Archaeologist Alex Geurds becomes member of Society of Antiquaries: ‘It is an honor bestowed for life’
Dr Alex Geurds was elected as a Fellow for the Society of Antiquaries, a prestigious and old educational charity based in London. Established in 1707, the society aims at the encouragement and advancement of the study and knowledge of the antiquities.
Old pre-academic practice
While named a fellowship, Alex Geurds’ affiliation with the Society of Antiquaries is not one in the commonly-understood academic sense of the word. ‘This society has its roots in an old pre-academic practice when universities still focused on a very limited number of traditional subjects,’ Geurds explains. ‘All the other emergent sets of interests were there, but organised slightly different, namely in learned societies of cigar-smoking gentlemen.’
After an election round, Alex Geurds was voted in as member by the existing fellows of the society. ‘To become a fellow is an honor that is bestowed for life. They hold several election rounds a year, and nomination is based on one’s resume, career accomplishments, and whether one is a beneficial person to society.’
As a member, you are expected to continue your contributions to society. ‘The fellows play a role in public lectures, discussions and debates about antiquity. While originally mostly focused on British archaeology, they are now aiming at a more global perspective.’
Naturally, membership of the Society of Antiquaries also comes with some perks. ‘Primarily it gives you a large network of contacts. Many of the members work at Universities all across Britain, bundling together a great number of scholars in archaeology.’ Aside from that, membership of a prestigious society can open new doors in your career. ‘You may add the abbreviation of the society, FSA, to your signature, signaling your academic merit in British society.
On a more academic level, the society hosts a large, old library. ‘100,000 volumes on archaeology alone. One of the more interesting ones in Britain. While the bulk of the volumes is about British history and prehistory, they are gradually expanding to a global focus.’ In addition, the society offers a grant programme for research project. ‘This is primarily intended for broadly defined studies to aspects of the past, in which people who have no other means are prioritised.’
In the Netherlands we have an equivalent of these learned societies. ‘The Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW) for example. It is a parallel world next to the universities, one that is not often encountered by students.’
See for more information the website of the Society of Antiquaries of London.