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Authors: Judy Powell

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Love's Obsession

BOOK: Love's Obsession

Wakefield Press


Judy Powell is an archaeologist and historian with a PhD in classical archaeology. Judy has worked on excavations in Cyprus, Greece, Jordan, and was a Fellow at the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens. She has undertaken a range of Indigenous and historical archaeology projects in the course of over fifteen years in the cultural heritage and museum sector in Queensland. She is an adjunct lecturer in the Archaeology program at The University of Queensland.

Judy lives in the Sunshine Coast hinterland with a placid and ever-expanding family of kangaroos.

Jim and Eve Stewart, Singapore, 1955
(DES archive)

Wakefield Press

1 The Parade West

Kent Town

South Australia 5067

First published 2013

This edition published 2013

Copyright © Judy Powell 2013

All rights reserved. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publisher.

Cover designed by Stacey Zass

Front cover illustration: Early Cypriot III–Middle Cypriot I pottery sherds, excavated by J.R. Stewart at Palealona Tomb 3A in 1961 Courtesy Nicholson Museum catalogue number NM 2009.120.1–4 and NM 2009.114

Edited by Penelope Curtin

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry

Author:    Powell, Judith, author.

Title:    Love's obsession: the lives and archaeology of Jim and Eve Stewart / Judy Powell.

ISBN:    978 1 74305 274 7 (ebook: epub).

Notes:    Includes bibliographical references and index.


Stewart, James Rivers Barrington 1914–1962.

Stewart, Eve.


Classical antiquities.


Dewey Number:    930.1092

For my father, Owen Powell (1921–2013)

I believe that Archaeology is so unimportant, so divorced from modern life, that it is worth taking seriously.

J.R.B. Stewart, 28 December 1943


Some stories you seek, while others come knocking at your door. That's how it was at the Australian Archaeological Association conference at Noosa in 2008. A combination of events conspired and I was soon to discover the joys and frustrations of serendipity, which plays a crucial role in the decision to embark upon a biography, as it does in the survival of the sources with which a biographer has to work.

On the night of the conference dinner, there was a crush in the dining room. A line of people snaked out the door, moving slowly into the dining area, where clusters of tables made movement difficult. Professor David Frankel stood behind me and, although I didn't know him very well, the few glasses of champagne I'd had encouraged me to congratulate him on the paper he had given earlier in the day. He had spoken about his recent work on Bronze Age Cyprus and it was, for me, nostalgic. I hadn't worked on anything Mediterranean for over a decade, but I love Cypriot pottery and the landscapes of his talk were those I was once familiar with, and still love. I told him this.

A group of people were standing nearby and I was introduced to Dr Laila Haglund, who of course I knew by name but had never met. ‘Have you been to Cyprus?' she asked. ‘I have a lot of papers about Cyprus that I really must get around to sorting through. It's been a few years …' And so the journey began.

Jim Stewart was a name I knew, but only vaguely. Eve Stewart was completely unknown to me. In the 1980s, as a student of archaeology, I had frequently seen reference to Jim Stewart's excavations on Cyprus but, apart from a short article with the delightful title ‘The tomb of the seafarer', I had seen little written by him and idly wondered why. As an archaeologist I knew that ‘it all began at Sydney
but I was then a student at the University of Queensland and had not heard all the stories.

I arranged to visit Laila at her home in country Queensland, with its views of Mount Barney and kangaroos in the front yard. The papers she had mentioned at the conference were in large plastic archive boxes that lined the back verandah, among pot plants and the ephemera of daily life. Inside each, buff-coloured manila folders were concertinaed row upon row. Each folder was labelled, and familiar names leapt out: Alan Wace, Winifred Lamb, Hector Catling, Vassos Karageorghis. I couldn't resist riffling through them. In one folder—marked simply ‘bibliographies'—was an envelope addressed to Lieut J. Stewart, Oflag VIIB. Slips of paper and flattened out cigarette packets spilled out, each covered with tiny neat writing in pencil. I felt the same excitement holding these letters and files that I had the first time I dug up an artefact. These papers were real. Many of them had not been read for decades but, like the bone fishhook and the obsidian blade I had excavated so long ago, they belonged to real people and were touched by their humanity.

