Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister was an Irish archaeologist. Macalister was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Alexander Macalister, then professor of Professor of Zoology and his father was appointed professor of anatomy at Cambridge in 1883, and he was educated at The Perse School, and then studied at Cambridge University. Although his earliest interest was in the archaeology of Ireland, he developed a strong interest in biblical archaeology. Along with Frederick J. Bliss, he excavated several towns in the Shephelah region of Ottoman Palestine from 1898 to 1900, using advances in stratigraphy building on the work of Flinders Petrie, they developed a chronology for the region using ceramic typology. Upon Bliss retirement, Macalister became director of excavations for the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1901, from 1902 to 1909 he was responsible for the excavations at Gezer, in the modern state of Israel, just west of Jerusalem. This was one of the earliest large-scale scientific archaeological excavations in the region, the Gezer calendar found there is a very early paleo-Hebrew calendrical inscription. However, in most respects Macalisters work in Biblical archaeology is considered to have been a failure, due to the quality of his excavation techniques. Because Macalister was the only professional archaeologist involved in the excavation, Macalister left the field of Biblical archaeology in 1909 to accept a position as professor of Celtic archaeology at University College, Dublin, where he taught until his retirement in 1943. During this period, he worked at the ancient Irish royal site of Tara and was responsible for editing the catalogue of all known inscriptions from Great Britain. Many of his translations of Irish myths and legends are widely used today. He was elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 1910 and served as their president from 1926 to 1931 and he was also president of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland from 1924 to 1928. He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge, the Excavation of Gezer,1902 -1905 and 1907 -1909. John Murray, Albemarle Street West, London, a History of Civilization in Palestine The Philistines, Their History and Civilization Muiredach, abbot of Monasterboice, 890–923 A. D.1984. BA portrait, The Success and Failure of Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister
Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister
Line painted in 1900 (at top of image, marked "PEF") by Robert A.S. Macalister showing the level of the Dead Sea.