UCL Institute of Archaeology

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UCL Institute of Archaeology
UCL Institute of Archaeology.jpg
Established 1937
Director Stephen Shennan
Academic staff 70[1]
Students 650[1]
Location 31-34 Gordon Square, London, UK
Campus Urban
Website www.ucl.ac.uk/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 one currently 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.


The history of the Institute of Archaeology goes back to the vision of Mortimer Wheeler to create a centre for archaeological training in Britain, which he conceived in the 1920s. Thanks to his efforts and those of his wife, Tessa Wheeler, 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 Mortimer 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, and Peter Ucko, founder of the World Archaeological Congress; it is currently held by the prehistorian and evolutionary theorist Stephen Shennan, who will be succeeded by prehistorian Sue Hamilton in September 2014.

Initially the Institute was based in St John’s Lodge, Regent's Park, but in 1958 it moved into its purpose-built new premises in Gordon Square.

2012 marked the Institute's 75th anniversary and a number of events and activities were held to mark this occasion.

Mission Statement[edit]

The Institute of Archaeology’s mission is:

  • to be internationally pre-eminent in the study, and comparative analysis, of world archaeology
  • to enhance its national and international reputation for the quality and breadth of its multi-disciplinary and thematic approach to the study of the human past
  • to promote best practice in the management of cultural heritage and in the study, care and preservation of archaeological artefacts
  • to promote awareness of the problems caused by illicit trade in antiquities and the destruction of archaeological heritage that it entails
  • to ensure that the social, political and economic contexts of the practice of archaeology are taught and appreciated
  • to be at the forefront of international research in archaeological sciences
  • to play a major role in furthering the understanding of London’s archaeological and historical past
  • to provide archaeological opportunities of the highest quality to all, regardless of background


Research at the Institute covers fieldwork, laboratory analysis and conservation, artefact studies, and theoretical, synthetic, and analytical work with staff research projects currently being 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.

Current research projects include:


The Institute of Archaeology offers a diverse range of Undergraduate Degrees, Masters Degrees and Research Degrees. It also offers a selection of courses to Continuing Education students.

Facilities, Collections and Library[edit]

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.

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 Collection of Palestinian artefacts), 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.

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.

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. The library also contains the Yates Classical Archaeology library and the Edwards Egyptology library. The Institute Library is now part of UCL Library Services. 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).

The British Library and British Museum are nearby as is the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology which is open to the public on a regular basis.

Archaeology South-East/Centre for Applied Archaeology[edit]

The Centre for Applied Archaeology (CAA) is a research and support division within the Institute of Archaeology which offers professional advice, support and training in cultural resource management, archaeology, conservation, interpretation and project management.

Archaeology South-East is the contracts division of the Centre for Applied Archaeology. It offers services in all areas of archaeological practice.

International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology[edit]

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.

UCL Qatar[edit]

UCL, in partnership with Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums Authority, opened a new archaeological research and graduate training campus in Qatar in 2012 specialising in the archaeology and heritage of Arab countries and of the Islamic world.

UCL Qatar offers MA and MPhil/PhD degree programmes short courses.

Current UCL Qatar research projects include:

  • The Origins of Doha
  • Meroitic Iron Production, Sudan
  • Qantir-Piramesse, Egypt


The entrance to the IOA.

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.

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

  • Archaeology International
  • Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies
  • Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (PIA)
  • Present Pasts

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

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 independent publisher Maney Publishing.[2]

Papers from the Institute of Archaeology[edit]

Papers from the Institute of Archaeology  
Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (logo).png
Abbreviated title (ISO 4)
Pap. Inst. Archaeol.
Discipline Archaeology
Language English
Publication details
Ubiquity Press on behalf of the UCL Institute of Archaeology (United Kingdom)
Publication history
Frequency Annual
License CC-BY-3.0
ISSN 0965-9315
LCCN 97658018
OCLC no. 231692266

Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (PIA) is an annual peer-reviewed academic journal published by Ubiquity Press on behalf of the institute. The journal was established in 1990 by postgraduate researchers from the institute.[3]

The journal was initially conceived as a venue for publishing research papers produced by UCL archaeology postgrads and staff on new findings and novel approaches to archaeological theory. It later expanded its contributor base to postgrad researchers from other UK institutions and abroad. It is abstracted and indexed in the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences and ArchLib,[4] and is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics.[5]


UCL is ranked 1st for Archaeology in the 2014 Guardian University Guide,[6] 3rd in the 2014 Complete University Guide[7] and 5th in the Times and Sunday Times League Table.[8]

News, Events and Social Media[edit]

The Institute of Archaeology regularly publishes news and events, including details of seminars, conferences, job opportunities, recent press coverage, publications and other announcements. The Institute also has a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.



  1. ^ a b Introduction to the Institute, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK.
  2. ^ "Maney acquires Earthscan heritage list" (Press release). Maney Publishing. 5 February 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  3. ^ Harris, David. "Introduction: Papers from the Institute of Archaeology". Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. doi:10.5334/pia.357. 
  4. ^ "ArchLib, a service provided by the Council for British Archaeology". Council for British Archaeology. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  5. ^ "COPE - The Committee on Publication Ethics". Committee on Publication Ethics. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  6. ^ "University guide 2014: league table for archaeology". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "University Subject Tables 2014 - Archaeology". The Complete University Guide. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "University Guide 2014 - Archaeology". Times Newspapers. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

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