Thursday, 1 March 2012

In Memoriam: Raymond Allchin (1923-2010)

I haven't been updating this blog for a while, and so there are some things I'd like to cover that are very very (very...) belated. Two of those things are obituaries for archaeologists in the field who passed away in 2010 and 2011.

Frank Raymond Allchin was born in England in 1923. He developed an interest in Indian archaeology, history, and culture while stationed there from 1944. He went on to complete a degree in Hindi and Sanskrit and a PhD in Indian Archaeology at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, London). He then stayed at SOAS to teach.

He went on to teach South Asian Archaeology in Cambridge from 1959. He inspired many students to go on to work in the field, trained many students from South Asia, and continued to do fieldwork across India and Pakistan.

While at Cambridge, he also co-founded the Ancient India and Iran Trust in 1978, along with Prof. Joan Van Lohuizen, Dr Jan Van Lohuizen, Sir Harold Bailey, and his wife Bridget Allchin, also a celebrated South Asian archaeologist. Today the organisation provides a home for research on India and Iran, houses an impressive library, and hosts regular talks by distinguished speakers.

He was also one of the founders of the European Association for South Asian Archaeology (EASAA), that hosts the biennal South Asian Archaeology conference. The 21st conference is this summer in Paris.

Raymond Allchin was prominent and influential enough that he was honoured by obituaries in the Times, the Times Higher Education Supplement, and the Guardian, among many other news media.

I won't go on about his many achievements, his teaching and publications, and how he went on to shape the field through his research and the creation of forums for South Asian Archaeology. All I can say is that this is the man who taught the people who lectured me as an undergraduate. Some of the first academic literature I read was his writings. As an early career researcher I'm presenting a paper on my PhD at the EASAA conference that he founded. He was one of the early archaeologists who brought South Asian Archaeology to the world. His influence in the field was phenomenal, and ours is a tremendous loss.

Images: Ancient India and Iran Trust logo, Book cover for The Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan by Bridget and Raymond Allchin

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