Edith Porada zum 100. Geburtstag: A Centenary Volume. Edited by ERIKA BLEIBTREU and HANS ULRICH STEYMANS. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, vol. 268. Fribourg: ACADEMIC PRESS, 20014. Pp. xv + 642, illus. FS 184.
So much has been written about Edith Porada (1912-1994), Doyenne der Vorderasiatischen Archaologie, that one wonders whether a review of another memorial volume could contribute any new observations on either her or her work. Before her death in 1994 there had already appeared two Festschriften, Farkas, Harper, and Harrison (1986) and Kelly-Buccellati et al. (1986). A memorial volume, Owen and Wilhelm (1995), was published soon after her death, and many obituaries have been written by her former students. Like so many of my peers, however, my own early intellectual development was deeply influenced by Dr. Porada's scholarship, and I spent one year (1988-1989) visiting her in the famous apartment on 119th Street in New York City, the two of us poring over photographs of the seals from the Fortification archive from Persepolis. The arrival of Edith Porada zum 100. Geburtstag: A Centenary Volume was in fact a refreshing and rewarding opportunity to engage in a concerted manner once again with the individual who, with Henri Frankfort, shaped the discipline of ancient Western Asiatic glyptic studies.
The title of this volume is perhaps a bit misleading. First, this work is from cover to cover about seals and sealing; thus, the many other areas of Dr. Porada's research interests are not addressed. Second, this book is principally a Kleine Schriften (by no means comprehensive), republishing twenty articles from the period 1938 to 1992. The editors note (p. xii) that they have targeted articles that appeared in publications that had a less wide circulation. Third, the book contains a "review" of her 1934 dissertation on Akkadian cylinder seals, written under the direction of Viktor Christian at the Universitat Wien.
The book opens with a bibliography of Dr. Porada's publications and an interesting essay, Leben und Werke, on the life of Dr. Porada written by E. Bleibtreu. The essay provides an overview of the development of her research interests and academic career, but concentrates on the early years of her life and academic career in Vienna. The essay is accompanied by several photos documenting Dr. Porada's life in Hagengut, a rural estate that her father had purchased in Lower Austria, a place where Dr. Porada often spent her summers.
There follow the kleine Schriften, organized into three sections: I. Siegelsammlungen, II. Methoden, III. Ost-West-Transfer. Each section is introduced by an essay (in the case of Siegelsammlungen, three essays) that provides some context for the articles that follow...