Obituary of Diana Chapman Kamilli
Diana Chapman Kamilli, Scientist and Educator, September 5, 1941 – August 2, 2023
Known for her contributions to archaeological geology and teaching, Diana Chapman Kamilli died on August 2, 2023 in Tucson, Arizona, after a short illness. After a decade of teaching geology at Rutgers, Vassar, CCNY, and Wellesley, she joined the Department of Anthropology at Harvard and the History of Science Department at MIT, where she brought her geologic skills to bear on important problems of early Mesopotamian archaeology and other areas in the Middle East. Her most important contribution was the discovery that Ubayd ceramics, which had been previously thought to have been traded from city to city at the very early date of ca. 3500 BCE, were actually produced by itinerant potters who brought their techniques from the Fertile Crescent. She worked on Arabian peninsula geology and pre-Columbian archaeological sites in the American southwest while her husband was working with the US Geological Survey in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and then Tucson respectively.
But her children and former students will tell you that she was a outstanding teacher, who was able to impart her love of the natural world to all comers. At a children’s party one Halloween, she saw the opportunity during an apple-bobbing for a teachable moment and gave a basic lecture about density. She inspired many of her college students, including her eventual husband, to consider graduate school and a career in geology.
Diana Chapman Kamilli was born in Manhattan, New York City, on September 5, 1941. She was the daughter of Daniel Knowlton Chapman, a partner in the Frances I. Dupont brokerage firm and Carroll Howard Ferguson. She graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Farmington Connecticut in 1959 and was a magna cum laude graduate of Vassar in 1963. She made her debut in Bedford, New York in 1959. She married Robert Joseph Kamilli on June 28, 1969. She is survived by her children, Ann Chapman Kamilli and Robert Chapman Kamilli. Ann is a registered nurse in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Robert is the director of an information security operations center in Tempe, Arizona. Diana was a loving grandmother to her grandson, Theodore Chapman Kamilli. Her husband is retired from the US Geological Survey. She is also survived by her daughter-in-law, Corinna Busiglio Kamilli and her nephew, Daniel K. Chapman III. Her brother. Daniel K. Chapman II, pre-deceased her.
In accordance with Diana's love of education, check donations may be made in Diana's memory to Imago Dei Middle School, PO Box 3056, Tucson AZ 85702. Please include Diana's name on the memo line. Imago Dei Middle School is a free private school, exclusively serving children from low-income families. Their mission is breaking the cycles of poverty through education. The school uses small class sizes and a long school day to put each child on a path to success. Donations are used to keep the school tuition-free for the students and their families.
A memorial service will be held in her honor at St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church in Tucson, AZ at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, October 20, 2023. A reception will follow at the church from 11:45 AM to 2:00 PM.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Diana Kamilli, please visit Tribute Store