(1882–?), British

excavator

of Petra and the first chief British officer of the Department of Antiquities of Transjordan (1928). Born in the north of England, Horsfield trained as an architect, working first in New York City and then, following World War I, with the British Army in India. In the early 1920s he was one of John Garstang's students at the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. In 1924 Garstang gave Horsfield responsibility for the Antiquities of Mandate Transjordan. Much of the work he performed in this role was directed to clearing and restoring the antiquities of Jerash. He began repair and conservation work on the South and North Theaters, Nymphaeum, and the propylaeum of the Temple of Artemis and cleared one of the vaults under the temple's temenos to house the inscriptions he was finding. By 1930 Horsfield's pioneering enterprise was being supplemented by American and British excavations at Jerash. Few published reports of Horsfield's work are available, but his notes survive at the Department of Antiquities in Jordan.

Horsfield's notebooks, later elaborated by G. Lankester Harding, form the basis of the sites and monuments archive of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. Horsfield recorded entries for most of the major sites in Transjordan and their condition and the periods represented; his text is accompanied by clear photographs.

In 1929 Horsfield undertook the first archaeological excavations at Petra, which he later published in some detail. It was there that he met and worked with Agnes Conway, whom he married in 1932 and who gave her name to that site's Conway Tower. Their publications, which are well illustrated, offer details regarding provenance; those works also include photographs of painted houses that no longer exist and provide a comprehensive account of the topography of Petra and of the finds from their excavations on the city walls and at the high place (Jabal Madbah). They also cleared the Palace Tomb, al-Khazneh, the Urn Tomb, and the Tomb of the Roman Soldier.

Horsfield's work is significant as the first concentrated investigation of two of the major sites in Jordan, Jerash, and Petra. He left careful records, still in use, not only of those sites but also of others he explored.

[See also British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem; Jerash; Petra; and the biographies of Garstang and Harding.]

Bibliography

  • Horsfield, George, and Agnes C. Horsfield. “Sela-Petra, the Rock, of Edom and Nabatene: I. The Topography of Petra. II. Houses.” Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine 7 (1938): 1–42.
  • Horsfield, George, and Agnes C. Horsfield. “Sela-Petra, the Rock, of Edom and Nabatene: III. Excavations.” Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine 8 (1938): 87–115.
  • Horsfield, George, and Agnes C. Horsfield. “Sela-Petra, the Rock, of Edom and Nabatene: IV. The Finds.” Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine 9 (1942): 105–204.
  • Kraeling, Carl H., ed. Gerasa, City of the Decapolis. New Haven, 1938.

Alison McQuitty