In the 1980s Dr E (Bill) Baker, assisted by his wife May, was tutoring weekly classes on Ancient Egypt and the Near East for the Workers Education Association (WEA) in the South Holland area of Lincolnshire. Participants were so enthralled by these friendly weekly classes, that they undertook a three-year Hieroglyphs course with Bill, resulting in WEA Certificates being presented by Dr Rosalie David of Manchester Museum. It was during this time, that May suggested the formation of a society to be named the Ancient Middle East Society (AMES). Although Near East would have been more accurate, the abbreviated name would not work as well!
AMES was born in 1987 and expanded from the small band of class attendees and local interested people into a national society of around 100 members. The aim of the Society, as stated in its Constitution, was, and still is, to promote and encourage interest in the History, Archaeology and Cultures of the ancient civilisations of the Near East. The new society was unique in the UK in embracing all countries of the Ancient Near East, including Egypt. We believe it is currently unique in this respect.
In the year 2000, the society was renamed the Ancient Egypt and Middle East Society (AEMES), to reflect the approximate 60/40 split between members whose first interest is Ancient Egypt and those whose main interest is another country of the ancient Near East.
Bill and May founded a society with a friendly family atmosphere. Over three decades later we are proud that lecturers and other visitors regularly comment on the friendliness and good organisation of our events.
Professor Paul T. Nicholson was awarded his PhD in archaeology at Sheffield University in 1987. He held several post-doctoral positions at Sheffield working on aspects of ancient Egyptian pottery before being appointed a lecturer in archaeology at Cardiff University.
He is currently a Professor of Archaeology in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff. His research interests include ancient technology, sacred animal cults and the uses and history of photography in archaeology and Egyptology. His publications include The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt (with Ian Shaw), Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology (co-edited with Ian Shaw), Brilliant Things for Akhenaten and most recently Working in Memphis.
Paul Collins is Keeper of Middle East at the British Museum. He was previously Professor of Ancient Middle East and Jaleh Hearn Curator at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, and held a Hugh Price Fellowship at Jesus College.
His research interests include visual representation in Mesopotamia, its relationship to the written record, and the transmission and adoption of artistic forms across the Middle East.
He is currently Chair of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq.