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Institute of Archaeology

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Prof Tim Williams

Prof Tim Williams

Professor of Silk Roads Archaeology

Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square

Institute of Archaeology

Joined UCL
1st Aug 2002

Research summary

Background in urban archaeology, especially along the Silk Roads (with a focus on Late Antique and Early Medieval Central Asian urbanism); archaeological heritage management, including cultural routes and landscapes; World Heritage;and approaches to complex stratigraphy. ICOMOS expert member on advisory missions and panels. Expert member of UNESCO serial trans-national SilkRoads nomination project and undertook the ICOMOS Silk Roads thematic study.

Director of the UCL/Northwest University (Xi'an) International Centre for Silk Roads Archaeology & Heritage in 2018.

Director of the Ancient Merv Project, undertaking research on this major Silk Road city since 2001.

Principal investigator of the Central Asian Archaeological Landscape (CAAL) project.

Member of the International Scientific Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM).

Teaching summary

Education

University of Leicester
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1980

Biography

Background and research interest in urban archaeology, especially along the Silk Roads of Central Asia. Interested in approaches to complex stratigraphy, and specialist in archaeological site management.

Undertaken a long running research project at the Silk Road city of Merv, Turkmenistan, since 2001.

Worked on the UNESCO serial transboundary Silk Roads World Heritage nomination project, including undertaking the ICOMOS Silk Roads thematic study, a Maritime Silk Routes project, and the East Asia case study.

Established the UCL/Northwest University (Xi'an) International Centre for Silk Roads Archaeology & Heritage in 2018. Now Principal Investigator of the Central Asian Archaeological Landscape (CAAL) project, supported by Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The project is assiting Central Asian countries to digitise archives and national monument records, to create a strategic resource for the countries and the region.

Awarded the Sir Richard Burton Medal in 2022 by the Royal Asiatic Society, 'awarded to those who have undertaken exploration and research in the East, more particularly in close association with local people, or in difficult circumstances’.

Learnt much as a seasonal site supervisor at Phil Barker’s excavations at Wroxeter between 1976-1982. Worked for the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust in 1976-7 & 1980, The Colchester Archaeological Trust 1980, and then for the Department of Urban Archaeology (Museum of London) between 1981-1991. Between 1991-2002 was Head of Archaeology Commissions at English Heritage, before joining UCL in 2002.
Publications