Archaeological Institute of America
Deadline: April 1, 2020
The Outstanding Public Service Award recognizes exceptional contributions that promote public understanding of, interest in, and support for archaeology and the preservation of the archaeological record.
Individuals, organizations, institutions, or corporations may be nominated to receive the Public Service Award. Individuals need not be members of the AIA. At the discretion of the reviewing subcommittee, the award may or may not be presented annually.
Nominations may be made by any AIA member or AIA committee. They should include a detailed statement of the candidate’s contributions meriting recognition in a form suitable for use in a citation.
Completed nominations and all materials should be received by Institute Headquarters at the address below no later than April 1 for the award to be presented at the following Annual Meeting.
A subcommittee of the Professional Responsibilities Committee will review nominations and make a recommendation to the full Committee. The PRC will submit its decision for approval by the Governing Board at its May meeting.
Outstanding Public Service Award
Atten: Awards Department
Archaeological Institute of America
44 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
The Archaeological Institute of America is pleased to present the 2019 Outstanding Public Service Award to Dr. Laurie W. Rush.
A 2011 Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, Rush serves as Native American Affairs Liaison for the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum. There she oversees the U.S. Army’s legal obligations to protect cultural resources on over 100,000 acres of military land, including archaeological sites, historic villages, and farmsteads.
Dr. Rush has promoted cultural heritage preservation in three important ways: by advocating for dialogue between military and academic stakeholders, by advancing military policies to protect cultural property, and by developing training programs in heritage for deploying military personnel.
Dr. Rush has also helped reform NATO policies for the protection of cultural heritage, including preparing a civil-military cooperation document that will guide future efforts about heritage preservation and better protect the world’s cultural heritage from accidental and deliberate destruction in the event of armed conflict.
For her tireless advocacy with the U.S. military and NATO, as well as her work in bringing together archaeologists and military personnel to protect the world’s cultural heritage, The Archaeological Institute of America is delighted to award Dr. Laurie Rush the 2019 Outstanding Public Service Award.
Since 2007, Stefano De Caro has served as General Director for Archaeology within the Italian Ministry of Culture, the capstone of an extraordinary career devoted to public service. Prior to this, he was the Regional Superintendent for Archaeological Heritage of Campania, director of excavations at Pompeii, Archaeological Superintendent in Naples, and Special Superintendent in Naples in the aftermath of the Naples earthquake. Throughout, he has been a fierce defender of Italy’s cultural patrimony.
Stefano De Caro is a model for modern cultural diplomacy. As General Director, his efforts have focused on fostering collaboration between Italian and foreign institutions, facilitating long-term loans of Italian art and antiquities, and identifying practical solutions for making cultural information available on the Internet. Under his leadership, Italy has made an unprecedented number of loans to international exhibitions; thanks to him, U.S. audiences have enjoyed such shows as Pompeii and the Roman Villa (at the National Gallery, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and The Chimaera of Arezzo (at the Getty Villa, Malibu). As a result, hundreds of thousands of museum visitors have had the chance to experience ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art and archaeology firsthand. In the wake of returns of artifacts to Italy from museums in the United States, he has been a proponent of forward-looking international partnerships that involve joint scientific research on objects, sites, and monuments. During the course of his career, De Caro has produced a significant number of publications in the field of archaeology, lectured widely, and served as editor-in-chief for many scientific journals.
It is in recognition of these many accomplishments that the Archaeological Institute of America awards its 2011 Outstanding Public Service award to Stefano De Caro.
Since 2006, Diane Siebrandt has served as the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Liaison Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Prior to that, she served as a forensic archaeologist for the Department of Justice’s Iraq Mass Grave Project. In all her work, Siebrandt has succeeded in bringing together Iraqi and American civilians, academics, military personnel, and government officials in the effort to preserve Iraq’s archaeological resources for future generations.
Siebrandt has spearheaded a wide range of initiatives in Iraq. She worked to bring American museums and the U.S. National Park Service into partnership with the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage to establish a conservation center that will provide training to Iraqi museum professionals. She has helped procure State Department funding for the World Monuments Fund to develop a sustainable management plan for the site of ancient Babylon. At the Assyrian imperial capital of Ashur, she directly participated in the efforts of the U.S. military and Iraqi archaeologists to document ongoing threats to this important site. She has escorted many American and other foreign archaeologists on surveys to document the looting of Iraqi sites and to highlight the efforts of local archaeologists and private citizens to protect the resources of their own country. And she has made introductions that allow university researchers to assist the U.S. military in reducing damage to Iraq’s many thousands of small but nonetheless invaluable ancient settlements. Hers is a diplomacy of personal contact that has achieved remarkable and very visible results.
