UCL Institute of Archaeology

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is an academic department of the Social & Historical Sciences Faculty of University College London (UCL), England which it joined in 1986. It is currently one of the largest centres for the study of archaeology, cultural heritage and museum studies in the world, with over 100 members of staff and 600 students housed in a 1950s building on the north side of Gordon Square in the Bloomsbury area of Central London.

UCL Institute of Archaeology
UCL Institute of Archaeology
FounderMortimer Wheeler
DirectorSue Hamilton
Academic staff
31–34 Gordon Square, London


The history of the Institute of Archaeology goes back to Mortimer Wheeler's vision of creating a centre for archaeological training in Britain, which he conceived in the 1920s. Thanks to the efforts of Wheeler and his wife Tessa, his ambitions were realised when the Institute was officially opened in 1937, with Mortimer Wheeler as its first director. Among its early members of staff were some of the founding ancestors of archaeology in Britain. Foremost among these, apart from Wheeler himself, was V. Gordon Childe, director from 1946 to 1957, but there were many others, including Kathleen Kenyon, excavator of Jericho, initially secretary then the Institute's acting director during World War II; F. E. Zeuner, one of the founders of quaternary studies and of zooarchaeology; Joan du Plat Taylor, the Institute's librarian for many years, who was a pioneer of underwater archaeology; and Max Mallowan, Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology (and second husband of Agatha Christie). Mortimer Wheeler formally resigned as Honorary Director in 1944 when he became Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India and, at the end of the Second World War, the Directorship was awarded to V. Gordon Childe. Following Childe's retirement, this role passed to W. F. Grimes, like Wheeler a former Director of the London Museum, and best known today for his 1954 excavation of the London Mithraeum. Following Grimes, the Directorship has been held by the Mediterranean prehistorian John Davies Evans; the geographer David R. Harris; Peter Ucko, founder of the World Archaeological Congress and the prehistorian and evolutionary theorist Stephen Shennan. It is currently held by prehistorian Sue Hamilton. Initially the Institute was based in St John's Lodge, Regent's Park, London, but in 1958 it moved into purpose-built premises in Gordon Square designed by Booth, Ledeboer, and Pinckheard.[2] 2012 marked the Institute's 75th anniversary and a number of events and activities were held to mark this occasion. [3][4][5][6]

Research and teaching

UCL Institute of Archaeology from Gordon Square
The Institute as seen from Gordon Square

Research at the Institute covers fieldwork, laboratory analysis and conservation, artefact studies, and theoretical, synthetic, and analytical work. Staff projects are currently undertaken on five continents and in the Pacific. A research directory outlining research projects, centres and networks at the Institute of Archaeology is available on the Institute website.[7] Current research projects include:

  • The Stones of Stonehenge[8]
  • Rapa Nui Landscapes of Construction[9]
  • Cultural Evolution of Neolithic Europe[10]
  • Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army[11]

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the Institute of Archaeology received the top score of 100% 4* for the excellence of its research environment. Two-thirds (66%) of its research outputs were rated in the 4* or 3* categories (world leading and internationally excellent) while nearly 50% of its research impact was deemed to be of 4* quality.[12]

The Institute offers a diverse range of Undergraduate Degrees, Master's degrees and Research Degrees.[13] The Institute of Archaeology was rated number one for Archaeology and Forensics in the Guardian University Guide for 2015 for the fourth year in a row.[14] It has also been ranked in the top two for student satisfaction in the Complete University Guide's 2015 League Table of UK archaeology departments.[15]

In the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 UCL is ranked 3rd in the world (and 3rd in Europe) for Archaeology.[16]

Facilities, collections and library

IOA, UCL entrance
The entrance to the IOA.

