Anthropologist Elected to Prestigious Antiquarian Society


Dr. Ian Brown
Dr. Ian Brown

From the January 2017 Desktop News Dr. Ian Brown, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, was recently elected to The Society of Antiquaries of London—the oldest and most prestigious association for antiquarian studies in the world.


The society, which is roughly 300 years old, consists of distinguished archaeologists, art historians, architectural historians, and others who excel in the study of prehistory and antiquities.

Though there are approximately 3,000 fellows in the society, only 5 percent are from the United States, and this year Brown was the only American nominee on the ballot.

“For almost 300 years the Society of Antiquaries has selected for membership scholars and scientists from various disciplines that make fundamental contributions to an understanding of our past,” said Dr. C.C Lamberg-Karlovsky, a current fellow of the society and an emeritus professor of archaeology and ethnology at Harvard University.

“Dr. Brown’s career has mined many aspects of that past, and his election as Fellow of the Society adds distinction to its body.”

Brown was elected to the society in part because of the contributions he has given to understanding the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Gulf Coastal Plain, Native American prehistory and ethnohistory, as well as the role of salt historically and cross-culturally.

“Ian Brown is widely and justifiably recognized as one of the leading scholars of Southeastern U.S. archaeology, historical archaeology, and roles of salt in human societies of the past, and so is highly deserving of this honor,” said Dr. Jeremy Sabloff, an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to his work in the Department of Anthropology at UA, Brown has served as the director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History as well as the assistant director and the associate curator of North American Collections at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University.

He is the former president of both the Association for Gravestone Studies and the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, and he is a former member of the National Historic Landmarks Committee of the National Park System Advisory Board.

In his 40 years of scholarship, Brown has received more than $1.5 million in grant funds to support dozens of research projects and exhibitions at UA, Harvard University, and Brown University.

He has also received the Presidential Recognition Award from the Society for American Archaeology, the Certificate of Appreciation from the National Park Service as well as four teaching awards from UA’s National Alumni Association and the College of Arts and Sciences.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a number of honors in my life,” Brown said. “But this is one of the biggest because of what it means to me, personally. My parents, both British citizens, came to the United States in 1949, and I was born two years later. They kind of put up with my foray into archaeology from what was supposed to be a life of civil engineering, but they never understood just why I chose to study Indians over Roman Brits. Were they alive today, I think they, more than anyone, would be pleased to learn about this wonderful honor for their son.”