Dear colleagues and friends,
It is with great emotion, as you can understand, that I stand before you today to pay homage to Barbara Parker, whose death is a great loss to us all. I am particularly honoured to be allowed to speak here in the famous Institute of Archaeology where she spent a great part of her own life, first as a student and then as a member of staff. My thanks go first to Professor David Harris and Professor David Oates, who invited me, and also to you, her colleagues and her friends brought together here. Each of you has many more qualifications to speak about her than I do, so I am peculiarly touched and grateful to have been chosen to evoke a personality I loved and admired for more than forty years.
Thanks to the Rencontres Assyriologiques Internationales, founded in 1950 by Georges Dossin and Jean Nougayrol, I met Barbara Parker year after year, in Paris or elsewhere. I was curious to see which Rencontres Barbara took part in. I found that for at least thirty years she had missed hardly any, especially after she came back from Baghdad, where from 1949 to 1961 she was Secretary-Librarian at the British School of Archaeology in Iraq. It was during the 24th Rencontre, in Paris in 1977, that Barbara informed me with an astonishing simplicity in the elevator going up to the Conservation of the Musée du Louvre that she had married Sir Max Mallowan. I was very happy, but a bit amazed, to learn the news in such a matter-of-fact way. That discretion and that modesty were a characteristic of her personality. For the same reason she never gave a lecture, but came to meet the other scholars and listen to their papers. I am quite sure that she would not like this homage to turn into a panegyric, but how can I neglect to mention the soundness of her work from both an epigraphic and an archaeological point of view, a double speciality which is so rare nowadays? I verified this again, looking through the collection of offprints she sent me from 1955 onwards, as well as the posthumous article on a cylinder seal from Central Asia sent to me recently by Rachel Maxwell-Hyslop, who co-authored it with her for the Festschrift für Ruth Mayer-Opificius. Her main field was, of course, the study of the documents discovered in Nimrud and in Balawat in the 1950s, cuneiform tablets and seals. But she was interested in other aspects of ancient Mesopotamia, particularly Assyrian reliefs and temple furniture. She published the cylinder seals and the bronze figurines of dogs found at Tell al-Rimah. The article on those figurines (Mallowan 1986) was her contribution to the Studies in Honor of Edith Porada, who unfortunately also left us recently.