David Phillipson was appointed Assistant Director in 1973 from the (then) Zambia National Monuments Commission, where he had been Director.
As BIEA Assistant Director, he worked mainly on later prehistoric sites in northern Kenya (including Lowasera and Ele Bor) and made the initial reconnaissance of sites in the southern Sudan as part of a planned BIEA inter-disciplinary project. He also worked with Neville Chittick at Aksum in 1974. While in post, he edited a special issue of Azania (vol. 12) on the Late Stone Age of East Africa, as well as completing a BIEA memoir on the Prehistory of Zambia.
In the 1990s he conducted major renewed investigations at Aksum. He recently retired from post as Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Professor of African Archaeology at the University of Cambridge.