In the past, key archaeological networks drove archaeological research, shaping the way that archaeology was seen and ‘consumed’ (see Moshenska 2010). These networks comprised relationships between archaeologists, business, industry, and the general public. The networks were effective because archaeologists played an active role in encouraging support from all classes, and provided their supporters with a constant stream of information targeted towards filling a need for knowledge about the world. Archaeological networks fostered and encouraged engagement with multiple media opportunities. These opportunities fed back into archaeological research through increased interest from the political and administrative class in archaeological ‘products’.

The current crisis in funding for humanities disciplines and the cultural sector renders an analysis of financing culture and archaeology in the past particularly pertinent. Today, archaeology, as one element of the cultural sector, is being forced to return to an earlier funding model. In the past few years, pressures on funding for academic disciplines have significantly increased. In the wake of the Browne Report on higher education funding in the UK, this pressure is particularly prevalent in the arts, social sciences and humanities, subjects that are often deemed to have little practical economic and social value (Asthana and Williams 2010; Crossick et al 2010; BIS 2010; Pillay 2010). Scholars are increasingly expected to be more creative with their output, and embrace emerging technologies to facilitate and promote their activities. They are recognizing the need to become more active in communicating to a public on whose taxpayer contributions future government funding depends.

Debates on open-access publishing exemplify this new trend. The publication of the Finch Report champions public access to information from scholarly research. Funding bodies such as the Wellcome Trust are now making open-access publication of results a condition for grant awards (Jump 2012; RIN 2012; Wellcome Trust 2012). The cultural sector in Britain is undergoing similar and even more devastating cutbacks. The Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has been abolished and its remit assumed by Arts Council England. There are significant funding cuts in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and to local government budgets, where funding museums is not a statutory obligation for local councils (CMSC 2011: 3–5, 37–40; Steel 2010). As a means of moving away from state funding for the arts, the coalition government is placing more pressure on arts and heritage organisations to encourage private philanthropy as government funding structures cease to offer support. Conversely, during this process the coalition proposed (and eventually backtracked on) limiting the amount of tax relief available to persons making charitable donations (MacGregor 2010; Secker 2012).

The discussion that follows evolves from doctoral research on the social history of British archaeology in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Thornton 2011). This research included analysis of funding, patronage and sponsorship in archaeology during this formative period in the history of the discipline in the UK. The archives of archaeologists, government officials, government departments and related organisations, as well as digitized newspaper collections, were used to reconstruct the relationships crucial to funding structures and individual and collective donation and subscription in archaeology. The aim of the research was to contextualize and assess the political, social and economic framework within which archaeology developed.

Giving and Receiving

Recent studies of transatlantic philanthropy (Adams 2004, 2009) contribute two key concepts useful for analysing archaeological financing: a) donor-receiver relationships and b) ‘intercultural transfer’. Thomas Adams’ introduction to an edited volume on the transatlantic history of philanthropic giving classifies philanthropy as an overarching, almost elusive concept in which the main aim ‘is to advance society by providing necessary social, cultural and educational services’ for which neither the state nor the market provide adequately. Furthermore, he suggests that the philanthropic relationship yields benefits for both donor and receiver, while the results shape society and culture (2004: 4–5). In addition, Adams’ work explores the idea of philanthropists as ‘agents’ of ‘intercultural transfer’ or ‘the movement of material objects, people and ideas between two separate and clearly defined cultures and societies’ (2009: 3). In Adams’ interpretation, agents of intercultural transfer were the well-travelled social elites of the ‘leisured class’. They operated outside the political-diplomatic sphere but ‘in concert with larger social and cultural organisations’ (2009: 5, 14–15).

Western archaeological research grew and developed by exploiting the opportunities available through empire(s) that stretched far beyond national borders. Systems of archaeological financing were created at a time of different priorities, imperial agendas and far less social equality. Applying the concept of ‘intercultural transfer’ to late 19th and early 20th century archaeology and heritage, the emerging cadre of professional archaeologists and museum curators became agents of intercultural transfer acting on behalf of donors/subscribers. The donor-receiver relationship between archaeologists and their funders required – demanded – a cycle of intercultural transfer.

