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Gustaf Dalman

Previously, on BiblePlaces.com Blog

We highlighted a small museum located in the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land. You may want to read that post first. The founder of this museum was Gustaf Dalman (1855-1941), a key figure in the development of the Institute. His collections populate most of the museum’s displays.

Dalman first visited the Holy Land for an extended time in 1899, and he lived there continuously from 1902 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Though he was able to return two more times, the war essentially brought an end to Dalman’s activity in the Holy Land, and thereafter he researched it remotely from the Institute of Palestinology in Greifswald, Germany.

Photo sources: left, right.

In last week’s post, we mentioned the aspects of Palestinian life and the various fields of study that Dalman investigated as part of his encyclopedic research. Although some of Dalman’s writings have been translated into English, his most important work was not, at least not till now. Dalman’s magnum opus was a seven-volume work (in eight parts) entitled Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, or Work and Customs in Palestine. An eighth volume was incomplete at the time of his death, and not until 2001 were the notes for this volume finally published. Below are the subjects covered by the eight volumes. At the very end of this post, you can view/download the detailed contents for Volume 1, Part 1. This should give a very good sense for the breadth and depth of these volumes.

  • Vol. 1, part 1: Course of the Year and Course of the Day: Autumn and Winter
  • Vol. 1, part 2: Course of the Year and Course of the Day: Spring and Summer
  • Vol. 2: Agriculture
  • Vol. 3: From Harvest to Flour: Harvesting, Threshing, Winnowing, Sieving, Storing, Milling
  • Vol. 4: Bread, Oil and Wine
  • Vol. 5: Textiles, Spinning, Weaving and Clothing
  • Vol. 6: Tent Life, Cattle and Dairy Farming, Hunting, FishingVol. 7: The house, Chicken Breeding, Pigeon Breeding, Beekeeping
  • Vol. 8: Domestic Life, Birth, Marriage and Death (it was also intended to include Singing and Music)
Photo source: Antiquariat an der Uni Muenchen.

Dalman, Gustaf H.
    1928-1942    Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina. 7 vols. Gütersloh: C. Bertelsmann.
    2001            Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, Vol. 8: Fragment aus dem Nachlass. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter.

Dalman’s work is perhaps the most important window into pre-modern, agricultural/pastoral world of the Holy Land. Along with photographs like the Matson Collection, this is about as close as we today can get to seeing and experiencing daily life in Bible times. Yet, for so many of use who do not possess facility in the German tongue, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina has remained inaccessible. That is why, a few years ago, it was exciting to find out that Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina is being translated into English. It is Nadia Abdulhadi-Sukhtian to whom we are in the debt for executing the translation. Volume 1, parts 1 and 2, were published in 2013.

Dalman, Gustaf H.
    2013    Work and Customs in Palestine, Vol. 1, Parts 1 and 2: The Course of the Year and the Course of the Day. Trans. Nadia Abdulhadi-Sukhtian. Ramallah: Dar Al Nasher.

Part 1 is available here. Part 2 is available here.

While preparing this post, we discovered that Volume 2 was published just this year. We are glad to see the project is moving along.

Dalman, Gustaf.
    2020    Work and Customs in Palestine, Vol. 2: Agriculture. Trans. Robert Schick. Ed. Nadia Abdulhadi-Sukhtian. Ramallah: Dar Al Nasher.

The only place where Volume 2 appears to be available is here. (Be advised that shipping appears to take one to one-and-a-half months.)

Detailed Contents of Volume 1, Part 1: The Course of the Year and the Course of the Day

ADDED NOTE: One of our readers visited the grave of Gustaf Dalman in the town of Herrnhut, Germany. Here is a photograph the reader sent.

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About the BiblePlaces Blog

The BiblePlaces Blog provides updates and analysis of the latest in biblical archaeology, history, and geography. Unless otherwise noted, the posts are written by Todd Bolen, PhD, Professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s University.

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