It is often said that if you want something done, give it to a busy person.

Since it was created in 1985, NEAF has been guided by a Council of people passionate about Near Eastern Archaeology and sharing it with the wider public and students.

NEAF has been fortunate to be led by some visionary, generous, and dedicated people, who have also brought NEAF members together in high quality learning, travel and social experiences.

The NEAF Council includes a President elected by the Council and a ‘Director’, nominated by the University, usually the person who holds the Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair in Archaeology. Our founding Director was Professor Basil Hennessy AO, then Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair, who with founding Council President Herman Black, and Vice President Dr Rod Rodriguez and the first Council, got NEAF off to a fine start and setting a very high bar for every Council since the beginning.

Read more about the history of our council and council activities here.

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NEAF Council, 2021

Current NEAF Council (2022)

Professor Lisa Adkins – Dean of FASS
Professor Alison Betts – Director
Dr Peta Seaton AM – President
Dr Ruth Ward - Vice President
Stephen Coutts - Treasurer
Greg Beattie
Dr Catriona Bonfiglioli
Dr Jamie Fraser
Dr Amanda Dusting
Jack McBride BA, Dip Ed.
Dr Joseph Lehner
Dr Margaret O'Hea
Dr Iona Kat McRae
Pru Sheaves
Jennie Skulander
Holly Winter

NEAF Council History

Our founding Director was Professor Basil Hennessy AO, then Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair, who with founding Council President Herman Black, and Vice President Dr Rod Rodriguez and the first Council, got NEAF off to a fine start and setting a very high bar for every Council since then

The Committee in 1988 comprised:

  • Professor Basil Hennessy – Director
  • Mrs Maree Browne, President
  • Dr Rod Rodriguez – Vice President
  • Dr John Tidmarsh
  • Mr Jon Hosking
  • Mr Patricia Nicholas
  • Mrs Catherine Southwell-Keely
  • Lady Winifred Stephen
  • Dr Alan Walmsley
  • Mr David Worland

In 1993 the Council was joined by Dr Stephen Bourke AM who served as Treasurer for NEAF from 1994 until 2020.

Maree Browne and John Tidmarsh established the very popular Saturday Study Series and the Evening Lectures. These are volunteer led, and it was not unusual to see ‘Maree, John and Councillor helpers setting up chairs, hauling home-made treats and tea and coffee set-ups upstairs to lecture theatres for morning tea – and then usually delivering a world-class lecture as well.

Our successful Tour activities also started in 1987 – working with respected tour companies such as Academy Travel and Alumni Travel, who continue to be valued partners.

In between they were juggling coordination of Pella volunteers, co-Directing the Pella Projects, and continuing their own professional careers.

Due to new University rules on Foundation governance, 2020 saw the loss of eight dedicated Councillors who had served for up to 25 years each.

In April 2021 we had our first ‘window’ to get retiring NEAF councillors together with friends, family and NEAF members to express our appreciation for their service.  In the brand-new Chau Chak Wing Museum Auditorium at the University of Sydney we honoured:

  • Maree Browne, President 1987-2002
  • Dr John Tidmarsh, President 2003-2014
  • Dr Wendy Reade, Vice-President 2006 – 2014; President 2015-2019
  • Dr Paul Donnelly, Vice-President 2015-2019
  • Dr Stephen Bourke AM -Treasurer 1993-2020
  • Dr Kate da Costa,
  • Michael Rodriguez
  • The late Dr Michele Cotton,
  • Ben Churcher
  • Sandy Parker

NEAF also honoured and thanked Karen Hendrix, who has been the Administration Officer of NEAF 27 years and the lynchpin of the Pella Volunteer Scheme. Karen has coordinated the Volunteers from the moment they apply to be a volunteer, through getting to Jordan, getting settled into the dig house, and integrated in all the activities of the dig.  Karen knows pretty much all our NEAF members by name and she does a fabulous job keeping everyone heading in the right direction in the NEAF office.

Dr Stephen Bourke AM became a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List. This award recognises his lifetime commitment to research and teaching, and his contribution to the relationship between Jordan and Australia.

2022 sees the retirement of our current Vice-President Dr Ross Burns, a long standing NEAF Councillor.  Dr Burns served with distinction as a senior Australian diplomat in the Middle East and elsewhere.  He is also a renowned expert on the architecture of Damascus and Aleppo in Syria and leads or contributes to international projects including at Oxford University (conversion of Roman temples to churches/synagogues/mosques in the Levant) and Manar al-Athar photo database of monumental art of the Christian and Early Islamic Period.  Dr Burns has been a significant contributor to NEAFs lecture and events programs.

Contacts

Near Eastern Archaeological Foundation
Level 4, CCANESA Madsen F09, University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia
+61 2 9351 4151 neaf.archaeology@sydney.edu.au