In recognition of her tireless efforts to preserve the archaeology of Iraq, the Archaeological Institute of America honors Diane Siebrandt with its 2010 Outstanding Public Service Award.
For more than three decades, John Noble Wilford’s engaging and accurate reporting on new archaeological finds and research has contributed to the general public’s understanding of the science and excitement of archaeology. As senior science writer and editor at the New York Times, Wilford has contributed more than 500 articles on archaeological subjects. His archaeological stories span the globe, from “Scientists Use Radar to Chart Cambodia’s Ancient Ruins” (13 February 1998) to “Ancient Indian Site Challenges Ideas on Early American Life” (19 September 1997). In recent years, he has written on the impact of modern war on ancient artifacts, bringing to public attention the looting of the Baghdad Museum.
In addition to writing countless newspaper articles since beginning his career in 1956 at the Wall Street Journal, Wilford has authored eight books, including The Mapmakers (London 1981), The Riddle of the Dinosaur (New York 1985), and The Mysterious History of Columbus (New York 1991). He has received two Pulitzer Prizes for his newspaper writing.
In 2003, Wilford had this advice for aspiring science writers: “Knowledge of science is of no value if one cannot express and explain in clear English and in an arresting style.” John Noble Wilford’s own career shows that he has put this advice into masterful practice and thus makes him a worthy recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s 2009 Outstanding Public Service Award.
In his work with the National Park Service and in his broader professional involvements, Francis P. McManamon’s career has been distinguished by his commitment to public service. As chief archaeologist and manager of the archaeology program of the National Park Service, he is nationally recognized as a leader in promoting public outreach, heritage education, and citizen involvement in archaeology and cultural heritage preservation.
By means of an ambitious program of public lectures, symposia, and publications, McManamon has brought issues such as the Kennewick Man, archaeological looting, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Antiquities Act, and the importance of public outreach and education before a broad and varied public. As a tireless advocate for the protection of archaeological resources, he has addressed audiences throughout the United States and abroad in venues ranging from historical societies to rotary clubs to universities and law schools.
McManamon’s publications are equally wide ranging, both in terms of the archaeological topics they address and in the varied audiences they attract. His most recent publication, The Antiquities Act: A Century of American Archaeology, Historic Preservation, and Natural Conservation (Tucson 2006), with coeditors David Harmon and Dwight Pitcaithley, won the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Book Award and has been praised for its broad appeal (in Archaeology Magazine) and as “a core addition to academic and community library reference collections” (The Midwest Book Review).
McManamon has also developed several highly specific outreach programs for government attorneys and managers. His “Overview of Archaeological Protection Law,” a four-day course presented annually in conjunction with the Office of Continuing Legal Education of the Department of Justice, provides one example of his commitment to educating those outside the field about the value of archaeology.
In addition to awards from the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior, Francis P. McManamon has received the Presidential Recognition Award of the Society for American Archaeology, the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Certificate of Commendation, and the Special Achievement Award of the Society of Professional Archaeologists. He has also served on the AIA’s Governing Board.
Francis P. McManamon’s career exemplifies his dedication to public outreach in archaeology. It is entirely fitting for the Archaeological Institute of America to recognize his many achievements with the 2008 Outstanding Public Service Award.
In the course of his long and distinguished museum career, Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer has exemplified the professional and personal values that the Outstanding Public Service Award was created to honor. As director of the Antikensammlung der Staatliche Museen in Berlin, he brought one of the world’s most exceptional archaeological collections ever more vitally into the contemporary cultural sphere. Contributing to the master plan for reorganizing Berlin’s Museum Island and conceiving of its celebrated “archaeological promenade” are two of his most notable achievements. Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer oversaw the restoration of the great Pergamon Altar, expanded online access to collections, and organized numerous highly acclaimed exhibitions. His engagement with ancient art extends beyond the gallery, both to the classroom, as a professor at the Free University of Berlin since 1977, and to the pursuit of fieldwork, as an excavator for three seasons at Olympia. Despite the intense demands of museum administration, Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer has remained a prolific scholar. He is the author of more than a dozen books that elucidate the arts, cultures, and legacy of classical antiquity.
