The Sir Arthur Evans Archive
This website is based on the first overview catalogue of the Sir Arthur Evans Archive prepared by Dr Yannis Galanakis in March 2012. This archive is one of the most important resources of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum.
Son of the great prehistorian Sir John Evans, Arthur (1851-1941) made a career of his own both at the Ashmolean, where he served as Keeper for 25 years (1884-1908), and in Crete, where with his discoveries at Knossos he added a new chapter to the history of the Mediterranean. The archive contains all the documentation pertaining to Evans’s excavations at Knossos, including his archaeological research in the Aegean, the Mediterranean and Europe. It is the largest, most complete, and comprehensive archive of its kind from this early era of archaeological exploration. The non-Knossos material, occupying about 30% of the total, relates to Evans’s political activism, his life and work in Oxford, his scientific network (especially his involvement in various committees and the British Association for the Advancement of Science) and aspects of his personal life. An important part of the archive comprises related archives of people personally or professionally associated with Evans; such as his half-sister, Dame Joan Evans, his Knossos architect and artist Piet de Jong, the architects Theodore Fyfe and Christian Doll, and his field archaeologist, Duncan Mackenzie. The archive also contains an important collection of exhibition material, including the original explanatory panels used in the 1936 ‘Minoan Room’ (part of the exhibition organised at the Royal Academy of Arts to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the British School at Athens).
Until now several lists and catalogues existed in the Department of Antiquities thanks to the indefatigable and painstaking work of a number of scholars, including the late Ann Brown, Dr Nicoletta Momigliano, and Dr Susan Sherratt. Yet no coherent single overview catalogue was available for this archive to give some general direction both to the personnel of the Department and anyone interested in researching and accessing this significant resource. The overview catalogue fills in this important gap and provides general guidance to those researching and working with the Sir Arthur Evans Archive. As its title states, it offers an ‘overview’ rather than a detailed description of the archive’s holdings to item level. Nevertheless, this useful exercise allowed us to identify more thoroughly and consistently the work that has already been carried out and the work that still needs to be done in order to complete the cataloguing of this major resource to item level. More importantly, it has helped the museum identify curatorial, research, conservation, and digitization priorities with regard to the Sir Arthur Evans archive.
Given the importance of Knossos in world archaeology, the Ashmolean will continue its efforts to conserve, preserve and digitize Sir Arthur Evans’s archive in order to make it one day fully accessible online.