Excavating in the JH Iliffe collection

The John Henry Iliffe Collection (UQFL514) in the Fryer Library is a collection of photographs, articles, correspondence, and newspapers cuttings relating to the career and archaeological research of John Henry Iliffe.

John Henry Iliffe (1903-1960) was a British archaeologist. His major interest was Near Eastern archaeology, which is reflected in his excavations in Cyprus. The RD Milns Antiquities Museum at The University of Queensland holds three artefacts from these excavations.

From 1950 to 1955, Iliffe and Terence Bruce Mitford directed a British archaeological expedition to Kouklia in western Cyprus, a city famed throughout Antiquity as a centre of Aphrodite worship. The Iliffe Collection in the Fryer Library contains photo albums as well as notebooks from the Kouklia Expeditions.

On loan to the RD Milns Antiquities Museum are the albums and one notebook from the Fryer Library for inclusion in the exhibition Cyprus: An Island and A People. The exhibition investigates the complex and fascinating history of Cyprus in the ancient world and the role of archaeology in the making of modern Cyprus. The exhibition also explores the roles played by archaeologists in shaping the island's story.

Photographs in Album 4 from the 1953 Kouklia Expedition have been digitised and are available to view via UQ eSpace. Album 4 is an album of prints taken between 23 June and 6 August 1953 showing excavations and artefacts at Site A-KA Marcello; Site B-KB Hadji Abdullah; Site D-KD Evreti; Site KF; and Site KT.

Image: Page 1 of Album 4, 1953 Kouklia Expedition, Cyprus [1].

Knowing the context of the excavation is important in order to make the photographs useful, so as much metadata as possible was required for the digitised album - that is, information about the images. Fortunately an extensive index of the album [2] is included in the John Henry Iliffe Collection. A description of each photograph in the album was transcribed from the Notebook of the Kouklia Expedition Negative Register and included in the UQ eSpace record for each page in the album.

The photographs and metadata “are important because they show stages and details of the dig and the context of artefacts reveals at the site that may have disappeared after the dig has been completed…they give researchers an impression of both the people who were present at the site and the circumstances and atmosphere at the excavation, giving a better understanding of the character and achievements [of the expedition]” [3].



  • 4K.304 Marcello (Site A)., Cauldron 3, on m.bs & embedded in concrete from West
  • 4K.17 Marcello (Site A), Fragments of carloniop[?] wood

Images: 4K.280  Rustem's wife & child; 4K.281 Andreas (cook); 4K.282 Hecula & Chrisis (maids)



  • 4K.307 Excavation workers and staff at Marcello (Site A)
  • 10.28     Studio photographs of bowls from unidentified Site

You can find out more about the John Henry Iliffe Collection (UQFL514) from the Library Catalogue and view digitised material online at UQ eSpace, UQ’s institutional digital repository.

Cyprus: An Island and A People opened at the RD Milns Antiquities Museum on 5 June 2015 and runs until May 2016. The Museum is located on the second floor of UQ's Michie Building (Building 9) and is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

[1] K4 album: prints of excavations and artefacts from Kouklia, John Henry Iliffe Collection, UQFL514, Parcel 4, Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.

[2] Notebook of the Kouklia Expedition Negative Register, John Henry Iliffe Collection, UQFL514, Box 5, Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.

[3] Wagemakers, B. (2014). Digital Non-Professional Archaeological Photographs Archives. Archaeological Review from Cambridge, 29(2), 50-68. Retrieved June 5, 2015.


Last updated:
5 January 2017