Although Adams’ discussion of donor-receiver relationships and intercultural transfer relates only to transfer between Western cultures, the concept can be usefully applied to other situations. It provides an alternative and complementary mode of analysis for the more explicit philanthropy-enabled cultural imperialism associated with Western scholars in non-Western countries in the early 20th century. This kind of cultural imperialism is clearly demonstrated in Abt’s (1996) analysis of the (failed) Rockefeller funded Egyptian Museum in 1920s Cairo. For the purposes of this article, intercultural transfer can be seen in British archaeologists bringing objects and knowledge from non-Western countries to Western museums and collections, and bringing Western ideas of museum and heritage administration to non-Western countries. Underpinning this movement of objects and knowledge was the donor-receiver relationship that characterised archaeological financing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In British archaeology the relationship between ‘donor’ and ‘receiver’ took a variety of forms. There was ‘private’ funding from special excavation committees contributing a certain amount of funding towards a particular season(s) or piece of research. There were also subscription campaigns or ‘Funds’ gathering contributions from much larger groups of people for specific projects or strands of research. These funding calls would be issued nationally and even internationally. Often, the two approaches to funding overlapped. In either case donors expected and were given access at least to the results of the work, and, depending on the nature of the funding agreement, a portion of what was discovered. Crucially, these terms fostered a sense of ownership over and ‘investment’ in the knowledge and/or objects produced.

Many believe that philanthropy in the arts is not a part of British culture today (Higgins 2010). However, individual patronage and sponsorship in both the arts and the sciences in Britain, as well as in government-supported public museums such as the British Museum, has a lengthy history (Desmond 2001; Macgregor 2010: i; Scott 2003; Thornton 2011). By examining this history it is possible to analyse the nature of sponsorship through subscription and donation in British archaeology. Before the creation of the British Academy (1902) and the Leverhulme Trust (1925), two of the most important funding bodies for the humanities in Britain today (see Kenyon 1952; Leverhulme Trust 2010), archaeologists had to cultivate relationships with wealthy, influential, or well-connected individuals, as well as reaching out to the wider public through publishing, lecturing and exhibition displays, in order to pursue their research projects.

The university sector during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was considerably smaller than it is today. Emerging institutions for higher education, including Liverpool University (chartered in 1904), forged and cultivated valuable links with industrial magnates as well as members of the nobility and aristocracy to finance new departments and professorships in newly defined disciplines (see Alberti 2005; Rothblatt 1983: 139–145; Thornton 2011; University of Liverpool 1981). On a wider scale, increasing ease of communication during the 19th century and an increase in the number of learned societies enabled the Victorian equivalent of ‘public engagement’ to be exploited to share information and solicit donations and subscriptions for specific projects from a broad audience (see Daunton 2005; Jackson 2001: 121; Levine 1986; Wetherall 1998). Lack of large-scale government funding for arts and culture in Britain meant that archaeologists had to be effective communicators to all audiences, whether elite or non-elite. Their continued professional development depended on people being willing to support their research, either as an individual donor/sponsor or through a collective response to fundraising appeals.

The private network remained an important part of funding strategies for archaeological research. This is best exemplified in the career of John Garstang, one of archaeology’s forgotten heroes, whose legacy is undergoing a minor renaissance of late (see SACE 2011a; Thornton 2009a). The contribution he made to the training and professionalization of archaeology in Britain is being actively explored. John Garstang’s archive in Liverpool and other published and unpublished documents demonstrate that the archaeological network was maintained through correspondence, social occasions such as exhibitions and conversaziones and visits to excavations. Relationships were built up over the years, and sustained through regular contact. With the support of the private network, archaeologists could distance themselves from governmental structures, while using the funding to create a more substantial role for archaeology within a political-administrative context (Thornton 2011).

Collective Sponsorship through ‘Funds’: Britain Goes Exploring

Excavation committees were a regular feature of British archaeology. Local county archaeological societies and non-local organisations such as the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Archaeological Institute and the British Association of Archaeologists dominated the research landscape in UK-based archaeology (see Briggs 2007; Freeman 2007: 73–91, 238–301; Levine 1986; Wetherall 1994, 1998). With a proliferation of newspapers and increasing literacy during the mid to late 19th century, the press became a useful tool in marketing and promoting archaeology to the public (see Bacon 1976; Lee 1976: 34; Thornton 2011; Waller 2006: 3). The use of the press in fundraising for archaeological excavations can be traced to at least the late 1850s. At this time Thomas Wright sent appeals to The Times to gather funds for excavations at Roman Uricomium in Wroxeter, Shropshire (see Wetherall 1994: 10–11, Wright 1859a, 1859b; The Times 1860)1. The Times, with its elite readership and national coverage, brought these fundraising efforts to the attention of subscribers and donors with money to devote to British society’s cultural enrichment (Lee 1976: 34; Boyce 1978: 22–23; Thornton 2011; The Times 1901a).

