Welcome to the transcription project for the Howard Crosby Butler Archive!
We need your help to bring the story of monumental expeditions to Syria back to the modern world. These expedition notebooks within the archive detail information about the ancient world not present in published volumes. Those interested can view images from the archive here. Thank you for all your help!
As a Princeton undergraduate, Howard Crosby Butler (class of 1892) became interested in the explorations of Syria conducted by the Marquis de Vogüé in 1860–1862. In 1899, he organized the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria and included William Kelly Prentice (class of 1892), Robert Garrett (class of 1897), and Enno Littmann, an expert in Near Eastern languages and Semitic philology. They traveled throughout northern and southern Syria surveying monuments. In 1904, Butler, Littmann and Prentice set out on the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria with Frederick A. Norris (class of 1895) replacing Robert Garrett to study the monuments (and to explore others) in greater detail. In 1909, the third expedition was arranged to complete the survey of the region.
The expeditions to Syria organized by Howard Crosby Butler produced a number of large, very comprehensive publications which have been digitized by Heidelberg University and can be seen here and here. The publications were created from the sketches, notebooks and drawings within the archive. This project aims to transcribe the notebooks from the expeditions which include descriptions of people and places not present in the published volumes. This is the first phase of transcription, which will be followed by the surveyors' notebooks and other data heavy books. Another phase of the project, currently in process, is relating the names of the locations the expeditions visited, with their modern geographical location/name and submitting these as documented sites of the ancient world in Pleiades.
This project has a number of deliverables:
1. We intend to create an interactive map so that we can tell the story of the expeditions across time and space. Each location visited will include the photographs, drawings and descriptions they produced at the site. This will illustrate not just the exceptional nature of these travels, but the process of this kind of archaeological surveying done at the time.
2. The same information used to make the digital map (the text and files) will be made available open access on OpenContext so that global efforts to document the history of these sites, many of which have been destroyed or are endangered, can be available.
3. Some plans or sketches in the notebooks may contain measurements or information unknown to those studying these monuments. New methods of archaeological inquiry, 3d modeling and photogrammetry for instance, could benefit from linking these additional details to modern locations under study.