The World Archaeological Congress’ Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award was recently awarded to Jack Golson and Clare Golson for exceptional contributions that have produced an enduring legacy globally.

The award ceremony took place at the annual meeting of the Australian Archaeological Association in Adelaide, Australia, on 14th December, 2009.


Jack Golson and Clare Golson have been major supporters of the World Archaeological Congress from its instigation. They were part of the team that established the World Archaeological Congress in 1986. This was a period of some controversy associated with the academic ban on South African participation in support of the lifting of apartheid in that country, and their support won over many who could not decide.

Over the last 25 years, Jack Golson and Clare Golson have been a mainstay of the World Archaeological Congress. They have been active participants in all of the WAC Congresses, and many of the Inter-Congresses, and they have worked at all levels within the organisation to make certain that the World Archaeological Congress achieves success. Jack Golson led in the drafting of the original WAC statues and codes of ethics. As President of the World Archaeological Congress from 1990 to 1994, he steered the organisation through some difficult times. He kept in sight WAC’s wider objectives as well as its immediate responsibilities, and in this work his wife, Clare Golson, has ably assisted him. Jack and Clare are extraordinarily generous people, and they have personally supported many scholars and community people from throughout the world, especially those who were most in need.

Jack Golson’s research, teaching and professional service has had a profound impact on archaeology globally. In his early career he was based in New Zealand, where he led in some of the earliest productive collaborations between Indigenous peoples and archaeologists, and where he actively sought to educate collecting groups. He was instrumental in the establishment of the New Zealand Archaeological Association in 1954. He joined the Australian National University as a Research Fellow in 1961 and, in 1969, was appointed foundation Professor of Prehistory in the Research School of Pacific Studies. He has been a pioneer and major player in the development of archaeological studies of Papua New Guinea, and in March 1992 his contribution to academic research in this region was recognised when the University of Papua New Guinea awarded him an honorary doctorate. Jack also initiated study of the inter-relationships between environment, ecology and people in the Australasian region, and this is now a thriving area of research. Moreover, Jack has been a prime-mover in many other important initiatives, including the establishment of a radiocarbon dating facility at the Australian National University in the early 1960s.

Jack Golson could only have achieved what he has done with the active assistance of his wife, Clare Golson. They are a real team, in which the achievements of one are also the achievement of the other. This inaugural award is given in recognition of their shared legacy.