Tuesday, 3 July 2018

In Memoriam, Gordon Hillman (1943-2018)


It’s with great sadness we bring you the news that Gordon Hillman died on Sunday 1st July. He is survived by his daughter Thilaka, and three Grandsons. Gordon Hillman was a pivotal figure in the development of archaeobotany at the Institute of Archaeology, and through his research, publication and teaching he had a major influence on the direction of the field worldwide, especially with regards to the origins of plant domestication in the Near East and late hunter-gatherer economies.

Gordon Hillman joined the Institute of Archaeology as a research associate in 1981 funded by the UK Science and Engineering Research Council and then became a full-time lecturer in a new archaeobotany post from 1983. David Harris was then Professor of Human Environment, and together they launched a MSc in Bioarchaeology at that time which offered intensive practical training in archaeobotany in alternate years. A generation of professional archaeobotanists, both in commercial archaeology and international academic posts, began their careers through this degree. This degree laid the foundations for the current MSc in Environmental Archaeology.

Gordon Hillman carrying out experimental paddle
 harvesting of wild einkorn wheat in Wales, ca. 1980

Gordon's ground-breaking career in Archaeobotany began in 1969, with a year of training in Mainz, Germany with Dr. Maria Hopf, who at that time was studying plant remains from Jericho. Gordon subsequently, and for nearly five years lived in Turkey carrying out ethnobotanical research, building up a seed reference collection and carrying out flotation at various excavations of the British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara, such as at the sites of Can Hassan III and Asvan. This period was critical in Gordon’s pioneering of a ethnoarchaeological approach to archaeobotanical assemblage formation through the study of traditional crop-processing. It was also the period when much of the core seed reference collection was put together for both the BIAA and the Institute of Archaeology. It was also in this period that he came to the attention of Andrew Moore who was embarking on rescue excavations in northern Syria at Tell Abu Hureyra, which was to prove a seminal research project for Gordon, providing insights into broad spectrum wild plant use in the Late Pleistocene, plausible evidence for early pre-domestication cultivation and the nature of early integrated agro-pastoral economies.
George Willcox and Gordon Hillman examining fieldweeds near Asvan in central Turkey, ca. 1977

Gordon Hillman retired from UCL as Reader in Archaeobotany in 1998, but continued his research, especially on potential wild plants collected and processed by hunter-gatherers, as an Honorary Visiting Professor at UCL. Part of this work inspired the BBC program Wild Foods in which he appeared alongside Ray Mears, gathering and processing various plant foods in Britain, in France, and in Australia with aborigines. The program also produced a colourful book Wild Foods (2007). Gordon continued to work on a comprehensive compilation of wild plant foods of Britain up until his death. As this monumental research effort, drawing on a lifetime of teaching, research, and experimentation, remains a work in progress, an effort is being made to bring out his observations on a plant-by-plant basis on the Wild Plant Foods of Britain blog. For a list of Gordon's many publications (upto 2008), see here. A volume of studies in honour of Gordon Hillman was published in 2009

Gordon photographing flowers during the IWGP
excursion near Girona, Spain (2004)

Gordon was an inspiration to his students, his colleagues, and well beyond through his publications and TV appearances. He was always a thoughtful, provocative and supportive senior colleague that will be dearly missed. I always had much learn at his feet.



Do please add you memories and comments on Gordon Hillman as comments to this blog.

Gordon Hillman, Mary Anne Murray, David Harris, and Sue Colledge,
 in office 311, UCL Institute of Archaeology 1998/99

Ehud Weiss, Ramon Buxo, Ahmed Fahmy and Gordon Hillman, in Girona
during  the 2004 International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany
Dorian Fuller, Gordon Hillman, George Willcox in Girona at the I.W.G.P. 2004

This photo (below) was found dusty in the back of drawer in the UCL archaeobotany lab. I never got to ask Gordon about it,but I think it is from an early I.W.G.P., in Budapest(?), 1969 or 1971(?). A young Gordon Hillman is in the Middle; also pictured Heather Jarmon (left) and Prof Schulz-Motel (right).


A picnic in Pevensey, Marsh, 2009: Andy Fairbairn, Dorian Fuller, Gordon Hillman, Ehud Weiss
Receiving instruction from Gordon Hillman on the art of acorn processing (June 2010)
...










36 comments:

Unknown said...

Very sad news. Aside from his obvious academic prowess, he was a fantastic, engaging and dynamic teacher, and a really funny and lovely man. I'm sure he'll be sadly missed by his friends and family. Dan Swift (Western Asian Archaeology at the Institute 90-95)

M. Parker Pearson said...

I first met Gordon at Tell Brak in Syria in 1983 when he and Sue Colledge were on a collecting trip through Turkey and Syria. He was great company and livened up a tough field season for those of us with cabin fever stuck for 3 months on the tell. Mind you, he wasn't allowed to come and eat with us! It was all a bit 'Murder in Mesopotamia'. It's very sad that he's gone.

Andy Fairbairn said...

Thanks to Dorian, Sue and Michele for letting our far flung archaeobotany community know of Gordon’s passing and to Dorian for this blog.

I can say without exaggeration that Gordon has had a greater influence on my life than just about anyone outside my family and his loss is deeply felt. He introduced me, as a naive student from a non-university family, to archaeobotany just under 30 years ago; he introduced me to my wife nearly a decade later; and, he not only tutored and lectured me, but inspired me with the belief and interest to pursue a professional career so unlikely that it still surprises me to this day - and quite a lot of other people too, I should add ;). Without meeting the man in 1989 in my introductory course at the Institute of Archaeology my life would simply not be like it is now. He talked with such passion about the centrality of plants to people through the vastness of the human past and opened a door to a world that I did not even know existed. And he continued to open those doors through his connections and the introductions to the many people who constantly passed through his office. The archaeology of Syria, Jordan, France, Hungary, Turkey, Wiltshire, London and Kent; so many places he got me into as a student and aspiring archaeologist, building the experience that founded the career I still follow today. New challenges in Australia and PNG have been met with the skills and knowledge he taught me – and not a little of the respect he showed to the people with whom he worked. I draw on his approach daily with my students and in my broader professional work, believing firmly in the centrality of technical microscopy, sound fieldwork, ethnobotany and a good botanical knowledge of the areas in which we work as the keys to our discipline.

Gordon taught me many things, including of course the enduring value and impact that university life and education can have. But some of the most important were not about archaeology, plants and archaeobotany at all. His attitude in the face of a cruel disease was inspiring – yet in many ways typical – continuing to work and think about plants and people until his end. He was funny, always wanted to know how his flock were doing, and compassionate to everyone, valuing life above work. While he did engage in academic spats, like we all do at times, he was a good friend and supporter for decades to our disciplinary community around the world and the sheer weight of his opinion and scholarship helped shape the vibrant and diverse area of study we see today. He loved his home and simply adored his family, putting them first, even under the endless pressures of the academy. A life well lived and I am honoured to have been a small part of it.

Unknown said...

Very sad news. Great archaebotanist and enthusiastic field researcher. I keep a great memory of him in every way.There is a very important gap in the world of archaebotany

Alex "Rook" Grover said...

I only know him from his work with Ray Mears, but he touched me with work that is near and dear to my heart. I hope that others can continue to be touched and aided in their studies just as I have been.

Anonymous said...

It is with great sorrow that I have learnt about Gordon's passing. It was yesterday when I received a mail from Dorian telling me this sad news. My first thought went back to 1988 when Gordon and David Harris interviewed me for a post in the Institute's MSc in archaeobotany. I was a young Spanish student, unaware of the British academic system and with a poor English but I was full of hopes and wishes. Gordon was enthusiastic as always, warm and supportive and I was accepted. Many times I have thought about that moment that changed my life in an unexpected way and open my eyes to uncharted territories.

I did my course under Gordon supervision and soon after I got a Spanish grant for doing my PhD with him. He was a most inspiring supervisor, so stimulating and so supportive. I remember his lectures and his lab sessions from which I still keep and use drawings and notes. His passion about traditional communities still growing ancient crops led me to explore a fascinating world still alive in Spain at the time, and later in Morocco..always with his long and detailed questionnaires at hand.

In 1990, his expertise attracted Lydia Zapata, my dearest friend, to London where we met and started a joint scientific venture that lasted for 25 years. Lydia is not anymore with us but I am sure she would have agreed with every single word of this comment. Gordon was a source of inspiration for both of us. His teaching allowed us to settle archaeobotany in Spain, at the time little developed. His passion and stimulus led us to travel across Spain and Morocco, visiting tiny villages in mountain areas searching for einkorn, emmer and spelt.
Gordon's great knowledge and passion open up a tremendous curiosity for a forgotten past that was quickly disappearing, and I am honoured to have been able to share this with him. He taught us archaeobotany, its principles and methods, and allowed us to contribute to its establishment and development in Spain.

Like Andi Fairbairn has just commented I can only say that Gordon has had an enormous influence on me. Whatever I have done and achieved would not have been possible without his great expertise and training. His enthusiasm, warmth and support were fundamental during my years in London. But above all, I am most grateful to his trust in a young archaeologist that full of hopes arrived to the Institute 30 years ago.

Leonor Peña-Chocarro said...

It is with great sorrow that I have learnt about Gordon's passing. It was yesterday when I received a mail from Dorian telling me this sad news. My first thought went back to 1988 when Gordon and David Harris interviewed me for a post in the Institute's MSc in archaeobotany. I was a young Spanish student, unaware of the British academic system and with a poor English but I was full of hopes and wishes. Gordon was enthusiastic as always, warm and supportive and I was accepted. Many times I have thought about that moment that changed my life in an unexpected way and open my eyes to uncharted territories.

I did my course under Gordon supervision and soon after I got a Spanish grant for doing my PhD with him. He was a most inspiring supervisor, so stimulating and so supportive. I remember his lectures and his lab sessions from which I still keep and use drawings and notes. His passion about traditional communities still growing ancient crops led me to explore a fascinating world still alive in Spain at the time, and later in Morocco..always with his long and detailed questionnaires at hand.

In 1990, his expertise attracted Lydia Zapata, my dearest friend, to London where we met and started a joint scientific venture that lasted for 25 years. Lydia is not anymore with us but I am sure she would have agreed with every single word of this comment. Gordon was a source of inspiration for both of us. His teaching allowed us to settle archaeobotany in Spain, at the time little developed. His passion and stimulus led us to travel across Spain and Morocco, visiting tiny villages in mountain areas searching for einkorn, emmer and spelt.
Gordon's great knowledge and passion open up a tremendous curiosity for a forgotten past that was quickly disappearing, and I am honoured to have been able to share this with him. He taught us archaeobotany, its principles and methods, and allowed us to contribute to its establishment and development in Spain.

Like Andi Fairbairn has just commented I can only say that Gordon has had an enormous influence on me. Whatever I have done and achieved would not have been possible without his great expertise and training. His enthusiasm, warmth and support were fundamental during my years in London. But above all, I am most grateful to his trust in a young archaeologist that full of hopes arrived to the Institute 30 years ago.

Anonymous said...

A life well lived - what more can one say.....

Ann Butler said...


Ann Butler writes: Such sad news, but not the end of an era, as Gordon's influence, globally widespread,underpins the whole concept of archaeobotany. Gordon's generous gift of his own early-seed-id-by-SEM project became the basis of my own work, later augmented by Ethiopian ethnobotanic fieldwork, inspired by him. I am so grateful to have experienced what was for me, starting in middle-age, such an unlikely opportunity for research, alongside friends and colleagues, working in that special Gordon-created environment at the Inst Arch.

Unknown said...

