|A Celebration of Thurstan Shaw's Life|
|Wednesday, 12 February 2014 00:00|
Archaeology and Heritage in West Africa: Building links and ‘capacity’ as Thurstan Shaw’s Legacy -Dr Pamela Jane Smith (Shaw) (email@example.com)
In May 2014, probably the largest ever gathering of West African Traditional Rulers, archaeologists, artists, authors, dignitaries, businessman and women, museum curators and heritage practitioners will converge on Cambridge to honour the life and scholarly contributions of Professor Thurstan Shaw who pioneered the development of universities, archaeology and museums in Anglophone West Africa. Eighty-five African guests are so far seeking visas to attend a University Memorial at Sidney Sussex College on 10th May 2014.
In order to capitalise on this unique gathering of specialists and resources, we are organising a series of related events aimed at creating and strengthening links between UK universities and West African academics and institutions in the fields of archaeology, museums and heritage studies.
The planned memorial is public, though space is limited. For more information about the memorial, please view this invitation.
Individuals who wish to come from Africa should contact Pamela Jane Smith directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the series of events occurring in tandem with the memorial, see the program below. WAC has also established a memorial book to honour the life and work of Thurstan Shaw. We would like to encourage people who knew Thurstan Shaw, or whose life and career was affected by his work, to contribute to this book. View Thurstan Shaw Memorial Book
From the 8th through the 11th of May, we will hold five separate events through which we will encourage links and knowledge sharing at a range of scales.
Throughout the events, Pamela will collect oral histories to record the life histories of West African guests. A film of the proceedings will be made available as an educational tool to support communication between the UK and African institutions and scholars.
Thursday afternoon 8th May 2014, We are honoured that Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman, the Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria, will offer the opening paper on Heritage, Museums and West Africa. This presentation will be followed by a “think tank” workshop which we hope will foster connections between West Africa and our UK universities. A formal reception will follow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge, UK.
Friday morning 9th May, “Discovery and Encounter” the West African collections at the MAA for invited guests.
Friday afternoon, 9th May, Professor Susan Keech McIntosh, Herbert S.
Autrey Professor of Anthropology, Rice University, USA, guest of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, will offer a public Memorial Keynote Lecture entitled, “The Enigma of Igbo Ukwu: a 40-year Perspective” to be held in the Biffen Lecture Theatre, University of Cambridge, http://map.cam.ac.uk/Biffen+Lecture+Theatre ; this will be followed by a reception at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA).
Saturday afternoon 10th May, Thurstan’s Memorial is scheduled at Sidney Sussex College and will be followed by homemade afternoon tea. A West African dinner will then be prepared and served by the Nigerian community of the UK.
Sunday, 11th May, at the McDonald Institute, there will be a conference organised by Professor Kevin MacDonald, resulting in a 100,000 word edited volume ‘West African Archaeology: papers in Honour of Thurstan Shaw’.
PROFESSOR CHARLES THURSTAN SHAW
27 June 1914 to 8 March 2013
Born in Devon, England on 27 June 1924, Thurstan Shaw was educated at Blundell’s School, Tiverton, and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge where he read classics in his first year and later changed to archaeology and anthropology. He took a First Class degree in 1936. In 1937 he went out to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) to teach at Achimota College in Accra which was in those days the most important centre of higher education in black Africa.
In Achimota, Thurstan Shaw was in charge of the Anthropology Museum and he spent virtually all vacations conducting archaeological investigations and organizing and keeping sites and finds register. He conducted his first excavation in Africa in 1937 when he carried out a rescue excavation on the Achimota College farm at a spot where a scatter of iron slag and pieces of furnace wall and tuyeres had been found. In 1940, his excavation at the Bosumpra rockshelter at Abetifi served as a watershed as it marked commencement of the reconstruction of the cultural sequence and chronological framework of West African prehistoric materials. Shaw identified and described the Late Stone Age/Neolithic and the Iron Age levels and these were demonstrated to be present over and over again in West Africa. In 1942, Thurstan Shaw excavated a large mound at Dawu, in north-eastern Akwapem, not far from Achimota, a site with more than eight metres of stratified deposits. For the first time, he demonstrated how locally made smoking pipes could be useful as a dating marker in West Africa.
In 1958, Shaw was invited to direct excavations at site of Igbo Ukwu in southeastern Nigeria. This site featured a royal burial with cast bronzes dated to the tenth century AD. The excavation showed that highly sophisticated indigenous craft traditions existed in the tropical forests during the first millennium AD, long before any Arab or European influence. In 1963, Thurstan Shaw joined the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ibadan as a Research Professor of Archaeology and he created the Archaeology Research Unit of the Institute which initiated the collections for a teaching museum. In 1965, he excavated the Iwo Eleru rockshelter, located at about 24 kilometres from Akure in Ondo State of Nigeria. The excavation produced evidence of human occupation of the forest fringes of West Africa during the Late Stone Age and the skeletal remains which show Negroid characteristics had been dated 11,200 ± 200 BP, the oldest known specimen in the West African region at that time. In 1964, he founded the West African Archaeological Newsletter (WAAN) and he was also the founding editor of the West African Journal of Archaeology (WAJA) which replaced WAAN in 1971.
A teaching Department of Archaeology was created in 1970 in the Faculty of Science of the University and Thurstan Shaw became the founding Head of Department. Thurstan Shaw nurtured the department and was especially proud of the department’s laboratory, photographic and draughting facilities, teaching collections and well-utilised field equipment which made Ibadan one of the best centres for archaeology in Africa. He was instrumental to the design of the Archaeology Department building complex which was commissioned on the occasion of his 75th birthday celebration at Ibadan in 1989. He retired from the University of Ibadan in 1974 and was a visiting professor to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria from 1975 to 1978. After he left Nigeria, he had always maintained contact and showed interest in the development of archaeology at Ibadan. In 1983, at the conference of the Pan African Association for Prehistory and Related Studies in Jos, Nigeria he was in favour of the academic boycott of apartheid South Africa. It was not by accident that he was also one of the strong forces behind the First World Archaeological Congress (WAC-1), held in 1986 at Southampton, England, which excluded South African participation.
Thurstan Shaw’s wife, Ione whom he married in 1939 died in 1992: they had five children. In 2004, he married Dr Pamela Jane Smith, an historian of archaeology. She, his two sons and three daughters survive him. Thurstan Shaw will be fondly remembered for his gentle kindness, his generosity and his unhindered love for the African peoples. Adieu Thurstan.
Professor Caleb Adebayo Folorunso
University of Ibadan
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 07:45|