Biblical Archaeology Review 42:2, March/April 2016

Strata: In Their Own Words

By Robert S. Merrillees

Robert S. Merrillees is both an archaeologist and a diplomat. He received his early training as an archaeologist in his native Australia and his doctorate in Egyptology from University College London. As an Australian diplomat, he was posted in a number of countries, including Israel. Upon his retirement from the diplomatic service, he served as director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI). He now lives in Burgundy, France, and continues to have strong opinions—archaeological and otherwise.

Archaeology is a highly professional, mostly ethical, but unremunerative occupation. No one ever got rich working at a university or museum in archaeological departments. …

At the same time, the discipline has become very expensive to perform since not only is excavation a costly undertaking, but the follow-up, involving empirical and scientific analyses as well as publication, makes great demands on time, effort and particularly budgets. It is no wonder that so many digs in recent years have not yet been fully and finally published. …

I set out to be an archaeologist 60 years ago. … Why did I switch from the possibility of a full-time archaeological career to diplomacy? Force of circumstances and personal preference. … Archaeology seemed and has always been for me the perfect pastime, readily pursued and aided by the sympathetic colleagues we met and befriended in every part of the world where we served. …

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