For his energetic leadership in the swiftly evolving field of museum ethics, Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer has earned Orders of Merit from the Republics of Italy and Greece. He played a decisive role in the restitution of a sarcophagus looted from Ostia Antica, prompting Italian archaeologists to reciprocate with generous long-term loans. In the contentious arena of archaeological heritage, his subsequent success in mobilizing a cooperative network of German and Italian museums is paying handsome dividends. This critical initiative facilitates conservation and exchanges of information while bringing remarkable works of art and fresh discoveries to wider audiences. Based on practical solutions, such pioneering museum partnerships respond to the sorts of challenges that institutions with antiquities collections must confront. We are indebted to this director for a dynamic example of sound museum practice in a leading market country. Proactive and collaborative, Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer has convened major conferences and crafted international agreements to address the illicit antiquities trade. One such landmark document, the 2003 Berlin Resolution, calls upon the museum and art market communities to adopt the highest standards for acquisitions and urges the framing of comprehensive ethical codes for archaeologists. In lasting ways, his work has revitalized the role of museums as a public trust. His career has been devoted to a mission that museum professionals and archaeologists share: creative and responsible stewardship of archaeological collections.
In recognition of exceptional achievements in museum leadership and for promoting international cooperation to preserve and celebrate archaeological heritage in the public interest, the Archaeological Institute of America is honored to present its 2007 Outstanding Public Service Award to Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer.
The Archaeological Institute of America is proud to present the 2006 Award for Outstanding Public Service to the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre. The Illicit Antiquities Research Centre (IARC) was founded in May 1996 in response to increasing concern about both the destruction of archaeological sites and ancient monuments throughout the world and the resulting loss of historical knowledge. Working under the auspices of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, the Centre raises awareness about the problem of looting and its connection to the illicit antiquities trade through public education and media campaigns. Emphasizing that the true value of an artifact is irreparably diminished by the loss of cultural information caused by its unrecorded divorce from context, the IARC has attempted to create a climate of opinion that will discourage the collection of illicit antiquities. IARC has a small but extremely dedicated staff including Colin Renfrew, Neil Brodie, Chris Scarre, Augusta McMahon, Peter Watson and Jenny Doole.
IARC has been active in supporting national legislation and international agreements for the protection of cultural heritage. The recent ratification by the United Kingdom of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property reflects a growing awareness among British politicians, the museum and dealer communities, and the general public about the need to safeguard the world’s archaeological patrimony. IARC has contributed in no small way to this change in perception regarding the preservation of the past. IARC’s thorough research is frequently cited by journalists.
IARC also organizes conferences that bring together archaeologists, government and law-enforcement officials, and museum representatives from around the world to exchange information about illicit trade and potential solutions to the problems. One such gathering in 1999 resulted in the establishment of the International Standing Committee on the Traffic in Illicit Antiquities and the passing of the Cambridge Resolution, in which a group of international experts agreed to join forces to combat the illicit trade and raise public awareness about it.
In 2000 IARC published Stealing History: the Illicit Trade in Cultural Material — a report commissioned by the Museums Association and ICOM-UK — and in 2001, the highly influential Trade in Illicit Antiquities: the Destruction of the World’s Archaeological Heritage. Both these books have become standard references in the field, used by students, archaeological professionals, the media, and national and international policy makers. In addition, IARC maintains an active and frequently visited website (http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/IARC/home.htm) and publishes a regular newsletter, Culture Without Context (http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/IARC/cwoc/contents.htm).
In its mission and activities IARC is unique in the world and has had a major impact in its ten years of existence. In recognition of its record of notable achievement, the Archaeological Institute of America presents the Outstanding Public Service Award for the year 2006 to the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre.
The continuing crisis in Iraq has placed at risk an entire chapter in human history. Recognizing that many individuals and international organizations have vigorously responded to the challenges of protecting Iraqi sites and restoring cultural institutions, the Archaeological Institute of America wishes to single out the particular efforts of John Malcolm Russell, Professor of Art History and Archaeology at the Massachusetts College of Art.