Gordon meant so much to me both professionally and personally. He showed me new paths and supported paths I was fearful to take, and allowed me to ask strong questions. We debated real questions that moved me forward in my thinking and research. I loved him also as a friend, who also supported me personally through hard times. He was a humane person who allowed all of us to have emotions. Those who did not accept that were not important to him. He was a real mentor to all of us, with such a great heart. pax Christine

Lisa Gray said...

In that 1996 photo I'm second one in from the left, standing beside Jenny Jones and Ehud Weiss.

In 1995 he welcomed me back into the academic world after my four years of struggling as a primary school teacher. I went from a school staffroom in to a lab with people from Israel, Kazakhstan and Australia. I could have been out of my depth but his warmth and good humour made me feel like I was welcome and I got that MSc even though I was a rabbit in the academic headlights then. I am fortunate to have been one of his students. Twenty-three years on I'm still working as an archaeobotanist out there in the developer-funded world for now but I hope my academic path has more to go. He's always there, in my old MSc identification notes, references and memories. He filled his lectures with stories and wonder. Archaeobotany still feels fresh and new to me and I think that is due to how Gordon taught.

One of my last memories of him was in my early struggling as a freelance archaeobotanist years when I snuck into the Ethnobotany conference party at the University of Kent as a roadie of the Celidah band and I ended up dancing with him. Rest in Peace (or in rich, wonderful wildness) you lovely man.

Kate Batt said...

Such very sad news. Gordon was a lovely warm person, generous with his time and vast knowledge. He was a huge inspiration and support to me as an undergraduate many years ago, and I have never forgotten his kindness. I have the career I have today, in large part, as a result of his encouragement to hold on to my archaeology dream.

Umberto Albarella said...

I am very sad to hear of Gordon's passing. I met him in 1991 when I was a young visiting researcher at the Institute of Archaeology in London. Gordon was already a very well known researcher at the time and I was struck by his warmth and kindness. We bumped into each other again in the following few years, but then we lost touch. However, I'll always remember his smile, informality and charisma. I think it would have been very difficult for him to succeed in today's academia - he was just too intelligent and kind.

Unknown said...
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Arlene Rosen said...

So Sad. Gordon Hillman was the finest example of a brilliant scholar, and one of the kindest people I have ever met. It was an honor to have known him.

Martin Jones said...

I am so sorry to hear we’ve lost Gordon, but remain inspired by the memory of the strength and positivity with which he faced the health challenges of later years. That positivity joins up with the infectious enthusiasm for enquiry into the world that was evident to me within minutes of meeting him (in Cardiff, back in the 1970s) and never went away. I think I learnt as much from his attitude as from his knowledge, although the latter of course was immense. Rest in peace Gordon, and heartfelt thanks for enriching the way we all think about crops and people.

R.P. Scales said...

It may appear strange, but archaeology, ethnobotany and archaeobotany were never my disciplines, and Gordon never taught me. My acquaintance with him was casual and fleeting: we only ever conversed on two or three occasions, but he left an impression as a sharp, witty person with a remarkable fund of knowledge. I never saw him again after I left University College, Cardiff, in the 1970s, but he lingered on in the memory. I enjoyed his input with Ray Mears on TV. I'm utterly dismayed at his passing, and find myself wishing I had known him better.

Sonia Archila said...

Very sad news. I met him in 1991 when I was a foreign student at the Institute of Archaeology in London. That year, Gordon was the graduate student advisor, so he received me with his kindness and great warmth. He encouraged and helped me with generosity and I remember him having always a big smile in his face. For me, his wonderful work in archaeobotany has been inspiring in many ways.

Unknown said...
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Charles Morse said...

Very sorry to hear this sad news. Gordon was my personal tutor when I started at the IoA in 1996, and I remember him as always very kind and engaging. I recall he had a nicely understated sense of humour, and conversations with him were always enlightening, whether discussing archaeology or anything else. Sometimes the phrase 'a scholar and a gentleman' is flippantly bandied about, but I honestly can't think of anyone for whom these words are more appropriate.

