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CBRL Director, Professor Bill Finlayson

(Friday 6th April 2018) The Council for British Research in the Levant has announced that its long-serving Director, Professor Bill Finlayson, has left his post, effective 31 March 2018.

Bill’s long and distinguished association with CBRL began in 1999 shortly after the formal merger of the British Institute at Amman for Archaeology and History (BIAAH) with the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (BSAJ), when he was appointed Regional Director operating from Amman. 

One of his early achievements was in completing the merger process, and in re-establishing an institutional presence in East Jerusalem at the former BSAJ premises, now the Kenyon Institute.  In 2003 he moved the British Institute in Amman, as it then became, to its current premises in Tla’ Al-Ali. 

Bill played a major role in transforming the CBRL from a small archaeological research base into a multi-disciplinary research body with a vibrant research culture that reflects the wide disciplinary remit requested by the CBRL’s main sponsor, the British Academy.

His own research on the Neolithic helped ensure the CBRL’s strong international reputation as a leading archaeological research centre, working in partnerships with Jordanian, British, European and American colleagues. Highlights included his excavations with Professor Steven Mithen at Wadi Faynan 16, a substantial PPNA settlement in southern Jordan, his heritage and experimental archaeological research at Beidha and his excavations at Dhra’.  

Bill also brought cultural heritage management skills to the CBRL, leading to new collaborations with the Jordanian Department of Antiquities and Ministry of Tourism within a new inter-disciplinary framework.

CBRL’s operations broadened under Prof Finlayson’s leadership and the increasing volume of research being undertaken in Syria drove a CBRL strategy to expand its operations into Syria until the war erupted in 2011 and the initiative had to be abandoned.

Bill relocated to London from 2011 in a new post as CBRL's UK Director, providing overall supervision for the development of the institutes in Amman and Jerusalem led respectively by Dr Carol Palmer and Dr Mandy Turner.  At the same time he took responsibility for extending CBRL's network among British universities, for developing research excellence, for ensuring the publication of CBRL's research in Levant and Contemporary Levant, and for engaging in the increasingly crucial business of securing continued funding through the British Academy.  In this he achieved major successes not only on behalf of CBRL but also for the other British International Research Institutes (BIRI).

The Chairman of CBRL, James Watt, commented:  "Bill has countless friends in the world of archaeological research and across the Levant, as well as in the wider range of disciplines in which CBRL has been working, as well as among BIRI counterparts.  He has made a great contribution to the success of CBRL as well as to research into the archaeology of the Neolithic, on which he is a recognised authority.  He leaves CBRL with the good wishes of all for his continuing work in this field and for his professional future in general."

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