No. 98 Vol. IX No. 3 Published October 1985
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Congress of Independent Archaeologists
IT is difficult for me to report on the Congress of Independent Archaeo logists at Wolfson College, Cam bridge on 21/22 September since I was the organiser, together with Plan¬ tagenet Somerset Fry; and thus what ever I say you will rightly take with a pinch of salt. But one hundred and thirty-four people signed up for it, and everyone was very polite and said that they enjoyed themselves.
There was one disappointment at the outset when Margaret Rule broke her ankle and could not come to tell us about the Mary Rose project. Fortunately, however, we were able to fill the slot with a distinguished American visitor, Brian Rosborough, the President of Earthwatch. He described how in 1970 as a young investment banker he was called in by the Smithsonian Institute to advise on the funding of an expedition to observe an eclipse of the sun in the central Sahara. He hit upon the idea of finding volunteers who not only manned the expedition, but also paid for the privilege. As a result Earthwatch was born. Four expeditions were funded in 1971, when 59 individuals contributed $50,000 in all. Numbers increased and in the mid 1970s David Phillipson ran the first Earthwatch archaeological expedition to Zambia. Since then 730 research expeditions have been financed, divided between the sciences and the humanities, 254 of them being devoted to archaeology. Fifty-four projects have been funded in Britain, 37 of which have been archaeological. Currently many of their projects are ecological, such as the study of the rain forests in Brazil, but they are still continuing to fund a number of archaeological explorations, includ
ing the Biddies at Repton and Dominic Powlesland at West Heslerton. Earthwatch now has 18,000 members, mostly in the United States, where it is the third largest private source of funding in the country. Currently they are establishing a field office in Europe, headed by Trewin Copplestone, and details can be obtained either from their head office at 10 Juniper Road, Belmont, Mass. 02178, or from 3 Brook Green Studios, Dunsany Road, London W14.
The meeting started on a provocative note when Brian Palmer, a keen amateur archaeologist, who is also a Director of the Legal and General Assurance Society, told the Congress that archaeology had an image problem among business men. Many saw it as an inhibitor of progress, full of history and nostalgia, that rarely sought for treasure and publicity. Archaeologists were merely interested in the accumulation of knowledge: how boring! Rather than trying to tap finance from business it would be far better to look at the human resources provided by retirement pensions, of which Legal and General is a leading provider. Indeed they even have a Retirement Counselling Manager, Keith Hughes, who came and told us that 2000 people a day retire. For many of them, according to market research, their greatest problem was the fear of boredom, and they were looking for leisure pursuits which involved mixing with people and mental exercise combined with outdoor exercise. On all three criteria archaeology scores highly. However archaeology was not at present among the list of 100 topics that he distributed, because it did not advertise itself enough, and he recommended that archaeologists should try to tap these resources by approaching the two leading retirement magazines: Choice and Your Retirement.