Recent Academic Development at the London Institute of Archaeology

By Harris, David | Antiquity, June 1995 | Go to article overview

Recent Academic Development at the London Institute of Archaeology


Harris, David, Antiquity


The Institute of Archaeology was founded in 1934 as part of the University of London. In the subsequent six decades it has grown from a small research institute into a large and diverse department with 50 academic staff and some 400 students. When the Institute's Golden Jubilee was celebrated my predecessor as Director, John Evans, gave a detailed account of the first 50 years (Evans 1987). At that time the Institute had just joined University College London and had ceased to be a 'Senate Institute' - a decisive change that was less a takeover than a welcome unification. In the late 1920s when 'Dr R.E.M. Wheeler' was busy planning 'the Institute of Archaeology of my dreams' (Wheeler 1955: 87), he held a part-time Lectureship in Prehistoric Archaeology at UCL, and in the late 19th century both the Yates Chair of Archaeology and the Edwards Chair of Egyptology had been established at the College. Although only the width of Gordon Street separates the Institute from the heart of the College, it had functioned as an academic barrier. The merger with UCL in 1986 formally breached that barrier, and since then archaeology in the Institute and the rest of the College has moved step by step towards full integration.

The process of formal integration began in 1990 with the transfer to the Institute of medieval archaeology from its former home in the History Department. James Graham-Campbell and Martin Welch joined the Institute's staff, and medieval archaeology has since been strengthened by the appointment of Gustav Milne as a part-time Lecturer. Two years later, at the time of Nicolas Coldstream's retirement from the Yates Chair, his colleague Alan Johnston joined the Institute and Classical Archaeology ceased to exist as a separate department of the College. The Yates Chair was advertised but not filled, and the title of Yates Professor was subsequently conferred on John Wilkes. Two new appointments were then made, with effect from 1993-4 - Cyprian Broodbank as Lecturer in Aegean Archaeology and Jeremy Tanner as Lecturer in Greek and Roman Art and Architecture - and a new department of Greek and Roman Archaeology (incorporating the former Roman department) was thus created within the Institute.

In 1993, following agreement between all concerned, the UCL Department of Egyptology also became an internal department of the Institute. This coincided with Geoffrey Martin's retirement from the Edwards Chair, to which John Tait was appointed, and Egyptology and Archaeology were further strengthened by the creation of a new Petrie Chair of Archaeology. Fekri Hassan, formerly of Washington State University, has been appointed the first Petrie Professor and he joined the Institute full-time in January 1995.

This year and last have been remarkable for the number of new academic appointments the Institute has been able to make, partly on the basis of increased student intake and partly as a result of retirements.

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