The mid to late 19th century also saw the birth of formalized Funds in archaeology. This system of collective subscription financed excavations in a variety of locations (Thornton 2011). Committees managed the Funds, and Committee Secretaries were responsible for public communication, announcements and updates on progress. Many Funds featured in the national press supported excavations and explorations outside the UK (see Table 1). The overseas focus of much archaeological funding and fundraising during this period is significant. It was noticeable enough for the first Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Augustus Pitt Rivers, to write an appeal in The Times for the foundation of an ‘English Exploration Fund’ to collect public subscriptions for excavations in Britain. In his letter, Pitt Rivers’ remarked bitterly that, in the proliferation of ‘foreign’ Funds, ‘we suffer from a cosmopolitan mania that leads us to mind almost everybody’s business but our own’ (Pitt Rivers 1890)2.

Name Date of Foundation

Palestine Exploration Fund 1865

Roman Exploration Fund3 c. 1869

Asia Minor Exploration Fund 1882

Egypt Exploration Fund 1882

Cyprus Exploration Fund 1887

Cretan Exploration Fund 1899

Laconia Exploration Fund 1906

Byzantine Research and Publication Fund 1909

Macedonian Exploration Fund 1911

Hittite Research Fund 1911

Table 1

Funds for British archaeology overseas in the late 19th - and early 20th -centuries

Some Funds were similar to learned societies. The Palestine Exploration Fund, established in 1865 for research in the Holy Land, and the Egypt Exploration Fund (later Society) established in 1882 for archaeological research in Egypt, were two such Funds - both are still extant today (see Moscrop 1999; James 1982)4. Others, particularly the Asia Minor Exploration Fund, the Cyprus Exploration Fund, the Cretan Exploration Fund, the Laconian Exploration Fund and the Macedonian Exploration Fund, were associated with the British School at Athens (BSA). This Athens-based organisation gave students the opportunity to acquire excavation and archaeological research experience. Its student body was made up predominantly made up of Oxbridge students and supported by Oxbridge fellowships and studentships. However, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Royal Academy (RA) also supported travelling studentships: RA and RIBA artists and architects also benefitted from the BSA (see Gill 2011, 2012; Macmillan 1906; Thornton 2011).

George Macmillan was a key figure in the foundation and maintenance of these Funds. By day responsible for archaeology and classics titles at his family’s renowned publishing house, Macmillan & Co., he served as secretary and/or treasurer for numerous groups. In articles on the history of the BSA and the Hellenic Society, he outlined the scope and research projects of many of the Funds (Macmillan 1910/1911, 1929; The Times 1936; Van Arsdel 2007). The Asia Minor Exploration Fund pre-dated the BSA’s foundation by several years. It was the descendant of a prior plan to establish a British School in Smyrna. There, prospective archaeologists would be able to break new ground (literally) away from the already established French, German and American Schools in Athens (see Sayce 1923: 172–173; Thornton 2011). The classical scholar William Mitchell Ramsay explored sites in Asia Minor in the early 1880s with the Fund’s support. The Smyrna plan ultimately came to nothing. As others have shown, expert manoeuvring by key individuals on the Hellenic Society’s Council ensured that a location in Athens was found. The British School at Athens eventually came into being in 1886 (see Gill 2002, 2008, 2011; Stray and Beard 2005). From 1895 it received a small grant of £500 from the Treasury. Beyond that sum it survived on subscriptions and donations.

Excavations abroad could cost hundreds to thousands of pounds over multiple seasons, necessitating a constant stream of communication with the public. Subsequent Funds associated with the BSA were established to drive archaeological research into diverse geographical areas and prehistoric or historic periods5. The Cyprus Exploration Fund for example, drawing together funding from the Hellenic Society, the British School at Athens and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, provided money for three early BSA students to undertake excavations on the island, under British administration since 1878 (see Gill 2011: 157–164; Thornton 2011)6.

