Reports from CBRL Honorary Officers and Committee Chairs 2022

The reports presented here summarise activities during 2022 and include the Hon Treasurer’s comments on the Annual Report and Financial Statements during the financial year 2021/22 presented at the CBRL AGM held on 14 December 2022.

Report from Dr Robert Bewley, Chair of the Board

This has been a stimulating year for CBRL; the focus has not only been on undertaking the core activities (publications, grant-giving, research and events) but also developing the organisation for the future.

Significantly, the move of the Amman offices down to Jebel Weibdeh [Jabal Al-Lweibdeh] is already reaping rewards and benefits. The central Amman location has opened up opportunities for more researchers to use the library as well as build a local research community.  Similarly, the completion of the renovation and refurbishment of the Kenyon Institute in East Jerusalem, with its re-opening in March, is having a similar impact and has already attracted many visitors and run numerous events. There was a very successful Trustees’ visit to both offices in June so that we could see, first-hand, the opportunities and the challenges of working in the Levant.

We are very lucky, and grateful, to have two outstanding journal editors in Dr Caroline Middleton for Levant and Dr Sarah Irving for Contemporary Levant. Both journals are well-received across the world, with Levant ranked in the top quartile of all archaeological and historical journals worldwide.

A major priority for the year has been the work of the Strategic Projects Director, Jessica Holland, taking a lead on the digitisation of our archives, especially for improved access to allow more research on the CBRL’s holdings, from its foundation as the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem during the British Mandate, through the twentieth century. We are also promoting CBRL’s digital presence through social media and developing the new website, launched in April 2021.

CBRL is now very well placed to deliver on its long-term vision focusing on three priorities:

  • Protecting and enhancing research excellence
  • Expanding reach and engagement
  • Strengthening the organisation and its operating model

As Chair, I am regularly reminded, and grateful for all those involved in all the CBRL Committees, for their dedication, diligence and professionalism. I extend sincere thanks to the two trustees stepping down at the 2022 December AGM, Drs Elian Weizman and Gerasimos Tsourapas, for their valuable contributions, and welcome the newly elected trustees.

Report from John Shakeshaft, Honorary Treasurer, Chair of Finance and Governance Committee

The main thing I would like to do in my report is to put some broad flesh on the Chair’s comments and present the annual report and financial statements 2021/22, which were circulated in advance, for approval.

CBRL largely depends on public funds, which have been well dispensed according to plan prioritising: research; archival initiatives, including digitisation; and the improvement of facilities in the Kenyon Institute and in Amman. All these activities fulfill and promote the mission of the organisation. Government funding was c. £768,000 in 2021/22, in the form of our core grant, including the release of contingency funds, and as BDF funds for specific development projects. There was also income from unrestricted project sources, membership fees, and publications, in addition to other smaller sources of income.

Overall, money was well spent including activities that will produce more returns in due course. Overall, CBRL staff should be proud of their achievements. The challenge in the future is to build on the firm foundations established and to secure additional sources of funding.

Report from Professor Graeme Barker, Chair of the Research and Publications Committees

During 2022, the Committee met on four occasions: in February, June, October and December.

The focus of the February meeting was on strengthening systems for tracking the delivery and outputs of the research activities funded by CBRL, the latter including both academic outputs and related public engagement activities. The Grant Application Form now makes clear that significant results of research funded by CBRL should be offered for publication in Levant or Contemporary Levant. Grant Acceptance Terms & Conditions now state that CBRL has the first refusal on publications wholly or significantly based on the CBRL award, including a form of words acknowledging CBRL to be used in publications and a reporting procedure to CBRL of any publication using CBRL support once it has passed peer review and been accepted for publication.  The career development of grantees is also being tracked more effectively to capture the contribution of CBRL research support, especially for early career researchers.

Grant Awards: Grants awarded in 2021/22 are listed in the annual report. At the June meeting, the Committee received applications for 2022/23 totalling almost £100k.  It was noted that there was an allocation of £50k to award for post-doctoral grants from British Academy funding, with £10k of further funds available for post-graduate applications for travel grants.  All applications are subjected to peer review. Applicants were asked to explain how their project would contribute to one or more of CBRL’s current research priority areas (themes): 1. Heritage – Understanding the Past and its Present Impacts; 2. States, Societies and Cultures of the Levant; 3. Cities and Urbanisation; 4. Refugees, Migration, Displacement and Diasporas; 5. Challenges of Sustainability and Resilience.

