Bridget Allchin (1927–2017)

Bridget Allchin (Fig. 1) was a prehistorian and archaeologist of South Asia who was instrumental in shaping this field in the UK. Born Bridget Gordon, she nursed ambitions to be an archaeologist from childhood, which she pursued single-mindedly, beginning with a degree at UCL in Ancient History. When this was interrupted by her family moving to South Africa, she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Town, returning to UCL to begin her PhD in 1950. At the Institute Bridget met and married fellow archaeologist F. Raymond Allchin; in 1951 the two began a year of study and travel in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. This period was enormously influential for Bridget; she was awed by the richness of South Asian archaeology and it remained her key research interest throughout her life, along with lithic technologies, prehistoric settlements and ethnoarchaeology. While Bridget and Raymond went on to write enthusiastically on South Asian archaeology together, including The Birth of Indian Civilization, she wrote separately and extensively on her own research interests, publishing The Stone-Tipped Arrow and editing Living Traditions: Studies in the Ethnoarchaeology of South Asia. Her long career included excavations at the site of Lewan and in the Soan Valley in Pakistan, and her survey of Mesolithic sites in Rajasthan, India.

Figure 1 

Bridget Allchin in the field (Photo Allchin Family).

Besides her own research and many collaborations, she was a founding trustee of the Ancient India and Iran Trust, a founding member of the European Association of South Asian Archaeology, editor of the journal Afghan Studies, founding editor of the journal South Asian Studies, and a fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. In 2014, Bridget was presented with the Royal Asiatic Society Gold Medal, recognising her as a ‘pioneering female field-archaeologist in South Asia.’ Bridget and Raymond are also commemorated by the annual Allchin Symposium on South Asian Archaeology. Bridget’s enormous legacy in the field of South Asian archaeology is clear; she leaves her field both richer and broadened with opportunities and resources.

Danika Parikh

See also Bridget’s joint autobiography with Raymond:

Allchin, B and Allchin, R 2012 From the Oxus to Mysore in 1951: The Start of a Great Partnership in Indian Scholarship. Edinburgh: Hardinge Simpole.

Longer obituaries can be found at:

Dai Morgan Evans (1944–2017)

On his 73rd birthday, St David’s Day, archaeology lost one of its most memorable personalities – David ‘Dai’ Morgan Evans FSA (Fig. 2). His expertise spanned heritage management and conservation, Roman buildings, early medieval stone monuments, the industrial archaeology of Wales and 18th-century antiquarianism.

Figure 2 

Dai Morgan Evans (Photo Howard Williams).

Dai’s interest in archaeology was inspired both by the Welsh landscape and by growing up in Chester. Studying archaeology at Cardiff (1963–66) with his final-year dissertation investigating lead mining in mid-Wales, Dai then pursued doctoral research on archaeology and early Welsh poetry, as well as serving as assistant director on Leslie Alcock’s famous excavations at South Cadbury, Somerset (1966–68). Dai joined the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings in Wales in 1969 where he was instrumental in setting up the Welsh archaeological trusts and suggesting that Big Pit (Blaenavon) should be turned into a museum. In 1977, Dai became an inspector for the Department of Environment, later English Heritage, focusing on the protection of ancient monuments. From 1986, he was charged with developing countryside policies in liaison with a range of governmental and non-governmental bodies and became a specialist in public inquiries. Dai served as General Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of London from 1992 to 2004, where he modernised many aspects of the Society’s workings. Dai also had a key role in developing the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (APPAG).

After retirement he was appointed Visiting Professor of Archaeology at the University of Chester in 2006 where he instigated a new collaborative fieldwork project investigating the Pillar of Eliseg. As chairman of the Butser Ancient Farm Trust, his humour and tenacity shone through as he stepped in to salvage a failing project, as well as to present a Discovery Channel television show Building the Past. Subsequently, Dai was instrumental in developing a second television show aired on Channel 4 in 2011 in which modern builders constructed an urban villa at Wroxeter: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. Both were controversial attempts to build villas using Roman materials and methods yet they succeeded in creating distinctive buildings benefitting visitors at both Butser and Wroxeter.

