History of the Museum

Southwestern Seminary's archaeological roots can be traced back to Leslie Carlson, professor of Biblical Archaeology and Semitic Languages from 1921-1964. For over four decades, Carlson taught and traveled throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East establishing networks with partner institutions and building the seminaries founding study collections of rare manuscripts and artifacts. Most notable among these is the cuneiform collection, including over thirty pieces from Sir Leonard Woolley's excavations at Ur of the Chaldeans in Mesopotamia. In addition to these artifacts Carlson amassed a significant corpus of biblical manuscripts from across the world. Some of these bear elaborate illuminations. Unique among these is a rare palimpsest, a document written in two separate and distinct scripts, one on each side.

Carlson's student and colleague, Robert Coleman took up the mantel of professorship in Biblical Studies following Carlson's retirement. Building on the foundation his mentor had established, Coleman expanded upon the resources previously available to include archaeological pottery, textiles, coins and replica models of Near Eastern inscriptions for classroom use. These materials are still utilized by students and faculty in the current Archaeology Program.

George Kelm, professor emeritus of biblical backgrounds and archaeology at Southwestern Seminary, and his wife Linda are responsible for the foundation of the seminary's Charles D. Tandy Archaeological Museum. He is in the company of several Southern Baptists who have invested greatly in the advancement of biblical archaeology during the 20th century. These include William H. Morton, a former professor at both Southern and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminaries, who directed excavations at the Moabite royal city of Dibon in the 1950s, and Joseph Callaway, a former Southern Seminary professor renowned for his excavations at Et-Tel/Ai.

In the late 1970s, Kelm and Israeli archaeologist Amihai Mazar uncovered Tel Batash, the biblical city of Timnah known primarily for the Israelite judge Samson. It was at Timnah that Samson tied flaming brands to fox tails in order to burn the Philistines' fields. The Philistines of Timnah took their revenge against Samson by killing his wife and father-in-law. In return, Samson killed many of the Philistines with merely a donkey's jawbone (Judges 14-15).

Kelm was a professor of Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary when he and Mazar uncovered biblical Timnah. He moved to Southwestern Seminary in 1980, where he continued to co-direct excavations at Timnah. Southwestern co-sponsored the site along with Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1981 to 1989. During this time, the ancient city of Timnah served as a field school for Southwestern Seminary students studying archaeology. Timnah was well suited to archaeological training because it had been inhabited consistently over the centuries. Students, therefore, were able to see a large span of the city's history through the artifacts that its inhabitants left behind. Students involved in the fieldwork at Timnah had opportunities to learn about such subjects as the geography of the Bible lands, important archaeological sites, contemporary Israel, and the history of Timnah itself. They also had the opportunity to tour such nations as Egypt, Greece, Italy, England, Austria, and Switzerland.

One of Kelm's greatest contributions to Southwestern Seminary was the founding of the Charles D. Tandy Archaeological Museum. The museum was established on the first floor of Southwestern's A. Webb Roberts Library in 1983. This was made possible through a $100,000 donation from the Tandy Corporation of Fort Worth.

The first major exhibit of the Tandy Museum held photographs, models, maps, and artifacts that represented the full span of archaeological work that occurred at Timnah. These exhibits also displayed the history and culture of the ancient people who inhabited the city. Linda Kelm shared her husband's passion for archaeology, accompanying him on the Timnah digs and serving as curator of the museum for more than a decade.

The Tandy Museum is also home to the I. Ruth Martin collection, which was donated to the seminary in 1990. The seminary also holds the Carlson Cuneiform Collection of tablets, clay envelopes and cone cylinders from the ancient Near East. The collection is not displayed within the Tandy Museum, but is housed within the Phillips Library in the MacGorman chapel complex.

Since 2006, the Tandy Museum has been under the directorship of Dr. Steve Ortiz, SWBTS professor of Biblical Archaeology. In this time the the Tandy's study collections have grown significantly and the seminary is once again at the forefront of archaeological research in the Near East. Bringing with him a field school and excavation project at Tel Gezer - initiated in New Orleans during his professorship at NOBTS - Ortiz is preparing the next generation of biblical archaeologists.

The Tandy Museum was recently rennovated at the beginning of 2014 and now contains an exhibit showcasing our expansive ceramics collection and special items from our other collections, with material dating from the Early Bronze Age to the Byzantine period. The Charles D. Tandy Archaeological Museum is open to the public during normal library hours Monday through Friday. Visitors may schedule a tour of the museum by contacting the Museum Collections Manager's office at extension 4600 or by email at mbarbosa@swbts.edu.