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Crystal-Margaret Bennett, OBE FSA (20 August 1918 – 12 August 1987) was a British archaeologist. A student of Kathleen Kenyon, Bennett was a pioneer of archaeological research in Jordan and founded the British Institute at Amman for Archaeology and History.[1][2]

Crystal-Margaret Bennett

Crystal-Margaret Rawlings

20 August 1918
Died12 August 1987
Academic background
Alma materUCL Institute of Archaeology
InfluencesKathleen Kenyon
Academic work
DisciplineNear Eastern archaeologist
Sub-disciplineBiblical archaeology in Palestine and Jordan

Early life and educationEdit

Crystal-Margaret Rawlings was born to George Rawlings, a soldier, and Elizabeth Rawlings (née Jennings) of Alderney, one of the Channel Islands, on 20 August 1918. She was the third of five children. She attended La Retraite Convent School on Alderney and then Bristol University, where she studied English. At the age of 22 she married draughtsman Philip Roy Bennett (1907–1986), converting from the Church of England to Roman Catholicism in order to do so. The marriage lasted six years; the couple separated in 1946, a year after the birth of their only child Simon Bennett.[2] Following the divorce, Bennett moved in with her former mother-in-law and raised her son Simon.[1]

In 1954, Bennett enrolled at the Institute of Archaeology in London (now part of University College London) to study for a postgraduate diploma in the Archaeology of the Roman Provinces in the West. She participated in excavations led by Sheppard Frere, and directed two excavations of her own: a Roman villa near Cox Green, Berkshire; and a Romano-British temple near her home in Bruton, Somerset.[3] She then took a second postgraduate diploma in Palestinian Archaeology, which she studied under Kathleen Kenyon.[1]

Edomite excavationsEdit

After completing her second postgraduate diploma, Bennett was invited to join Kenyon's final season of excavations at Jericho in 1957–58, and subsequently contributed to the second volume of Kenyon's monograph on the site.[1] She then went on to work with Peter Parr at Petra (1958–1963), and again with Kenyon in Jerusalem (1961–1963).[1][3]

It was whilst working with Parr at Petra that Bennett first became interested in the Edomites, which was to become the focus of her later career. She conducted excavations at an Edomite site in Petra in 1958, 1960 and 1963.[3] It was here that Bennett also began her reputation for overcoming considerable logistical obstacles:[4] the site was located atop one of Petra's most inaccessible peaks, Umm al-Biyara, and all supplies had to be carried up to the summit by hand or else airlifted in by helicopter.[2][3] Bennett's work there significantly revised the previously accepted chronology of the Edamites, placing them in the 7th century BCE rather than the 13th.[2] She subsequently excavated the Edomite sites of Tawilan (1968–70, 1982), near Petra, where Bennett discovered the first cuneiform tablet found in Jordan; Buseirah in southern Jordan (1971–74, 1980), identified with the biblical Bozrah, the capital of the Edomite kingdom; and a number of mining sites around Wadi Dana and Wadi Faynan.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Balderstone, Susan. "Crystal-M Bennett" (PDF). Breaking Ground: Women in Old World Archaeology. Brown University. Retrieved 2017-01-04.
  2. ^ a b c d Bienkowski, Piotr (2004). "Crystal Bennett (1918–1987)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/58414. Retrieved 2017-01-01.
  3. ^ a b c d e Talbot, Geraldine (1987). "Crystal-M. Bennett, O.B.E., D.Litt., F.S.A.: An Appreciation". Levant. 19 (1): 1–2. doi:10.1179/007589187790212121. ISSN 0075-8914.
  4. ^ "Obituary: Crystal-M. Bennett, 1918–1987". Levant. 20 (1): 1. 1988. doi:10.1179/007589188790212229. ISSN 0075-8914.