Scholars and more ‘professional’ men with links to publishing, banking and finance (such as Macmillan, Walter Leaf and John Lubbock) dominated Fund Committees. Both Cambridge and Oxford University and individual Oxbridge colleges provided subscriptions, along with a host of individual, organisational and even corporate subscribers such as Macmillan & Co. (see Gill 2011: 70–73)7. The Society of Antiquaries, the Hellenic Society, the British Academy and the British Association are all included on excavation subscription lists (Thornton 2011). For example, a 1903 subscription call for the Cretan Exploration Fund in the Times noted that its subscribers already included the Society of Dilletanti, Brasenose and Magdalen Colleges at Oxford, two private individuals and a group of tourists on a steamship aptly named Argonaut (Macmillan 1903b).

Letters to The Times soliciting subscriptions and donations for exploration and excavation are an excellent source for understanding the way that archaeological research and the need for funding was framed to the public. For a growing number of trained excavators largely dependent on non-governmental sources of money, these funding calls were the lifeblood of research. Sympathetic editorials often accompanied them, showing the importance of newspaper owners and editors in sustaining archaeological research (e. g. The Times 1901b). These close relationships were solidified in gentlemen’s clubs, the Athenaeum being one of the most important. Its Pall Mall address occasionally appears, a stamp of authority and legitimacy, on subscription calls and comments and reports published The Times (see The Times 1901a; Thornton 2011)8.

Alongside detailed descriptions of the intellectual rigour and importance of the research, archaeology was promoted as a crucial factor in Britain’s international reputation and bound up in its national and, crucially, its international identity. This identity was framed (both positively and negatively) in terms of the British tradition of personal rather than state-led support for educational/cultural work. France and Germany were both praised and reviled for their state-supported archaeological programmes. America, however, operating on a similar system of private investment and subscription, was a brother-in-arms (Thornton 2011). There was an American branch of the Palestine Exploration Fund while the Egypt Exploration Fund officers also collected subscriptions in America (see, for example, EEF 1885–86; Hallote et al 2012). Public funding calls turned into a debate on the Britain’s role in archaeology internationally. Britain was staking its claim to archaeological territory. The donors and subscribers supporting this research would be doing so to boost Britain on a near-global scale. An investment in archaeology brought the world to Britain and Britain to the world – this was the cycle of intercultural transfer that archaeologists managed. Subscribers were making a personal commitment to furthering exploration and knowledge-making. Archaeologists were delivering the goods – literally and metaphorically.

In 1899 archaeologists Arthur Evans and D. G. Hogarth organised the Cretan Exploration Fund to explore sites designated to Britain on the island. This work was made possible through the permission and aid of the British High Commissioner and Prince George of Greece. Despite difficulties in raising funds in the first year due to the Boer War in South Africa, the Cretan Exploration Fund eventually obtained enough to begin work. However, financing remained precarious. According to letters sent from the Cretan Exploration Fund committee to The Times (phrased to induce sympathy and open wallets), Evans himself was almost solely responsible for funding the Knossos work in its first few years (Evans and Hogarth 1899, 1900; Macmillan 1902). In 1903, a potent multi-media approach was adopted. Macmillan’s Times correspondence urged interested potential subscribers to the Cretan Exploration Fund to go to the Royal Academy’s Winter Exhibition, where photographs, drawings and casts representing material found in Evans’ excavations were on display (Thornton 2011). He attempted to pull at heartstrings, stating that ‘a procession of ‘unemployed Cretan excavators’ parading Piccadilly with collecting boxes’ had been suggested to him as a possible solution for the funding question (Macmillan 1903a). The Editorial accompanying Macmillan’s letter laid the blame squarely on the English character and its propensity for concentrating on ‘practical affairs and demand for tangible results’ - a pronouncement which sounds hauntingly familiar. This practical streak, the Editorial continued, created a situation incomparable to the support given to scholarly research by other European states ‘of corresponding importance’ – namely, France and Germany (The Times 1903; Thornton 2011).

The age of the Fund continued. The Laconia Excavation Fund was instigated for explorations in Sparta and the Byzantine Research Fund and Publication Committee provided an official home for the research drawings, plans and photographs produced by BSA arts and crafts architects (see Kakissis 2009; Macmillan 1906). The Macedonian Exploration Fund was created in 1911, to explore regions still within the Ottoman Empire at that time. Led again by a committee of scholars, amongst them Hogarth and Arthur Evans, solicitations for subscriptions were framed in broad terms. Subscribers would be aiding the cause of archaeology in a ‘terra incognita’ – where excavators could begin to probe the history of prehistoric, classical, Byzantine and medieval periods (Anon. 1911; see also Gill 2012).

