One of the world’s leading centers of archaeological research may soon close down. News of plans to shut the University of Sheffield’s archaeology department has scientists and researchers worldwide dumbstruck. Vital research into subjects such as Stonehenge will be lost, archaeologists say, if the Sheffield Archaeology is shuttered.
Hundreds of archaeologists, organizations like the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, the Prehistoric Society, and archaeology enthusiasts worldwide, are up in arms to try and save one of the world’s key institutions of study of antiquities. Central to their concerns is Sheffield’s role in research on Stonehenge, which will suffer mightily if the department is closed down.
Tens of thousands have already signed the petition to convince Sheffield University decision-makers to keep funding this groundbreaking school of study. The Save Sheffield’s Archaeology Department at Change.org. Dr. Mike Parker Pearson, who is one of the world’s leading Stonehenge experts and a former member of the Sheffield department, was cited at The Guardian saying:
“Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading departments of archaeology, known and respected throughout the world. I suspect the vice-chancellor has no idea of the international outrage that closing the department will cause. Sheffield seems about to shoot itself in the foot.”
Parker Pearson is the man who directed the Stonehenge Riverside Project, which has made some of the most impressive discoveries about the monument of modern times. The scientist is not alone in his deep concern for the future of Sheffield Archaeology. The Council for British Archaeology and many others call for school administrators and board members to reconsider a move that will negatively affect archaeology. Sheffield has trained hundreds of archaeologists and researchers who now work worldwide to advance the study for those unfamiliar.
🚨 We have written a letter to the VC of Sheffield University regarding threats to cuts to the Archaeology Department. 🚨— ArchaeologyUK (@archaeologyuk) May 21, 2021
You can read the full letter here 👉https://t.co/WWaCQpiStO#SaveSheffieldArchaeology #SaveArchDeparts@UniShefArch @sheffielduni https://t.co/S8RZ5fAA1P pic.twitter.com/Rx5Go7STVI
Here on Crete, where dozens of the world’s most respected archaeologists study Aegean culture, Greek antiquity, and in particular the Minoan Civilization, the community is shocked at the notion of Sheffield Archaeology going down. We talked briefly with Dr. Jan Driessen, the director of the Belgian School at Athens and the director of the Sissi Archaeological Project. Driessen, who’s also a faculty member at the Université Catholique de Louvain, had this to say about the impending closure:
“Aegean archaeology would be nowhere without the Sheffield archaeology department that has set the example of multidisciplinary approaches in the field.”
Other world-renowned archaeologists here in Greece and worldwide are saying the proposals to close a famous university department would be a “devastating blow” to the UK. The Department for Archaeology at the University of Cambridge told BBC it was “appalled and saddened” by the news.
So far, the university has not made any decisions, but according to sources, the decisions to be made boil down to these options:
- To continue to support and invest in the department
- To discontinue archaeology as a subject at Sheffield University and to let staff go
- Or to stop archaeology as a department but retain aspects of archaeological research and education – letting unnecessary team members go.
Finally, the Twitter and Facebook #hashtag #SaveSheffieldArchaeology features famous archaeologists like Knossos curator Dr. Kostis Christakis, plus thousands of professionals, students, and enthusiasts pleading with the Sheffield University Executive Board to keep the venerable school open in the coming decision on 25th May. The Heritage Alliance, Wessex Archaeology, Dr. Maria Relaki, Leeds Professor Emilia Jamroziak, Dr. Jon Henderson, Museum of London Archaeology, the Prehistoric Society and a nearly endless list of supporters are going live to try and save this essential institution.