Archaeological dig Open Day at Greyfriars, Leicester, Sept 8th 2012.

Project lead for Richard III excavation nominated for archaeologist of the year award

Archaeological dig Open Day at Greyfriars, Leicester, Sept 8th 2012.
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"Project lead for Richard III excavation nominated for archaeologist of the year award"
Caption: Archaeological dig Open Day at Greyfriars, Leicester, Sept 8th 2012.
Location: Leicester
Image by: RobinLeicester
© Creative Commons/Attribution-Share Alike,_trench_2.JPG

The year 2013 was a pretty exciting year for archaeology with many incredible finds being made. These included ancient cave paintings in Mexico, 3,700-year-old wine jars in Israel, various shipwrecks resting in ocean sea beds, and a remarkably preserved Roman eagle statue unearthed in London.

While each and every archaeological find is amazing in its own way, perhaps the most exciting find of 2013 for many people was the discovery of the final remains of Richard III, a mystery that had puzzled and eluded society for centuries. While the remains of two bodies were found in mid-2012 under a Leicester parking lot during an excavation to locate a lost friary, it was not known for certain until 2013 that the remains were indeed those of the last Plantagenet king of England. It turns out the remains of the king were, as suspected, buried at Grey Friars, a Franciscan Friary that had been demolished during King Henry VIII's reign. Before the 2012 dig commenced, the team had been confident Grey Friars would be found during the course of the project, but indicated they thought finding Richard III was a "long shot." But find the royal the team did, along with solving the mystery of the friary's location, which had been lost to history over the centuries.

The news was announced in February 2013 by the University of Leicester after extensive testing, which included DNA testing from a descendant of Richard III, had been concluded. And now as 2013 comes to a close, Richard Buckley, of the University of Leicester's archaeological services and lead on the Richard III project, has been nominated for Archaeologist of the Year by Current Archaeology magazine.

"It's all very embarrassing," Buckley said in reaction to the news, reported the  Leicester Mercury. "But at the same time, a great honour and privilege to be nominated. "I remember the launch of the dig - standing there thinking, 'if we find a part of the friary then that'll be nice' - no-one expected we would actually find Richard III."

Live Science recently listed the finding of Richard III as the #1 find on its "10 Coolest Archaeology Discoveries of 2013."

"It's unusual to receive a solo award because archaeology is about team work," Buckley added. "Everyone deserves to be recognised for their part, from the project management, to the people on the site, to the admin."

Buckley has been working with the University of Leicester since 1980. 

The discovery of Richard III's remains gained global attention and resulted in much recognition. Along with the timing of this nomination, Buckley was also given an OBE (Order of the British Empire) award as 2013 came to a close, according to BBC News.

Buckley is in the running with two other nominees, Alex Bayliss, head of scientific dating at English Heritage, and Gill Hey, chief executive of Oxford Archaeology.

For this award, the public gets to decide. Voting is being managed online by Current Archaeology magazine and voters can visit the website to cast a vote for archaeologist of the year, along with a few other categories and nominees. The poll closes on Feb. 7, 2014. The winner of the Archaeologist of the Year, and other categories, will be announced at a special awards ceremony that is scheduled to be held on Feb. 28, 2014.

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