The Personal Touch: John Garstang and his Excavation Committees

Public subscription Funds were a popular strategy for raising money. However, other archaeologists sought a more personal approach to collective sponsorship. John Garstang was one of the best at soliciting funds from the wealthy. His archaeological career began while studying mathematics at Oxford in the 1890s - he excavated Roman sites in Britain with Francis Haverfield, who played a critical role in establishing Romano-British archaeology (see Freeman 2007; Gurney and Freeman 2012; Thornton 2011). Garstang’s great contribution to archaeology lies in his role in establishing Liverpool University’s Institute of Archaeology in 1904 - the first training facility in Britain dedicated to archaeological research. He became the University’s Honorary Reader in Egyptology (1904) and then Professor of the Methods and Practice of Archaeology (1907), leading excavations in Egypt, Asia Minor, Sudan and Palestine. As the first Director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (BSAJ) between 1919 and 1926, he trained prospective British archaeologists in techniques and methods. Simultaneously as Director of the Department of Antiquities in British Mandate Palestine, he implemented antiquities legislation and oversaw the maintenance, restoration and documentation of sites in both Palestine and Transjordan (see Gibson 1999; Thornton 2009a, 2009b, 2011, 2012, forthcoming).

Garstang gathered crucial early experience in archaeological fundraising through work with Excavation Committees supporting excavations at Romano-British sites. His relationship with these Excavation Committees reflects the complex nature of this funding model. His Excavation Committees were both supportive and demanding, a fact that reflects Adams’ donor-receiver concept for philanthropic giving. With an ‘investment’ secured, archaeologist-receivers were beholden to sponsor-donors. This debt covered both objects and interpretation.

On a practical level, as evident already in the Boer War’s effect on excavations in Crete, support could depend on the political and economic circumstances of the time. Given the size of these Excavation Committees, such events could have a disastrous effect on excavation finances (and consequently excavation activities and results) over multiple seasons. The Committee supporting Garstang’s excavations at Ribchester was similarly hit by other claims on its finances during the 1900 season, including the Boer War Relief Fund, poor conditions for trade and Indian famine. The personal nature of the ‘contract’ between Excavation Committee and archaeologist in this sense also meant that sustaining a positive and productive relationship was crucial to future research plans (Thornton 2011).

Garstang extended his range of contacts after working as a student on the archaeologist Flinders Petrie’s Egyptian Research Account (also funded through subscription)9. Garstang began corresponding with Martyn Kennard, one of Petrie’s patrons. In 1902, he also attempted to solicit funds from the American archaeologist James Henry Breasted, who had developed useful connections with American industrialists (Thornton 2011). With a doctorate in Egyptology from the University of Berlin, Breasted was a popular Extension lecturer and Instructor in Egyptology at the University of Chicago. He also held the post of Assistant Director and curator of the University’s Haskell Oriental Museum, which had opened in 1896. The Museum’s acquisitions already included objects from Flinders Petrie’s excavations in Egypt. As Jeffrey Abt (2012) has noted, almost from the outset Breasted was an important player in funding both American and British archaeological research. Unfortunately for Garstang, his attempts were unsuccessful on this occasion. Breasted indicated that American funds were being diverted from Egypt to Mesopotamia (Thornton 2011).

He had more success closer to home. Among Garstang’s key contributors were Britain-based industrialists, particularly Henry Wellcome, the American-born, London-based pharmaceutical magnate; William Hesketh Lever, the manufacturer of Sunlight Soap who eventually endowed the Leverhulme Trust; and Ludwig Mond and John Brunner of Brunner Mond, a soda manufacturing company. Mond’s patents for processes to reuse chemical waste made him a wealthy man. In 1907 Brunner, Ludwig Mond’s son Robert Mond, and Martyn Kennard became part of the Committee funding Garstang’s excavations of Hittite remains at Sakje-Geuzi (modern Turkey). By 1911 the Committee formulated a public subscription appeal as the Hittite Research Fund (see Gurney and Freeman 2012; SACE 2011b; The Times 1911; Thornton 2011; Thomas 1992). Garstang had by this time acquired a reputation of having ‘… a certain faculty for extricating cash …’ (Linton-Smith 1907; Thornton 2011)10.