Meriel McClatchie said...

I am very sad to hear that Gordon is no longer with us. I first met Gordon when I started PhD studies at the Institute in 2001. Although Gordon had formally retired, he was a very regular visitor to Room 306, and I was lucky to learn much from him. He spent many patient hours with me in front of the microscope -- I was finding the identification of rye grains particularly difficult, and Gordon was keen to help me conquer my fears. I still use Gordon's notes today, and now I am passing his observations and tips on to the next generation of archaeobotanists at University College Dublin. Gordon was a generous and fun teacher, and he was kind enough not to laugh at my horribly preserved cereals from prehistoric Ireland (they compared poorly with Gordon's lovely Near Eastern material). Gordon -- along with Sue Colledge, Dorian Fuller and countless others in the Institute -- helped me further develop my passion for archaeobotany and ethnobotany. I feel very lucky to have known Gordon. I'm thinking of you all in the Institute at this difficult time, and please pass on my best wishes to Thilaka and the family.

Tass said...

As one of Gordon's students I am saddened to hear of his passing. He was an exceptional lecturer, and a very kind gentleman who always had time for his students.The things that I learnt from him are still helping me in my work. He will be much missed, but his legacy will live on.

Gayle Fritz said...

Gordon will be missed and remembered with great respect and fondness by many members of the Society for Economic Botany. His riveting Distinguished Economic Botanist presentation at the 2004 SEB meetings at the University of Canterbury at Kent reached back into the dietary roots of civilizations in Africa and Eurasia. His contributions to the deep history of people-plant interactions range from insights into early hunter-gatherers, Mesolithic and Neolithic farmers, and more recent people including modern urban foragers. He had a spark for innovative experimental methodology, and his warmth and enthusiasm energized everyone who knew him. Gordon was a brilliant scholar, a beloved mentor, and a true friend.

Mark Nesbitt said...

In 1983 my tutor at Reading University, Barbara Pickersgill, told me that a Gordon Hillman (also her former student) was looking for candidates for a new MSc at the Institute of Archaeology. Newly inspired by a brilliant lecture to the university’s Archaeology Society on Iron Age agriculture by Peter Reynolds, I was soon on a train to London to be interviewed by Gordon – a characteristically relaxed affair, and the start of 35 years of learning and friendship.

As Andy Fairbairn and Leonor Peña-Chocarro (my partners in crime during PhD years) have so eloquently said, knowing Gordon didn't just lead to an entirely fresh and methodically powerful way of understanding human-plant relationships, nor just to a career (though most of Gordon’s former students are still in archaeobotany), but even more importantly, to a world view that was effortlessly international, aided by Gordon’s remarkable grasp of languages (everything except French), that valued everyone (above all people of the countryside), and which was highly collaborative.

Gordon’s automatic assumption that all his students (naturally!) had the same depth of knowledge and linguistic abilities as himself kept us on our toes. Gordon was a fighter for his students – whether or not they were enrolled at the Institute of Archaeology. A Hillman reference letter was a work of art, drawing out every strength of the candidate and their project, often far more eloquently than in the original application.

In 1985 I followed in Gordon’s footsteps to the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, at least notionally to complete the analysis of plant remains collected by Gordon at the Aşvan excavations 15 years earlier. Like Gordon, I became distracted by earlier periods, but he was delighted by eventual publication of the plant remains last year. In Ankara I could get a sense of the scale and ambition of Gordon’s activities in the early 1970s: an excellent herbarium and seed collection, fascinating bags of wheat ears and crop-processing residues, as well as many boxes of flots. These collections are by far the best of their kind and are now well-used by many local and international visitors to the BIAA, and exemplify Gordon’s belief in working with first-hand knowledge of the plants and people. Although village life was changing fast, I was lucky to have some of the same ethnoarchaeological experiences, often with others of Gordon's students.

