James Leslie Starkey, excavator of Lachish

James Leslie Starkey was born in London January 3, 1895. He became interested in ancient history by reading books such as Layard’s Nineveh and Its Remains. He took a course in Egyptology and came in contact with Flinders Petrie. Later he worked with Petrie in Egypt.

Starkey joined Petrie in the excavation at Tell Jemmeh, then at Tell el Far’ah (South) in southern Palestine, where he directed the dig during the final season.

In 1932 Starkey began his own dig at Tell ed-Duwer, identified as biblical Lachish. During his six years at the site, one of the more significant finds was the Lachish Letters which date to the period of the end of the Babylonian conquest of Judah, during the time of the prophet Jeremiah.

While on his way to Jerusalem in January 1938, for the opening of the new Palestine Archaeological (Rockefeller) Museum, Starkey was shot in an ambush.

Starkey was buried in the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion. Four years later the body of his former mentor, Flinders Petrie, was laid to rest a few yards away.

Tomb of James Leslie Starkey, excavator of Lachish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tomb of James Leslie Starkey, excavator of Lachish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I found that information about Starkey is somewhat limited. Much of the info here has been gleaned from a page about Starkey on The Palestine Exploration Fund web site here. There you will see a photograph of Starkey with Petrie, and Olga Tufnell who spent twenty years to complete the four volumes of the Lachish Excavation Reports.

4 responses to “James Leslie Starkey, excavator of Lachish

  1. Pingback: Digging the Past | RMSG History Extra

  2. Pingback: The fourth archaeological expedition to Tel Lachish | Ferrell's Travel Blog

  3. Pingback: Vandalism in Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion | Ferrell's Travel Blog

  4. Dear Ferrell,

    Thank you for the research.

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