The Catholic University of America

Oct. 17, 2014

Items from CUA Collection on Display at Smithsonian

Eleven items from Catholic University’s Semitics/ICOR (Institute of Christian Oriental Research) Library have been loaned to the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery for an exhibit titled “Unearthing Arabia: The Archaeological Adventures of Wendell Phillips.”

The items on display come from the library’s Père Albert Jamme, M.Afr. Collection, which brings together in one place 55 years of work by a former CUA professor and an eminent scholar of the languages and scripts of pre-Islamic Arabia. Father Jamme was a faculty member of the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures between 1953 and 1997.

The epigraphic collection includes squeezes, photographs, and rubbings of inscriptions Father Jamme made from monuments, historical annals, texts, tombs, and graffiti during years of fieldwork in the Arabian peninsula. He once served as a research epigrapher for Wendell Philips, the subject of the exhibit.

On display until June 7, the exhibit traces for the first time the archaeological expeditions of Phillips and his team, with emphasis on their work in 1950 and 1951 in Timna, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Qataban.

At CUA, work is underway to digitize the Father Jamme collection in order to make it more accessible. After the exhibit, the collection will be rehoused in a new library seminar room dedicated to epigraphy.

For more information about the exhibit, visit




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