Following upon the first Gulf War in 1991, John Russell warned of the devastation taking place in the ancient cities of Mesopotamia. He urgently pressed the U.S. government, non-governmental organizations, and archaeological colleagues to take action to protect Iraqi sites. For the most part he was ignored, Cassandra-like, and even those who were sympathetic dismissed his concerns on the grounds that nothing could be done.
John Russell, however, did not lower his voice, publishing numerous articles in magazines such as Archaeology and Natural History. His efforts at alerting the wider public culminated in his important book, The Final Sack of Nineveh: the Discovery, Documentation, and Destruction of Sennacherib’s Throne Room at Nineveh, Iraq (New Haven, 1998). In these works Russell’s meticulous research called attention to Iraqi antiquities appearing on the international market and traced their origins back to specific sites and monuments. His earlier book, From Nineveh to New York: the Strange Story of the Assyrian Reliefs in the Metropolitan Museum and the Hidden Masterpiece at Canford School (New Haven, 1997), also helped bring to the attention of a wide audience the hidden mechanisms and deleterious effects of the antiquities trade. As war with Iraq loomed in late 2002, Russell warned of a potential catastrophe of looting and urging that preventive measures be taken. He provided leadership and expertise to archaeological colleagues who at last were aroused to action. Russell played a central role in approaches to the Pentagon and began an intensive series of interviews with the press and other media. Following the U.S. invasion and the looting of the Iraqi National Museum, Russell became the most visible spokesman for archaeology and history at risk, giving many radio and television interviews and writing articles. In all of these presentations he vividly conveyed to the general public both what had been lost and why it was so important. His visible anger and sorrow only served to strengthen his message.
When asked to join the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Russell showed his willingness to take extreme risks in backing up his words with action. From September 2003 until June 2004 he served as Deputy Senior Advisor, then Senior Advisor, to the Iraq Ministry of Culture, Coalition Provisional Authority. During this work he continued his efforts to educate those around him about the importance of preserving Iraq’s archaeological heritage. With few resources he pressed for better protection of sites and practical efforts at restoring Iraqi museums. He also served as an inspiring leader for the staff of the Iraqi National Museum as they attempted to move toward the future. As reconstruction has progressed, Russell has raised awareness of the need to incorporate site protection in rebuilding contracts. Since returning to the U.S., he has continued to speak out in public forums in defense of the preservation of sites and the restoration of museums. In recognition of generous and effective service, carried out under extraordinary and often dangerous circumstances, the Archaeological Institute of America presents John Malcolm Russell its Outstanding Public Service Award for the year 2005.
Few individuals embody the spirit of public service more completely than He Shuzhong, a tireless advocate for the remarkable ancient patrimony of China. As Director of the Division of Legislation and Policies at the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in Beijing, Mr. He is a skillful administrator who applies his professional expertise and personal devotion to draft national legislation and promote international cooperation. Representing China in numerous international venues, he participated in the early negotiations for the 200I Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage and shepherded the proposal for China’s accession to the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illicitly Exported Cultural Objects. His contributions have not only been productive in the realm of international policy, they have also made a tangible impact on local communities. Constantly on the move throughout the thirty provinces of China over the past twenty years, He Shuzhong has facilitated training seminars for many thousands of customs and security personnel, curators, archaeologists, art dealers, lawyers, magistrates, and school students. Citizens have been mobilized as stewards of their own heritage, working as his eyes and ears on the ground to protect a cultural legacy of global importance.
He Shuzhong’s mission is to close the gap between policy and practice. His successes are notable. Working with minuscule resources, he founded Cultural Heritage Watch in 1998. Private non-profit initiatives were still a novelty when Cultural Heritage Watch was established, and it remains the only NGO in its field in mainland China. In just a few years, He Shuzhong and his associates have built an effective organization that advises on the conservation of historic monuments, offers university lectures on heritage law, and engages journalists to enhance media coverage of the issues. Through their efforts, antiquities markets and construction projects near fragile sites are carefully monitored and abuses are registered. Frequent progress reports circulate on the internet, launching a boldly critical dialogue on threats to heritage from development, environmental change, tourism, and commercialization.