Part of the Institute of Archaeology since its early home at St John's Lodge in Regents Park. Moved to Gordon Square in 1958, initially on the first floor and subsequently relocated to the fifth floor. The Institute's facilities include the Wolfson Archaeological Science Laboratories and other laboratories for conservation teaching and research, GIS, photography, lithic analysis and for environmental teaching and research activities.[17]

The Institute of Archaeology Collections contain c. 80,000 objects that are used in teaching, research and outreach. Archaeological materials include ceramics, lithics and other objects from a range of periods across Europe, Africa, Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Pakistan, India, Mesoamerica, South America and the Caribbean. Notable collectors include Flinders Petrie (the Petrie Palestinian Collection), Kathleen Kenyon, Beatrice De Cardi, W.L. Hildburgh, R.G. Gayer-Anderson and Mortimer Wheeler. There are also extensive collections of archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological material which act as primary sources for the identification of plant and animal remains. Further collections of minerals, slag and other materials provide teaching resources for the study of ancient technology.[18]

The A.G. Leventis Gallery of Cypriot and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology is a public display of part of the collections of the Institute of Archaeology, with objects from ancient Cyprus, Greece, Crete, Egypt and the Levant. The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm; entry is free.[19]

The Institute Library was founded in 1937 to support teaching and learning at the new Institute of Archaeology and has subsequently gained an international reputation as one of the most extensive collections of printed material in the world relating to all aspects of archaeology, museum studies and cultural heritage.[20] The library also contains the Yates Classical Archaeology library and the Edwards Egyptology library. The Institute Library is now part of UCL Library Services.[21] Related collections of interest are to be found in the Main Library (Ancient History, Jewish Studies, Latin American History, History and Classics) and in the DMS Watson (Science Library) (Anthropology, History of Science and Geography).[22]


The Institute publishes research monographs and edited volumes in association with Left Coast Press who also now produce and distribute older Institute of Archaeology publications.[23]

The Institute produces the following 'in-house' publications (in conjunction with Ubiquity Press):

  • Archaeology International'[24]
  • Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies[25]
  • Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (PIA)[26]
  • Present Pasts[27]

It also published the Bulletin from the Institute of Archaeology from 1954 to 1994.[28] This was superseded by Archaeology International.[24]

Institute of Archaeology undergraduate students produce Artifact magazine (available online).[29]

Public Archaeology is a journal sponsored by the Institute, launched in 2000 as an international peer-reviewed journal with a focus on the issues of cultural heritage, community archaeology and archaeological practice as it relates to wider civil and governmental concerns. The journal was originally edited by Neal Ascherson; it is now edited by Tim Schadla-Hall. Issued quarterly, it was originally published by James & James Science Publishers until 2007, when the publishing rights were purchased by Maney Publishing.[30]

Research divisions

The Centre for Applied Archaeology (CAA) is a research and support division within the UCL Institute of Archaeology which offers professional advice, support and training in cultural resource management, archaeology, conservation, interpretation and project management.[31] Archaeology South-East (ASE) is the contracts division of the Centre for Applied Archaeology. It offers services in all areas of archaeological practice.[32]

The International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology, based at the Institute, is a joint association between the School for Archaeology and Museology of Peking University and the UCL Institute of Archaeology.[33]

News, events and social media

The Institute of Archaeology regularly publishes news and events, including details of seminars, conferences, job opportunities, recent press coverage, publications and other announcements.[34] The Institute also has a presence on Facebook,[35] Twitter[36] and YouTube.[37] An annual open day, a 'Festival of World Archaeology', is normally held in June, providing fun, archaeology-related activities for children and adults alike.[38]

