SPOTLIGHT: Archaeologist Jane Dieulafoy | National Women’s History Month

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” – Abigail Adams, futureFirst Lady of the United States, in letter to her husband, future president John Adams, dated Mar 31, 1776

There was a time in the early days of Archaeology, when it was essentially dominated by men.  But in the words of Abigail Adams, we must look beyond the men to the women who forged new paths in the study of Archaeology.

Jane Dieulafoy born in 1851 in France and died at the age of 65.  She was a by no means your typical French Victorian women.   In fact, the French government granted Jane special permission to wear trousers when she was out in the field, otherwise a woman wearing trousers was considered illegal.   But that was no the most outstanding fact about Jane.   Jane fought along side her husband, in the Franco-Prussian War.   She also traveled the world and supervised their excavation at Susa, Persia.  Her claim to was her new field recording techniques that she developed at their Persia dig site.  She developed a way to label, map and reconstructing their findings, all of which were brand new field recording methods.

“Most well known for her excavations at Susa, site of the famous Lion Frieze(now at the Louvre), Jane led (all-male) crews numbering in the hundreds. She devised new field methods, monitored trenching excavations, and meticulously mapped, labeled, and reconstructed everything that was discovered.   Oh, and from 1881-82 she travelled from Marseilles to Athens, Istanbul, Poti, Erevan, Jolfā, Tabrīz, Qazvīn, Tehran, Isfahan, Persepolis, Shiraz, Sarvestān, Fīrūzābād, Susa via Būšehr, and Mesopotamia ON HORSEBACK!” Alison Atkin,