Foundations of a Discipline, ed. Elizabeth Mansfield (London: Routledge, 2002), 65–84. The Harvard reference is to the university’s Fogg Art Museum, which, incidentally, was assisted with funds from JDR Jr. and the GEB: Kathryn Brush, Vastly More Than Brick and Mortar: Reinventing the Fogg Art Museum in the 1920s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Art Museums, 2003), 62, 187. Several natural-science museums were built in the latter part of the nineteenth century on American college campuses, but these were general-purpose institutions and not relevant to the issues of disciplinary focus addressed here. See my discussion of Chicago’s departmental museums in chapter 2 of the present volume and n. 15 to that chapter.

(6) . On “scientistic” language: “By scientism I mean the belief that the objective methods of the natural sciences should be used in the study of human affairs; and that such methods are the only fruitful ones in the pursuit of knowledge:” Dorothy Ross, “The Development of the Social Sciences,” in The Organization of Knowledge in Modern America, 1860–1920, ed. Alexandra Oleson and John Voss (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), 131n7. For an overview of science in American higher education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as both “faith” and practice: Veysey, Emergence, 133–79. [JHB], A Historical Laboratory: How the Expert Historian Does His Work (Boston: Ginn, 1922). JHB was not the only humanist with a fondness for the “laboratory” analogy: David Van Zanten, “Formulating Art History at Princeton and the ‘Humanistic Laboratory, ’” in The Early Years of Art History in the United States, ed. Craig Hugh Smyth and Peter M. Lukehart (Princeton, NJ: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 1993), 175–82. JHB to GEH, 31 December 1923, GEHP. On the new building’s name: L. R. Steere to Committee on Buildings and Grounds [University of Chicago], 29 May 1929, Buildings and Grounds Department Papers, 25:6, UCA. On the disavowal: JHB to Max Mason, 6 June 1932, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 237, RAC. On the sense of “museum” as by definition “public”: Jeffrey Abt, “Origins of the Public Museum,” Blackwell Companion to Museum Studies, ed. Sharon J. Macdonald (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 115–34.

(7) . On the OI building design: Block, Uses, 152–61. Richard Oliver, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (New York: Architectural History Foundation, 1983). The successor firm to Good-hue’s was Mayers, Murray and Phillip, which disbanded in 1940. “Oscar H. Murray,” New York Times, 26 April 1957. The name of the University Chapel was changed to Rockefeller Chapel after Rockefeller senior’s death in 1937. Additional details on the building’s planning are in TOI, 108. On JHB’s involvement in the architectural design: JHB, diary entries, 2 September and 29 December 1929 and 20 January 1930, JHBP. For one of JHB’s corrections, the correct rendering of a hieroglyphic cartouche for a royal name: JHB to Emery B. Jackson, 30 September 1930, Buildings and Grounds Department Papers, 25:6, UCA.

(8) . [JHB], memorandum, “Subjects for 8 Medallions on the North Front of the New Oriental Institute Building,” 6 May 1930, Buildings and Grounds Department Papers, 25:6, UCA. Jean M. Roberts to Emery B. Jackson, 14 July, with attachment, [JHB], “Oriental Institute (p.463) Symbolism”, 13 July 1932, Buildings and Grounds Department Papers, 25:6, UCA. The design was executed by Ulric Ellerhusen: Block, Uses, 178–79. See also Thomas, Publications of the Oriental Institute, x. For a study of the ornamentation throughout the OI building, including the tympanum: Emily Teeter and Leslie Schramer,”Some Decorative Motifs of the Oriental Institute Building,” Oriental Institute News and Notes 199 (Fall 2008): 14–19.

(9) . JHB, “The New Past,” University [of Chicago] Record, new ser., 6, no. 4 (October 1920): 237–56. See also chapter 7 of the present volume. JHB, manuscript, “The New Crusade”, 2 November 1928, JHBP, published as JHB, “The New Crusade”, American Historical Review 34, no. 2 (January 1929): 215–36, quote from p. 236.

(10) . Eric Scott McCready, “The Nebraska State Capitol: Its Design, Background, and Influence,” Nebraska History 55, no. 3 (Fall 1974): 325–461. On GEH’s observatory: Wright, Explorer, 349–51. The observatory is no longer used for scientific purposes, but it is on the National Register of Historic Places: “Hale Solar Observatory,” National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/history/online_books/butowsky5/astro4a.htm (accessed June 2009). The tympanum for the Hale observatory was designed and carved by Lee Lawrie: Joseph F. Morris, ed., Lee Lawrie (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1955), 61. For JHB’s discussions of the sun rays ending in hands: AHoE, 370; DoRaT, 320; TDoC, 278–79; and, most vividly, JHB, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed. (1929), s.v. “Ikhnaton.” On the “Symbol of Life” superimposed over the sun disk: TDoC, 47. By this point in their friendship, GEH was so familiar with Egyptian history that he could tease JHB with elaborate pharaonic jests: GEH to JHB, 12 November 1929, DOC. On visiting GEH’s observatory: JHB to GEH, 2 April 1930, GEHP.

(11) . TOI, 108–26. Floor Plan of the Exhibition Halls (Chicago: Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, January 1932). The building was subsequently expanded to the south with a two-story addition, for conservation labs and collections storage, completed in 1997. The project included renovation of the first floor galleries: Karen L. Wilson, “Construction… report,” https://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/info/legacy/crrpr.html (accessed July 2009). JHB used the analogy of the machine when discussing the OI building or its operations, and that nomenclature was in the air. On museums and the “ideology of the machine age”: Andrew McClellan, The Art Museum from Boullée to Bilbao (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 71ff.

(12) . “Dedication of the New Oriental Institute Building,” [ca. November] 1931, GEHP. Harry Scott Ashmore, Unseasonable Truths: The Life of Robert Maynard Hutchins (Boston: Little, Brown, 1989); and Mary Ann Dzuback, Robert M. Hutchins: Portrait of an Educator (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). Quote on Finley: Dictionary of American Biography, supplements 1–2: To 1940, s.v. “John Huston Finley.” Other quotations are from “The Oriental Institute: The New Building Dedicated”, University [of Chicago] Record, new ser. 18, no. 1 (January 1932): 1–16 (emphasis JHB’s).

