Grace Crowfoot

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Grace Crowfoot (1877–1957) was an archaeologist and expert on Ancient Egyptian textiles; and mother of Dorothy Hodgkin, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. During her career she worked on the Anglo-Saxon burial at Sutton Hoo and on a variety of Ancient Egyptian tombs including publishing a paper on the embroidered panels in the tomb of Tutankhamun. She trained a generation of textile archaeologists such as Audrey Henshall, Margethe Hald and Agnes Geijer. She was notable for her involvement with the Dead Sea Scrolls. She published widely in the field and is notable for her contribution to the archaeology of textiles. Her obituary was written by Kathleen Kenyon.

Early life[edit]

Born in Lincolnshire, England in 1877 Grace Mary Hood known as 'Molly' was the oldest of 6 children. Her grandfather collected Egyptian antiquities and this put her in contact with many archaeologists such as William Flinders Petrie. Molly became lifelong friends with Petrie's wife Hilda.[1]

In 1908 she became a professional midwife. This experience proved invaluable when she was able to send for two of her friends who had trained with her 'Bee' and 'Gee' Wollf when she was settled in Khartoum. They set up the first school of midwifery in the Sudan.[1]

She excavated the cave at Tana Bertrand in 1908-1909 where she found 300 beads which she published and also found signs of early occupation.[1]

Career highlights[edit]

In 1909 she married John Winter Crowfoot who was the Assistant Director of Education in Sudan and they lived in Cairo where had three daughters. She became a professional midwife and learnt photography.[1][2]

After the First World War, Molly and John moved to the Sudan where John became Director of the Gordon College in Khartoum. As she immersed herself in the life of local women Molly became a proficient weaver, learning to weave cotton on primitive looms. She published two papers on this topic. She studied the paintings of spinning and weaving on Pharonic tombs.[1]

Following the birth of their fourth daughter and the end of the war the Crowfoot family returned to England. Grace Crowfoot published several books on looms, textiles and tablet weaving. She also continued to publish botanical works.[1]

In 1926 John was offered the Directorship of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. During his time there he was in charge of a number of important excavations at Samria-Sebaste, on Ophel and at a number of early Christian churches in Jerash. As the Directors wife, Molly was in charge of all the domestic arrangements which she managed well and efficiently. She also took interest in the detail of the finds from these sites seeing several papers through to publication.[1]

She died in 1957 before her 80th birthday from leukaemia.[3]

Books by Grace Crowfoot[edit]

  • Some desert flowers collected near Cairo (1914)[4]
  • Flowering Plants of the Northern and Central Sudan (1928)[5]
  • Methods of hand spinning in Egypt and the Sudan (1931)[6]
  • From Cedar to Hyssop: A study in the folklore of Plants in Palestine[7]
  • Some Palestine Flowers (1933)[8]
  • Early Ivories from Samaria (1938)[9]
  • Tablet woven braids from vestments of St Cuthbert at Durham (1939)[10]
  • Handcrafts in Palestine: Primitive Weaving (1944)[11]
  • Handcrafts in Palestine: Jerusalem hammock cradles and Hebron rugs (1944)[12]
  • Anglo Saxon Tablet Weaving (2011)[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Women in Old Archaeology". Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Grace Crowfoot,, Retrieved 25 June 2016
  4. ^ Crowfoot, Grace (1914). Some desert flowers collected near Cairo. 
  5. ^ Crowfoot, Grace (1928). Flowering Plants of the Northern and Central Sudan. The Orphans’ Printing Press, Limited. 
  6. ^ Roth, Grace M. Crowfoot. Hand woolcombing / by H. Ling (1974). Methods of hand spinning in Egypt and the Sudan. Bedford (Victoria Farmhouse, Carlton, Bedford): Ruth Bean. ISBN 0903585014. 
  7. ^ Crowfoot, Grace (1932). From Cedar to Hyssop: A study in the folklore of Plants in Palestine. 
  8. ^ Crowfoot, Grace (1933). Some Palestine Flowers. 
  9. ^ Crowfoot, Grace (1938). Early Ivories from Samaria. Palestine Exploration Fund. 
  10. ^ Crowfoot, Grace (1939). Tablet woven braids from vestments of St Cuthbert at Durham. 
  11. ^ Crowfoot, Grace (1943). Handcrafts in Palestine: Primitive Weaving. Palestine Exploration Quarterly July–October, 1943. 
  12. ^ Crowfoot, Grace (1944). Handcrafts in Palestine: Jerusalem hammock cradles and Hebron rugs. Palestine Exploration Quarterly January–April, 1944. 
  13. ^ Crowfoot, Grace M. (29 November 2011). "Anglo-Saxon Tablet Weaving". The Antiquaries Journal. 32 (3-4): 189–191. doi:10.1017/S0003581500076836.