James Stewart (archaeologist)

James R. B. Stewart (3 July 1913 – 6 February 1962) was a noted Australian archaeologist of Cyprus and Ancient south-west Asia at the University of Sydney.[1]

James R. Stewart
Born(1913-07-11)11 July 1913
Sydney NSW
Died6 February 1962(1962-02-06) (aged 48)
Bathurst NSW
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Known forArchaeology of Cyprus
Spouse(s)1. Eleanor Neal 2. Dorothy Evelyn (Eve) Dray

Early life and careerEdit

Stewart was born in Sydney and died at Bathurst, New South Wales and was a descendant of a line of Bathurst landed gentry. He spent much of his childhood in Europe attended secondary school in Australia and enrolled The Leys School in Cambridge in 1930, at the age of 17, then attended Cambridge University the following year. His mother died in January 1932, leaving him £7000. He visited Bagdad, Damascus, Aleppo and Baalbeck on his way to England in 1932. He married Eleanor Neal in England on 1 July 1935 and the two travelled Australia for a visit. James won a Wilkins Fellowship, which he used for them both to travel to the Near East with a short stay in Cyprus. They arrived in Istanbul in January 1936, and they spent time digging and collecting.[2]

War service and first marriageEdit

Jim volunteered to join the British army in May 1940 and requested to be posted in Cyprus. Prior to leaving England for a short trip to Australia with Eleanor he left £300 for the publication of his work and bequeathed his massive personal library to the Cyprus Museum. He reported for duty at Haifa on 30 January 1941, but was captured by the end of the year and spent out the war as a German prisoner of war and after the war. After liberation by American troops he returned to England in April 1945.

Move to Australia and marriageEdit

In 1947 Stewart made what was intended to be a two-week visit to Australia via Cyprus, but there met Dorothy Evelyn (Eve) Dray (born August 1914), who grew up in Cairo and shared his interest in Cyprus having made her first trip in 1926 then returned after completing her education in 1937. Stewart arranged for Eve to come to Australia as his ‘technical assistant’.[2]

Academic career in Australia and second marriageEdit

Stewart obtained a position at the Sydney University, where he lectured in the History department, at the Nicholson Museum, becoming the first person to teach archaeology at an Australian university. He lobbied for the establishment of a Department of Archaeology, which was created in 1948. Stewart divorced Eleanor and married Eve in 1951, and they moved to Mount Pleasant at Bathurst, where he had his own laboratory and library. Stewart was appointed Professor of Near Eastern Studies in 1960 but died just 18 months into his tenure on 6 February 1962. Eve worked for nearly fifty years after his death to complete her husband's work.[2] A large collection of his Cyprus material was donated to the Nicholson Museum in Sydney,[3] while the British Museum acquired the artefacts from two tomb groups as a result of his excavations at Bellapais-Vounous in 1937–1938.[4]

He built up a large collection of coins from Rome, Byzantium, Cyprus and the Crusades.[5]


Further readingEdit

  • Cambitoglou A. 1963, [Obituary of James Stewart], Opuscula Atheniensia IV, 205–6.
  • Knapp A.B. et al. (eds) 2013, J.R.B Stewart. An archaeological legacy. SIMA CXXXIX (Uppsala).
  • Merrillees R. 1983, 'Professor James R. Stewart: a biographical lecture' in C.A. Hope and J.K.Zimmer (eds), Catalogue of ancient Middle Eastern pottery from Palestine, Cyprus and Egypt in the Faculty of Art Gallery RMIT June 1983 and essays on Australian contributions to the archaeology of the ancient Near East (Melbourne), 33–51.


  • Merrillees R. 1994, '"The ordeal of shaving in a frozen lake". Professor J.R Stewart and the Swedish Cyprus Expedition', in P. Åström et al., '"The fantastic years on Cyprus". The Swedish Cyprus Expedition and its members (Jonsered), 38–55.


  • Merrillees R. 2013, 'Eleanor Stewart remembered' and 'Professor J.R. Stewart - archaeologist, numismatist and soldier of Cyprus', in Knapp et al. 2013, ix-xi and 185–93.
  • Webb J. et al. 2009, The Bronze Age cemeteries at Karmi Palealona and Lapatsa in Cyprus: Excavations by J.R.B. Stewart. SIMA CXXXVI (Sävedalen).
  • Powell, J. 2013, '‘Love’s Obsession: The Lives and Archaeology of Jim and Eve Stewart’' Wakefield Press, Kent Town, ISBN 978 1 74305 235 8.


  1. ^ Robert S. Merrillees, "Professor James R. Stewart: A Biographical Lecture", in Åström, P. (ed.), On Opium, Pots, People and Places - Selected Papers - An Honorary Volume for Robert S. Merrillees, [Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology and Literature, No. 167], Paul Åströms Forlag, 2003, pp.33-51. ISBN 91-7081-133-4
  2. ^ a b c Powell, Judith (2013), Love's obsession : the lives and archaeology of Jim and Eve Stewart, Kent Town, S. Aust. Wakefield Press, ISBN 978-1-74305-235-8
  3. ^ ABC Radio, Late Night Live, Archaeological pioneers
  4. ^ J R Stewart (archaeologist; Australian; Male; 1913 - 1962) British Museum
  5. ^ Merrillees, M.R. Stewart, James Rivers Barrington (1913-1962) (2002 ed.). Canberra: Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 1 April 2022.