WHEELER, Sir Mortimer (Robert Eric Mortimer; “Ric”). Glasgow 10.9.1890 — Surrey 22.7.1976. British archæologist. Son of journalist Robert Wh. and his wife Emily. Grew at Edinburgh and near Bradford (where school). Studies at London University college, 1914 begun his work a 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).
In 1944-47 Director General of Archæology, India, 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 reformed 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 Michae Mortimer Wheeler. She died in 1936. Second marriage in 1939 with Mavis de Vere Cole, apparently divorced. Soon after war 1945 married Margaret “Kim” Collingridge.
Publications: on British arch.: Segontium and the Roman Occupation of Wales. L. 1923; Prehistoric and Roman Wales. Oxford 1925; The Roman Fort Near Brecon. L. 1926; London and the Vikings. L. 1927 (catal.); London in Roman Times. L. 1930 (catal.); Report on the excavations … in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire. Oxford 1932; London and the Saxons. L. 1935 (catal.); Verulamium: A Belgic and Two Roman Cities. Oxford 1936; Maiden Castle, Dorset. Oxford 1943; Stanwick Fortifications, North Riding of Yorkshire. L. 1954; Hill Forts of Northern France. L. 1957.
– 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”, Anc. 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 CHI) 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.
– Archæology from the Earth. L. 1954; Still Digging. L. 1955; Alms for Oblivion: An Antiquary’s Notebook. L. 1966; The British Academy, 1949–1968. L.1970.
Sources: *His own memories mentioned above; Jacquetta Hawkes, Mortimer Wheeler. Adventurer in Archaeology, London 1982; long and detailed article with photo and a bust in Wikipedia.
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