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April Memorial Concert to Honor the Life of Noted UB Archaeologist and Professor

Release Date: April 5, 2011

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 well.

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 topics.

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 Archaeology.

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 at

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