David Storm Rice

David Storm Rice, born Sigismund (Susya) Reich (1913-1962), was an art historian, archaeologist and ethnographer, professor of Islamic art and archaeology at the University of London. Born in Schönbrunn, Austria, by the age of ten Reich immigrated with his parents to Palestine, and grew up in the northern city of Haifa. In 1931, after graduating from the city’s prestigious Reali School, Rice left Palestine to study art, Arabic, philology, anthropology and the history of religion, first in Florence and then in Paris; in 1937 he submitted his doctoral dissertation, on Aramaic speaking communities in villages surrounding Damascus, to the University of Paris. With the outbreak of World War II, Reich volunteered to the British army, rose through the ranks and served in Libya, Egypt, Italy and Germany, where he was serving the British Control Commission. During that time, Reich decided to change his name to David Storm Rice, received British nationality and in 1947 joined the staff of SOAS in London, later becoming a reader (1950) and later professor (1959) at the University of London. Rice’s scholarly contributions included works on Islamic arts and crafts (especially notable is his series of publications on metal work), Arabic epigraphy and archaeology.

During his research trips to the Middle East already back in the 1930s, Rice became acquainted with L. A. Mayer, whose research interests he shared. Therefore, after Rice died, the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem purchased his library, which was made the museum’s library (which has been very recently dissolved). Apparently, with the library arrived some of Rice’s research papers as well. Those has been piled up in a different location in the museum’s storage room; after finding Mayer’s papers, in search for additional materials, Rice’s papers were found. Unlike Mayer’s papers, many of them were not kept inside containers, and were scattered and damaged over the years.

A preliminary finding aid is in the making.