AIA News

January 29, 2021

In Memoriam: Nancy Wilkie

It is with great sadness that we share the news of Nancy Wilkie’s passing, and offer our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues. Nancy passed away on Monday, January 18, 2021.

Nancy Wilkie served as the president of the AIA from 2000 to 2003. She was also a founding member of the US Committee of the Blue Shield, and president from 2013 to 2020.

Nancy held degrees from Stanford University and the University of Minnesota. As a graduate student, she worked on the Minnesota Messenia Expedition from 1968 to 1975. From her PhD research on the Nichoria tholos tomb, to working on the Naukratis survey and excavations in the early 1980s, Nancy’s work was not confined by geographical region or time period. Throughout her career, Nancy worked on projects all over the world including Greece, Egypt, and Nepal.

Nancy was the William H. Laird Professor of Classics, Anthropology, and the Liberal Arts at Carleton College until 2013. She began working at Carleton College in 1974 as an adjunct professor in the Classics department, and throughout her years of teaching she created and directed the Archaeology program there. Additionally, she served on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), the United States committee that advises the President on requests regarding import restrictions on archaeological artifacts. Nancy was appointed to this 11-member group by President Bush in 2003 and 2005, and then again by President Obama in 2011 and 2017.

In 2003, the Nancy Wilkie Lectureship in Archaeological Heritage was established in tribute to Nancy’s contributions to the AIA and her involvement in the world of archaeology. The lectureship engages AIA members with internationally recognized speakers who address prominent and current issues faced in their fields and sites around the world. Nancy’s tireless advocacy for the preservation and appreciation of archaeology is celebrated by these annual lectures, which represent the many disciplines and perspectives that make up the future of archaeology. These lectures happen twice annually, and this year’s lecturer, Patty Gerstenblith, gave the inaugural Wilkie Lectures.

Nancy’s colleague and former AIA President Andrew Moore remembers her as “a wonderful human being, with great warmth of personality, and a deep sense of loyalty to institutions, colleagues and friends. She was an excellent teacher and mentor who possessed a strong moral sense and deep humanity.  Above all, she possessed a strong capacity for leadership, demonstrated in her commitments to the AIA and to the US Committee of the Blue Shield of which she was a founding member and later President. She led through example and quiet authority, a most effective combination.”

Nancy lectured regularly for the AIA from 1983 to 2012, devoting nearly 30 years of her life to sharing her knowledge. A wonderful speaker, she was well loved by all the local Societies. In 2010 Nancy was chosen as the Charles Eliot Norton Memorial Lecturer. The Norton Lectureship honors distinguished archaeologists and scholars from all over the world and is one of the highest honors that the AIA can bestow.

At the 2021 Annual Meeting, Nancy was honored with the Outstanding Public Service Award. The award honors those who have made exceptional contributions to support public understanding and interest in archaeology, as well as the preservation of the archaeological record. Nancy was honored for her commitment to the preservation of archaeological heritage world-wide; from her work with CPAC to the US Committee of the Blue Shield, Nancy served with diligence, creativity, and dedication. She was a tireless champion for preservation of the archaeological heritage in the public, governmental, and academic spheres.

The field of archaeology and the AIA are indebted to Nancy Wilkie. She will be deeply missed.

Nancy’s family has graciously asked that memorial gifts be made to the AIA. You may make a gift in Nancy’s memory here.

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