Vice Chancellor of University of Sheffield, Professor Koen Lamberts
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Sheffield
University Executive Board (UEB)

23 May 2021

We, the undersigning, current and incoming Presidents of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), representing the EAA´s 3000 members from more than 60 European countries and beyond and on behalf of the EAA Executive Board and all our Communities and Committees, wish to express our worries about the news that your University is deeming the closure of the Department of Archaeology of the University of Sheffield.

We could argue about the importance and esteem of this Department, its enormous reputation in Archaeology and related disciplines, and its engagement in many prominent research projects, past and present, such as the reinterpretation of the Stonehenge landscape, the deeper understanding of the Black Death, and the spread of farming in Europe. All this is important. Instead, our starting point is that many of us learnt about Archaeology from the results and publications of this Department. It has gained and maintained a strong international reputation as one of the key places for good practical teaching in Archaeology matched with a good theoretical grounding. This has been the case for the last 40 years and continues to be the case because your Department of Archaeology is a major centre for training students in the UK and beyond, a lively academic arena where a great number of archaeologists and heritage experts are trained. If the Department is closed, all this important work will be lost in time.

Archaeologists are people immersed in our times. We are flexible and adaptable, develop the necessary skills to work in diverse circumstances and conditions, and live with and co-produce knowledge with all the diverse actors with whom we interact. Uniquely bridging Humanities, Social Science and Hard Science, we understand social relations and envisage the forces that cause people and societies to act in the ways they do. Therefore, so much as we can imagine the circumstances of your probable decision, you must understand that Archaeology is today a discipline central to critically reconstruct the remote and present Pasts, to explain social engagement with the Material world, and to produce positive dialogue between the Social and the Hard Sciences. If the intended decision is taken, you will lose more than a world-leading Department. You will face the risk of losing a leading discipline that can help to create alternative and sustainable futures because it is one of the only disciplines that can demonstrate to Humanity that other worlds are possible because they did exist in the Past.

With all the maximum respect we feel for your institutional decisions, and besides the thousands of supporting expressions from all over the World that you are receiving, we do hope that you could consider this letter of concern and reconsider the decision to be taken this Tuesday.

Yours faithfully,
Felipe Criado-Boado, EAA President & Eszter Bánffy, EAA Incoming President

Sheffield open letter
(Adobe PDF File)