The Institute of Archaeology: the first 75 years

8 June 2012

Institute of Archaeology 75th anniversary in 2012

The Institute's 75 years of leading global archaeology is highlighted in an article by Gabriel Moshenska published in the May/June edition of British Archaeology.

"In April 75 years ago the Institute of Archaeology opened for business in a luxury London villa; under the directioon of a playboy and soon-to-be TV star; its next full-time Director was a Marxist who had previously worked with an illegal revolutionary socialist group in Australia." Gabriel's article explains how being led by some of the world's greatest archaeologists is not the Institute's only distinction!

While Wheeler dreamt of a school to train a generation of archaeologists in fieldwork techniques and more, turning this into a reality fell to his wife Tessa Verney Wheeler.  Childe was Director of the Institute for a decade and declared that with its broad geographical range and ground-breaking work in archaeological sciences, the Institute was singularly suited to the development of the new archaeology he envisaged.

Gabriel Moshenska holding the plaque dedicated to Tessa Verney Wheeler at the Institute

Kathleen Kenyon, a renowned field archaeologist and Acting Director of the Institute during WWII, insisted on the importance of fieldwork experience. Frederick Zeuner introduced forward-looking ideas on training in archaeological sciences while pioneering work in the field of archaeological conservation and photography was undertaken by Ione Gedye/Delia Parker and Maurice Cookson respectively. One of the Institute's most notable innovators, Joan du Plat Taylor, worked with pioneering underwater archaeologist Honor Frost, to bring nautical archaeology into the archaeological mainstream and develop training and standards for its practice.

An anniversary is a an opportunity to celebrate and a moment to reflect. Today the Institute's global perspective on the human past is at the core of its mission to carry out comparative world studies.  With over 200 undergraduates, 300 masters students, 160 registered PhD students, 13 postdoctoral researchers and 65 members of academic staff, the Institute today, led by its current Director, Stephen Shennan, is a contemporary powerhouse of teaching, research and innovation with a bright future.

British Archaeology magazine

British Archaeology, the voice of archaeology in Britain and beyond, is the bi-monthly publication of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and is edited by former Institute student Mike Pitts.

75th Anniversary Events

The article is now available to read in full here»

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