Challenges to the safeguarding of historic sites in a vast country, abundantly endowed with the remains of a brilliant civilization, are manifold. Appreciation of China’s extraordinary contributions to world culture, however, is hampered by widespread clandestine excavation. This occurs just at the moment when our understanding of Chinese antiquity is being transformed by a rapidly expanding recognition of its originality, contexts, and interconnections. The government of China works strenuously to confront the challenge of protecting and preserving its heritage. He Shuzhong’s determined efforts to stem the illicit trafficking of art and artifacts have been instrumental in restitution claims for such national treasures as a large stone Bodhisattva from Shandong Province and a wall relief from the tomb of Wang Chuzhi in Hebei Province. His brand of advocacy also entails great risk and sacrifice. During video filming of tomb-robbery in progress in Inner Mongolia, a confrontation with the looters forced He Shuzhong and fellow activists into the icy Laoha River. This is but one of many anti-looting efforts in which he has invested significant time and personal financial resources. He Shuzhong has demonstrated tremendous courage in the face of danger, indifference, and opposition. He represents living proof that a committed individual can make a real difference.
In recognition of his exceptional achievements in promoting international public awareness and appreciation of archaeological heritage, the Archaeological Institute of America is honored to present its 2004 Outstanding Public Service Award to He Shuzhong of the People’s Republic of China.
Since 2001, Lyndel Prott has been the Director of UNESCO’s Division of Cultural Heritage, which carries out projects to protect the world’s cultural heritage, including the safeguarding of archaeological sites and monuments and the strengthening of museum operations. Before her promotion to Director in 2001, Dr. Prott headed the Division’s International Standards Unit, which is responsible for the legal protection of the cultural heritage, and which provides the Secretariat for the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to Its Countries of Origin or Its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation.
Dr. Prott received a Dr. Juris from the University of Tübingen, Licence spèciale en Droit international from The Brussels Free University, and a B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Sydney. From 1991 to 1996, she held a Personal Chair in Cultural Heritage Law at the University of Sydney; she has held academic positions at Syracuse University, the Hague Academy of International Law, and Stanford University; and she has acted as a legal consultant to UNESCO, ICOM, the Council of Europe, and the Commonwealth of Australia. Among the many honors Dr. Prott has received is Officer of the Order of Australia.
She is the author of more than 150 publications in the fields of law and the cultural heritage, jurisprudence, and international and comparative law. Her books include the major, multi-volume work, Law and the Cultural Heritage, written with her husband Patrick O’Keefe, and the Commentary on the UNIDROIT Convention.
A tireless proponent of the protection and return of displaced cultural property, Dr. Prott was a member of the UNIDROIT Study Group on the International Protection of Cultural Property and helped promote the adoption of the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995). She has sought and won additional State Parties to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Recently, she was instrumental in the successful effort to adopt the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001).
In connection with the 1995 New York symposium, “The Spoils of War,” Dr. Prott proposed eight “Principles for the Resolution of Disputes concerning Cultural Heritage Displaced during the Second World War.” Since that time, these principles have been used by governments in negotiations for returns.
Lyndel Prott is one of the most intelligent, energetic, and effective forces in the world today campaigning for the protection of the archaeological and cultural heritage of the world’s peoples. The year 2003 marks the 20th anniversary of the United States’ implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention. It is especially appropriate that in 2003 the Archaeological Institute of America has chosen to honor Dr. Lyndel Prott with its award for outstanding public service.
The Archaeological Institute of America is pleased to recognize Nancy Bookidis and Charles K. Williams, II, with the Award for Outstanding Public Service for their important roles in the successful recovery and repatriation of archaeological material stolen from Greece.
On April 12, 1990, thieves broke into the archaeological museum of ancient Corinth and made off with nearly 300 objects, assaulting the night guard, and stealing the museum’s payroll. The theft, the largest ever from a Greek museum, was widely publicized in the press and in a special 1990 issue of IFAReports (Vol. 11:6). Although several of the objects were recovered from a New York antiquities gallery in 1998, it was not until the fall of 1999 that Greek and American authorities were able to make a major breakthrough in the case. On September 7, 1999, FBI agents working in collaboration with Greek police officials recovered the majority of the Corinth antiquities in a Miami storage facility. Three Roman portrait heads were later found in a New York auction house. In January of 2001, 274 of the artifacts were repatriated to Greece from the United States.
