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Howard Crosby Butler

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

Howard Crosby Butler {1872-1922} documented Umm al-Jimal in the early days of the science of archaeology. He was an American archaeologist, who taught Art and Archaeology at Princeton University from 1901 until he died. Howard led the American Expeditions of Princeton University in three campaigns, 1899, 1904/5 and 1909, to explore archaeological sites throughout the area that was then called Greater Syria. Howard and members of the expedition have issued many books on these missions to the area.

By taking more than 1500 photographs he fulfilled his aim of providing photographic documentation of an area that stretched from ‘Iraq al-Amir to the Byzantine sites North of Aleppo. He also surveyed eighteen monuments and documented over 200 buildings. In 1905 he and his team mapped Umm al-Jimal, surveyed the most important buildings and copied all the inscriptions they could find. After another visit to check their information in 1909, they published the results. See

Why are all these photos and drawings important to us in Umm al-Jimal and what is their historical value? The answer is that this work was done before the earthquake of 1926! Because the earthquake changed the features of the old town, the images Butler published give us an accurate picture of the town before the damage done in 1926.

You can see these images on the display panels along the interpretive trail, which feature Butler’s excellent architectural drawings in black and white.


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