Cataloging of the Tadmor Collection Nears Completion

By Evelyn Behar , Gabriel Mckee

In 2010 ISAW purchased the library of Hayim and Miriam Tadmor. The Tadmor Collection, totaling over 2,300 volumes, was one of the first large collections acquired during the early stage of building the ISAW Library’s print collection. We are now approaching the end of the complex and rewarding process of cataloging this important collection.

A pioneering Assyriologist, Hayim Tadmor studied under Benjamin Maisler, Sidney Smith, and Benno Landsberger, receiving his M.A. from the Hebrew University in 1950. In 1965, he became the first head of the Hebrew University’s newly-minted Department of Assyriology. In a career spanning over 50 years, he made major contributions in the fields of Biblical chronology and Neo-Assyrian history, and became particularly well known for his work on Assyrian royal inscriptions. He served as the vice-president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, was granted an honorary membership in the American Oriental Society, and was appointed a corresponding fellow at the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Miriam Tadmor also had a distinguished career in Near Eastern studies. An archaeologist, she too received an M.A. from the Hebrew University and participated in excavations at Tell Qasile, Rosh Haniqra, and Beth Yeraḥ before obtaining a UNESCO scholarship to study museology in London. She subsequently studied at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. When the Israel Museum in Jerusalem was founded in 1965, she served on the steering committee that planned and designed its archaeological division, and she worked as the Chief Curator of Archaeology there 18 years. An exhibition of Biblical antiquities she curated at the Israel Museum later traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as to museums in Los Angeles, Houston, and Toronto. ISAW's copy of the exhibition catalog (Oversize DS111.A1 T73 1986) is from the Tadmors' own collection.

The complementary professional and scholarly interests of both Tadmors are reflected in their library, which includes a wealth of scholarly and popular material on Assyrian history, Northwest Semitic philology, the Hebrew Bible, and Levantine antiquities. Items that fell outside of ISAW’s mission, such as works on medieval Jewish culture and modern Russian politics, have been cataloged for NYU’s Bobst Library.  

The archaeology books in the Tadmor Collection cover various aspects of life in the Ancient Near East, with textual sources and archaeological reports, as well as secondary works and exhibition catalogs. Akkadian, Sumerian, Ugaritic, and other languages of the Ancient Near East are well represented. There are numerous festschrifts in honor or memory of colleagues. Scholarly writings, dissertations, and material used in university courses also came with the collection.

Following its acquisition, the Tadmor Collection was placed into storage to await accessioning and cataloging, since we were busy cataloging other large collections. Also, the library’s size, linguistic complexity, and the rarity of many of its items--many not held elsewhere in the United States--all contributed to make it a challenging collection to bring to the ISAW Library’s stacks. Thus, although it was among the first scholarly libraries to be acquired in the initial phase of collection building, it is also the last of the major collections acquired during that period to be fully cataloged.

The completion of this library’s processing brings an extraordinary collection of scholarly resources to the ISAW and wider ancient studies community in the New York metropolitan region. The entire collection can be searched in Bobcat using the phrase “Tadmor Collection.”

Highlights of the scarce Hebrew materials in the Tadmor Collection include:

  • Yael Israeli’s Zekhukhit ʻatiḳah (ISAW Small Collection NK5107.I838 1964), the catalog of an exhibition at the Glass Museum in Tel Aviv
  • Edward Kutscher’s Meḥḳarim ba-Aramit ha-Gelilit (ISAW Small Collection PJ5257 .K8 1965), an analysis of the Aramaic dialects of Galilee
  • Ilʹi͡a Sholeĭmovich Shifman’s Ha-Hevrah ha-Finikit  (ISAW Large Collection DS81 .S55 1990), the text of a lecture Shifman prepared to present at Haifa University in 1990; unfortunately Shifman died before he was scheduled to deliver the lecture.


Biographical material on the Tadmors in this post is drawn from Peter Machinist, “A Tribute to Hayim Tadmor,” and Yaacov Meshorer, “A Tribute to Miriam Tadmor,” in Hayim and Miriam Tadmor Volume (Eretz Israel vol. 27). Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2003 (ISAW Oversize Collection DS111.A2 E7 vol. 27).