(13) . “East Gone West”, Time 18, no. 24 (14 December 1931): 23–24. On visitor numbers and related matters: JHB to HHN, 4 April 1932, DOC; JHB to Emery T. Filbey, 14 March 1932, PP 1920–1980,29:19, UCA; “250,000 Persons Visit Oriental U. of C. Museum”, Chicago Tribune, 12 May 1935; TOI, 125–26. [JHB], The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 3rd. ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931). Floor Plan of the Exhibition Halls (Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1932).

(14) . On merging Oriental Languages and Literatures and OI: TOI, 126–28. Regarding JHB’s leaves, salary, and distinguished professorships, BTM, 11 April 1922, 8 May 1923, and 13 August 1925, 12:374, 380, 13:148, 181, 15:344–45, 17:369, UCA. $10,000 = $124,000 CPI 2009. Distinguished service professors were elected by faculty colleagues, and JHB received the second-highest number of votes, after Nobel laureate Albert A. Michelson in the first year the ballot was held: Meyer, “Chicago Faculty”, 480. On relief from teaching: PttP, 380. The “woozy” remark is quoted in Olmstead, “Breasted the Historian,” 4. On the Burton professorship and subsequent appointments: JDR Jr. to Frederic Woodward, 10 February 1930, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests subseries, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., env. 1, RAC. BTM, 13 July and 10 August 1933, 23:100, 169, UCA. Around this time the formula for JHB’s appointment was changed, boosting his annual salary to $15,000, (p.464) but it was reduced when he retired from his faculty position, bringing it to $11,350 per year, which began to be paid entirely out of the OI budget. When he retired from his faculty position, his appointment as OI director went to a year-by-year basis, as opposed to the four-year-term appointments before. BTM, 10 May 1934 and 11 July 1935, 24:75, 25:98, UCA. Martin Sprengling, a Semitic languages professor, was chair of the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures between 1933 and 1936, when he was succeeded by JHB’s former student John A. Wilson. Clara Z. Havill to CB, 26 April 1940, JHBP. Nabia Abbott, “Martin Sprengling, 1877–1959”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 19, no. 1 (January 1960): 54–55. The staff counts are from [JHB], The Oriental Institute ([1926]); [JHB], The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, general circular no. 2 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, August 1928); and [JHB], The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 3rd ed. of the handbook (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 5 December 1931). For a chronological list of OI publications through 1933: TOI, 435–38. JHB began issuing separate OI publication catalogs in 1929: Publications, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, [1929]); and Buried History: Publications of the Oriental Institute (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934). JHB to GEH, 18 May 1929, GEHP; see also Wright, Explorer, 400–401.

(15) . On Megiddo: JHB to Harry Pratt Judson, 7 March 1921, JHB to RBF, 15 May, and RBF to Harold H. Swift, 6 July 1925, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests subseries, box 112, Univ. of Chicago, Excavations at Megiddo, RAC; BTM, 21 June 1921 and 9 July 1925, 12:113, 15:283–84, UCA; and JHB, diary entry, 2–5 June 1925, JHBP (see also entries for 28 September and 3 October 1925 and 23 March 1926). The OIA now has the first five seasons of Megiddo expedition–related correspondence available internally in digital, searchable transcriptions. $215,000 = $2.63 million CPI 2009. For a concise survey of the expeditions and related publications during JHB’s lifetime: TOI, 91–92, 145–48, 169–86, 224–377. On the Diyala region, see also Karen Terras, “James Henry Breasted and the Iraq Expedition: The People and Politics of the 1935 Division”, Oriental Institute News and Notes 202 (Summer 2009): 3–6. On obtaining the King Tut sculpture during division of the Medinet Habu finds: JHB, diary entry, 2 April 1933, JHBP. JDR Jr.’s excavation support is briefly discussed in the TOI citations listed above in this note. On the Moore gift: JHB to Mrs. William H. Moore, 17 April 1930, DOC; BTM, 8 January 1931, 21:1, UCA. On Moore’s late husband: Dictionary of American Biography, Base Set 1928–36, s.v. “William Henry Moore”. $100,000 = $1.41 million CPI 2009. On the Assyrian and Persian explorations in the context of American and European Assyriology: Meade, Road to Babylon, 93–104, 114–18. The summary observation is from Albright, “James Henry Breasted,” 293.

(16) . On malaria at Megiddo: TOI, 75–77, 238–40. JHB was far too discrete to even hint at personnel problems in print, but they surface in his private correspondence and diary; for example, JHB, diary entries, 24 December 1927, 4 September and 29 December 1929, and 6 May 1933, JHBP. On internationalism: JHB to HHN, 16 September 1927, DOC. Regarding negotiations and diplomatic conflicts surrounding OI excavations at Tell Asmar and Perse-polis: Goode, Negotiating, 141–83, 195–96, 204–19, division-of-finds quote on p. 206. The diplomatic sphere quote is from TOI, 35.

(17) . A brief but effective summation of the hardships and their effects is in Kuklick, Puritans, 3–4. On Chicago House: TOI, 99–102, and the figures between pp. 189 and 202; introductory and Persepolis quotes from pp. 99, 323. Several factors led to JHB’s decision to build a second Chicago House in a new location: the need for a larger physical plant to accommodate a growing library collection, workrooms, and living quarters for an expanded staff; plans, once Medinet Habu was completed, to commence work at Karnak along the Nile’s east bank; problems maintaining the Chicago House building owing to soil conditions; and troubles with the local water supply: HHN to JHB, 24 April 1928, and JHB to HHN, 10 April 1929, DOC; and JHB to GEH, 2 April 1929, GEHP. HHN was concerned about the new Chicago House being too comfortable and thus engendering an “air of leisureliness” that would make efficient, speedy work difficult to achieve: HHN to CB, 4 July, and HHN to JHB, (p.465) 24 August 1929, DOC. The old Chicago House building was acquired by a local sheikh in the 1940s and for some time served as a combination artists’ retreat and lodging for the culturally minded. More guest rooms were added in the 1970s, and since then it has declined and then been improved as it passed through various hands. Known as the Marsam Hotel (“mar-sam” being Arabic for an artist’s studio or atelier), it continues in operation as of this writing: http://www.luxor-westbank.com/marsam_e_az.htm (accessed August 2010). See also Reham El-Adawi, “At Home with the Nobles,” Al-Ahram Weekly On-Line, no. 520 (8–14 February 2001), cached version at http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ (accessed August 2010). On the Tell Asmar, Persepolis, and Alishar expedition houses and camps: TOI, 340–42, 321–23, 277–81. The Tell Asmar critique is quoted in Goode, Negotiating, 96; the follow-up observation is in 196n25. The Ritz quote is from James, Howard Carter, 168. For a summation of the Metropolitan Museum’s work in Egypt: Nancy Thomas, “American Institutional Fieldwork in Egypt, 1899–1960,” in The American Discovery of Ancient Egypt, ed. Thomas (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and American Research Center in Egypt, 1995), 60–64. Seton Lloyd, Foundations in the Dust: The Story of Mesopotamian Exploration, rev. and enl. ed. (London: Thames and Hudson, 1980), 190–91. Contemporary Authors Online, s.v. “Seton (Howard Frederick) Lloyd”. For a more extensive and approving discussion of the OI’s expedition outposts: Noel F. Wheeler, review of TOI, Antiquity 9, no. 33 (1935): 110. On JHB’s views of the critiques: Wilson, Signs and Wonders, 172. Thomas B. Appleget, file memorandum, “Afternoon Spent with Dr. James H. Breasted, Oriental Institute,” 21 November 1932, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 238, RAC; and Trevor Arnett, file memorandum, “Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.,” 4 March 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 241, RAC.

