Grantees In The News

First-ever Philistine Cemetery Revealed at Ashkelon


Story of Philistines Could Be Reshaped by Ancient Cemetery

The New York Times, July 10, 2016

After more than 30 years of excavating the remains of a Philistine city, a team of archaeologists says it believes it has found a cemetery belonging to the ancient people on the outskirts of Ashkelon in Israel.

The team has unearthed skeletons and artifacts that it suspects had rested for more than 3,000 years in the cemetery, potentially offering clues to the Philistines’ lifestyle and perhaps providing some answers to the mysteries of where the Philistines came from. Much has remained unknown about their origins.

“When we found this cemetery right next to a Philistine city, we knew we had it,” said Daniel Master, an archaeologist from Wheaton College in Illinois. “We have the first Philistine cemetery that’s ever been discovered.”

Dr. Master is a co-director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, which has excavated the site since 1985. Ashkelon, which archaeologists think the Philistines entered around 1150 B.C., is one of the five Philistine capitals along with Ashdod, Ekron, Gath and Gaza.

See additional coverage at National Geographic, BBC, NPR, ABC News.

ISAW Exhibits Designing Identity: The Power of Textiles in Late Antiquity

TEXTILES 2016 ISAW Exhibit

In Late Antiquity Textiles, a Long-Lasting Fashion Show

NY Times, Science Section, March 14, 2016

Archaeology is about more than rock-hard ruins of palaces and temples, royal mummies in remote tombs and obscure writing on clay tablets. Less durable remains, like fabrics of garments and home decorations that somehow survive time’s decay, can also be telling artifacts of early cultures.

One of their messages, it seems, is that dressing for success and putting on the Ritz are hardly new in the human experience.

An exhibition of more than 50 such artifacts, “Designing Identity: The Power of Textiles in Late Antiquity,” has opened at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, in Manhattan, and will run through May 22. Thelma K. Thomas, the show’s curator, said the examples of clothing, curtains and tapestries “put hopes and desires on display in their motifs, designs and materials, rendering visible both social identity and the inner imagined self.” …

Tackling The Problem of Residential Collisions


Are Your Windows Killing Birds? How to Prevent Collisions

The Associated Press, March 1, 2016

With a house close to the Eastern Pennsylvania woods — and the wildlife that lives there — Jeff Acopian wrestled with a problem that afflicts homeowners around the country. “Birds were hitting our windows and dying,” the Easton resident says. “And we didn’t like it.”

…Christine Sheppard, who runs the bird collisions campaign for the American Bird Conservancy, cites a range of relatively simple ready-made products — BirdSavers, window tape and external screens among them — as well as DIY fixes like washable window paint or hanging branches in front of windows, that are effective enough while also being subtle.

The Eye of the Shah: Qajar Court Photography and the Persian Past

ISAW exhibit jan 2016

 Persia: The Court at Twilight

 The New York Times Review of Books, Jan. 5, 2016

On the NYR Daily, Christopher de Bellaigue writes, “The  photographs in  ‘Eye of the Shah’ are filled with humanity: self-love, pretension, tyranny,      hesitancy, and charm. The exhibition’s two hundred-odd images were executed for the most part by a small number of court and portrait photographers using an ultra-modern medium in a land still run according to the divine writ of kings, where the Shah’s harem contained hundreds of wives, concubines, and eunuchs, and many people continued to keep slaves. It’s in this confrontation—between the bastinado and the wet collodion method—that the principal interest of ‘Eye of the Shah’ lies.”

For more information, visit the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

Leon Levy Fellowship in Neuroscience Helps Fill a Critical Gap


What This Funder is Doing to Save a Lost Generation (of Neuroscientists)

Inside Philanthropy, December 30, 2015

“There’s really no opportunity in government funding for people just starting off, so a whole generation could be lost if they don’t get early experience and support,” said Robert Goldrich, Leon Levy Foundation president. “The Levy Foundation wanted to make a difference in neuroscience, and the problem of early-career support was identified as an opportunity.”