The successful recovery of the stolen Corinthian artifacts was clearly a model of international cooperation between Greek and American law enforcement agencies and archaeological authorities. Many individual archaeologists also played an important role in this effort, including those who worked anonymously for many years to keep the memory of the theft alive in the public consciousness. In particular, Nancy Bookidis and Charles K. Williams, II, long-time assistant director and director of the Corinth excavations of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, took immediate steps in 1990 to provide the Greek Ministry of Culture and Interpol with complete descriptions and photographs of the stolen objects for distribution to law enforcement agencies, museums, galleries, and private collectors. For nearly a decade after the theft, Bookidis and Williams diligently continued to write articles for popular journals about the stolen artifacts, and to keep a sharp watch for any Corinthian material appearing on the art market. After the majority of the stolen material had been recovered in the Miami warehouse, Williams recognized one of the still missing artifacts, a marble head of the god Serapis, in an auction catalogue in New York. As a result of this information, the last three portrait heads were eventually recovered.
The prompt and diligent actions of Bookidis and Williams embody the very spirit of the AIA Code of Professional Responsibilities. Among the special responsibilities of archaeologists, the Code states that they “should anticipate and provide for adequate and accessible long-term storage and curatorial facilities for all archaeological materials, records, and archives” and that they “should treat others at home and in the field with respect and sensitivity. As primary stewards of the archaeological record, they should work actively to preserve that record in all its dimensions and for the long term; and they should give due consideration to the interests of others, both colleagues and the lay public, who are affected by the research.” By demonstrating the importance of detailed and accessible archives, by actively striving to meet the legal criterion of due diligence in the recovery of stolen artifacts, and by educating the public about the illicit trade in antiquities, Bookidis and Williams have truly set new standards for future generations of archaeologists.
For their extraordinary efforts to conserve, preserve, and protect the cultural heritage of the country in which they work, their selfless cooperation with Greek law enforcement authorities and archaeological colleagues, and their efforts to inform the public of the importance of context in archaeological research, the Archaeological Institute of America is proud to honor Nancy Bookidis and Charles K. Williams, II, with this Outstanding Public Service Award.
Walter V. Robinson, journalist, is the first recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Award for Outstanding Public Service. Presented for exceptional contributions to the public understanding of and interest in archaeology, this award is given in recognition of the important series of articles written by Walter Robinson of the Boston Globe on the plunder of archaeological sites.
Walter Robinson has devoted two decades of his professional career to reporting on local, national, and international affairs for the Boston Globe. In addition to serving as the Globe’s bureau chief at Boston City Hall and the Massachusetts State House, he has been the White House and national political correspondent during three Presidential campaigns. Robinson was Middle East Bureau Chief in Jerusalem, reporting on the Persian Gulf War in 1990–1991. The paper’s Assistant Managing Editor since 1993, he has been a roving foreign and national reporter and has written extensively on artworks stolen from victims of the Holocaust during World War II. His articles on the modern-day traffic in antiquities looted from archaeological sites have focused national scrutiny on a problem of worldwide concern.
Walter Robinson’s timely reports on the damaging effects of pillaging to supply the international trade in antiquities explore long-standing conflicts between countries rich in archaeological heritage and U.S. museums. Illuminating the scope and inner workings of the illicit trade through front page coverage of disputed objects from Central America, West Africa, South Italy, and Turkey, Robinson’s skillfully researched articles have brought the cause of archaeology to audiences well beyond the Boston area. Together with Globe reporter John Yemma, he has covered Guatemala’s recent attempts to recover Mayan artifacts, and has written as well about Mali’s pursuit of its plundered patrimony. Two important investigative reports prepared by Robinson on location in Sicily trace artworks allegedly looted from the American excavations at Morgantina to prominent New York collections. Giving voice to divergent perspectives, he demonstrates an impressive ability to elucidate the complex legal and ethical dilemmas that confront collectors, dealers, museums, and archaeologists. Dramatic discoveries of the evidence of past civilizations will continue to thrill audiences, but the probing inquiries of Walter Robinson encourage best practices and will help to safeguard this precious evidence for future generations.
The Archaeological Institute of America is proud to bestow its first Award for Outstanding Public Service on Walter Robinson, in recognition of his commitment to the values of archaeological research, the accountability of public institutions, and the education of the wider public.