(18) . JHB, diary entry, 24 March 1929, JHBP. Of JHB’s contributions to general-interest collections, two were written specifically for school-age audiences: JHB, “History,” in Paths to Success: Sixteen Essays on Secondary School Subjects Written by Eminent Educators of America, ed. Harold G. Black (Boston: D. C. Heath, 1924), 65–85; and JHB, “Archaeology,” in Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia (Chicago: F. E. Compton, 1935), 1:249–54. Those for adult audiences include JHB, chapter 3, “The Foundation and Expansion of the Egyptian Empire, “chapter 4, “The Reign of Thutmose III,” chapter 5, “The Zenith of Egyptian Power and the Reign of Amenhotep III,” chapter 6, “Ikhnaton, the Religious Revolutionary,” chapter 7, “The Age of Ramses II,” and chapter 8, “The Decline and Fall of the Egyptian Empire,” in The Egyptian and Hittite Empires to c. 1000 B.C., ed. J. B. Bury, S. A. Cook, and F. E. Adcock, vol. 2 of The Cambridge Ancient History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1924), 40–195; and JHB, “Ikhnaton.” On textbook abridgements: JHB, diary entry, 7 May 1919, JHBP. On sales: JHB to GEH, 21 December 1920, GEHP; JHB to AHG, 25 October 1923, DOC; and PttP, 231. On royalties: JHB, diary entry, 1 July 1922, and JHB to FB, 25 October 1925, LtFHB, JHBP. $750 = $9,950 CPI 2009. On AT’s influence and trade version: JHB to FB, 25 May 1925, LtFHB, JHBP. “Victorious Man” is mentioned in JHB to GEH, 26 September 1925, GEHP. On the book and box titles: JHB to FB, 2 October, LtFHB, and JHB, diary entry, 3 October 1925, JHBP. JHB, The Conquest of Civilization (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1926), viii. The review quotes are from, respectively: William MacDonald, “Civilization Surveyed,” New York Times, 19 December 1926; and Fanny Butcher, “Breasted-Robinson Book Brings Back Two Old Friends,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 2 October 1926. Both reviews addressed Robinson’s book as well. There were very few scholarly journal reviews of Conquest, all were very brief, and all treated it as an another edition of Ancient Times. See, for example, Robert W. Rogers, review of The Conquest of Civilization, by JHB, American Historical Review 32, no. 4 (July 1927): 830–31.

(19) . JHB, Conquest, 88 and plate 5. The papyrus is now in the collections of the New York Academy of Medicine. JHB, “The Edwin Smith Papyrus: An Egyptian Medical Treatise of the Seventeenth Century before Christ,” New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin 6, no. 1 (April 1922): 3–31; and JHB, “The Edwin Smith Papyrus: Some Preliminary Observations,” in Recueil d’études égyptologiques dédiées à la mémoire de Jean-François Champollion… (Paris: (p.466) E. Champion, 1922), 385–429. For additional observations and JHB’s initial deadline: JHB, Oriental Institute… Beginning and Program, 90–93. The project was never far from JHB’s mind during the 1920s: PttP, 325–26, 390–91; and JHB, diary entries, 1 July 1922, 16 March and 3 October 1925, and 24 March and 29 December 1929, JHBP.

(20) . JHB, The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, 2 vols., Oriental Institute Publications, nos. 3–4 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1930); on research and consultations: 1:xix; on the differences between the surgical treatise and magical text: 1:5–6, 469–70.

(21) . JHB, foreword and general introduction, Edwin Smith, 1:xiii–xxiv, 1–29; On paleographic evidence: 1:25–29 (see especially JHB’s hand-drawn “Comparative Table of Paleographic Forms”); on glosses: 1:61–71; on the asterisk and palpation: 1:19 and 7 respectively.

(22) . JHB, The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, facsimile reprint of the 1930 ed., vol. 1 [with only a sample page in reduced form from vol. 2] (Birmingham, AL: Classics of Medicine Library, 1984). The first edition was thought to have sold out because when it was first issued in 1930, of the 2,000 copies printed, only 1,100 were bound. Then, in 1963, the OI’s publications secretary discovered that the remaining 900 unbound copies remained with Oxford University Press. Five hundred copies were bound and sold, and by 1977 it was believed to be out of print once again—and this was when the Classics of Medicine Library edition was issued. Then, in 1989, during a warehouse cleaning at Oxford, the remaining four hundred unbound sets were discovered. The OI had them bound in a “reissue” edition with an additional page of front matter and corrigenda. That edition is now sold out. See: T[homas] A. Holland, “Brief History of the Discovery, Study, and Publication of” The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, in JHB, The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, 1991 binding of 1930 ed. sheets, 2 vols., Oriental Institute Publications, nos. 3–4 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), flyleaf. “A Most Ancient Harvey,” New York Times, 5 October 1930; “Harvey” refers to William Harvey. George Sarton, review of The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, by JHB, Isis 15, no. 2 (April 1931): 355–67, quotes from pp. 355 and 364. Dictionary of American Biography, supplement 6: 1956–60, s.v. “George Alfred Leon Sarton.” On the relationship between Sarton, the History of Science Society, and JHB: George Sarton, “James Henry Breasted (1865–1935): The Father of American Egyptology,” Isis 34, no. 4 (Spring 1943): 289–91. George Sarton, The History of Science and the New Humanism (New York: Henry Holt, 1931). JHB read and complimented: George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science: From Homer to Omar Khayyam, vol. 1 (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins for the Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1927).