With the establishment of a British controlled administration in Sudan in 1899, archaeologists eagerly sought what they dubbed ‘a new field’ for research. Garstang assembled annual Committees of industrialists and museum curators for excavations at Meroe, which he conducted between 1909 and 1914. He noted in correspondence that his committees were gathered ‘ad hoc’ rather than being a standing group. Some Committee members were recruited at Meroe during excavation visits. One of his most generous Meroe sponsors was Robert Mond, already a financial contributor to Garstang’s excavations in Egypt and Asia Minor (Garstang, n. d., 1910; Thornton 2011).

The Meroe excavations are a notable example of the nature of the donor-receiver relationship. Garstang’s initial ‘contract’ emphasised the acquisition of antiquities, a normal practice during this period. It was a contract – not a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’. Garstang operated his excavations on a business model. Each contract had to be signed. A given ‘share’, as the investment was called, was proportional to the sum subscribed. When the Meroe excavations did not yield the amount of antiquities needed to match the shares obtained, the Excavation Committee (and particularly Robert Mond, one of the chief subscribers) specified that their funds, now termed ‘donations’, should go towards site preservation. In negotiations with the Sudan Government for continued permission to work at Meroe, Garstang and his committee placed added emphasis on the site being opened to tourist traffic (Thornton 2011). These discussions reflect the cycle of intercultural transfer highlighted above as evolving from the donor-receiver relationship. Garstang’s Committees sought and were given control over the excavations ‘products’ and dictated the terms on which their funds were to be used.

The division of objects at the end of excavation could be protracted. Garstang was under pressure from his Committees to stick to contract. On the other hand, while it was unable to support research financially, the Sudan government hoped to encourage research and indirectly the prestige it brought. Its nascent ‘Archaeological Section’ (managed by the Education Department) was made up of British officials working for other government departments. None of them were trained archaeologists, but all of them had had a classical education at public schools and Oxbridge. The unpaid antiquities conservator, acting as middle-man between Garstang and the Sudan Government, was Peter Drummond, a surveyor and mathematics instructor at Gordon College Khartoum. The Sudan government was anxious to retain some excavated objects in situ or transport them to the small Museum at the College (Thornton 2011)11. With the backing of his Committee, Garstang obtained an increasing amount of control over the management of Meroe from the government. Eventually, Garstang was appointed Honorary (unpaid) Advisor on Antiquities in the Sudan, announced formally in The Times in June 1914(Thornton 2011; The Times 1914).

Garstang’s appointment was not without controversy. Some Sudan officials were concerned about the fact that Garstang’s support came from private individuals and museums. In this battle between old guard and new order, the real issue at stake was archaeology as gentlemanly pursuit versus a new modern professional science, and business elite versus social/political elite12. The correspondence between Garstang and the Sudan government officials suggests that they felt Garstang’s credentials and his financers bore unmistakable traces of ‘trade’, in the unspoken but very potent terms of the British class system. Garstang was operating on behalf of a new university – Liverpool - with its commitment to civic (non-elite) professional education. Nonetheless, Garstang’s appointment was ultimately based largely on the strength of his connections to generous donors, the promises of their continued support for Sudan excavations and further investment in tourism infrastructure through the creation of a purpose built museum (Currie 1914; Thornton 2011).

Like Flinders Petrie and the Egypt Exploration Fund, Garstang held annual exhibitions of excavated material each summer – an ‘exhibition season’ to take advantage of the annual influx of well-connected men and women in town for the ‘London season’ and its balls and parties, private views, lectures and other social occasions. He made sure that the public coming to see his exhibitions knew exactly who was supporting his excavations, including a list of Excavation Committee members in a prominent position on the frontispiece of his short exhibition catalogues, much in the same way that museums today advertise their corporate sponsors (Garstang and Phythian Adams 1914; Thornton, in preparation; Thornton 2011). Garstang’s supporters also included members of the aristocracy and political figures as patrons (rather than subscribers). These individuals did not contribute financially in the same way as the Excavation Committees. Instead, they allowed their names to appear in association with the work for promotional purposes, and visited the excavations and exhibitions to give the work their blessing. In the end, the personal relationship between Garstang and his excavation Committees was a mutually beneficial one – both archaeologist and Excavation Committee members gained political, social and cultural standing through the products of research.