List of directors


Laventis Gallery

Leventis Gallery

IOA library



  1. ^ a b Introduction to the Institute, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK.
  2. ^ "London 4: North". Yale University Press. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  3. ^ British Archaeology Issue 124, May/June 2012 http://www.britisharchaeology.org/ba124
  4. ^ 75th anniversary article by Dr Gabriel Moshenska reproduced on the IoA website from British Archaeology Issue 124, May/June 2012 http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/about/75th_anniversary/75th_article
  5. ^ Evans, J.D. (1987) The First Half-Century – and After. Institute of Archaeology Golden Jubilee Bulletin. No 24
  6. ^ "The 75th Anniversary Programme". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Research Directory". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  8. ^ "The Stones of Stonehenge". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Rapa Nui Landscapes of Construction". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Cultural Evolution of Neolithic Europe". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Results & submissions : REF 2014 : View results and submissions by UOA". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Study Here". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  14. ^ "University guide 2015: league table for forensic science and archaeology". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Archaeology – Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2016". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  16. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 – Archaeology". QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Facilities". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  18. ^ "The Institute of Archaeology Collections". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  19. ^ "Visit". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  20. ^ "History of the Institute of Archaeology Library and Collections". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  21. ^ "UCL Institute of Archaeology Library". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  22. ^ "UCL Library Services". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Left Coast Press : Our Books By Series". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  24. ^ a b "Archaeology International". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  25. ^ "Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  26. ^ "Papers from the Institute of Archaeology". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  27. ^ "Present Pasts". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  28. ^ "Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology". WorldCat. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  29. ^ "ISSUU – Artifact magazine". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  30. ^ "Maney acquires Earthscan heritage list" (Press release). Maney Publishing. 5 February 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
  31. ^ "Centre for Applied Archaeology". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  32. ^ "Archaeology South-East". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  33. ^ "iccha". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  34. ^ "News and Events". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  35. ^ "UCL Archaeology". Facebook. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  36. ^ "UCL Archaeology". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  37. ^ UCL Institute of Archaeology. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2015 – via YouTube.
  38. ^ "2015 World Archaeology Festival UCL Institute of Archaeology". 2015 World Archaeology Festival – UCL Institute of Archaeology. Retrieved 19 June 2015.

External links

Coordinates: 51°31′30″N 0°7′54″W / 51.52500°N 0.13167°W

Barbara Parker-Mallowan

Barbara Hastings Parker-Mallowan, Lady Mallowan, (1908–1993), was an English archaeologist, Assyriologist, and epigraphist who specialised in cylinder seals.

She was the secretary and librarian of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq from 1950 to 1961, and its president from 1983 until her death in 1993. She was also a lecturer in Mesopotamian archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, London, from 1961. She was involved in the excavations of Nimrud under Max Mallowan, and also at Tell al-Rimah and Tell Brak. She married Mallowan in 1977, following the death of his first wife Agatha Christie.In the 1962 New Year Honours, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her service as secretary and librarian of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq.

Bryony Coles

Bryony Jean Coles, (born 12 August 1946) is a prehistoric archaeologist and academic. She is best known for her work studying Doggerland, an area of land now submerged beneath the North Sea.

Crystal Bennett

Crystal-Margaret Bennett, (20 August 1918 – 12 August 1987) was a British archaeologist. A student of Kathleen Kenyon, Bennett was a pioneer of archaeological research in Jordan and founded the British Institute at Amman for Archaeology and History.

Gordon Square

Gordon Square is part of the Bedford Estate in Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom (postal district WC1).

Guy de la Bédoyère

Guy Martyn Thorold Huchet de la Bédoyère (born November 1957) is a British historian, who has published widely on Roman Britain and other subjects; and has appeared regularly on the Channel 4 archaeological television series Time Team, starting in 1998.

Jenny Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

Jennifer Helen Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb FSA (born 23 December 1949) is a British politician and member of the Green Party of England and Wales. She is the only Green member of the House of Lords.

Jones represented the Green Party in the London Assembly from its creation in 2000 until standing down in 2016. She was the Green candidate for Mayor of London in the 2012 election, coming third with 4.48% of first preferences. She served as Deputy Mayor of London from May 2003 to June 2004. She was also the sole Green councillor on Southwark Council from 2006 to 2010.On the London Assembly, Jones's prime areas of interest were transport, housing and planning, and policing, "with a strong emphasis on sustainability and localism". In addition to her period as deputy mayor, Jones served as Chair of London Food, Green Transport Advisor, and Road Safety Ambassador It was announced at the beginning of August 2013 that she was to become the first Green life peer in the House of Lords since Timothy Wentworth Beaumont, Baron Beaumont of Whitley She was introduced to the House of Lords on 5 November 2013.

