IN THE COLLECTION: Spotlighting the Holdings of Quaker & Special Collections


Joseph S. Meyer, Notebook: Excavation in Niffer [Nippur], 1894.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology architecture graduate Joseph Meyer was finishing up a world tour in the summer of 1894 when he met archaeologist John Henry Haynes by chance in Baghdad. Haynes was leading a University of Pennsylvania excavation of the ancient Sumerian city of Nippur in southern Iraq, and he persuaded Meyer to join the expedition as an artist. Meyer’s detailed notebook records his observations of camp life as well as detailed sketches of the site, and his knowledge and graphic skills ended up contributing significantly to the expedition’s understanding of Nippur’s architecture. The storied excavation would eventually uncover more than 50,000 cuneiform tablets, but just six months after he arrived at the Nippur site Meyer died of dysentery.