“When the NIH budget contracted, compounded by the recession, we saw that the traditional business model for academic medicine was no longer viable,” said Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Chair of Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry. The portion of Columbia psychiatry’s research budget from philanthropy grew from about 3 percent a decade ago to nearly 15 percent today, and it’s still growing, he said.

How The Javits Convention Center Stopped Killing Birds


NYC Javits Center’s unconventional green roof

CBS This Morning, Aug. 13, 2015

As buildings go, the Javits Convention Center was once one of New York City’s biggest killer of birds. Not any more: with help from New York City Audubon and the American Bird Conservancy (both LLF grantees), it installed a green roof and took other measures; now bird kill there is down by about 90%. Birds and bees flourish on the roof, and the Center’s energy costs have dropped, too. See the video at this link.

On Sept. 4, The New York Times published its own article about the Javits Center, noting another benefit: “…the bird-friendly measures could help push the Javits Convention Center closer to a coveted LEED certification. The U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit industry group, introduced a bird-safety credit as part of its prized certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”

The American Bird Conservancy advocated for the LEED credit as part of its anti-collisions program.

ISAW Exhibit: ‘From Ancient to Modern: Archaeology and Aesthetics’

Feb 2015 ISAW Exhibit

Review: ‘From Ancient to Modern’ Ponders the Origins of Sumerian Artifacts

New York Times, 
Feb. 12, 2015

“What happens to ancient artifacts after they’re dug up by archaeologists is more complicated than the casual museumgoer might realize.  “From Ancient to Modern: Archaeology and Aesthetics,” a thought-provoking exhibition at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, tells a fascinating tale about the 20th-century discovery and interpretation of some extraordinary objects made by Sumerian artisans about 4,500 years ago.  Neatly compacted into two small galleries, the exhibition focuses on about 50 artifacts from about 3000 to 2300 B.C. that were unearthed in the 1920s and ’30s in what was once Mesopotamia and now is part of Iraq.”


LLF Awards the New-York Historical Society Archives Grant


N-Y Historical To Add Institutional Records Access

The New York History Blog, December 10, 2014

The New-York Historical Society has received a grant of $304,470 from the Leon Levy Foundation to preserve and process its institutional archives, which document the institution’s 210-year history. “The two-year initiative will improve scholarly access to the archives and open a trove of material for a broad range of research possibilities,” an announcement sent to the press said.

The records document various aspects of the New-York Historical Society, encompassing collecting, exhibitions, research, scholarly and social activities, and even day-to-day operations. As part of this two-year project, New-York Historical is expected to arrange and describe over 1,600 linear feet of records, converting them from a modestly used, in-house resource to publicly accessible research collection…”


NYBG Draws Attention to “Wild” Gardening


New York Botanical Garden goes native

Financial Times, September 19, 2014

“Wild gardens are not the same as wilderness.  They need care, maintenance and planning…The new Native Plant Garden at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx covers three-and-a-half acres ( offers a splendid digital tour).  It has been planned, designed and planted with exceptional skill.  In the late afternoon heat, Todd Forest, the garden’s vice-president for horticulture and living collections, explains firmly to me:  ‘In wild gardening there is no orthodoxy. We told our landscapers what to plant and we knew why.’  More than 400 species and varieties of northeast American plants interweave themselves in the acreage…”


LLF Fellow at the Institute Of Fine Arts Returns Home To Big Job


Malawi’s Lone Conservation Officer Seeks to Save His Country’s Heritage

Al Jazeera America, May 16, 2014

“…When [Moses Mkumpha] accepted the post of conservation officer in 2010, he discovered it was also in grave danger. For almost 20 years, the country had had no trained conservator overseeing preservation, conservation and restoration…“I didn’t know where to start,” he says….Mkumpha is now in the final stretch of a nine-month program put together by the Conservation Center of New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. Each year since 2009, the foundation has invited one conservator from a country that, as  Conservation Center Chairman Michele Marincola explains, “has an emerging sense of cultural patrimony but not the infrastructure to support education at a high level.”