Kathleen Kenyon

Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon, (5 January 1906 – 24 August 1978), was a leading British archaeologist of Neolithic culture in the Fertile Crescent. She is best known for her excavations of Jericho in 1952–1958, and has been called one of the most influential archaeologists of the 20th century. She was Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford from 1962 to 1973.

Lamia Al-Gailani Werr

Lamia Al-Gailani Werr (Arabic: لمياء الكيلاني‎, 8 March 1938 – 18 January 2019) was an Iraqi archaeologist specialising in ancient Mesopotamian antiquities.

Al-Gailani was born in Baghdad and completed her education in Iraq and the United Kingdom. Her doctoral study of Old Babylonian cylinder seals was considered a landmark in the field. Based in London, in her later career she was known for maintaining links between British and Iraqi archaeology under the Saddam Hussein regime, and her efforts to preserve cultural heritage in the aftermath of the Iraq War. She was closely involved in the reconstruction of the National Museum of Iraq, where she had worked as a curator in the 1960s, and the founding of the Basrah Museum.

She was awarded the fifth Gertrude Bell Memorial Gold Medal by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq in 2009.

Leslie Webster (art historian)

Leslie Elizabeth Webster, (born 8 November 1943) is an English retired museum curator and scholar of Anglo-Saxon and Viking studies. She worked from 1964 until 2007 at the British Museum, where she curated several major exhibitions, and published many works, on the Anglo-Saxons and Early Middle Ages.

Lorraine Copeland

Lorraine Copeland (born Elizabeth Lorraine Adie, 1921–April 2013) was an archaeologist specialising in the Palaeolithic period of the Near East. She was a secret agent with the Special Operations Executive during World War II.

Mike Parker Pearson

Michael 'Mike' Parker Pearson, FSA, FSA Scot, FBA (born 26 June 1957) is an English archaeologist specialising in the study of the Neolithic British Isles, Madagascar and the archaeology of death and burial, and is known for his catchphrase "The Dead Don't Bury Themselves". A professor at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, he previously worked for 25 years as a professor at the University of Sheffield in England, and was the director of the Stonehenge Riverside Project. A prolific author, he has also written a variety of books on the subject.

Parker Pearson gained his BA in archaeology from Southampton University in 1979. Supervised by Ian Hodder as a post-graduate at Cambridge, Parker Pearson was a contemporary of Sheena Crawford, Daniel Miller, Henrietta Moore, Christopher Tilley and Alice Welbourn; these students were influenced by Hodder's ideas, then a pioneering part of the post-processualist current within archaeological theory. He went on to gain his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1985, producing a thesis on burials and bog bodies in Iron Age Denmark.

A media personality, Parker Pearson has appeared several times in the Channel 4 show Time Team in particular in one looking at the excavation of Durrington Walls. He also appeared in the National Geographic Channel documentary Stonehenge Decoded, along with the PBS programme "NOVA: Secrets of Stonehenge".

Neal Ascherson

Charles Neal Ascherson (born 5 October 1932) is a Scottish journalist and writer.

Peter Ucko

Peter John Ucko FRAI FSA (27 July 1938 – 14 June 2007) was an influential English archaeologist. He served as Director of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London (UCL), and was a Fellow of both the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Society of Antiquaries. A controversial and divisive figure within archaeology, his life's work focused on eroding western dominance by broadening archaeological participation to developing countries and indigenous communities.

Born in London to middle class German Jewish parents, Ucko attained his BA and PhD in the anthropology department of UCL, where he proceeded to work from 1962 to 1972, also publishing a number of significant books on archaeology. From 1972 to 1981 he worked as Principal of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in Canberra, Australia, instituting measures to increase the participation of Indigenous Australian communities in their heritage. Returning to England in 1981 to teach archaeology at the University of Southampton, he became national secretary of the International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS) and was responsible for organising their eleventh congress in 1986; disagreements over whether to abide by the academic boycott of South Africa resulted in Ucko denouncing the IUPPS and founding the World Archaeological Congress (WAC), which focused on recognising current socio-political dimensions to archaeology.

