Saturday, March 17, 2007

Looking Back at BAR, Brown, & Brad

The Nov/Dec 2006 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) reported the donation of Donald Brown's firsthand antiquities to the Living Torah Museum. The article, which spanned pp. 12-3, stated:

"96-year-old Brown is also the last living excavator who was in Egypt when King Tut's tomb was discovered in 1926."

In December of 2006, a reader raised a question about this since the famous discovery of the tomb actually occurred in 1922. Brown was born in 1910, & would have been only 12 years of age at the time of the actual discovery. BAR's web editor, Steven Feldman, asked museum curator Rabbi Deutsch about this, who in turn asked me since I had done a little research into the LMLK handle that Brown had preserved from his excavation work at Lachish.

Since my response was not printed in the current issue of BAR or in the overflow section of their website, I'm publishing it here:

True, King Tut's tomb (KV 62) was discovered in November of 1922, but according to the Theban Mapping Project, full-scale excavations continued from 1923 through 1932.

During this period, Brown would've been about 12-22 (although I have no way of knowing how old Donald Brown actually is). According to Rabbi Deutsch & the current issue of BAR, Brown's main work in Egypt was with Herbert Winlock, who dug at Deir el Bahari from 1911-1931 (according to Egyptology's website).

I can safely conjecture that Donald Brown was old enough to have surveyed KV 62 as a young adult (16-21), though I can't vouch for the 1926 date; 1928 would be more believable, but 1931 more likely. In any event, he's still the last living excavator who was in Egypt while Tut's tomb was being excavated (even though he probably wasn't there in 1922 when it was discovered).

Excavations at Lachish were directed by James Leslie Starkey from 1932-8, which dovetails nicely from the 1931 terminus of Bahari. Due to Starkey's murder, formal publication was delayed for a couple of decades, but Donald Brown's name first appeared in Charles Marston's popular book, "The Bible Comes Alive":

This is from the 1940 New York edition & should suffice skeptics' questioning of Brown's tale. When the book was first published in 1937, the excavation was still ongoing, & Starkey had not yet been murdered. His name also appears in the scholarly work, "Lachish III Text" (1953) & "Lachish IV Text" (1958); p. 9 in both books says "Donald Brown 1932-1935".

Those with access to BAR backissues should check the Classified section of the May/Jun 1981 issue, p. 19:

"LACHISH ANTIQUITIES FOR SALE: lamps, jugs, stamped jar handle acquired in 1930's. Donald Brown, Palermo, ME 04354."

On behalf of Rabbi Deutsch, I can safely conjecture that they are no longer for sale! Anyone interested in the stamped jar handle mentioned in this ad (same as the LMLK Sokoh handle mentioned in the current issue), I published it on the LMLK Research website back in January, 2005.

Another interesting tidbit not mentioned in BAR (relayed to me by Rabbi Deutsch), is that during World War II Brown's entire battalion was wiped out, & he was the only one who survived! It should come as no surprise that he has also survived the aforementioned challenge from a BAR reader 6 decades later!

After I wrote the response above, Rabbi Deutsch wrote this:

MR. Grena your guess was right it was 1930. I just received the following email from Dr. Donald Brown. I attached his email response below.

Dear Rabbi; I did indeed read the new article in BAR and was pleased at the recognition you gave me. Thank you. I am so pleased that your museum is flourishing. As to the King Tut episode it was only a day or two that I was loaned to Mr. Carter. The year must have been 1930. It was a long time ago! I am having my 97th birthday on October 30. ... With respect from Donald Brown

This week seemed appropriate to celebrate the long life God has granted to Donald Brown, because the rock 'n roll world suffered a tragic loss by suicide of Brad Delp, the 55-year-old singer for the very popular 1970s band, Boston. It seems so ridiculous.

According to friends & family members (as reported in the Boston Herald newspaper), for years he was very caring & giving, & didn't want to hurt anyone, going out of his way to help resolve a long-running feud between band members. In the end, he decided it was better to hurt everyone in the worst way possible. Go figure. Exactly the type of mentally ill person I was referring to on p. 147 of "Evolution Science".

Here was a guy with a singing ability that nearly every young vocalist would love to have, plus the practically instant fame Boston achieved with their best-selling 1976 debut album featuring the hits "More Than a Feeling", "Long Time", & "Peace of Mind". Though he didn't write the lyrics, how ironic that the songs he sang featured thoughtful statements such as:

"When I'm tired & thinkin' cold, I hide in my music, forget the day..."

"I've gotta keep on chasin' that dream, though I may never find it..."

"Now you're climbin' to the top of the company ladder, hope it doesn't take too long. Can't ya see there'll come a day when it won't matter, come a day when you'll be gone!"

"Everything in my life was leading me on, but I can be strong, I finally see the dawn arrivin', I see beyond the road I'm drivin'..."

I remember how exciting it was in 1976 to hear that Boston had become so popular so quickly, that they still set up their own equipment on stage each night, not having time to hire roadies yet. I only attended one of their concerts near the end of their 1979 "Don't Look Back" tour at West Virginia University. It was incredible! So many great songs one right after the other for a band with such a young career. It is simply sad how their career went downhill immediately thereafter. They forgot how to keep on chasing their dreams & see beyond the road they're driving. They forgot how to forget the bad days.

Song of the week: "Don't Look Back" by Boston (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 29-second sample; 360kb).
G.M. Grena

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