Consolidation Begins

At the turn of the 20th century, new organizations began to change the way that British archaeology was financed. The first of these was the British Academy, founded in 1902 (see Drayton 2005; Kenyon 1952; Wheeler 1970). Over the course of its first 50 years, largely due to its Honorary Secretary Israel Gollancz, Professor of English at King’s College London, the Academy accumulated a number of endowed lectures, research funds and prizes to support scholars and institutions. Many of the donors were from the Mond family - personal connections of Gollancz. As discussed previously, the Monds were well ensconced as one of Garstang’s most valuable financial supporters (see Goodman 1982: 84; Hyamson and Baker 2006; Kenyon 1952)13.

At the end of the First World War, the British Academy played a role in managing Britain’s role in post-war international archaeology. Key British Academy fellows helped to develop Antiquities law for the parts of the former Ottoman Empire that had come under British control – namely Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq (Gibson 1999; Kenyon 1952: 23–24). Eventually, in 1924, the Academy received its own government grant. With this and the other funds accumulated previously it supported individual and institutional archaeological work both nationally and internationally (Kenyon 1952: 26–27).

The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, founded in 1918 with coordinating efforts by the key individuals in the British Academy, the Foreign Office and the Palestine Exploration Fund, is a useful example of the post-war developments in archaeological financing. Through examining its archives and published reports, it is apparent that funding models from the pre-war era were still in place in the interwar period - particularly university subscriptions, and individual subscriptions and donations14. As the British School at Athens and the British School at Rome had been, the BSAJ was supported by small grants of between £200 and £500 from the Foreign Office and the Treasury but kept mainly solvent through subscriptions and donations (Gibson 1999; Thornton 2011).

The School’s Executive Committee also planned to approach emerging foundations and trusts. Specifically, BSAJ records show that the Pilgrim Trust and the Rockefeller Foundation were to be targeted to support the School’s activities (BSAJ 1927a, 1930; Pilgrim Trust 2012; Rockefeller Foundation 2012). Both were connected to the Standard Oil fortune that John Davison Rockefeller and his partners amassed. The son of one of Rockefeller’s partners, philanthropist Edward Stephen Harkness, founded the Pilgrim Trust in 1930. With Harkness’ backing, the Pilgrim trust allowed a British board of trustees to provide funding for a variety of projects (Fox & Meldrum 2000; Rose 2000). The Rockefeller Foundation was one of a number of funding bodies set up by John D. Rockefeller Jr in the early 20th century. As Fisher discusses, philanthropic foundations like the Rockefeller Foundation played an important role in maintaining and increasing cultural power and influence on society. They drove the relatively modern thirst for scientific approaches to the humanities. Crucially, he observes that they also served to mask individual contributors behind a complex management structure of boards of trustees and administrators (Fisher 1983: 206, 208). This represents the beginning of the shift in funding models - a break in the direct donor-receiver relationship and the introduction of a new middle-man – the trust or board.

In addition, international and inter-institutional collaborations proved extremely valuable for BSAJ excavations. This includes work at Ophel (jointly undertaken by the BSAJ and the Palestine Exploration Fund with support and publicity from The Daily Telegraph), Jerash (BSAJ and Yale University) and Samaria (BSAJ, Harvard University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) (see Gibson 1999; Thornton 2011). These collaborations also highlight the continuing role of American support in British archaeological research.

It is clear in this inter-war period that the financial structures had to adapt to changing times – methods that worked before the war were no longer considered viable. In 1928 Mond himself expressed doubts about the efficacy of ‘newspaper propaganda’, and by the-mid 1930s, the School was well aware that this patchwork model of funding was no longer to be relied on, due to the changing priorities of the public (BSAJ 1928; Thornton 2011, 2012).

With the end of the Second World War came a new (financial) dawn – but one that again carried with it the underlying structures of an earlier age. Mortimer Wheeler’s 1970history of the British Academy is an acerbic commentary on the functionality of the early Academy that has lost none of its bite. However, while he denounces the elitism inherent in the old guard personal networks, his narrative highlights his own continual exploitation of networks in financing humanities research. The Athenaeum club remained the setting for plotting the ‘revolution’ of the post-war British Academy – ‘day by day, after lunch’ (Wheeler 1970: 2–3, 7, 9). This revolution began in 1949, when the British Academy assumed control over distribution of the small government grants previously given separately to archaeological institutions such as the British Schools at Athens, Rome and Jerusalem, in addition to managing its own grants. No more would societies and institutions receive independent hand-outs from the Treasury in the manner to which they had been accustomed, however hard fought those hand-outs had initially been (Kenyon 1952: 30–31).