Howard Williams

Longer obituaries can be found at:

Ke Jun (Tsun Ko) (1917–2017)

Ke Jun (Fig. 3) was an exceptional scholar and one among the few highly influential scientists and engineers to have made a lasting contribution to the development of archaeology. The role of metals in the emergence and formation of complex societies can hardly be overestimated; however, the study of the relevant archaeological remains requires a level of technical expertise which is more often found in the engineering and natural sciences. At the height of his career, Ke was instrumental in harnessing these skills for the benefit of archaeology, and in doing so laid the foundation for a lasting collaboration between his research team, and the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

Figure 3 

Professor Tsun Ko (Photo Thilo Rehren).

After obtaining a PhD and becoming Senior Lecturer at Birmingham, Professor Ke returned to China in 1953 to take up a professorship at the University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB). In the 1970s, he started to take an interest in the early metallurgy of China. This interest led to the formal establishment of the Institute of Historical Metallurgy and Materials (IHMM) at USTB, and the co-founding of the BUMA (the Beginnings of the Use of Metals and Alloys) conference series. In 2009, the joint chairmanship of the BUMA Standing Committee was handed over to Mei Jianjun of IHMM, USTB (now Director of the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge) and Thilo Rehren of the UCL Institute of Archaeology. Through the close link between USTB and the Institute we were able to organise joint conferences and summer schools, and to host at the Institute a number of Chinese PhD students in archaeometallurgy who have gone on to build their academic careers in Beijing.

The news of Professor Ke’s passing came as we were preparing for BUMA IX in Busan/South Korea to take place in October 2017. Plans are underway to invite for BUMA X in Thailand in 2020, led by another former Institute PhD student in archaeo-metallurgy, Pi Venunan. Thus, while Professor Ke may not have had a direct involvement with the Institute, he is in a way at the root of a close web of lasting connections contributing to our overall China engagement. For the Institute of Archaeology to be associated with him is an honour and a legacy we can be proud of.

Thilo Rehren

Geoffrey Wainwright MBE (1937–2017)

One of Britain’s most influential archaeologists, Geoff Wainwright (Fig. 4), has died aged 79. Results from his excavations at prehistoric sites across southern England and Wales form the backbone to the story of British prehistory, while in later life he was instrumental in shaping the development of professional archaeology.

Figure 4 

Geoffrey Wainwright (Photo Timothy Darvill).

Geoff was born in the small seaside village of Angle, Pembrokeshire and read archaeology at University College Cardiff. During his undergraduate years he excavated a number of Mesolithic sites on the Pembrokeshire coast. These provided raw material for research on the Mesolithic of southwest Wales at the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, leading to his PhD in 1961. His supervisor Fred Zeuner spotted Geoff’s talent for archaeology and offered him the opportunity to help set up a new department of archaeology in the University of Baroda, Gujerat, India, something Geoff jumped at and was promptly appointed Visiting Professor of Environmental Archaeology there.

Returning to England in 1963 he joined the Ministry of Works as a field archaeologist and spent more than a decade in a continuous campaign of innovative and rewarding excavations at prehistoric sites. In 1975, Geoff established and led a rapid-response excavation team known as the Central Excavation Unit. Promotion to senior inspector of Ancient Monuments in 1980, then Chief Archaeologist at the newly formed English Heritage in 1984, took Geoff out of the trenches and into the office. Some high profile problem cases where development projects brought to light far more archaeological remains than was expected demanded new ways of working, and the team that Geoff led came up with a document fondly known as PPG16 that effectively embedded archaeological work in the planning system. It changed the course of professional archaeology in Britain and had repercussions across Europe.

The world of professional archaeology owes Geoff a huge debt of gratitude for leading our discipline into the age of enlightenment that we now enjoy, a story told in his own words in the aptly titled paper ‘Time Please’.

