Tim Williams
  • tim.d.williams@ucl.ac.uk
  • Direct: +44 (0)20 7679 4722
  • Internal: 24722
  • Room 602
  • UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY UK

Tim Williams

Research Interests

  • Urbanism, Silk Roads, complex societies
  • Recording & analysis of complex stratigraphy, integration of complex data sets
  • Management of archaeological sites, cultural routes and landscapes
  • Roman, Late Antique, Islamic & Central Asian archaeology
  • EARTH: Earthen Archaeology Research, Theory and History

Current Projects

  • Merv, Turkmenistan - research, site management & conservation of this important Silk Road complex of cities. The current project has a number of over-arching aims: a) To improve our understanding of the survival and potential of the archaeological resource. b) To undertake active research into the cities, to aid in both their management and research. c) To develop the information base upon which decisions about the management and interpretation. d) To develop the local skills base. e) To develop active management of the archaeological resource. f) To make research data available to the widest academic audience
  • Central Asia & Islamic urbanism - research into the transition from Late Antique to early Islamic urbanism, and the development of the medieval Islamic city up to the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.
  • Silk Roads - academic advisor to UNESCO Serial Transboundary World Heritage Nomination of the Silk Roads. This has included undertaking an ICOMOS Thematic Study of the Silk Roads (2014) and the South Asian Nomination strategy (2016) . Research into the complexity of the Silk Roads and their impact on the development of civilizations: for example, see article on how Nomadic ecology shaped the highland geography of Asia's Silk Roads in Nature 2017.
  • Maritime Silk Routes - coordinating expert meeting on the Maritime Silk Routes for UNESCO.
  • Bhutan National Inventory - working with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites, Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan to develop an online National Inventory using the Getty Conservation Institute/WMF system ARCHES. See Getty magazine summer 2016 and Archaeology International.
  • Beirut, Lebanon - since 1994 co-director Beirut Souks excavations, with Professor Helga Seeden (American University of Beirut) and Dr Dominic Perring (CAA). The excavations, which ran for three years, recorded a complex Hellenistic to Islamic sequence, exposing several insula of the classical settlement. The results of this project are being prepared for publication, with accompanying digital resources, and a full deposition of the electronic archive.

Research Directory Records


  • Beirut, Lebanon - Archaeological Collaboration for Research & Excavation (ACRE); American University of Beirut (AUB); Department of Antiquities, Lebanon; University of York. Additional collaborations with University College Cork & Cambridge University.
  • Merv, Turkmenistan - National Department for the Protection, Study and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Monuments, Ministry of Culture; 'Ancient Merv' Archaeological Park; CRATerre-EAG (Grenoble); UNESCO; World Monuments Fund; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Getty Conservation Institute.
  • Bhutan - working with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites, Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutanto develop the National Heritage Inventory.
  • Port Royal, Jamaica - The project began in the late 1980s combining a training project for the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) with an evaluation of the dry land archaeology at Port Royal in advance of proposed development to the town. The main fieldwork project comprised a small excavation to establish the current condition of the resource, to evaluate the impact the proposed development, combined with research to establish the relationship between historic cartographic data and the surviving archaeological evidence. More recently the project has expanded into exploring the conservation of important historic buildings in the town, especially the Old Naval Hospital, and the development of local schools education programmes.

Educational Background

  • 1980 BA Archaeological Studies, Leicester University

Current Students

  • Shaochen Wang The Tea & Horse Road in China: a case study in the management of a cultural route (second supervisor Yijie Zhuang)
  • Shaohan Wang Silk Roads: Protection and Management Strategies for Linear Cultural Heritage (second supervisor Yijie Zhuang)
  • Beliz Tecirl The role of meaningful and effective stakeholder engagement in contributing to the sustainability of heritage sites and institutions: case studies from Çatalhöyük, Turkey, and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Saudi Arabia (second supervisor Karen Wright)
  • Reuben Thorpe Urban formation and transformation: Perspectives on social and stratigraphic complexity from Roman urban centres (second supervisor Kris Lockyear)
  • Rui Pang Towards sustainable cultural heritage management in China: an evaluation of systems based on current theory & practice in Han City of Chang'an (second supervisor Tim Schadla-Hall)
  • Bai Lu Approaches to the conservation of earthen archaeology in China: the design of sustainable shelters and conservation strategies. A case study from Jinsha Archaeological Sites (second supervisor Dean Sully)
  • Hwa Jong Lee Archaeological resource management: developing a holistic model for the management of buried archaeological sites in South Korea (second supervisor Joe Flatman)
  • David Gilbert Islamic ceramic production in the Merv Oasis in the 7th – 13th centuries (joint supervision with Patrick Quinn)
  • Liu Jia Sustainable use of Cultural Heritage in China: historic village management (second supervisor Rodney Harrison)
  • Yu-tz Tung Archaeological site management in Taiwan: the socio-political context of  value-based approaches (second supervisor Dominic Perring)

