Bernard Wailes, Ph.D. †
Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Associate Curator Emeritus, European Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum
Date appointed: 1987
Bernard Wailes, who was one of the first Senior Fellows elected to the Kolb Society, received his B.A. in 1957, his M.A. in 1961, and his Ph.D. in 1964, all from the University of Cambridge at St. Catharine’s College. His area of expertise spanned later prehistoric to early historic Europe, with a specialization in the archaeology of Ireland. His research focused on cultural evolution, especially that of 'chiefdom' societies, and the interrelationship of textual and archaeological evidence. Dr. Wailes maintained an interest in all aspects of the field of archaeology throughout his life. He came to the University of Pennsylvania in 1961 and joined the Anthropology Department, initiating the interdisciplinary program in European archaeology and field methods. The program evolved over the years, while Dr. Wailes served as chair at various times for the Department of Anthropology, and the graduate groups of Classical Archaeology, Ancient History, and as it currently stands, Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World (AAMW). He received a distinguished teaching award from the Penn College of General Studies in 1996. Dr. Wailes became Associate Curator of the European Archaeology Section of the Penn Museum in 1970, after this collection was made separate from the Mediterranean Section. He retired from teaching in 1999, becoming Associate Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Associate Curator Emeritus of European Archaeology at the Penn Museum. Dr. Wailes continued to advise students and to conduct research and publish until his death in 2012.
Dr. Wailes was director of excavations at the site of Dún Ailinne in County Kildare, Ireland, from 1968 to 1975. He led a team from the University of Pennsylvania, unearthing a complex sequence of timber constructions and finds demonstrating Neolithic/Early Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Medieval occupation of the site. His work established Dun Ailinne as one of the most important of the Iron Age tribal sites in Ireland.
Dr. Wailes served as editor of Penn Museum’s magazine, Expedition, from 1978 to 1987. In 1996, he edited the volume Craft Specialization and Social Evolution: In Memory of V. Gordon Childe, University of Pennsylvania Press. In 2007, he published with Susan A. Johnston the final results of his excavations, a definitive monograph Dún Ailinne: Excavations at an Irish Royal Site, 1968–1975.
The legacy of Dr. Wailes resides in his many students, who are now prominent archaeologists and scholars of ancient Europe in the United States and abroad. In the spring of 2000, former students participated in the symposium "Heterarchy and Hierarchy" in his honor at the Penn Museum. He was also guest of honor at the dedication of an interpretive park at the site of Dún Ailinne in 2008.