The remarkable 60-year-career of internationally recognized field archaeologist Fred Wendorf, SMU Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory Emeritus, is the subject of an interview with Richard Pettigrew, president and executive director of the nonprofit Archaeological Legacy Institute.
Pettigrew interviewed Wendorf for The Archaeology Channel, exploring Wendorf’s productive career: Founding the Fort Burgwin Research Center in New Mexico, now The Archaeological Field School at SMU-in-Taos; founding SMU’s Department of Anthropology; and leading the Combined Prehistoric Expedition in the Sahara Desert from 1962 to 1999, the longest international prehistoric expedition in northeastern Africa.
A collection of artifacts from the expedition are housed in The Wendorf Collection of The British Museum.
Dr. Fred Wendorf came of age and began his career during a formative period in American archaeology. But after leaving his permanent mark on the development of archaeology in the American Southwest and the United States, he essentially founded the study of the prehistoric eastern Sahara, beginning with the Aswan Dam Project in the Nile River Valley.
His life, nearly ended by a bullet on a WWII battlefield in Italy, has included an archaeological research career spanning six decades and an unsurpassed record of seminal contributions.
His recently published book, Desert Days: My Life as a Field Archaeologist, is a record not only of a life, but of an epoch in the history of archaeology on two continents.
This is history he not just witnessed, but to a significant degree he created it through his innovative approaches and endless energy, which should serve as an inspiration to subsequent generations of archaeologists.
Dr. Richard Pettigrew of ALI interviewed Dr. Wendorf for The Archaeology Channel on two separate occasions, first in person at the Society for American Archaeology Conference in Atlanta on April 24, 2009, and then over the telephone on June 9, 2009.
Guided by Dr. Wendorf’s book, this interview covers a wide array of topics, including his role in the creation of the first truly large contract archaeology projects in the United States, his momentous and very fruitful decision to launch a field expedition in the Nile River Valley against the wishes and advice of others, and the contributions of his research toward the understanding of human cultural development.
Personal anecdotes combine with long considered assessments to paint a genuine picture of his life and career and the era they have spanned.
Anthropology.net: Fred Wendorf
The British Museum: The Wendorf collection
Wendorf an archeological Midas
Desert Days: My Life as a field archaeologist
Prehistoric sites in Egypt and Sudan (By Fred Wendorf)
The Archaeology Field School at SMU-in-Taos
SMU Clements Center for Southwest Studies
SMU’s Department of Anthropology
Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences