GS Alumnus’ Revolutionary Harris Matrix Goes Arabic

The Harris Matrix, invented by alumnus Dr. Edward Cecil Harris ’71GS, continues to play an important role in archaeology, and has recently been translated into Arabic by Baraa Seraj Eddin and Tareq Awwad, a visiting fellow at the Columbia Global Center in Amman.

September 16, 2021

In 1973, Bermudian Dr. Edward Harris ’71 invented the Harris Matrix, which became the subject of his doctoral thesis at University College London. The essence of his thesis was published in 1979 as Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy, an industry standard in the field of archaeology. The ‘Matrix’ has stood the test of time for almost 50 years and there are now eleven translations of the book. 

Dr. Harris on Columbia's campus in 1968

Last year, the Arabic edition of Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy, translated by the archaeologist Tareq Awwad and Baraa Seraj Eddin, was released. There are approximately 310 million Arabic speakers in the world and, combined with the English version and other translations, Dr. Harris’s book is now accessible to archaeologists across the globe via the internet. His books have been available for free download since 2005, when the original Harris Matrix website was designed by Dr. Wolfgang Neubauer and Klaus Loecker of the University of Vienna. Recently, the marketing and PR firm Zer0 to 5ive revised the website to allow for access on mobile devices, creating even more accessibility for all. Firm owners Michelle and Santiago Pujadas also have ties to Columbia, as their eldest daughter graduated from Columbia in 2018 and their youngest daughter will be a freshman this fall. 

The cover of the Arabic edition of "Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy"

Awwad, who worked on the Arabic translation of the book, is an archaeologist with an MA in the Ancient Near East from the Lebanese University and a BA in archaeology from Damascus University. Awwad has diverse research interests in archaeological methodology and public archeology. He participated in archaeological excavations in Syria and Lebanon with several institutes, including the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums of Syria, the Institut Français du Proche-Orient, and the University of Balamand. He was also involved in archaeological surveys in 2019 with the Honor Frost Foundation.  

Currently, Awwad is a 2021-2022 visiting fellow at the Columbia Global Center in Amman. His research explores the nature of the relationship between Syrian communities and archeological sites and the historical, political, economic, and current societal views on the issue of archeology. His research is being mentored by Dr. Brian Boyd of Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology.

Dr. Harris, inventor of the ‘Matrix’, served as the director of the National Museum of Bermuda for 37 years before retiring in 2017. He continues to be involved with the GS community as a contributor to the GS Yellow Ribbon program, which provides tuition assistance for U.S military veterans.