(23) . Gatewood, Controversy, 4. The “ineffable certainty” quote is from Walter Lippmann, A Preface to Morals (New York: Macmillan, 1929), 21. JHB to FTG, 22 September 1916, DOC.

(24) . JHB to Abraham Flexner, 5 June 1925, GEB/2324.2, Oriental Inst./series I, subseries 4, box 659, folder 6851, RAC. JHB, “Some Notes on the Oriental Institute as a Laboratory for the Investigation of Early Man and the Training of Specialists to Undertake Such Investigations,” attached to JHB to Trevor Arnett, 23 October 1928, IEB/series 1, subseries 1008.1, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 269, RAC. JHB to FB, 13 January 1924, LtFHB, JHBP. The title of TDoC first appears in JHB to Charles Scribner Jr., 20 January 1931, DOC. JHB subsequently thought of calling it “The Dawn of Conscience and the Age of Character” but then dropped the longer version: JHB to Charles Scribner Jr., 25 March 1931, DOC. The title may consciously or subconsciously have been derived from a work by one of JHB’s old friends, W. M. Flinders Petrie, Religion and Conscience in Ancient Egypt: Lectures Delivered at University College, London, 2nd ed., (London: Methuen, 1920); the first edition was published in 1898. JHB’s DoRaT roughly resembles Religion and Conscience in organization if not content. The context and effect of JHB’s “secular aspect” is suggestive of the climate of intellectual efficiency and neutrality that was permeating the modern university, what one scholar calls “methodological secularization”: George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 156ff.

(25) . JHB to Charles Scribner Jr., 12 May 1931 and 25 March 1932, DOC. JHB to CB, (p.467) 23 August 1932, JHBP (emphases JHB’s). See also JHB to Charles Scribner Jr., 20 January 1933, DOC. TDoC, xvii.

(26) . TDoC, xii–xiii, x–xi; examples of the updates include 30–33, 140–41, 116n1, 235–40, 278–79.

(27) . William E. Akin, Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocrat Movement, 1900–1941 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), x–xi. TDoC, ix–xii.

(28) . TDoC, xv–xvi (emphases JHB’s).

(29) . TDoC, 7, 23, 394, 398 (emphases JHB’s). The adoption of evolutionary theory by social scientists and humanities scholars is addressed in several works. See especially Peter J. Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984); and Carl N. Degler, In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).

(30) . For an excellent overview of the fundamentalist disputes leading up to the Scopes trial, see George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870–1925 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980); quote regarding the Chicago Divinity School is on p. 105. See also Gatewood, Controversy, 16–17. Clarence Darrow to JHB, 10 July 1925, DOC. For the larger context of the debate before and after the Scopes trial: David N. Livingstone, Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987). For a fairly complete Scopes trial record, including information on all the major participants: Leslie H. Allen, ed., Bryan and Darrow at Dayton: The Record and Documents of the “Bible-Evolution Trial” (1925; reprint, New York: Russell and Russell, 1967). Dictionary of American Biography, supplements 1–2: To 1940, s.v. “Clarence Seward Darrow.” CB suggests AT featured more prominently in the trial than the stenographic record indicates: PttP, 230. There is some faint evidence that Darrow and a defense witness culled information from AT for use during the trial: The World’s Most Famous Court Trial: Tennessee Evolution Case (Cincinnati: National Book, 1925), 261, 291, 293. JHB to GEH, 26 September 1925, GEHP (emphasis JHB’s).

(31) . TDoC, 350, 353, 369, 405–6.

(32) . Two of the following entries are annotated as being made “At Church:” JHB, notes, “Children of the Sun, A Romance of the Early World,” 26 October–21 November 1909, JHBP. JHB to Charles and Harriet Breasted, 4 June 1894, LtP, JHBP. JHB to William Horace Day, 12 September 1933, DOC. See also PttP, 47–48. K. S. Wang et al. to JHB, [ca. February], and JHB to K. S. Wang, 28 February 1921, DOC. The results of the survey do not appear to have been published. For a nationwide survey, done in the 1910s, addressing similar questions among American scientists, sociologists, historians, and psychologists: James H. Leuba, The Belief in God and Immortality: A Psychological, Anthropological and Statistical Study (Chicago: Open Court, 1921), 219–80. Gatewood, Controversy, 44.

(33) . T. D., review of TDoC, Theosophical Quarterly 32, no. 1 (July 1934): 87–89. On inconsistencies: Stanley Casson, review of TDoC, Antiquity: A Quarterly Review of Archaeology 8 (1934): 477–78; and George A. Barton, review of TDoC, American Historical Review 39, no. 2 (April 1934): 498. Dictionary of American Biography, supplement 3: 1941–45, s.v. “George Aaron Barton.” On sermonizing and Hebrew sources: Ralph A. Habas, “Breasted’s Dawn of Conscience,” Jewish Quarterly Review, new ser., 25, no. 2 (October 1934): 151–54. Shlomo Marenof, review of TDoC, Jewish Education 6, no. 1 (January–March 1934): 55.

(34) . Ruth Benedict, “The Sense of Social Justice in Ancient Egypt,” Books, New York Herald Tribune, 21 January 1934. Dictionary of American Biography, supplement 4: 1946–50, s.v. “Ruth Fulton Benedict”.

(35) . Dictionary of American Biography, supplement 9: 1971–75, s.v. “William Foxwell Al-bright”. For an up-to-date study on biblical archaeology: Thomas W. Davis, Shifting Sands: The Rise and Fall of Biblical Archaeology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Davis characterizes the OI as “purely secular, having no religious interest or input” thanks to JHB’s leadership (p. 61) and quotes another scholar who observed that the OI “never had a Biblical archaeologist on its staff” (p. 104). Biblical archaeology pursued other agendas as well: Neil (p.468) Asher Silberman, Digging for God and Country: Exploration, Archeology, and the Secret Struggle for the Holy Land (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982); and Silberman, “Desolation and Restoration: The Impact of a Biblical Concept on Near Eastern Archaeology,” Biblical Archaeologist 54, no. 2 (June 1991): 76–87. William Foxwell Albright, “Toward a Theistic Humanism,” in History, Archaeology, and Christian Humanism (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), 6. Albright, “James Henry Breasted,” 296–97. Albright republished the latter essay, under the same title but with minor modifications and additions, in the 1963 collection just cited. On Albright’s take on JHB’s “melior-ism” in the context of the former’s own work and beliefs: Kuklick, Puritans, 188–92. Wilson, “James Henry Breasted—The Idea,” 49 (emphasis Wilson’s). TDoC elicited more personal responses as well, including a “chapel talk” prepared by a Lawrence College zoology professor “perhaps [to] be labeled as a ’book review’”: R. C. Mul-lenix to JHB with address, “Symbiosis,” 19 May 1934, JHB section in Pamphlet Files, OI Library.