Second Supervisor

  • Katarzyna Bronk-Zaborowska GIS approaches to cultural heritage management: a case study from Poland (principal supervisor Mark Lake)

Recently completed students

  • Dean Sully (2016) Peoples Based Conservation: Transcultural practice in the conservation of Hinemihi, the Maori meeting house in the UK (second supervisor Beverley Butler)
  • Alia Wallace (2016) Integrating presentation into holistic site management: a case-study from the Vesuvian region of Italy (second supervisor Theano Moussouri)
  • Hana K Morel (2016) Power relations and narratives in the archaeological discipline: how they influence the development of large regional networks. Case studies New York & London (second supervisor Dominic Perring)
  • Anna Maria Rossi (2015) Making Archaeology Abroad. A postcolonial perspective in Malta (second supervisor Dean Sully)
  • Niki Savvides (2014) Visitor experience and sustainable management of heavily visited sites: the case study of Herculaneum (joint second supervisor with Dean Sully, principal supervisor Kathy Tubb)
  • Peter Gould (2014) Putting the Past to Work: Archaeology, community institutions and economic development (principal supervisor Tim Schadla-Hall)
  • Georgios Alexopoulos (2010) Reconciling living religious heritage with value-based management: The case of Mount Athos, Greece (second supervisor Tim Schadla-Hall)
  • Adi Keinan (2013): Cultural heritage management and the role of archaeological inventories in the Israel-Palestinian conflict (joint supervision with Andrew Bevan)
  • Gaigysyz Jorayev (2013) A comparative study of the roles of tradition and heritage in Post-Soviet Central Asian nation-building (second supervisor Ulrike Sommer)
  • Ruth Scheidhauer (2011) Cultural heritage interpretation and policy in Kaesong: The possibilities for Inter-Korean rapprochement through shared cultural heritage (second supervisor Tao Wang)
  • Kimberley Te Winkle (2011) Monuments and Voices: cultural resource management in Tibetan Sichuan (second supervisor Henry Cleere)
  • Steven Markofsky (2010): Illuminating the Black Sands: Survey and Settlement in the Bronze Age Murghab Delta, Turkmenistan (joint supervision with Andrew Bevan)

Recent Masters student dissertations

Silk Roads

  • Merv: a case study of the architecture and architectural elements in early medieval Central Asia (8th to 13th centuries AD)
  • Cultural Transmission along the Silk Roads: A case study of the Tang Dynasty female figures from the Astana Cemetery, Turpan
  • Animal Style Art: Revealing the Complex Relations and Interactions Between the Xiongnu and Han, 1st to 2nd Centuries BCE
  • Role of Silk Road in urbanism of ancient Asia: Comparing cities in Kushan and Han

Site management/heritage

  • Assessing the impact of commemorative events on iconic battlefield heritage sites: Gettysburg National Military Park - a case study
  • Walking the city: An examination of the heritage interpretation of Boston and London
  • Tourism pressures and depopulation: a critical approach to Venetian cultural heritage
  • Living with the dead: managing values and intangible heritage on the Makli Necropolis
  • The Impact of Heritage Tourism on Local Community Values: A case study from the Muslim District in Xi’an, China
  • Future past: how those involved in archaeological heritage policy and management in England view the challenges and opportunities of the next 15 years
  • The post-inscription support for World Heritage Sites
  • Community involvement in archaeological projects: Shoreditch Park community and research archaeology dig
  • Local communities, heritage site management and education: how can they be integrated? A case study at Angkor Wat
  • From splendid city to cultural garbage dump: managing the ruined Han dynasty city of Chang’an in China
  • Site management in the Aegean: the TEMPER project and its applicability to the region
  • Kamakura: Planning for urban heritage
  • Interpretation of in-situ archaeological sites in major urban centres: a comparative study of the Guildhall Roman Amphitheatre, London and the Museum of History, Osaka
  • Erosion and stabilisation of earth slopes on archaeological sites: with a case study from Erk Kala, Turkmenistan.
  • Mudbrick structures at Chan Chan, Peru: visual analysis of past and present conservation efforts

Bookmark and Share