Institute of Archaeology

Dr Bill Sillar

Dr Bill Sillar

Senior Lecturer

Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square

Institute of Archaeology

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2000

Research summary

Much of Bill’s Research has been located in the Andean highlands, where he combines ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork with artefact analysis to gain a better understanding of indigenous society before, during and after the Inca Empire.  Five themes of this research have been:

1)      The development of theoretical and methodological approaches to investigate the cultural context of technology.  This has included a focus on the sequence of techniques used in production (the chaîne opératoire) and investigating what influences the ‘technological choice’ of distinct materials, tools and techniques within specific social settings.  (see articles published in Journal of Material Culture 1996, Archaeometry 2000a, b, 2003, and Techniques & Culture 2010)

2)      Archaeological and anthropological implications of Animistic beliefs in relation to recent debates about the ‘agency’ of material culture (articles in Gardener (ed) 2004 Agency and Archaeology and Cambridge Archaeological Journal 2009)

3)      To investigate pottery production, trade and use in relation to the social and economic context of the producers and consumers (2000 monograph: Shaping Culture; Making Pots and Constructing Households and articles in Archaeometry 2000, and Cochrane and Gardner (eds.) 2011 Interpretative and Evolutionary Archaeologies).

4)      Research at the archaeological site and Inca ritual centre of Raqchi (Revista Andina 2002, Boletin de Arqueologia Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru 2004); Journal of Material Culture (forthcoming).

5)      The ethics of Archaeology and Indigenous Archaeology (Public Archaeology 2005).

Teaching summary

Coordinator of the South American Archaeology Seminar since 1993

Developed, coordinated and taught the M.A. in Artefact Studies from 2000 to 2006

Coordinates the Undergraduate Experimental Archaeology Course since 2001. 

Developed The West Dean Archaeological Project in 2005 and coordinated the Archaeological Fieldwork Archaeological Survey courses at West Dean 2006 to 2009

Coordinates and teaches MA option Interpreting Pottery since 2000

Undergraduate Admissions Tutor since 2008

Archaeology with a Year Abroad Tutor since 2010


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1995
University of London
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1988
University of London
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1985


Bill Sillar is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL.   Bill has a BSc and MSc from the Institute of Archaeology (then an independent Institute of the University of London) and a PhD from the University of Cambridge.  He taught at the University of Wales, Lampeter before returning to the Institute of Archaeology (by then part of UCL) with a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and was appointed as a Lecturer in 2000.

Bill’s research has focused on how people make and use material culture to shape the world they live in.  This has included archaeological excavation and analysis looking at emergence of the Inca Empire and ethnographic fieldwork in Peru and Bolivia investigating pottery production, trade and use.  This research has focused on how cultural values shape the direction of technological change and economic organisation.  Bill enjoys teaching with a strong emphasis on object handling and analysis. He was given the Provost’s Teaching Award in 2011