The Committee recommended the following awards in June, which totalled £33,320 (Project Grants and Residences) and £5,000 (Postgraduate Travel Grants):

Project Grants: Dr Bahar Baser (Durham University): “Diasporic Memory and Heritage: Intergenerational Narratives of Kurdistani Jews in Israel” (Themes 1,4); Gwendoline Maurer (UCL): “Investigating Changing Socio-Economic Landscapes from the Early Bronze I-II in the Levant through Zooarchaeology and Stable Isotope Analysis” (Themes 2,3); Prof. Andrew Peterson (University of Wales Trinity St David): “Mudawwara: Excavation and Survey of an Ottoman Fort” (Themes 1,2); Chris Sandal-Wilson (University of Exeter): “Internationalising Palestinian Mental Health 1948-1967” (Themes 2,4).

Residences:  Prof. Rachel Mairs (University of Reading): “Dragomans, Archaeology and Tourism in Late Otoman and Mandate Palestine” (Theme1-3); Prof. Louise Martin (UCL): “People and Animals in the Jordanian Badia, Past and Present” (Themes 1,5); Dr Haneen Naamneh (LSE): “Urban Development of Arab Jerusalem in the Aftermath of the Nakba” (Theme 3).

Travel Grants: Kirsty Bennett (University of Lancaster): “The Sonic Circulation of Fairouz and the Rahbani Brothers between Beirut, Moscow and East Germany” (Themes 1,2); Gal Kramarski (University of Cambridge): “Between Normalisation and Normal Lives: Israeli Developmental Intentions in Occupied East Jerusalem”; Eibhlin Priestley (University of Cambridge): “The Syrian Diaspora in Egypt and Sudan 1899-1956: Urban Life, Empire and Mobility”; Mayumi Sato (University of Cambridge): “Centering Anti-Racism during a Climate Crisis: the Pursuit of Environmental Justice in Palestine”; Ana Silkatcheva (University of Oxford): “Geometric Patterns on Floor Mosaics of the Byzantine and Islamic Periods in the Levant”.

Final Grant Reports on previous awards were reviewed at the October meeting. Significant outputs from recent grants included three books and twelve peer-reviewed papers. The Committee was pleased to note that the majority of research funded had led to career progression (eg significant post-doctoral awards), an expansion of planned research in the case of a Marie Curie project, and significant publications variously completed, in press or in progress.

Networking Partnership Awards continue to be offered for 2022/23, with a final closing deadline of the end of January 2023.

Masters dissertation prizes: at its February meeting the Committee awarded the prizes for the best Masters dissertations (2021) in Levantine studies to (Contemporary Levant category) joint winners Samuel Martin (University of Cambridge) Dead Man Laughing: a Typology of Humour and Laughter in Modern Syrian Literature and its Relationship to the Abject and Charlotte Spear (University of Warwick) I Have Drastically Changed While You Were Reading. And So Have You: Arab Women’s Literature as Transformative Sexual Agency and (Levantine History and Archaeology category) Raven Todd Dasilva (UCL) Predators in Pupils: Intersite Variability and Human/Animal Linkages of PPNB Plastered Skulls of the Levant.

At its October meeting the Committee awarded the prizes for the best Undergraduate dissertations in Levantine studies (2022) to (Contemporary Levant category) Iona Clark (University of Cambridge) Irish and Indian Influences on Colonial Policing in British Mandate Palestine c.1922-1939; and (Levantine Archaeology and History category) joint winners Daisy Brunt (University of Durham) The Economics of the Use of Horses in Warfare in the East Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age and Harrison Potter (University of Reading) Alashiya: Using the Distribution of Minoan Pottery to Discern Site Hierarchy and as an Indicator of Authority on Late Bronze Age (c.1650-1050 BC) Cyprus.

Publications Committee

The Committee recently endorsed a proposal by its journal editors to publish joint issues on significant themes, with funding being made available towards the cost of a workshop by contributors to discuss pre-circulated papers to promote integration and impact. The first, on Technology, Modernity and Change in the Near East, is scheduled for 2023 with publication in 2024.

Report from Development and Fundraising Committee Chair, Dr Nellie Phoca-Cosmetatou: 2022 in Review

The Development Committee was established in September 2021, with the aim of supporting and enhancing CBRL’s fundraising and development activity. Its aim is to help strengthen and broaden CBRL’s income streams through a focus on philanthropic fundraising, membership, and engagement activities.

We are very pleased to report that in March 2022 our policies and procedures covering all aspects of philanthropic giving were approved by the Board of Trustees. We now have in place gift acceptance, ethical acceptance, and naming policies.

This year we have been building the foundations for expanding our philanthropic fundraising and have been exploring a variety of avenues. Funding for our various projects focused predominantly on non-philanthropic funding. Designing and developing a comprehensive fundraising strategy is part of our strategic plans to 2025.