Area: World Cultures
Exhibitions & Galleries: Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
Ed Keall was never trained as an archaeologist, but his involvement on many different sites in the Middle East has given him the ability to be professionally productive especially in areas where none have worked before. He thrives in dealing with the unknown and the unexpected.
Originally born in the UK, and trained in Greek and Latin literature, he first visited the Middle East on an adventure, in 1962. In 1970 (after learning the trade through practical experience in countries like Iran, Iraq and Turkey), he found himself a formal PhD-qualification by studying Islamic art at the University of Michigan.
His first Canadian appointment was as an "Assistant Curator" in the West Asian section of the Royal Ontario Museum, in 1971. He was cross-appointed in the University of Toronto at the same time. He is currently a "Senior Curator," as well as Head of the ROM's Near Eastern & Asian Civilizations Department, territory that incorporates everything in the art and archaeology of the Old World from North Africa to Japan (Casablanca to Kyoto).
His dissertation focused on the excavations of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the Parthian layers of Nippur, Iraq. After joining the Royal Ontario Museum in 1971, his experiences in Iran included directing the excavations at the Parthian site of Qal'eh-I Yazdigird, a program unexpectedly interrupted in 1979.
He has directed the Canadian Archaeological Mission of the ROM (CAMROM) in Yemen since 1982. The ROM work has focused for the most part on the town of Zabid, in an attempt to define the character of a mediaeval Islamic university city, a subject he teaches at the University of Toronto.