(36) . On Freud’s collecting in the context of his life and work: Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time (New York: W. W. Norton, 1988), 47–48, 170–73. On his collecting per se: Lynn Gamwell and Peter Gay, eds., Sigmund Freud and Art: His Personal Collection of Antiquities (New York: State University of New York, 1989), particularly Gamwell’s essay, “The Origins of Freud’s Antiquities Collection,” 21–32, and Donald Kuspit, “A Mighty Metaphor: The Analogy of Archaeology and Psychoanalysis,” 133–51. The information on Freud’s copies of JHB’s books, including his annotations, is from the CD-ROM in J. Keith Davies and Gerhard Fichtner, eds., Freud’s Library: A Comprehensive Catalogue (London: Freud Museum and Edition Diskord, 2006); the “delighted” quote is from p. 28. TDoC and AHoE are items number 348 and 349, respectively; the Cambridge volume is number 438 (for the full citation of the latter, see n. 18 in this chapter). Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, trans. Katherine Jones (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939; reprint, New York: Vintage Books, 1967). See also Carl E. Schorske, “Freud’s Egyptian Dig,” New York Review of Books 40, no. 10 (27 May 1993).

(37) . Gay, Freud, 604–8, 632–34, 643–48. There is a large and growing literature on Moses and Monotheism. For a text by an Egyptologist that does an excellent job of situating Freud’s work in the history of prior writings on Moses and Ikhnaton, especially JHB’s: Jan Assmann, Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997). Assmann addresses Freud’s and Breasted’s works throughout the text, but the key chapter is “Sigmund Freud: The Return of the Repressed,” pp. 144–67. See also his discussion of “cultural forgetting,” which is central to his own argument and the role of Freud’s analysis in it, pp. 215–18. See also Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Freud’s Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991). On the name of Moses: Freud, Moses, 4–6; TDoC, 350.

(38) . Freud, Moses, 3–65. The discussion of the “J” and “E” traditions and the matter of trauma are on pp. 27–28, 47, 50, 65. TDoC, 351 (emphasis JHB’s). On the documentary paradigm, see also chapter 1 of the present volume. Ernst Sellin, Mose und seine Bedeutung für die israelitisch-jüdische Religionsgeschichte (Leipzig: A. Deichert, 1922).

(39) . Freud, Moses, 73, 91, 101, 109–11.

(40) . On circumcision: Freud, Moses, 30; TDoC, 353. For the JHB quotes and cites: Freud, Moses, 5–6, 21–26, 62. On the decisions to suppress and then publish the third essay with the others: Freud, Moses, 66–71; quotes from pp. 4, 170. On Freud’s determination to publish Moses despite its controversial nature, appeals of others not to do so, and its immediate reception: Gay, Freud, 604–5, 608, 643–48.

(41) . TOI, flyleaf, vii, x; the table is on pp. 96–98 (emphases JHB’s). JHB, diary entry, 13 February 1933, JHBP.

(42) . The reviews were all approving; see, for example, E. A. Speiser, review of The Oriental Institute, by JHB, Journal of Higher Education 56–58, no. 3 (March 1934): 173–74; and O. E. Ravn, “New Contributions to Assyriology,” Acta Orientalia 14 (1936): 70–74. Dictionary of American Biography, supplement 7: 1961–65, s.v. “Ephraim Avigdor Speiser”. E. A. Wallis (p.469) Budge, review of The Oriental Institute, by JHB, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1934): 845–46. On OI’s generous funding: Wheeler, “The Oriental Institute,” 109–10. BTM, 13 June 1929, 19:159–61, UCA. $677,000 = $8.48 million, and $3,000 = $37,600 CPI 2009. JHB, memorandum to Gordon J. Laing, “University Support of the Oriental Institute,” 7 December 1931, DOC.

(43) . Trevor Arnett, interview notes, meeting with Robert M. Hutchins and JHB, 26 April 1932, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 237, RAC. Regarding the assumption of the IEB pledges by the GEB and RF: Robert M. Hutchins to Trevor Arnett, 13 May, W. W. Brierley to Robert M. Hutchins, 19 May, and W. W. Brierley to “Mr. Beal,” 16 September 1932, GEB/2324.2, Oriental Inst./series 1, subseries 4, box 659, folder 6853, RAC; BTM, 9 June, 14 July, and 11 August 1932, 22:145–47, 158, 229–33, UCA. The RF’s more active role also resulted from a reorganization of the boards that had been completed just a couple of years earlier: Revoldt,”Fosdick,” 376–412. On JHB’s push back and budgets: JHB to Max Mason with enclosure, “The Oriental Institute: Comparative… Budgets for 1931–32 and 1932–33,” 6 June 1932, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 237, RAC; BTM, 13 October 1932, 22:256–58, UCA. $540,000 = $8.48 million CPI 2009. Thomas B. Appleget, notes of meeting with JHB, 16 June 1932, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 238, RAC. On lavishness and extravagance: Thomas B. Appleget, file memorandum, “Afternoon Spent with Dr. James H. Breasted…,” 21 November 1932, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 238, RAC; JDR Jr. to RBF, 20 August 1935, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests subseries, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., Env. 1, RAC.

(44) . The film company was ERPI, Electrical Research Products, Inc. On its history and relationship with Chicago: Paul Saettler, The Evolution of American Educational Technology, rev. ed. (Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1990), 104–5. CB to Gordon J. Laing, 4 February 1932, PP 1920–1980, 29:19, UCA; and JHB to HHN, 7 March 1933, DOC. JHB’s reservations are conveyed in JHB to CB, 14 February 1932, JHBP. $12,000 = $188,000 CPI 2009.

