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In memoriam: Dr Andrzej Antczak (1956-2024)

On February 28th of this year Dr. Andrzej Tadeusz Antczak died of cancer after a long battle. Until his retirement in 2023 Andrzej was attached to the Faculty of Archaeology as an Associate Professor in Caribbean Archaeology. From 2017 until 2020 he was the Head of the Department of World Archaeology, the largest section of the Faculty. Besides, he was a Senior Researcher in the extensive NEXUS1492 project. Andrzej was married to Dr Maria Magdalena Antczak who is a faculty staff member as well.

Andrzej Antczak (1956-2024)

Born at Nowe Skalmierzyce, Poland, in 1956, Andrzej studied ethnography at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan and with his wife left Cold War Poland, then a vasal state to Soviet Russia, during a study trip to Venezuela where they discovered the archaeological marvels of the Los Roques archipelago that compelled them to stay.

After obtaining degrees in anthropology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas, Andrzej and Marlena initiated a major archaeological project, pioneering excavations on the more than 60 offshore islands of Venezuela, which they continued until a few years ago. They founded the Unidad de Estudios Arqueológicos at the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, and obtained their PhD degrees from the University College London in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Andrzej and Marlena now continued their archaeological investigations on the Venezuelan islands, as well after they had taken up positions at Leiden University in 2013.

Andrzej was a scholar of great merits, a fine teacher and a congenial colleague and friend. As a researcher he had a wide range of interests including the precolonial and early colonial past of the southern Caribbean and the mainland of South America. He was acquainted with the archaeology, ethnohistory and Indigenous linguistics of his field of study and succeeded in intertwining data from these disciplines, ranging from the earliest settlement of the Venezuelan islands in pre-Columbian times until the incursions of the Spanish and Dutch into the region. Indeed, Andrzej and Marlena made great and lasting contributions to Venezuelan and Caribbean archaeology.

Andrzej will be sorely missed by his family, colleagues, fellow-archaeologists, and students. His work, comprising monographs, articles and edited books, will forever be with us, notably his magnum opus, written together with his wife, Los Ídolos de las Islas Prometidas. May he rest in peace.

- Arie Boomert

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