Bernard Fagg

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Bernard Evelyn Buller Fagg
Born8 December 1915
Died14 August 1987 (1987-08-15) (aged 71)
OccupationArchaeologist, Museum curator

Bernard Evelyn Buller Fagg (8 December 1915 – 14 August 1987) was a British archaeologist and Museum curator who undertook extensive work in Nigeria before and after the Second World War.


Fagg was born in Upper Norwood to antiquarian bookseller William Percy Fagg and his wife Lilian Fagg (née Buller). His brother was William Buller Fagg. Bernard Fagg studied classics, archaeology and anthropology at Downing College, University of Cambridge. After graduation he began to work for the British colonial administration in Jos, Nigeria, in 1939.[1] He excavated the Rop rock shelter on the Jos Plateau in 1944, a site that contained both early stone-age implements and later artifacts, including pottery about 2000 years old.[2] Fagg first encountered archaeological finds of what became later known as the Nok culture, after the village of Nok where the first terracotta figurines where found.[1] He undertook a controlled evacuation of the site at Taruga, finding both terracotta figurines and iron slag with radiocarbon dates from about the fourth and third centuries BC.[3]

In 1947 Fagg was appointed as the assistant surveyor of antiquities of the newly founded Department of Antiquities of the colonial administration. In 1952 he founded the National Museum in Jos, the first public museum in Nigeria. He became head in 1957 after the first director Kenneth Murray retired. After Nigeria became independent, Fagg became the curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford in 1963.[1]


Bernard Fagg is commemorated in the scientific name of species of lizard, Lygodactylus bernardi.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of National Biography profile. Accessed May 19, 2007.
  2. ^ Wesler, Kit W. (1998). Historical Archaeology in Nigeria. Africa World Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-86543-610-X.
  3. ^ Oliver, Roland Anthony; Fagan, Brian M. (1975). Africa in the Iron Age, c500 B.C. to A.D. 1400, Part 1400. Cambridge University Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-521-09900-5.
  4. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Bernard", p. 24).