Jack Golson AO (13 September 1926 – 2 September 2023): An Archaeological Legacy
Jack Golson, a distinguished archaeologist known for his extensive fieldwork across Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia, left an indelible mark on the world of archaeology. Born on 13 September 1926 in Rochdale, England, his academic journey and contributions to the field are celebrated and recognized globally.
Golson pursued his studies in history and archaeology at Cambridge University. In 1954, he ventured into academia, lecturing at the archaeology department of Auckland University in New Zealand. It was here that he began his pioneering studies on pre-history in the Pacific Islands. Golson’s dedication extended beyond research; he also worked towards enhancing standards and methodologies in New Zealand archaeology, playing a pivotal role in organizing the New Zealand Archaeological Association.
One of Golson’s significant achievements came in 1957 when he conducted the first systematic survey of archaeological remains on Savai’i island in Samoa. This marked the beginning of his extensive fieldwork across the Pacific region. In 1961, he was appointed Fellow in Prehistory at the Australian National University, embarking on research expeditions in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Throughout his career, Golson exhibited remarkable leadership, serving as the president of the World Archaeological Congress from 1990 to 1994. His commitment to education and research in pre-history and archaeology garnered recognition. In 1991, after 30 years at the Australian National University, Golson retired but continued his scholarly pursuits as a visiting Fellow, focusing on Papua New Guinea.
In honor of his outstanding contributions, Golson was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 1997 Queen’s Birthday Honours. This accolade acknowledged his service to education, particularly in the fields of pre-history and archaeology research in Asia and the Pacific Region. Further recognition came in 2001 when he was awarded the Centenary Medal.
As a testament to his lasting influence, Golson was granted Life Membership in the Australian Archaeological Association in 2002. His enduring impact on the field was underscored when, in 2009, he and Clare Golson were jointly awarded the World Archaeological Congress Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.
On 2 September 2023, at the age of 96, Jack Golson passed away, leaving behind a remarkable legacy in the world of archaeology. His dedication, scholarly rigor, and unwavering passion for uncovering the mysteries of the past continue to inspire and shape the field for generations to come.