(45) . John Larson to Jeffrey Abt, 7 November 2002. JHB, diary entries, 15 February to 13 March 1933, JHBP. No doubt the Breasteds’ daughter would have joined the flight, but she was in college at Vassar. The cinematographer was Reed Haythorne (1904–87), who was associated with a handful of subsequent educational and entertainment films. On Imperial Airways and the plane (an Avro 618 Ten): http://www.imperial-airways.com (accessed July 2009). On the film’s completion date: JHB to GEH, 9 May 1934, GEHP. The film’s original length is variously listed as seventy-two or seventy minutes: http://imdb.com,s.v. The Human Adventure (accessed July 2009); and http://tcm.com/tcmdb/, s.v. The Human Adventure (accessed July 2009). Announcement, The Oriental Institute… Announces the Premiere Showing of the Human Adventure, [ca. early May 1934], GEHP. The premiere and a second showing the next day were at International House, both as benefits for the University of Chicago Settlement.

(46) . The Human Adventure, produced by the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago [1934]. Script, direction, and narration by Charles Breasted; cinematography by Reed N. Hay-thorne; technical assistance by ERPI Picture Consultants, Inc. Quotations from the narrative are courtesy of the OI, and they are from a DVD copy of what may be the solitary surviving 16 mm print, generously provided to me by John Larson, archivist, OI. Felix Mendelssohn, Die Hebriden (The Hebrides, also called “Fingal’s Cave”), op. 26, 1830–32. The film credits neither the music nor the orchestra that recorded it. I’m grateful to David Buch, University of Chicago, who identified the music by listening to the film’s very scratchy audio track over the phone. On the Sinclair exhibit: http://cityclicker.net/chicfair/dinosaurs.html (accessed February 2010).

(47) . JHB to FB, [ca. November–December 1933], LtFHB, JHBP (emphasis JHB’s).

(48) . W. A. MacKenzie to The [University of Chicago] President with enclosed report, “Young Boys, Youths and Men Working under Semi Slave Conditions…,” 26 September (p.470) 1929, PP 1945–1950, 29:19, UCA. JHB to HHN, 21 October, and HHN to JHB, 13 November 1929, DOC. HHN, “Report on the Conditions under Which Workmen Are Employed at Medinet Habu,” 13 November 1929, DOC. JHB to David H. Stevens, 6 December 1929, PP 1945–1950, 29:19, UCA. David H. Stevens to W. A. MacKenzie, 10 December 1929, DOC. The secretary-general’s quote is from W. A. MacKenzie to David H. Stevens, 10 January 1930, PP 1945–1950, 29:19, UCA. J. M. de Morsier to David H. Stevens with enclosure, 31 January 1930, W. A. McKnight to W. A. MacKenzie, 7 February 1930, PP 1945–1950, 29:19, UCA. HHN to JHB, 13 February 1930, DOC. On the architectural survey: TOI, 169–86. WWWE, s.v. “Uvo Hölscher”. The “hobgoblin” quote is from JHB, diary entry, 2–5 June 1925, JHBP. Wilson, Thousands of Years, 66. On the Iraq and Persepolis expeditions during JHB’s lifetime: TOI, 310–77. Pinhas Delougaz and Thorkild Jacobsen, “Henri Frankfort“, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 14, no. 1 (January 1955): 1–3; David Wengrow, “The Intellectual Adventure of Henri Frankfort: A Missing Chapter in the History of Archaeological Thought,” American Journal of Archaeology 103, no. 4 (October 1999): 597–613. Ann C. Gunter and Stefan R. Hauser, eds., Ernst Herzfeld and the Development of Near Eastern Studies, 1900–1950 (Leiden: Brill, 2005).

(49) . “Story of Man Is Put in a Talkie by Dr. Breasted,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 2 June 1934. F. S. N., At Carnegie Hall. “The Human Adventure…,” New York Times, 30 October 1935. On the Parents Associations endorsement: announcement, The First New York Presentation of ’The Human Adventure’…, [ca. October] 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 243, RAC. On Carnegie attendance: M. Murray Weisman to Wendell G. Shields, 1 November 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 243, RAC. On the New Jersey showings: M. Ernest Townsend to CB, 5 November 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 243, RAC. On publicity and earnings reports: Wendell G. Shields to Warren Weaver, 22 October, and CB to David H. Stevens, 5 November 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 243, RAC. The film continued to remain in circulation well into the late 1940s at least: ‘The Human Adventure’ Is Next on Forum Association Film Series, The Argus (of Illinois Wesleyan University) 45, no. 20 (7 March 1939); and Helen Clifford Gunter, “Audio-Visual Aids and the Classics,” Classical Journal 44, no. 2 (November 1948): 152.

(50) . JHB to Max Mason, 1 March 1934, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 240, RAC. JHB to JDR Jr., 1 March, JHB to David H. Stevens, 6 March, JDR Jr. to Thomas B. Appleget, 12 March 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 241, RAC. On winding down the OI: David H. Stevens, minutes of staffconference, 13 June 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 242, RAC. JHB to CB, 13 August 1935, JHBP. JHB to David H. Stevens, 12 August, and JDR Jr. to Max Mason, 16 August 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 243, RAC. JDR Jr. to RBF, 20 August 1935, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests subseries, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., env. 1, RAC. David H. Stevens, minutes of staff conference, 20 September 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 243, RAC.

(51) . For a detailed analysis of the OI’s budget history up to that point: meeting minutes, Rockefeller Foundation Executive Committee, 11 December 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 235, RAC. $660,000 = $10.3 million CPI 2009. JHB to JDR Jr., 25 October 1935, DOC. JDR Jr. to JHB, 26 November 1935, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests subseries, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., env. 1, RAC. On JHB’s never seeing JDR Jr.’s reply: CB to JDR Jr., 11 December 1935, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests subseries, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., env. 3, RAC. JDR Jr. to CB, 19 December 1935, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, box 49, Friends and Services, Friends and Relations, James H. Breasted, RAC; and JDR Jr. to CB, 19 December 1935, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests (p.471) subseries, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., env. 3, RAC. $15 million = $234 million CPI 2009.

(52) . JHB to GEH, 9 May 1934, GEHP. “Mrs. Breasted, Wife of Noted Orientalist, Dies,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 16 July 1934. “Simple Service Conducted for Mrs. Breasted,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 18 July 1934. PttP, 218–19, 411. She was cremated and her ashes buried in her parents’ plot in the “Mountain View Cemetery”, Oakland, California. See David Johnson, “Mountain View Cemetery,” http://files.usgwarchives.org/ca/alameda/cemeteries/mtvview-b2.txt (accessed August 2009). Credit goes to John Larson, archivist, OI, for discerning the connections that led from the burial plots of George and Helen Watkins Hart to those of their daughters, including FB.