In 1996 he was controversially appointed director of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, overseeing largescale expansion to create the world's largest archaeology department. Also teaching there, he initiated reforms to the syllabus and forged links with the archaeological community in the People's Republic of China, co-founding the International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology. Retiring in 2005, he continued developing connections between the UK and China until his death from diabetes.

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London is part of University College London Museums and Collections. The museum contains over 80,000 objects and ranks among some of the world's leading collections of Egyptian and Sudanese material.

Public Archaeology (journal)

Public Archaeology is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal established in 2000, edited by Tim Schadla-Hall and published by Maney Publishing. It covers the relationships between practical archaeology, archaeological theory and cultural heritage management models, and the involvement of wider civic, governmental, and community concerns.

The journal's creation had been initiated and overseen by Peter Ucko after he took over as director of the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

Simon Martin (Mayanist)

Simon Martin is a British epigrapher, historian, writer and Mayanist scholar. He is best known for his contributions to the study and decipherment of the Maya script, the writing system used by the pre-Columbian Maya civilisation of Mesoamerica. As one of the leading epigraphers active in contemporary Mayanist research, Martin has specialised in the study of the political interactions and dynastic histories of Classic-era Maya polities. A former honorary research fellow at the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, as of 2018 Martin holds a position at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology where he is an Associate Curator and Keeper in the American Section and is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Stephen Shennan

Stephen Shennan, FBA is a British archaeologist and academic. Since 1996, he has been Professor of Theoretical Archaeology. He was Director of the Institute of Archaeology at the University College London from 2005 to 2014.Shennan focuses on cultural evolution and Darwinian archaeology, applying theories from evolutionary ecology and cladistics to archaeology. In July 2006, Shenann was elected Fellow of the British Academy.

Sue Hamilton (archaeologist)

Sue Hamilton (b. ) is a British archaeologist who is a Professor of Prehistory at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. A specialist in Later European Prehistory, she has published various papers and academic books on the subject based upon her own research.

A director of the Bodmin Moor Landscape Project from 1995 to 2000, she focused on studying the Neolithic and Bronze Age aspects of the moor's landscape. Working alongside Christopher Tilley and Barbara Bender, they later produced a book documenting their work, Stone Worlds: Narrative and Reflexive in Landscape Archaeology (2006).From 2006 onwards, Hamilton has co-directed the Rapa Nui Landscapes (Easter Island) of Construction Project, in which she looks at the Easter Island statues. In doing so, she and Professor Colin Richards of the University of Manchester became "the first British archaeologists to work on the island since 1914."Sue Hamilton became the first female Director of the UCL Institute of Archaeology on 1 September 2014.

Vincent Megaw

John Vincent Stanley Megaw (born 1934) is a British-born Australian archaeologist with research interests focusing on the archaeology and anthropology of art and musical instruments, Australasian prehistory and protohistory. He is a specialist in early Celtic art and contemporary Australian Indigenous art.Megaw was educated at University College School, Hampstead and the University of Edinburgh, and worked on a number key sites in Europe as well as carrying out pioneering work in the South Sydney region of Australia. He undertook extensive research with his wife, Ruth Megaw, on the art of the European pre-Roman Iron Age; they wrote several publications together. In 1961, after working as an editor at Thames and Hudson, he accepted a position at the University of Sydney as Lecturer and subsequently Senior Lecturer in European Iron Age Archaeology. From 1971 to 1982 he held the Chair of Archaeology and Head of Department at Leicester University. His other appointments have included Visiting Professorship at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Glasgow (from 1998 with his wife). Ruth Megaw died in 2013.He was elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1985 and in 2004 was made a Member of the Order of Australia.

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