This paper addresses financing archaeology, and (more broadly) the humanities and culture, in both the past and the present. It is important to emphasise that there is no black and white picture of financing. As this paper has shown, by mid-20th century there was a general shift from individual and collective giving to funding managed by organisations and trusts. However, individual donors still have their part to play in supporting archaeology and culture (Higgins 2012).

In the past, British archaeologists made a greater contribution to public understanding of the past because it was an inextricable part of their funding model. Archaeologists, as agents of intercultural transfer, enriched Western knowledge of other parts of the world. Because of this cycle of intercultural transfer Western archaeologists were subsequently able to continue research in other parts of the world. It became the building block for archaeology’s evolution to the discipline we know today. For better or worse, the cycle also brought systems of management, administration and display developed in Western contexts to (then) Western-controlled non-Western societies that remain in place to this day.

Viewing archaeologists as agents of cultural transfer is not unproblematic. Western archaeologists during this period were working within an imperial system – where decisions about antiquities were made by the administration in charge, and in some cases these administrations were British. Local people were excluded, marginalised or written out of the process of discovering, managing and interpreting their past15. However, research into archaeological archives shows the extent of local involvement in archaeological research (e. g. Quirke 2010). Further investigation may enable the extent of non-Western engagement in archaeology and participation in the cycle of intercultural transfer to be re-evaluated.

This paper has also examined archaeological funding on both a national and an international level. These themes provide fruitful areas of research for analysing how archaeology as a form of cultural pursuit and the money that underpinned archaeological research fit into international relations and diplomacy. Demoule (2010) has noted two ‘world views’ to funding culture in Western society – ‘Anglo-Saxon’, in which private enterprise complements and enhances the state, and Continental, in which the state (until recently) played a primary role. New studies on philanthropy are beginning to interrogate and complicate this picture with comparative research that highlights both the differences and interconnections between contrasting approaches (see, for example Borgmann 2004). As noted above, France and Germany were both viewed with suspicion (mixed perhaps with feelings of envy) for their government – sponsored programmes for archaeological research. However, funding in the late 19th and early 20th century age of private sponsorship was international. British archaeologists such as John Garstang had funding from a group of museum curators and specialists from around the world as well as the Britain-based industrialists already discussed. These connections enable us to interrogate collaboration and competition in archaeology, particularly when viewed against the acquisition of ‘soft power’ – the use of ‘culture’ for national or political aims (see Nye 2008). This will prove particularly relevant in considering archaeological work in the areas in areas that came under British control in the Middle East in the interwar period.

In Britain, studying the ways in which archaeology was financed in the past clearly demonstrates the adage that ‘history repeats itself’. The theme of the ‘British’ aversion to funding research found in so many late 19th and early 20th century letters to The Times is echoed in current fears about the likelihood of philanthropy as an adequate source of arts and heritage funding. However, some archaeologists are now turning to the Internet to reach out to the public, initiating new donor-receiver relationships and (digital) cycles of cultural transfer. Archaeological projects such as DigVentures and the Meander Project are making collective subscription calls through web-based crowdsourcing tools and using social media to increase public awareness of (and collective financial support for) their research. DigVentures offers subscribers a range of packages, to suit every budget, aiming to facilitate ‘consumption’ of the archaeological experience (see DigVentures 2012; SVDigs 2011).

Echoes of the past can also be found in today’s university sector. Cultural leaders have publically expressed dissatisfaction with restrictions on arts funding in favour of more practical subjects with links to industry and business (Crossick et al 2010). As this paper shows, a century ago Britain’s early archaeology training organisations received little beyond occasional small government grants to sustain the research and facilities they provided for students and established scholars. Connections to industry and business, although not without its pitfalls – not least to academic reputation – were valued, and, in Garstang’s case, rewarded.

While Oxbridge students had access to college and university funds to sponsor some of their work, those who went to the new redbrick universities, such as Liverpool, and students at University College London, had to depend on or find other sources of funding to sustain research and training16. These new(er) institutions influenced funding strategies, and provided posts and new museums for the first generations of trained archaeologists. A diversity of funding approaches met a diversity of archaeological needs. Most importantly, however, scholars themselves were responsible for seeking public and private funding for the next generation of students. This lack of funding engendered an innovative and persistently active approach to public engagement – the bedrock of archaeological financing during the early history of the profession.