(53) . PttP, 411–13. JHB, “Interpreting the Orient,” Saturday Review 12, no. 11 (13 July 1935): 3–4, 14. Contemporary Authors Online, s.v. “Will(iam) (James) Durant”. JHB saluted Durant’s literary style and skills at synthesis but criticized his factual errors. JHB, manuscript, “Bronze Base of a Statue of Ramses VIth Discovered at Megiddo: A Preliminary Report,” 23 February 1935, JHB section in Pamphlet Files, OI Library. The manuscript remains unpublished. “Dr. J. H. Breasted Weds Sister of His First Wife,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 8 June 1935. Imogen died in 1961 and was buried alongside her sister, FB, and their parents in Oakland, California: David Johnson, “Mountain View Cemetery,” http://files.usgwarchives.org/ca/alameda/cemeteries/mtvview-b2.txt (accessed August 2009). On boosting morale: HHN to JHB, 23 October 1932, DOC; on the visit: HHN to CB, 30 November 1935, DOC; on JHB’s exercise routine and competitions with OI staff: JHB, diary entry, 30 April 1933, JHBP. The daily dozen was a set of exercises developed for the navy during the First World War by sports entrepreneur Walter Camp: Dictionary of American Biography, Base Set 1928–36, s.v. “Walter Chauncey Camp”.

(54) . JHB to “Children,” 21 November 1935, JHBP. On the busy-life quote: George Sarton, “James Henry Breasted (1865–1935): The Father of American Egyptology,” Isis 34, no. 4 (Spring 1943): 290. On the harness quote: John A. Wilson to HHN, 30 December 1935, DOC. “Prof. Breasted Famous U. of C. Historian, Dies,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 3 December 1935; and “Dr. Breasted Dies; Noted Orientalist,” New York Times, 3 December 1935. PttP, 348–49, 412–13. For one of many efforts to debunk the curse story that includes a statement from JHB: James, Howard Carter, 426–28. The Associated Press, in trying to downplay the story while reporting JHB’s death, nonetheless gave it a fair amount of column space: Associated Press, “Breasted Dies; Pharaoh Tomb ‘Curse’ Derided,” Washington Post, 3 December 1935. Percy E. Newberry to CB, 3 December 1935, JHBP. A. V. Kidder to CB, 16 December [1935], JHBP. Dictionary of American Biography, supplement 7: 1961–65, s.v. “Alfred Vincent Kidder”. Lord Edmund H. H. Viscount and Lady Allenby to CB, [ca. 3 December], and M. Amine Youssef [Egyptian minister to the US] to CB, 4 December 1935, JHBP. The “humble folk” quote is from HHN to Imogen Breasted, 6 December 1935, JHBP. Hamed Abdalla to CB, 19 December 1935, JHBP. Caroline Ransom Williams to Imogen Breasted, 4 December 1935, JHBP. HHN to John A. Wilson, 10 December 1935, DOC. The quote from a student of a student is in A. Philip Tuttle to O. R. Sellers, 3 December 1935, JHBP. Tuttle apparently studied with Sellers (who forwarded the former’s letter to CB) at the Presbyterian (later McCormick) Theological Seminary in Chicago, and Sellers took “Egyptian classes” for three years as an undergraduate with JHB: O. R. Sellers to CB, 5 December 1935, JHBP. Ovid Rogers Sellers (1884–1975), who took his doctorate at Johns Hopkins, went on to become a prominent Old Testament scholar and archaeologist.

(55) . On JHB’s wishes, see CB to HHN, 16 December 1935, DOC; and Dr. Breasted “Dies; Noted Orientalist,” New York Times, 3 December 1935. JHB’s ashes were interred in May 1937: CB to HHN, 1 July 1937, JHBP. JHB’s estate came to a bit over $180,000, including JDR Jr.’s gift but not real estate or other property. CB was the executor. Estate of James H. Breasted, deceased (as of 2 December 1935), [ca. December 1935], JHBP. $180,000 = $2.79 million CPI 2009. JDR Jr. transferred his $100,000 gift, plus $2,000 accumulated interest, to the Breasted estate about two months (p.472) after JHB’s death: CB to Robert W. Gumbel, 31 January 1936, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, box 49, Friends and Services, Friends and Relations, James H. Breasted Gift, RAC. Other possessions, including a “corner cabinet made by Dr. Breasted” and sixty-three “17th and 18th century oriental rugs” he collected, were sold at auction: “Auction, Extraordinary, The Personal Collection and Home Furnishings of Professor James H. Breasted,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 25 May 1936. JHB’s scholarly library went to his son James, who was then preparing for a career in archaeology before later turning to art history. The other books were sold at auction: “Put Collection of Dr. Breasted Up for Auction,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 24 May 1936. A portion of JHB’s professional library, including offprints and ephemera, went to the OI: [John A. Wilson and James Henry Breasted Jr.], contract, “Agreement… between Breasted and the University of Chicago,” 18 August 1937, JHBP. After completion of Chicago’s Regen-stein Library in 1968 and the ensuing consolidation of several departmental libraries, the OI’s holdings were transferred there. File cabinets containing offprints and ephemera, including JHB’s materials, were returned to the OI and are now distributed throughout: Pamphlet Files, OI Library. CB distributed possessions of JHB to the latter’s friends, including a stone scarab CB gave to Theodore W. Robinson. In an accompanying note CB wrote: “This piece my father prized more than any antiquity in his possession. [It has] the name of my father’s favorite personage, King Ikhnaton.… A hundred thousand times I have seen him fingering” it. FB had found and purchased it from a Cairo dealer for JHB. CB to Theodore W. Robinson, 19 May 1936, JHBP. Robinson was a wealthy industrialist and collector of ancient glass, and part of his collection ended up at the Art Institute of Chicago: “T. W. Robinson, Retired Steel Executive, Dies,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 31 December 1948; Art Institute Opens Show of Ancient Glass, Chicago Daily Tribune, 3 July 1940. On details of the memorial: Service in Memory of James Henry Breasted, “Reprint of Program” (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1 April 1936). The copy I saw is in Biographical Files: J. H. Breasted, UCA.

