AIA News

February 22, 2007

AIA Elects Three to Foreign Honorary Membership

The AIA Council has voted to elect three distinguished colleagues to Foreign Honorary membership. The three new members, Colin Renfrew of the United Kingdom, Donny George Youkhanna of Iraq, and Wang Wei of the Peoples Republic of China, were chosen for their outstanding contributions to archaeology in their countries and abroad and join the ranks of 32 living foreign archaeologists who have been so honored.

Donny George Youkhanna, currently a visiting professor at Stony Brook University, is the former chairman of Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and former director of the National Museum in Baghdad and director general of the country’s museums. He has excavated at several sites in Iraq, including Babylon, Nineveh, and Um Al-Agareb, and has published and lectured widely on Mesopotamian archaeology and participated in international conferences in Germany, the UK, Turkey, Jordan, South Korea, the United States, and France. In the past several years he has been active in the international efforts to protect archaeological sites in Iraq and to recover antiquities looted from Iraq. “He was always the bright light at the Iraqi Department of Antiquities, which had some quite impressive people,” says Elizabeth Stone, a colleague at Stony Brook. “It looks very much as though he will be continuing to work on behalf of Iraqi antiquities even now that he has had to leave.”

Wang Wei is director of the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). He has excavated in Beijing, at the palace city of Yanshi Shang city in Henan, the palace site of the Western Zhou Dynasty at Zhouyuan in Shaanxi, and at several important sites in Japan. Since 2000, he has directed the project “Ancient Environment, Human Behavior and Development of civilization in the Middle and Lower Yellow River Valleys,” the first multidisciplinary project in China for the study of man-land relationships in ancient times. He has lectured in Japan, South Korea, Great Britain, Canada, and Germany and at many international conferences. His main subjects include origin of civilizations in China and the East Asia, formation of early states in the East Asia, prehistoric environment and the origin of rice and millet agriculture in East Asia, environmental changes in the Shang and Zhou Dynasties and the southward movement of Steppe peoples, and diffusion and exchange of bronze and iron metallurgical techniques in the East Asia. His major research interests and subjects of his numerous publications are the archaeology of the Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties, the formation and development of ancient civilization in East Asia, and archaeological study on culture communication in East Asia. Robert Murowchick, director of the International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History at Boston University says, Wang “is a terrific scholar, an active field researcher, and in charge of one of the most important archaeological programs in China.”

Colin Renfrew was elected in 1981 to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology in the University of Cambridge, a post he held until he retired in 2004. He served as Master of Jesus College from 1986 till 1997, and in 1990 was appointed director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, also at Cambridge. He was awarded the Balzan Prize, less well known than the Nobel but equally prestigious, in 2004. Since his retirement, Renfrew has been chairman of the Managing Council for the British School at Athens, and, in 2005-2006, he was appointed Visiting Scholar at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. Renfrew has excavated at Sitagroi, Greece, Quanterness in Orkney and Phylakopi on the island of Milos, Greece. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1968 and in 1970 was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. His major publications include the Emergence of Civilisation (Study in Prehistory) (1972), Before Civilisation: The Radiocarbon Revolution and Prehistoric Europe (1973), The Archaeology of Cult: The Sanctuary at Phylakopi (1985), Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of the Indo-European Origins (1987), and numerous co-authored studies. Renfrew was awarded a life peerage in 1991, and chose the style Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn. In addition to his important excavations, contributions on Aegean prehistory, and work on archaeological theory, Colin Renfrew has been one of the leading figures in the international movement to prevent the looting of archaeological sites.

Foreign Honorary Members of the Archaeological Institute of America are nominated by the Professional Responsibilities Committee and elected by the Institute’s Council, which is made up of its Governing Board, Past Presidents, chairmen of the Managing Committees of all American Schools that the Institute has founded, the presidents of all affiliated Societies, and additional members from each Society depending on its size. The Council meets once a year at the Annual Meeting of the Institute. In addition to electing Renfrew, Youkhanna, and Wei at the Annual Meeting in San Diego this past January, the Council also adopted new rules for selecting recipients of this honor.

Only 36 people may hold membership at any time. Foreign Honorary members are accorded all the privileges of Life membership and may choose to receive a complementary subscription to the American Journal of Archaeology.

By electing distinguished foreign scholars to honorary membership the AIA helps to cement relationships with colleagues abroad and with the host countries in which many AIA members do their excavation and research. This program brings to North American members knowledge of the work of some of the great contributing figures in world archaeology and enhances the standing of the Institute as a truly international organization. The selection for Foreign Honorary membership of those who have behaved in an exemplary fashion with respect to professional ethics and concern for the archaeological record, also helps the Institute promote its ethical values abroad.

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