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Archaeology Professor Roger Matthews made British Academy Fellow


Roger Matthews, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology, has been made a fellow of the British Academy, the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences, in recognition for his work in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, where he has led investigations into human settlements believed to be between 11,000 to 19,000 years old.

With this award Reading now has the greatest concentration of Fellows of the British Academy in a single discipline, with three other active academics and two emerita in the Department of Archaeology.

As President of global heritage organisation RASHID International since 2016, Professor Matthews has also helped to protect and preserve the rich cultural heritage from Iraq. RASHID International and Professor Matthews have previously published a report documenting the systematic destruction by ISIS of heritage sites, as a means of persecuting Iraq’s Yazidi population. The report has been used by a UN investigative team to help collate evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Iraq.

Priceless artefacts in museums in Iraq have also been protected from the threat of destruction and theft thanks to Professor Matthews’ work. A project, funded through the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund and led by Professor Matthews uses SmartWater liquid to print a unique chemical signature onto objects that is invisible in normal light.

Professor Matthews said “I am honoured and very pleased to join my Reading colleagues as an elected Fellow of the British Academy. Archaeological research is almost always a collaborative exercise and I would like to pay tribute to the many colleagues with whom I have worked for almost 40 years, in particular those from the countries of the Middle East as well as my closest colleague and partner, Dr Wendy Matthews, also of Reading’s Archaeology Department.”

Professor Hella Eckardt, Head of the Department of Archaeology said: "Everyone in the department is delighted to see Roger Matthews' research excellence honoured by the British Academy. Unusually for any department, we already have three current colleagues in Mike Fulford, Roberta Gilchrist and Steve Mithen alongside the contributions of our two retired colleagues Richard Bradley and Martin Bell who have also received Fellow status. 

We are proud to be recognised for our world leading research, which feeds into our teaching. Archaeology research at Reading helps in protecting valuable cultural heritage and in developing understanding of our past to inform our future.”


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