Obituary: Burton MacDonald

September 13, 1939 – October 20, 2022
Dr. Burton MacDonald at ACOR in 2010.

Burton MacDonald, a longtime supporter of the American Center of Research, died on October 20th after complications evolving from his over a year-long battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Dr. MacDonald and his wife, Dr. Rosemarie Sampson, funded their fellowship, “MacDonald and Sampson Fellowship,” at the American Center in 2004 to encourage undergraduate and graduate student Canadian citizens and landed immigrants to take part in archaeological excavations in Jordan.

Dr. MacDonald received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literature from The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.) in 1974. After two years of graduate studies at CUA, he augmented his doctoral studies at the École Biblique et Archaeologique in Jerusalem (French School of Biblical and Archeological Research) where he was awarded an Élève Titulaire in “Bible and Archaeology.” 

While a student at the École Biblique, Dr. MacDonald became involved in archaeological field work and spent the next forty years doing archaeological work in Jordan and the region. He directed five major survey projects in Jordan and published 12 books and over a hundred articles. Dr. MacDonald served as Annual Professor at the American Center in 1979-80 and again in 1986-87 and he was also the Dodge fellow in 1991-92.

Burt MacDonald at Qasr al-Mushatta in Jordan from the Paul and Nancy Lapp Collection in our digital archive.

Dr. MacDonald was made Professor Emeritus in the Religious Studies Department at St. Francis Xavier University in 2017. During his time at St. Francis Xavier University, he was awarded the ACOR Publication Fellowship, in which he published Historical Archaeology of the Southern Trans-Jordanian Plateau and the Northern and Central Arabah (2012-2013).

Scholars and colleagues from around the world have acknowledged Dr. MacDonald’s achievements in the publication Walking through Jordan: Essays in Honour of Burton MacDonald (2017) which “acknowledges and honors the singular achievement and wider impacts of Jordan’s most prominent survey archaeologist, Burton MacDonald.”

To honor Burt MacDonald, you can make a donation in his memory to the “MacDonald and Sampson Fellowship.” Donate to this fellowship and write “MacDonald and Sampson” under the “Additional Details” section of the donation form. 
Gary Rollefson, Tom Schaub, Burton MacDonald, and Walter Rast at ‘Ain Ghazal from the Bert De Vries Collection in our digital archive.
Scroll to Top