Nancy K Sandars

BIOGRAPHY – Post-war and 1950s

Career in Archaeology

After the war, Nancy decided to resume her interest in archaeology. Because her school education had been interrupted by illness, she did not have any educational qualifications. So she took and passed the 'London Matric', which enabled her in 1947 to join the Institute of Archaeology at St John's Lodge in Regent's Park, part of the University of London. There she completed a prehistory course covering Paleolithic, Celtic and Iron Age periods under the directorship of Gordon Childe, who had a methodological approach to the excavation of ancient sites and a rather indiosynchratic teaching style that Nancy enjoyed and found inspiring. (See Archaeology-International Journal article on Childe by NKS)

Later Nancy went to St Hugh's College Oxford where she gained a B.Litt. in Archaeology. At Oxford, she worked with Christopher Hawkes, Professor of European Prehistory. Her thesis for the degree later became her first published book: "Bronze Age Cultures in France" (Cambridge University Press, 1957).

A number of bursaries followed which enabled her to travel in France and in Eastern Europe.

Notable trips exploring archaeology in the 1950s

  • In 1952 she went to Greece to take part in a dig on the island of Chios with Sinclair Hood. Not speaking any Greek at that time, finding her way there was an adventure, as she recounted in letters home to her sister (see right).
  • 1954 Greece, including Athens and Crete
  • 1958 Greece and Turkey. Nancy was already in Greece and decided to visit Turkey after she and anthropologist John Campbell had visited Mytilene on Lesbos (Mytilini), to house hunt for Phillip and Anna Sherrard. She was pursuing her work on the Aegean Bronze Age and was accompanied by Dorothea Gray, a don of St. Hugh's College in Oxford.
  • 1959 Sicily, Sardinia, Yugoslavia, including attending a conference in Belgrade and researching art history.


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Nancy in Zurich in 1954