There is much more that could be said, both about the Hillman-Harris years at the Institute of Archaeology, and about Gordon’s second career, researching the edible (and barely edible) plants of Britain. It’s only now that I’m learning just how inspirational Gordon was to the relatively new foraging movement, to friends such as Anna and Penny in Sussex, to Lisa Fenton in the Lake District, and to the newest generation who know him through the excellent Wild Food TV programmes with Ray Mears on DVD/Youtube.

In the last few years I visited Gordon several times, once with my daughters – a highly memorable experience for them combining grinding wheat and walking on the South Downs – and more often with colleagues from UCL, Sue, Michèle and Dorian. Conversation ranged across health matters – as the veteran of ‘interesting’ illnesses picked up in fieldwork, Gordon was extremely knowledgeable about medical research, family – Gordon was devoted to his daughter Thilaka and his grandsons, reminiscences drawing on Gordon’s extraordinary memory of fieldwork in Turkey and Syria 40 years before, and research – nearly to the end, Gordon was discussing plans for new papers, and for publication of his masterwork on British edible plants. No one could fail to be impressed by Gordon’s courage and energy in the face of a debilitating illness.

To echo Andy Fairbairn, anyone who came in contact with Gordon – whether in person or through his TV or writings – was fortunate, and was likely to find their life changed for the better.

Cathie Barnett said...

I’m so sorry to hear this sad news. Gordon was a wonderful teacher and the most kind and gentle of people. He set me on my archaeobotanical path way back in 1994 and I’ve never forgotten his sense of humour and endless patience. His work will endure... as will the memory of the unfortunate second floor crop weevil fumigation incident! Love and best wishes to Gordon’s family.

Ksenija Borojevic said...

It is with great sadness that I learned about Gordon Hillman’s passing. My sincere condolences to his daughter Thilaka, and her family. Like many of his students and friends already wrote, Gordon was one of the most influential figures also in my professional life. He was such a character, that to this day, after more than 30 years, I remember him and his lectures well and recall distinctly his voice pronouncing the site “Tell Abu Hureyra”, attempting an Arabic accent. His lectures where inspirational. His research applying ethnographic and experimental methods were groundbreaking in reconstructing past human activities. Gordon was also an artist, and his accurate illustrations of seeds, and photos of plants are exemplary.
I met Gordon Hillman in winter of 1986 when I came to study at UCL as part of the MSc program in Archaeobotany at the Institute of Archaeology. I corresponded with Gordon from the former Yugoslavia, University of Novi Sad, where I was a young assistant then, just starting to learn about archaeobotanical research. I was happy to be able to join the program following several unsuccessful attempts to find the funding for the entire year of the intensive program. I just got married in the previous week and came alone to UCL, ready to embark into the program, being one semester late. I remember I was impressed with Gordon and his vast knowledge from the first sight. He was surprised when he heard that I just got married and that my husband (still today) would be coming two months later. Gordon had a special affection for foreign students, particularly females. I got a spot and a microscope in a very cold lab where Delwen Samuel, Cheryl Ward, Ursula Thanheiser, and other grad students were working on their samples. We were all anxiously waiting for Gordon to arrive and help us identify the unknowns, as he was living far away, outside of London and took him usually over 2 hours to arrive to the Institute. Sometimes it felt like ”waiting for Godot”, but when Gordon finally got to your samples, he was able to help you identify unknowns, bring seeds from his vast reference collection and provide you with the copies of his own drawings and notes, and tell you numerous stories. He would say, "unless the seeds arrived on Wellington boots" emphasizing to look for the mode of arrival of plants to the archaeological sites. On one of weekends, Gordon kindly invited him to visit him at his family home, where he shared with me the copies the articles that he had about the analyses of plant remains from the Balkan sites. He was often talking about his daughter who was not living with him then and how much he missed her.
I left London three months later with the full suitcase of copied materials (as there were no digital versions then), reference samples, acquired identification skills, but most importantly with new knowledge and perspective of the interpretation of the human-plant relationships. In the years to come having studied under Gordon Hillman became a great asset when I was applying to grad schools and for jobs.
After many years, I was happy to see Gordon again at the IWGP conference in Girona, which was the last time I talked to him. Gordon then commented that initially he did not know how good Dorian was, but now he was glad Dorian got the job. Thank you Dorian for posting the in memorian blog for our Gordon Hillman.

