SoMA and the Olwen Tudor Jones Scholarship

In 1997 a group of archaeology students and associated professionals teamed up to create a society based at the University of Sydney. Named the Young Members Promotion Committee of the Foundation for Classical Archaeology, its organising committee consisted of Catorina Angus, Craig Barker, Steven Ellis, Matt McCallum, Beatrice McLoughlin, Andrew Merryweather, Wayne Mullen, Helen Nicholson, Camilla Norman and Gina Sheer.

In 2001, the committee decided upon a name change and evolved into the Society of Mediterranean Archaeology (SoMA), the official Sydney University society of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens.

2001 was also the beginning of the Olwen Tudor Jones Scholarship. Named in honour of Olwen Tudor Jones (1916-2001), researcher, archivist, Zagora and Torone Project Manager and ceramics specialist. The scholarship was established thanks to a major donation from Olwen’s family, matched  by her friends, which established a capital trust. Augmented by fund raising through wine and cheese nights and the legendary Christmas party raffle. The SoMA committee oversaw the new scholarship, which was specifically aimed at archaeology undergraduate students who needed to travel to gain experience in Mediterranean archaeology. The donations and support received by trust ensured the longevity of the scholarship, which has been self-funding for more than a decade.

Since its inception in 2001, 20 undergraduate students have participated in 15 different field projects stretching from Spain to Oman, supported by the Olwen Tudor Jones Scholarship.

Craig Barker has been a master at dispensing SoMA Raffle prizes for many a year. This was the 2006 prize-giving, Craig sporting the traditional prize-giving Santa hat.

“Thanks to the 2005 SoMA scholarship, I was able to take part in the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project. It kickstarted a decade of fieldwork in Italy as well as post-graduate study and research in the UK. I’m now working in Museums, and I’m grateful for SoMA’s support in creating a starting point in my career. “

– Lily Withercombe-Taperel, 2005 OTJ Scholarship Awardee

“The Olwen Tudor Jones Scholarship really helped launch my archaeological career. Without it, I would never have been able to afford to go overseas on my first field projects (Paphos Excavations and the Southern-Euboea Exploration Project). Those initial projects not only cemented my love of fieldwork, they became the foundation of my professional development and international research networks. In fact, my first conference presentation five years later was largely enabled by a colleague I worked with on Euboea. It is surprising where those early beginnings can take you – and none of it would have happened without the generosity of the OTJ scholarship fund. Olwen and her family will forever have my gratitude.

– Dr Kristen Mann, 2007 OTJ Scholarship Awardee

Recipients of the scholarship are asked to recap their digging adventures for the annual Bulletin of the AAIA. Our latest recipient Amir Zaribaf returned from his participating in the Archaeological Water Histories of Oman field season in January 2020. He said of his award:

“Thanks to the Olwen Tudor Jones Scholarship and the Society of Mediterranean Archaeology (SoMA), I conducted field research as a team member of the Archaeological Water Histories of Oman (ArWHO) Project in the Ad-Dhahirah governate of the Sultanate of Oman… During the season I was trained in the use of the state-of-the-art technologies and methods that are a core part of our discipline. This invaluable experience could not have been obtained in any other way. Hence, I must again express my sincere gratitude toward Society of Mediterranean Archaeology again for providing the opportunity, and ArWho team and especially Dr. Lehner for their commitment and patience, I also encourage my fellow students to apply for Olwen Tudor Jones Scholarship.”

– Amir Zaribaf, 2019 OTJ Scholarship Awardee

In 2020, the ongoing global crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic has limited travel and restricted fieldwork across the globe. In light of this, SoMA will postpone the next scholarship announcement until travel bans have been lifted and dig directors can start planning for their next field seasons. SoMA, as has happened in previous years, will be able to offer a second interim round to pick up any delayed field work that may take place in the European Winter/Spring or offer a double round, applicants pending, in 2021 to make up for our hiatus in 2020. Follow the AAIA social media accounts and University of Sydney e-community notices for the call for applications in the future.

You can find out more about Olwen Tudor Jones on our International Women’s Day 2020 blog post or listen to the SoMA podcast episode 2 in which Helen Nicholson reminiscences of her time at Torone learning from Olwen.

Olwen Tudor Jones Scholarship Honor Roll

2001 – Cathy Hammond, Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project, Cyprus (University of Sydney)

2002 – Keryn Paul, Italy (University of Geneva)

2003 – Nicholas Vlachos

2004 – Alexandra Vaughn, Geece (Greek Ministry of Culture)

2005 – Lily Withercombe-Taperel, Pompei Archaeological Research Program: Porta Stabia, Italy (Stanford University – University of Michigan)

2007 – Louisa di Bartolomeo, Pompei Archaeological Research Program: Porta Stabia, Italy (Stanford University – University of Michigan)

2007 – Kristen Mann, Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project, Cyprus (University of Sydney) and Southern Euoboean Exploration Project, Greece (Canadian Institute in Greece)

2008 – Miriyan Kidson, Borders of Arabia Project, Jordan (University of Sydney)

2009 – Eleanor Clarie Pitt, Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project, Cyprus (University of Sydney)

2010 – Philipa Mott, Menorca Spain (Ecomuseum of Cape of Cavalleria)

2011 –  Elaine Lin, Tunzha Regional Archaeological Project, Bulgaria (University of  NSW and University of Michigan)

2012 – Lauren Morris, Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project, Cyprus (University of Sydney)

2013 – Kate McAllan, Zagora Archaeological Project, Greece (Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens and the University of Sydney)

2014 – Hannah Morris, Zagora Archaeological Project, Greece (Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens and the University of Sydney)

2015 – Sareeta Zaid, Pintia Necropolis Program, Spain (ArcheoSpain)

2016 – Ellen Campbell, Keros Field School, Greece (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge)

2017 – Sarah Gyngell, Nahal Ein Gev, Israel (The Hebrew University)

2018 – Olivia Cashmere, Thorikos Field Project, Greece (Belgian School at Athens)

2018 – Vickie Tran, El Toll and Teixoneres Cave Complex, Spain (University Rovira)

2019 – Amir Zaribaf, Archaeological Water Histories of Oman (University of Sydney and John Hopkins University)

* Postscript
During the preparations of this post a copy of the archival photograph from the Town Hall dig in Sydney was circulated to a few colleagues who might be able to offer some background to that photograph. The Australian historical archaeologist, Andrew Wilson recalled:

On Tuesday 2 April 1974 at 11.00am when students arrived for their lecture on archaeological techniques in the new Historical Archaeology course, they were told the lecture was cancelled. Instead of listening to a lecture on techniques they were going to apply them. On the weekend prior, massive excavations underway between Sydney Town Hall and St Andrews Cathedral to create Town Hall Arcade had exposed a brick vault with an empty coffin inside. This had been the site of Sydney’s official cemetery from 1793 to 1820 and remains had been uncovered throughout the nineteenth century.

At short notice vehicles were organised, equipment was supplied by the SU Archaeological Society, and the class, including Olwen, was transported to the centre of the city for what was to be Australia’s first urban ‘rescue’ excavation, under the direction of Judy Birmingham. The reason for the haste was the cost of delaying the construction work and so the excavators were expected to complete their work that afternoon. As partial remains of more vaults were discovered negotiations meant a week was allowed to complete the work and a detailed record of the structures, their contents and the surrounding soils was made. Initially it was hoped that the intact vault could be retained within the arcade development but this proved to be impossible.


Dr Stavros Paspalas – Director
Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, Room 480, Madsen Building (F09), University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia
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