The death of Neil Faulkner on the 4th of February was a considerable blow to the world of progressive archaeology and, in particular, to those who worked with him in the field, as an educator and as a tour leader.
In Memory of Dr Neil Faulkner
21 March 2022
Another significant venture was the ‘Great Arab Revolt’ project. His interest in military history extended to the experiences of T. E. Lawrence in Arabia and Trans-Jordan during the First World War. This was a very much a cutting-edge project, incorporating modern ideas about conflict archaeology and the archaeological study of the modern world. His aim was to document the battlefields of this much mythologised conflict and compare the written accounts, Lawrence’s book the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and official reports with the archaeology on the ground. He led survey teams out into the Jordanian desert to examine the sites of Lawrence’s ‘railway war’, blowing up the Hejaz railway and throwing the Turkish forces into disarray. While this is a new field, and sometimes seen as not being ‘real’ archaeology, Neil’s enthusiasm was infectious.
I worked with him on a podcast where he described his findings, and noted that while he and his team were able to determine the course of a battle by the distribution of spent cartridges, and hastily built sangers, the location of British officers with the Arab forces was traceable by the distribution of gin bottles! Finally, he led trips for a number of British travel companies, including Andante Travels and most of us at Andante knew him best. He was quite flexible in his approach – Rome, Sicily, Tunisia and of course Jordan were his stomping grounds.
Neil put his own particular – and some controversial – points of view across but was always aiming to try to infect his guests with his own enthusiasm for the past and enable people to see that there were many different points of view. His writing was to the same aim and his books range from a debunking of the last era of Roman Britain, through a history of the Russian revolution. His final book was as provocative as ever, a study of British Arab conflicts, seen as a clash between imperialism and fundamentalism, published this year. His stimulating world view will be missed by colleagues and friends of all sorts.
By Oliver J. Gilkes
Since sharing this message with everyone subscribed to our mailing list on Saturday, 19th March, the team at Andante Travels would like to thank those who took the time to respond and share their own memories of Neil as well as their condolences.