Ksenija Borojevic (University of Massachusetts Boston)

Phillip Edwards said...

Farewell to Gordon Hillman, an inspiring scholar and mentor. I remember visiting London and Gordon for the first time in 1983, just after we had made the initial excavations at the Natufian site of Wadi Hammeh 27 in Jordan. I was struck by Gordon's knowledge, enthusiasm and especially, as I was only a new postgraduate student at the time, his apparent acceptance of me as a peer colleague. In a short time Gordon unleashed a torrent of exciting ideas and suggestions, and he arranged for Sue College to come and work at Wadi Hammeh 27, which led to her comprehensive archaeobotanical analysis of the Natufian site.

Aylen Capparelli said...

To our Dear Gordon,
I had just finished my doctoral archaeobotanical studies at the Inka site of El Shincal, Argentina, when I came up to work with Gordon at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, following the advice of my friend Ian Farrington, who told me “he is one of the greatest ethno/archaeobotanyst of the world”. It was by the year 1999 when Gordon, Mary Anne, Sue and Michele, among other really nice people, welcomed me there. I quickly realized that those words I`d heard about Gordon were too small for him, not only because of his superlative qualities as a professional and professor, but also for his integrity as a person. He was generous, warm, enthusiastic and good humored. He had the gift of making you feel that what you were doing was very important for the progress of Archaeobotany, his passion. I remember him pointing me out the importance of building a good plant reference collection and the poor value evaluation organisms of academic research gave to that hard and time-consuming task. He also transmitted me the relevance of precise taxonomic identifications, ethnoarchaeological field work and the study of production, harvest and post-harvest processing practices. He introduced me to the “Global Archaeobotany” and contacted me with people, academic events and associations. Gordon’s teachings were the soul and the inspiration of my (and later my students`) beings when I returned to Argentina and built my own archaeobotanical lab and team work, at the Archaeological Division of La Plata Museum (Faculty of Natural Sciences and Museum, National University of La Plata). With the sadness that your departure has made me feel, I say: Thank you, my Dear Gordon, for everything.

Mukund Kajale said...

I met Gordon Hillman for the first time during IWGP symposium organised by Jane Renfrew in Cambridge in 1985.I was highly impressed by his cordiality ,clarity of thoughts and depth of knowledge. I found him to be a man of childlike eagerness, inspirational hyper-energy and infectious enthusiasm. Subsequently, David Harris and Gordon Hillman organised a symposium on Domestication and Exploitation of wild plants,as a part of World Archaeological Congress-I, at Southampton University during September 1986. I discussed
my work on Sri Lankan Wild Plant remains with him; he gave me many useful suggestions for publication.It got published in 1989. He was always generous to spare set of his seminal publications which immensely helped me to understand Near Eastern Plant exploitation and the domestication process.I also utilised his publications, notes and sketches of wild relatives and ancient cereal finds for teaching work, back home at the Deccan College, Postgraduate & Research Institute, Pune My last meeting and academic interaction with him was in Girona, during IWGP Meeting wherein I felicitated him (and also few other scholars) with a Medal as a token of my gratitude to archaeobotanical stalworts who influencved my career in archaeological Botany. I visited Dorian Fuller and the Archaeobotany colleagues at the Institute of Archaeology, London on various occasions during 2003,2012 and 2013. I always fondly remembered him and learnt that he was fighting a dreadly disease. I am very sad to know about his demise, a great loss to World Archaeobotany. And I convey my deep condolenscences to his daughter and grand children. May his soul rest in peace and eternity.

Katharina Neumann said...

