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In Memoriam: Safwan al-Tell (1938–2012)

Fragment Carved with Vine Scroll and a Vase, mid-8th century. Made in Jordan, Qasr al-Mshatta. Limestone, carved. Department of Antiquities, Qasr al-Mshatta Archaeological Site, Jordan. This work was featured in the 2012 exhibition Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition.

After receiving his B.A. from Istanbul University in 1964, Dr. Sawfan Al-Tell came to the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. As part of his training for a master's degree in Archaeology and Art History, Safwan al-Tell participated in the Curatorial Studies program (1968). He then returned to Istanbul, and received his doctorate in Byzantine and Islamic Art and Archaeology there in 1974.

Dr. Safwan al-Tell served as the Director General of Antiquities of Jordan from 1991 to 1995, a time of considerable archaeological activity in the country. His publications included the Development of Coinage in Jordan throughout History (1986), Arabic and Islamic Antiquities of Jordan (1988), and Gerasa, Roman City of Jordan (1997).

From 1970 until his retirement in June 2012, Safwan al-Tell held a number of positions at the University of Jordan, where he was Professor of Islamic and Byzantine Art and Archaeology. From 1982 to 1985, he was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the Assistant Secretary General for the Association of Arab Universities.

In 1994, Safwan al-Tell received the Order of the Star of Jordan (الكوكب الأردني ; Wisam al-Kawkab al-Urdani) from King Hussein, and the Grand Silver Star from the President of Austria that same year. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Safwan al-Tell remained in contact with the Institute of Fine Arts and was very proud of his American training. He passed away on October 3, 2012; he is buried in Irbid, the city of his birth.