who might well be called the father of Jordanian archaeology. Harding served for twenty years (1936–1956) as the director of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. In 1951 he founded the Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (ADAJ), which continues to be one of the most important scholarly publications dealing with current archaeological work in Jordan. Born in China, Harding spent his childhood in Singapore and England. His introduction to archaeological fieldwork came In 1926, when he joined the Tell Jemmeh excavation directed by Sir Flinders Petrie. Petrie also served as his mentor on the Tell el-Far῾ah North (1927–1928) and Tell el-῾Ajjul (1929–1932) excavations. From 1932 through 1936 he worked with James L. Starkey and Olga Tufnell at Tell ed-Duweir (Lachish). [See Jemmeh, Tell; Far῾ah, Tell el- (North); ῾Ajjul, Tell el-; Lachich; and the biographies of Petrie, Starkey, and Tufnell.]
Harding is best known for his work at Qumran and his documentation of Safaitic inscriptions from the Jordanian desert. Following the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, he worked with Père Roland de Vaux for several seasons at the excavation at Khirbet Qumran. He was instrumental in assembling an international team of scholars to reconstruct, study, and publish the scrolls. [See Qumran; Dead Sea Scrolls; and the biography of Vaux.]
In the latter years of his career, Harding focused his attention on pre-Islamic inscriptions. In a series of expeditions to Jordan's northeastern (H5, oil pipeline pumping station) desert region, he collected nearly six thousand Safaitic inscriptions. He published them in numerous books and articles, including An Index and Concordance of Pre-Islamic Arabian Names and Inscriptions (1971), which is still considered an authoritative text. Harding concluded his work as a field archaeologist with surveys of the Aden Protectorates (1959–1960) and northwestern Saudi Arabia (1970; 1972).
In addition to his extensive scholarly publications, Harding promoted greater public awareness of Jordan's archaeological heritage through such popular publications as The Antiquities of Jordan (1959).
- “A Bibliography of Gerald Lankester Harding.” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 24 (1980): 8–12.
- Harding, G. Lankester. The Antiquities of Jordan. New York, 1959.
- Harding, G. Lankester. Archaeology in the Aden Protectorates. London, 1964.
- Harding, G. Lankester, with Peter J. Parr and J. E. Dayton. “Preliminary Survey in N. W. Arabia, 1968, Part I: Archaeology.” Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology (University of London) 8–9 (1970): 193–242, pls. 1–42.
- Harding, G. Lankester. An Index and Concordance of Pre-Islamic Arabian Names and Inscriptions. Toronto, 1971.
- Harding, G. Lankester, and J. E. Dayton. “Preliminary Survey in N. W. Arabia, 1968, Part I: Archaeology (Continued).” Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology (University of London) 10 (1972): 23–35, pls. 1–18.
- Harding, G. Lankester, Peter J. Parr, and J. E. Dayton. “The Thamudic and Lihyanite Texts.” In “Preliminary Survey in N. W. Arabia, 1968, Part II: Epigraphy.” Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology (University of London) 10 (1972): 36–52, 60; pls. 19–25.
David W. McCreery