BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo College of Arts and
Sciences and the UB Institute for European and Mediterranean
Archaeology (IEMA) will present a concert next week to honor the
memory of the late Samuel M. Paley, internationally renowned
archaeologist of the Middle East, co-founder of IEMA and professor
in the Department of Classics.
Paley, a beloved and inspiring teacher, well-loved colleague,
prolific scholar and enthusiastic member of the Jewish community,
died March 31, 2010, in his home in New York City of brain cancer.
He lived for many years in Buffalo and had ties to Batavia as
The concert, which will be free of charge and open to the
public, will take place from 5-6 p.m. April 15 in Lippes Concert
Hall in Slee Hall, UB North Campus.
It will feature contemporary works by SUNY Distinguished
Professor David Felder, Birge-Cary Chair in Composition at UB;
promising young composer Moshe Shulman; and distinguished composers
Iannis Xenakis, Augusta Read Thomas, Edgard Varese and others. A
private reception will follow.
A 1963 graduate of New York University, Paley earned a master of
arts degree in art history and archaeology and a master of
philosophy degree in Middle Eastern languages from Columbia
University before receiving a PhD in Middle Eastern languages and
cultures from Columbia in 1974.
He joined the UB classics faculty in 1977, chaired the
department from 1986-91 and directed its program in Judaic Studies.
Along the way, he curated a number of exhibitions at UB and other
universities, colleges and museums on a range of archaeological
Paley was a much-published and interdisciplinary scholar,
proficient in 16 languages, who, in the course of his academic
career, excavated important archaeological sites in Cyprus, Israel
and Turkey -- expeditions that involved many UB students. He also
developed a practicum in field archaeology in Anatolia for classics
and anthropology students that continued until his death.
Peter Biehl, associate professor and chair of the Department of
Anthropology and director of IEMA, said it was Paley's "vision of
intersecting and interacting worlds of archaeology" that laid the
foundations for IEMA. The institute is a Signature Center of
Excellence within the College of Arts and Sciences, and its mission
is to establish itself as one of the top institutions in the United
States for the study and research of European and Mediterranean
Paley's vision also led to such pioneering work as the
establishment of a multipurpose, authoritative and functional
virtual heritage museum -- one of the first in the field -- of the
palace of the ninth-century BCE Nimrud King Ashur-nasir-pal, with
Thenkurussi Kesavadas, professor of mechanical and aerospace
engineering, and his graduate student, Young-Seok Kim, both of the
UB's Virtual Reality Laboratory.
The Nimrud archaeological site, in present-day Iraq, was one of
many international heritage sites endangered by the war and Paley,
who wrote three books and many articles on Iraq's ancient Assyrian
sites, appeared on national and international broadcasts during the
2003 Iraq invasion to speak authoritatively about the need to
protect them from peril.
Paley was a vibrant presence in the Western New York Jewish
community as well. He served as principal of the High School for
Jewish Studies, taught Biblical thought at Buffalo State College,
founded UB's Judaic Studies program in 1992 and was religious
director of Temple Emanu-El in Batavia. His dedicated cultivation
of the study of Judaism in all its facets, including his teaching
of Hebrew, culminated in the recent establishment of UB's Institute
for Jewish Thought and Heritage.
A fund has been established in support of IEMA, with the aim of
building and housing a Samuel M. Paley Library and creating a
Samuel M. Paley assistant professorship in eastern Mediterranean
and near eastern archaeology. Donations in Paley's name can be made