Timothy Darvill

Wainwright, G 2000 Time Please. Antiquity, 74: 909–43. DOI:

Longer obituaries can be found at:

Cecilia Western (1917–2017)

Cecilia Western (Fig. 5) was a pioneer in archaeobotany, in particular of the analysis and interpretation of archaeological wood charcoal. Her intrepid fieldwork in the Levant, from Syria and Lebanon to Jordan and Palestine, provided her a rare first hand overview of regional ecology, and allowed her to put together a unique reference collection of wood and herbarium specimens. In 1984 she donated her collection to the Institute of Archaeology where it forms the core around which our wood reference collection has developed. Her beautifully prepared herbarium specimens also continue to provide useful teaching materials.

Figure 5 

Cecilia Western (Photo Eleni Asouti).

Cecilia Western began her career in horticulture then, after serving in anti-aircraft radar maintenance during the Second World War, she worked at the Manchester Museum as a conservation assistant, which included work on Petrie’s Egyptological Collections. Inspired by archaeological material she took a History degree from Birkbeck College in 1950 and for a brief period was an assistant in the Conservation department of the Institute of Archaeology. The real turning point in her career came in 1953 when Kathleen Kenyon took her to the excavation at Jericho as a field conservator. Here she developed a keen interest in the conservation of wood and wood identification. From 1956 she worked at the Forestry Institute at Oxford, but used all her vacations to participate in archaeological projects, all the while collecting wood reference materials and archaeological charcoals. In 1969 she completed her Oxford BSc dissertation, An attempt at the ecological interpretation of charcoals with special reference to material from Jericho. Thereafter she took a job at the Ashmolean Museum curating organic material.

Her legacy lies in establishing modern methods of archaeological wood charcoal studies, such as working directly from charcoal instead of the laborious embedding of earlier efforts, and in developing her extensive reference collection not just of wood thin sections but of furnace charred specimens, more suitable comparisons for archaeological finds. Her dissertation, a much more substantial work than a modern BSc, included the first identification key specifically designed to deal with charred archaeological wood from the Near East. Her related papers on archaeological wood charcoal methods (1969) and ecological interpretation (1971) were ground breaking in setting the stage for an archaeological science of wood.

Dorian Fuller

Western, C A 1969 Wood and charcoal in archaeology. In: Brothwell, D and Higgs, E (Eds.) Science in archaeology. A survey of progress and research. London: Thames and Hudson, pp. 178–187.

Western, C A 1971 The ecological interpretation of ancient charcoals from Jericho. Levant, 3: 31–40. DOI:

John Wilkins (1935–2017)

John Wilkins (Fig. 6) passed away peacefully on the 8th March 2017 following prolonged illness.

Figure 6 

John Wilkins (Photo Ruth Whitehouse).

John was an Honorary Senior Research Associate of the Institute of Archaeology and Director of The Accordia Research Institute, which was founded in 1988, while John was Head of the Department of Mediterranean Studies at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. Accordia’s remit is to promote research into all aspects of early Italy. It continues to thrive today with the annual series of The Italy Lectures, an established fixture in the diaries of all those interested in ancient Italy, the venue alternating between the Institute of Classical Studies and UCL Institute of Archaeology. Until his death, John, together with Ruth Whitehouse, played a major role in editing and page setting Accordia’s programme of research publications: Accordia Research Papers; Specialist Studies on the Mediterranean; and Specialist Studies on Italy.

Originally a classical scholar from Kings College, Cambridge, John worked with John Chadwick on Mycenaean archaeology. He was a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome, originally to work with Massimo Pallottino on Etruscan language, and his PhD was on the subject of Etruscan numerals. John’s principal research interest was in the development of pre-Roman Italy and he was an expert in the pre-roman languages of Italy. He was co-director (with Ruth Whitehouse) of the Botromagno excavation, Gravina di Puglia in southern Italy and (with Armando de Guio and Ruth Whitehouse) of the Alto-Medio Polesine-Basso Veronese Project field survey. He was subsequently co-director (with Ruth Whitehouse) of two successive AHRC-funded research projects: Developmental Literacy and the Establishment of Regional and State Identity in early Italy, and Etruscan Literacy in its Social Context 8th–5th centuries BC, both based at the Institute of Archaeology.

John was also an exceptional pianist.

Sue Hamilton