Dr Neville Chittick

Biography

Dr Neville Chittick

Dr Neville Chittick

Neville Chittick was appointed the first Director of the Institute in 1961, a year after the Institute had been formally inaugurated. Immediately prior to this he had been the first Conservator of Antiquities in what was then Tanganyika. His principal research interest was the pre-Portuguese coastal archaeology of eastern Africa, and particularly the influence of Islam and maritime trade on the formation of Swahili identities. He conducted extensive excavations at the southern Swahili town of Kilwa, with its celebrated architectural remains, the results of which were published as a two volume report in the Institute’s Memoirs series. His work at Kilwa and related sites on the southern coast and islands continued till the mid-1960s, after which he turned his attention to Manda, an early northern Swahili town located in the Lamu archipelago in northern Kenya, and various sections of the Somali coast, including the important 1st century BC to 5th century AD sites at Ras Hafun. Between 1972-74, he directed excavations at Aksum in northern Ethiopia, focussing in particular on the residential and burial areas associated with the elite. Unfortunately, the 1974 Revolution in Ethiopia and subsequent events curtailed further work at Aksum for the next two decades. The results of Chittick’s research were nevertheless written up and published posthumously by Stuart Munro-Hay in the Institute’s Memoirs series.

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