Lawrence Stager, the Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel, emeritus at NELC, Harvard University, passed away on December 29, 2017, at the age of 74. Join us in honoring the life and accomplishments of Dr. Stager, as we remember his distinguished, and multidisciplinary contributions to the fields of archaeology, history, and beyond.
Remembering Professor Stager
Lawrence (“Larry”) Stager was born January 5, 1943, on a farm near Dunkirk, Ohio and was the first in his family to go to college choosing Harvard College, graduating in archaeology and history of the Ancient Near East with a B.A. magna cum laude in 1965. He continued his studies there under the tutelage of G. Ernest Wright and Frank Moore Cross, among others, earning his M.A. in 1972 and his Ph.D. (‘with distinction”) in 1975, with a dissertation dealing with desert farming. He went on to teach Syro-Palestinian Archaeology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago from 1973-1985, before returning to Harvard to an endowed chair, as the inaugural Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel, and Director of the Semitic Museum. He retired in 2012, after 40 years of teaching, and serving as primary director of over fifty doctoral students and their dissertations.
His field research and writing have focused on Canaanites, Phoenicians, Philistines, and Israelites. Since 1965 Stager has been active in archaeological fieldwork in the Levant and the Mediterranean: he was co-director with Anita Walker of the excavations at Idalion, Cyprus. He then turned his attention farther west, directing the Punic Project at Carthage from 1975-1980, with excavations at the Commercial Port and in the Tophet. In 1999 Stager teamed up with Robert Ballard on a seaborne excursion that discovered by remote sensing and robotics two Phoenician shipwrecks, swamped in the deep-sea ca. 750 B.C., carrying cargo of over 800 wine amphoras being shipped from Tyre to Egypt. From 1985 up to the present, he has been directing (recently with Daniel Master) the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.
Among his popular works are the award-winning Life in Biblical Israel (co-authored with Philip King) and Ashkelon Discovered (from the Bronze Age through the Medieval Period). Ashkelon 3: The Seventh Century B.C. won the Levi-Sala Book Prize, for best final excavation report on a site in Israel. This is one of a projected fifteen-volume series of technical reports, of which volumes 6 and 7 will go to press by the end of this calendar, as will the final report dealing with the Tophet of Carthage. In 2008 Lawrence Stager was honored with a Festschrift (D. Schloen ed., Exploring the Longue Durée), with a rich array of essays reflecting the range of Stager's intellectual interests.