(56) . On CB’s departure plans: CB to JDR Jr., 11 December 1935, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests subseries, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., Env. 3, RAC. For Hutchins on Wilson quote: Max Mason, interview notes, 4–7 June 1934, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 240, RAC. On grooming Wilson: JHB to HHN, 22 November 1934, DOC. Frederic C. Woodward to Board of Trustees, University of Chicago, 5 December 1935, H. H. Swift Papers, 168:13, UCA. Rockefeller officials also raced to cope with the new circumstances: David H. Stevens, interview notes, 16 and 20 December 1935, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 243, RAC. On Wilson’s and CB’s transitions: Robert M. Hutchins to Max Mason, 21 January 1936, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 244, RAC. On Wilson’s first couple of years as director: Wilson, Thousands of Years, 74–80.

(57) . On university attitudes regarding the OI’s funding: RBF to CB, 27 March, and CB to RBF, 31 March 1952, JHBP. See also RBF, Adventures in Giving, 237. W. B. Devall, The Academic Entrepreneurs: New Men of Power, Liberal Education 54, no. 4 (1968): 566–72. [John A. Wilson and CB], report, “The Oriental Institute, Financial Report [revised],” 2 March 1936, H. H. Swift Papers, 168:6, UCA. Trevor Arnett, diary notes, 9 March 1936, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 244, RAC. BTM, 12 March 1936, 26:33, UCA.

(58) . Minutes, Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees, 15 April 1936, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 17, folder 235, RAC. BTM, 14 May 1936, 26:49–51, 53, UCA. [John A. Wilson], report, “Financial History of the Oriental Institute,” 20 May 1936, H. H. Swift Papers, 106:11, UCA. $205,000 = $3.17 million CPI 2009. On OI publications: John A. Wilson, “Plans for the Immediate Future of the “Oriental Institute,” 15 July 1936, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 244, RAC. On Chicago Houses: HHN to CB, 31 March 1937, JHBP. On Wilson’s (p.473) confidential communications with JDR Jr.: John A. Wilson to JDR Jr., 3 February 1937, RF/RG 1.1/series 216R, subseries Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., box 18, folder 245, RAC. On vital features: JDR Jr. to CB, 19 December 1935, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, Educational Interests subseries, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., env. 3, RAC. On the endowment transfer: Harold H. Swift, Oriental Institute, 7 December 1953, H. H. Swift Papers, 106:11, UCA. See also John D. Rockefeller to Trustees of the University of Chicago, 30 September 1930, inserted in BTM, 9 October 1930, 20:[n.p.], UCA. Former OI director William Sumner believed the OI’s current annual allocation from the university might be greater than would be the yearly investment income if the endowments remained in place: telephone interview, William Sumner and Jeffrey Abt, 16 June 1994. For the most accurate accounting of the combined Rockefeller gifts and grants for OI: Dana S. Creel to JDR Jr., memorandum, “Dr. Breasted’s Work and the Oriental Institute,” 23 March 1959, RFA/RG 2, OMR/JDR Jr. series, subseries Educational Interests, box 111, Univ. of Chicago, Oriental Inst., env. 3, RAC. On the OI’s development through the late 1940s and related changes in mission: Thorkild Jacobsen and John A. Wilson, “The Oriental Institute: Thirty Years and the Present,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 8 (January–October 1949): 236–47.

(59) . On the RBF quote: “The Oriental Institute: The New Building Dedicated,” University [of Chicago] Record, new ser., 18, no. 1 (January 1932): 6. On renaming the building: BTM, 13 February 1936, 26:17, UCA. On the OI’s activities today: http://oi.uchicago.edu/ (accessed July 2010). See in particular the links under “Research:” “Research Projects,” “Publications,” “CAMEL,” and Computer Laboratory. In a move that would have intrigued and delighted JHB, the OIA is making an increasing number of its publications available online and as free, downloadable pdf files via the catalog link: http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/pubs/catalog/ (accessed August 2010; note that the free pdf versions are designated with a special icon).

(60) . PttP. Reviews of the biography were generally favorable, but nearly all commented on certain problems. Herbert Jenkins neatly captured the most common sentiments: “The chief defect is a lack of dates.… The style (like the title) is sometimes tiresomely journalistic.… There is a certain amount of autobiography scattered through the book, but perhaps this was inevitable; what there is is quite interesting, but rather irrelevant. We could have wished instead for a little more about the work of the Oriental Institute and of Breasted the Archeologist. But we are grateful for the life of Breasted the Man”: Jenkins, “In the Morning of Man,” Times Literary Supplement, 29 November 1947. See also Nelson, “Biography”; John T. Frederick, “A Life of James Breasted, Historian and Orientalist,” Chicago Sun, 16 May 1943; Orville Prescott, “Books of the Times,” New York Times, 12 April 1943; Sarton, “James Henry Breasted”; and H. P. Lazarus, “By Way of Egypt,” The Nation 157, no. 2 (10 July 1943): 50. The SS James Henry Breasted was launched in February 1944 and sank after being bombed the following December: http://www.usmm.org/libertyships.html (accessed July 2009). The Breasted Prize was endowed by Joseph O. Losos: see http://historians.org/prizes/index.cgm?PrizeAbbrev=BREASTED (accessed February 2007). For the Emerson quote: Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance,” in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Alfred R. Ferguson and Jean Ferguson Carr (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1979), 2:35–36. On JHB’s relationship to the past: Lazarus, “By Way of Egypt,” 50.

(61) . The quotes are from, respectively: WWWE, s.v. “James Henry Breasted”; G. Ernest Wright, “The Phenomenon of American Archaeology in the Near East,” in Near Eastern Archaeology in the Twentieth Century: Essays in Honor of Nelson Glueck, ed. James A. Sanders (New York: Doubleday, 1970), 16; Albright, “James Henry Breasted,” 298; William Foxwell Albright, “How Well Can We Know the Ancient Near East?” in History, Archaeology, and Christian Humanism (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), 129; Kuklick, Puritans, 112; and Sarton, “James Henry Breasted,” 289. Pearl Buck was a novelist and essayist who won a Nobel Prize in literature and a Pulitzer Prize, principally for her writings about Chinese peasant life, and she is widely credited for expanding understanding of China in America and Europe. Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography, supplement: Modern Writers, 1900–98, s.v. “Pearl S. Buck”. Stephen L. Dyson, “An American Pioneer,” Archaeology 51, no. 1 (January– (p.474) February 1998): 8. The Archaeological Institute of America was established in 1879: Stephen L. Dyson, Ancient Marbles to American Shores: Classical Archaeology in the United States (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998). The founding date of the Rockford chapter of the Archaeological Institute is unknown, but it remains active to this day and takes pride in JHB’s connection with the city: http://www.rockfordaia.org/ (accessed July 2009).