(1876–1941), American

archaeologist and



in the techniques of stratigraphic analysis at excavations in Egypt and Palestine. Born in Philadelphia, Fisher was trained as an architect at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1898, after a brief period of professional employment in St. Louis, he joined the university's expedition to Nippur. He spent the next few years as a research fellow in Babylonian architecture at the University Museum. In 1909, Fisher was recruited for the Harvard University Expedition to Samaria and began a close partnership with Egyptologist George Andrew Reisner. At Samaria, the two men paid close attention to patterns of debris deposits and fills. Indeed, Fisher's carefully drawn stratigraphic sections from Samaria became prototypes for subsequent generations of archaeological architects.

Fisher remained in the Near East throughout World War I, working as a volunteer on various humanitarian relief missions; later in life he would devote considerable time, energy, and personal funds for charitable works in Jerusalem. During his extended wartime stay in Egypt, Fisher expanded his research interests and was named chief archaeologist and Egyptologist in Cairo for the University of Pennsylvania Museum. In the early 1920s, Fisher alternated his time between Egypt and Palestine. From 1921 to 1925, he served as director of the University of Pennsylvania excavations at Tell Beth-Shean, where he and his team uncovered a sequence of New Kingdom temples and directed limited soundings down to Neolithic levels. He also devoted part of every year to his work with Reisner, serving as chief architect at Reisner's important excavations at Girga, Giza, Memphis, and Luxor. Fisher was also later called on to direct the University of Chicago Oriental Institute's excavations at Megiddo (1925–1927) and Haverford College's expedition to Beth-Shemesh (1928–1929).

Fisher was named professor of archaeology at the American School of Oriental Research (ASOR) in Jerusalem In 1925 and participated in many of the school's field projects. The last major project of his career, an ambitious “Corpus of Palestinian Pottery,” remained unfinished at the time of his death.

[See also American Schools of Oriental Research; Beth-Shean; Beth-Shemesh; Giza; Megiddo; Memphis; Samaria; and the biography of Reisner.]


  • Fisher, Clarence S. Excavations at Nippur. Philadelphia, 1905.
  • Glueck, Nelson. “Clarence Stanley Fisher in Memoriam.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 83 (1941): 2–4.
  • King, Philip J. American Archaeology in the Mideast: A History of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Winona Lake, Ind., 1983.
  • Reisner, George A., Clarence S. Fisher, and David G. Lyon. Harvard Excavations at Samaria, 1908–1910, vol. 1, The Text; vol. 2, Plans and Plates. Cambridge, Mass., 1924.

Neil Asher Silberman