WHEELER, Sir Mortimer

WHEELER, Mortimer (Robert Eric Mortimer; “Ric”). Glasgow 10.9.1890 — Surrey 22.7.1976. Sir. British archæologist. Son of journalist Robert Wh. and Emily Baynes. Grew up in Edinburgh and near Bradford (where school). Studies at London University College, in 1914 begun his work as archæologist and married. In 1914-18 in army in France and Italy. In the 1920s and 1930s carried important excavations of prehistoric and Roman Britain (Segontium, Maiden Castle, Verulamium) developing new methods (exact stratigraphy). Employed at the National Museum of Wales 1921-26, Keeper of the London Museum 1926-43. Founded in 1934 the Institute of Archæology (later attached to London University). In 1939-43 in army (in North Africa and Italy).

As a noted archaeologist Wheeler was selected to reform Indian archaeology as Director General of Archæology in 1944-47. He conducted excavations at Taxila, Harappa and Arikamedu, reformed the department fallen into decay and trained new staff for it. Then a part-time Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Provinces at London University 1948-56? and Secretary to British Academy 1949-68 (again reforming a decayed institute). Made minor excavations in Britain and in Pakistan (1949 survey as Archæological Adviser of Government, 1950 Mohenjodaro; 1958 Charsada). Many other callings: popular radio and TV performer in the 1950s and 1970s, guided archaeological tours to Mediterranean and South Asia for Swans, etc. Other travels: Iran 1946, Afghanistan 1946, East Africa 1955, Southern Africa 1958, Iran 1960, South Arabia 1965, several times Pakistan and India. Knighted 1952.

In 1914 married Tessa Verney, one son, the lawyer Michael Mortimer Wheeler. She died in 1936. Second marriage in 1939 with Mavis de Vere Cole, divorce 1942. Soon after war in 1945 married Margaret “Kim” Collingridge (separated 1956, but not divorced). The first and third wife were also archaeologists.

Publications: On British archaeology: Segontium and the Roman Occupation of Wales. 186 p. L. 1923; Prehistoric and Roman Wales. 299 p. Oxford 1925; The Roman Fort Near Brecon. 260 p. L. 1926; London and the Vikings. 55 p. L. 1927 (catalogue); London in Roman Times. 210 p. L. 1930 (catalogue); Report on the excavations of the Prehistoric, Roman and Post-Roman site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire. 8+137 p. 52 pl. Oxford 1932; London and the Saxons. 201 p. 21 pl. L. 1935 (catal.); Verulamium: A Belgic and Two Roman Cities. 244 p. 120 pl. Oxford 1936; Maiden Castle, Dorset. 20+399 p. 119 pl. Oxford 1943; Stanwick Fortifications, North Riding of Yorkshire. 7+63 p. 29 pl. L. 1954; Hill Forts of Northern France. 16+225 p. L. 1957; articles and lesser works.

With A. Ghosh & Krishna Deva: “Arikamedu: an Indo-Roman Trading-station on the East Coast of India”, Ancient India 2, 1946, 17-124, 34 pl.

– “Harappa 1946: The Defences and Cemetery R 37”, Ancient India 3, 1947, 58-130; “Brahmagiri and Chandravalli 1947: Megalithic and other cultures in the Chitaldrug District, Mysore State”, Ancient India 4, 1947-48, 181-310, 58 pl.

– “Iran and India in Pre-Islamic Times: A Lecture”, Ancient India 4, 1948, 1947-48, 85-103; “Romano-Buddhist Art: an old problem restated”, Antiquity 23, 1949, 4-19; “Roman Contact with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan”, W. F. Grimes (ed.), Aspects of Archaeology: Essays presented to O. G. S. Crawford. L. 1951, 345-381; “Gandhara Art: A note on the present position”, Le rayonnement des civilizations grecques et romaines sur les cultures peripheriques; 8me Congrès Internationale d’Archéologie Classique, Paris 1963, Paris 1965, 555-565; “The transformation of Persepolis architectural motifs into Sculpture under the Indian Mauryan dynasty”, Commémoration Cyrus. Hommage universel II. Acta Iranica 2. Téhéran – Liège – Leiden 1974, 249-261.

Five Thousand Years of Pakistan. 150 p. 22 pl. L. 1950.

The Indus Civilization. Suppl. to Cambridge Hist. of India. 11+96 p. 24 pl. Cambridge 1953, 2nd ed. 103 p. 26 pl. L. 1960, 3rd ed. 155 p. 21 ill. 34 pl. 1968.

Early India and Pakistan to Ashoka. 241 p. ill. Ancient Peoples and Places 12. N.Y. 1958 (L. 1959); Italian transl. 1960.

Rome beyond the Imperial Frontiers. 12+192 p. L. 1954; French transl. 1960.

Charsada: A Metropolis of the North-West Frontier. 21+130 p. 45 pl. Oxford 1962.

Roman Art and Architecture. 250 p. N.Y. 1964.

Civilisations of the Indus Valley and Beyond. 144 p. L. 1966.

Flames Over Persepolis. 180 p. ill. L. 1968.

My Archæological Mission to India and Pakistan. 96 p. 56 ill. L. 1976.

Archaeology from the Earth. 11+221 p. 21 pl. Oxford 1954; Still Digging: interleaves from an antiquary’s notebook. 207 p. L. 1955; Alms for Oblivion: An Antiquary’s Notebook. 175 p. 4 pl. L. 1966; The British Academy, 1949–1968. 160 p. L. 1970.

Sources: *His own memories mentioned above; *R.W. Clark, Sir Mortimer Wheeler. 107 p. L. 1960; J. Hawkes, Mortimer Wheeler. Adventurer in Archaeology. London 1982; *J. McIntosh, Oxford D.N.B. 2004; *M. Mallowan, Iran 15, 1977, vf.; St. Piggott, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 23, 1977, 623-642; *H.D. Sankalia, American Anthropologist 79, 1977, 894f.; long and detailed article with photo and a bust in Wikipedia.

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