I was hooked. From that day, I wanted to find out about these people, to understand their obsessions. In time, the quest became my own obsession and has led me to follow them around the world. To England, where much of the story began, to Cyprus, and around Australia. I met people who knew them, who adored them or hated them, who trusted them or were wary. It has been a different sort of travelling, and has taken me to places I would never otherwise have visited—the wild Karpas in northeastern Cyprus, museum storerooms in Stockholm, a Scottish baronial folly in Bathurst. Along the way I have met people I never thought to encounter—a numismatist specialising in the coins of Medieval Cyprus, a retired major general from the Tower of London, a Maronite lawyer from Kyrenia, a Turkish Cypriot artist.

Jim Stewart was the first Australian to direct an archaeological excavation outside Australia and the first field archaeologist to teach archaeology in Australia. Together with Dale Trendall, he ran what constituted the first department of archaeology in an Australian university and taught the first generation of classical and Near Eastern archaeologists in Australia. Jim Stewart had worked with some of the early pioneers of archaeology in Europe and the Near East, and his excavations on Cyprus between the 1930s and 1960s enriched the collections of museums across Australia, and overseas.

But these were Eve Stewart's files and it was her diligence that was so evident in the carefully curated archive. It was she who intrigued me. What was her legacy, I wondered.


I am deeply indebted to many people, all of whom gave freely of their time. Indeed one of the most enjoyable aspects of the research for this book has been the opportunity to meet so many interesting characters and work with such engaging colleagues.

Although the internet has made life more complex, it has also made many things more accessible. I am humbled by the generosity of people and institutions who happily shared material across continents.

For their continued support for this project I owe a particular debt of thanks to Peter Stewart, Dr Laila Haglund and Professor Basil Hennessy.

Other individuals who have, in various ways, helped me to complete this work include, in alphabetical order:

In Cyprus:
Yiannis and Dora Cleanthous, Petro Colocassides, Professor Tom Davis, Dr Vassos Karageorghis, Ruth Keshishian, Elicos Liatsos, Professor Dimitri Michaelides, Andreas Pitsillides, Dr Rita Severis, Alison South.

In the United Kingdom:
Edward Baldwin, Dr Hector Catling, Dr Lisa French, Mary Ann Fishbourne (née Meagher), Dr David Gill, Derek and Sonja Howlett, Professor Michael Metcalf, Major-General Giles Mills, Hallam Mills, Dr Eddie Peltenburg, Dr Rachel Sparks, Sarah Vale.

In Sweden:
Elisabet Åström, the Lorimer-Olsson family, Dr Kristian Göransson.

In the United States of America:
Dr Paul Hockings, Dr Stuart Swiny, Dr Joanne van Tilburg.

In France:
Dr Robert Merrillees.

In Australia:
Professor Jim Allen, Dr Craig Baker, Dr Judy Birmingham, Dr Stephen Bourke, the Butcher family, Karin Calley, Professor Alexander Cambitoglou, Dr Chris Davey, Professor Iain Davidson, Robert Deane, Alex Diamantis, Dr Kathryn Eriksson, Professor David Frankel, Linda Hennessy, Ruth Hennessy, Professor Greg Horsley, Suzanne Kelly (née Sneeling), Professor Vincent Megaw, Christopher Morgan, Professor John Mulvaney, Michael Quinnell, Sally Salter, Dr Andrew Sneddon, Dr Jenny Webb.

The staff of the following institutions:

In Sweden

The archives of the Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm

Lund University archives, Sweden

In the United Kingdom

Imperial War Museum, London

National Archives (UK)

The Leys School, Cambridge

Trinity Hall archives, Cambridge

British Ministry of Defence

University College, London, Special Collections

In Cyprus

State Archives, Nicosia

Cyprus American Archaeological Institute (CAARI), Nicosia

Cyprus Veterans Group

In Australia

University of Sydney Archives

Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney

The Kings School, Parramatta, NSW

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Archives

University of New England archives, Armidale

Blue Mountains Historical Society, Wentworth Falls, NSW

Australian Institute of Archaeology, Melbourne

In Greece

The Archive of the British School at Athens

Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Manuscript advice was provided by Annette Hughes.

Other readers include Dr Marion Diamond, Margot Duncan, Barbara Heath, Ross Johnston, Catherine Quinn, Michelle Riedlinger and Peter Riedlinger. I want to thank Trish Rea in particular for providing meticulous commentary.

I would like to acknowledge Wakefield Press, who have been supportive throughout the publication process, and my editor Penelope Curtin, who was unfailingly helpful.

Financial assistance for aspects of this work was provided by the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI), the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities and the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

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