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Summary Article: Wheeler, (Robert Eric) Mortimer (1890–1976)
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English archaeologist. After a number of distinguished excavations in Britain, he was director general of archaeology in India 1944–48, and later adviser to the government of Pakistan. He excavated sites of the forgotten Indus Valley civilization, which flourished in the later 3rd millennium, and helped to popularize archaeology by appearances on television, even on entertainment programmes such as Animal, Vegetable or Mineral.

Wheeler adhered to the rules for stratigraphic excavation set down by the English archaeologist Augustus Pitt-Rivers, despite the sometimes less than scientific methodology pursued by his contemporaries.

Two major cities were excavated in the Indus Valley, Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, revealing a society that was advanced enough to produce ceremonial and state architecture and a complex water, drainage, and waste-disposal system. Other excavations were carried out at Charsada and Taxila in northwestern India, and at Arikamedu (the Roman-Indian trading post of Poduca) in southern India after identifying Roman pottery in the government museum.

Among Wheeler's many excavation reports and books are Maiden Castle, Dorset 1943 and The Indus Civilization 1968.

In Britain before World War II Wheeler was keeper of the National Museum of Wales and director of the London Museum 1926–44. He conducted excavations in Wales at Segontium (Caernarvon), Brecon, and Caerleon 1926–27; in England at Lydney, Verulamium (St Albans), and the Iron Age fort of Maiden Castle, Dorset, 1934–37; and in northern France. In the 1930s he helped to found the Institute of Archaeology, London. Wheeler served in the army in both world wars, commanding a brigade in North Africa and Italy 1943. After World War II he was professor of the archaeology of the Roman provinces 1948–55. During this time he directed work at Stanwick, Yorkshire, 1951–52 on fortifications of the Roman period evidencing Romano-Celtic conflict. He was president of the Society of Antiquaries 1954–59.

Other titles include Prehistoric and Roman Wales 1925, Rome beyond the Imperial Frontiers 1954, Archaeology from the Earth 1954, Hillforts of Northern France with K M Richardson 1957, Early India and Pakistan 1959, Roman Art and Architecture 1964, and Civilizations of the Indus Valley and Beyond 1966. His autobiography Still Digging was published 1955.

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