Gordon Hillman was one of the most inspiring scientists the archaeological community ever had. Although I did not have the chance to talk to him frequently, his dedicated approach to the ancient world of plants and their significance for humans was the (!) model for me. I have always admired his intellectual brilliance. I am convinced that his archaeobotanical studies of Abu Hureyra and Wadi Kubbaniya (to name only two examples) will stand as an inspiration for generations of archaeobotanists.
Most touching in the blog is the photo showing Gordon together with Ahmed Fahmy who passed away in 2013. May they meet again in the archaeobotany heaven!

Unknown said...

I am really sorry to hear that Gordon Hillman passed away. I met him at the end of his career (first time was at the IWGP in Girona in 2004) but his works have been a continuous inspiration for my entire career. He has been a revolutionary in Archaeobotany and I have learnt much from his great knowledge. His work will stand as an inspiration to all future archaeobotanists!

Marco Madella said...

I am really sorry to hear that Gordon Hillman passed away. I met him at the end of his career (first time was at the IWGP in Girona in 2004) but his works have been a continuous inspiration for my entire career. He has been a revolutionary in Archaeobotany and I have learnt much from his great knowledge. His work will stand as an inspiration to all future archaeobotanists!

Joy McCorriston said...

Gordon was an inspiration to me in my undergraduate years when I longed to become an archaeobotanist. He worked hard, often lunching at 5 pm when I could finally see him. Sue Colledge actually trained me, and Gordon shared an infectious enthusiasm for every plant, every natural setting, every plant-human interaction. I remember he came to visit in New Haven when I was in graduate school, and Andrew Moore had to pry him back from our student home, so thrilled was Gordon with the New England beachfront flora and the weedy red cedars colonizing highway medians. He taught me how to see archaeology a new way, from the first botanizing in Sussex to my own ventures into the flora of Syria's Anti-Lebanon range. As a young assistant professor, I looked to Gordon for inspiration, thrilled with his encouragement to press the frontiers of our knowledge of agricultural origins. It led me to years of fieldwork in Yemen and Oman, always dancing to the music of human-environment coupling and curious about the breadth of human engagement with our natural world. Thank you Gordon, be at rest, know that your labors set deep roots and bore great fruit.

Christopher Terrell-Nield said...

As a relative I remember staying in Hailsham with Gordon and his parents in my early teens, but haven’t had any actual contact for many years. However, I followed his career with interest, including his connection with Woodlore and Ray Mears (and the Wild Food TV series). This is because it impinges on my own and colleagues’ interests in teaching and researching forensic science and archaeology, although I must admit my main area is entomological. However, I do teach pollen analysis and paleoecology and often have to identify ancient molluscs and insects from peat deposits. Oddly, just a couple of weeks ago I was telling students about him as I checked some specimens from a Scottish crannog (lake village). I’ve always been fascinated by prehistory, especially the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages and have visited dozens of sites, either on holiday or with our students. We will be sampling an Anglesey peat bog in September, so will be thinking of him.
Consequently I feel a connection with Gordon’s work, especially through his papers and TV work, and know he will be very much missed

Unknown said...

I am so sorry to hear of Gordon's passing and my heart felt thoughts are with his family and friends. I remember whilst writing my MPhil on root and tuber remains from the 30kya site of Dolni Vestonice, Czech Republic, I took a coffee break, switched on the television only to see Gordon with Ray Mears (Wild Food) with a group of Australian Aborigine ladies cooking tubers and water lily seed cakes in the ashes of a fire. As an ethnographic example of a possible route into the archaeological record it could not have come at a better moment! Like most originals who shine a light on a path, he will be sadly missed.

Isabelle (Issy) Richardson said...

I am also very saddened to hear of Gordon's passing. I was one of Gordon's BSc students from 1994-97, but he was also my personal tutor, which I feel was a great privilege.
Although much time and distance has passed (I live in Malaysia), I still feel that Gordon had a special place in my heart, and that for me, his warmth and encouragement, along with his lectures within the environmental archaeology department, was the IOA. My final year project on ethnobotany was inspired and helped along by Gordon (and later with Mark Nesbitt), and I'll always remember him.