W. F. Albright is best known as an archaeologist and biblical scholar. He was born in Coquimbo Chile, to Methodist missionaries and transferred to the United States at age twelve to study. He gained his doctorate at the remarkable age of 22, continued to teach at University, and was widely regarded as a leading authority on biblical texts and languages, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the identification of numerous villages from biblical texts.
A Pioneer Archaeologist
Although born in Chile, Albright is commonly regarded as an American. Being born in 1891 positioned him as a pioneer in archaeology as the science of that discipline was truly in its infancy. Apart from a deep interest in archaeology, Albright is also acknowledged as an expert biblical scholar, merging the science of archaeology to vindicate the ancient biblical narratives as historically accurate. Albright’s methodical research in this field has never been challenged and even secular archaeologists concur with his findings.
America’s Leading Orientalist
Albright was a brilliant academic. He blended his talents and skills of languages and biblical interpretation with his expertise on pottery artefacts that made him America’s foremost Orientalist and lead the way in biblical archaeology.
From early in the twentieth century right up until his death at age 80, in 1971, he was Dean of Biblical Archaeologists and held the honour of being the founder of Biblical Archaeology.
Albright achieved his Doctorate degree in 1913 from Johns Hopkins University where he became Director of the American School of Oriental Research and later lectured for 30 years from 1929. Following the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Albright’s analytical skills achieved the notable confirmation of the authenticity of these most ancient scripts.
Albright studied the artefacts known as the LMLK seals, and his contribution to biblical archaeology has impacted researchers ever since. He also performed many site excavations beginning with the most significant of his early field digs in 1923 where he excavated a tumulus near Jerusalem, Israel.
He has written a number of archaeology books from basic how to understand archaeology, through to strongly researched and specific titles such as ‘The Biblical Period from Abraham to Ezra’ and ‘Yahweh and the gods of Canaan’.
1891 – Born in Coquimbo, Chile, May 24
1912 – Entered Upper Iowa University
1913 – Johns Hopkins University PhD
1921 – Married Dr Ruth Norton in Jerusalem, Israel
1922 – Excavation of King’s tumulus near Jerusalem
1925-60 – Study of the LMLK seals
1929-59 – Lectured at JHU. Director of American School of Oriental Research
1946 – Visiting Professor, University of Chicago
1971 – Died September 19 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research
The AIAR, more affectionately known as ‘The Albright’ was founded in 1900 as the American School of Oriental Research but renamed in 1970 after its distinguished director a year before he died.
The Institute is based in Jerusalem and provides an academic base for a broad range of scholarly research projects concerning ancient Eastern studies. It offers fellowships for doctorate and post doctorate studies and fosters participation in archaeological excavations and surveys across the Holy Land.
The mission of the Albright is to develop scholarly knowledge of the history, literature, and culture of the ancient Middle East using the disciplines of biblical archaeology and sound scientific investigation. The programme seeks to involve harmonious participation from students from all over the world.