The Midwest Mesoamericanists
has just concluded its 34th annual meeting (or conference). A totally informal organization (no officers, no treasury, no publications, but an excess of collegiality) it first met in 1978 at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) under the auspices of Dave Grove.

At the last meeting at the University of Iowa a few old timers thought it was time to write a brief history of our organization to preserve our memories and record memorable anecdotes. Perhaps our efforts might be worthy of publication in the BHA. All those interested in sharing their recollections of the Midwest Mesoamericanists are cordially invited to contact either Don McVicker ( or Jeff Parsons (JPar@umich.educ). We particularly need to fill in some blanks in the archives of our first decade.

Derricourt, Robin. 2011. Inventing Africa: History, Archaeology and Ideas. Pluto Press. ISBN: 9781745331058. Paperback. 200pp. 1 map, 8 pics.

Derricourt provides significant accounts of narratives (lost cities, vast prehistoric migrations, debates about the African origins of humanity, Ancient Egyptian civilization, the slave trade, colonialism and ecotourism) that have selectively interpreted and misinterpreted Africa’s deep past. Inventing Africa is ‘… an articulate and intelligent analysis that places generations of research and thinking (about Africa’s past) … in a broader context’.

William Carruthers ( undertaking a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, is researching the history of Egyptology in the twentieth century, examining the ways in which colonial Egyptological practice, often connected to racial narratives of Ancient Egypt, has survived into the post-colonial era. He is focusing on Egyptologists of different nationalities, amongst them: Walter Brian Emery (British), Rudolf Anthes (German), and Zaki Yusef Saad (Egyptian), in order to understand how individual Egyptological practice is embedded within broader, transnational power structures.

Beverley Rogers ( is working on the final year of her PhD, at Swansea University, Wales, on the history of archaeology. The title of her thesis is: ‘Collecting Egyptian Antiquity in Victorian England: the Reverend William MacGregor’.

In 1922, one of the largest and finest collections of Egyptian antiquities was auctioned through Sotheby’s in London. Over 8000 items were sold, and had attracted widespread attention from collectors, Egyptologists and museums, all aware of the quality of the items available for purchase.

The man behind this collection has remained one of Egyptology’s forgotten characters. The Reverend William MacGregor (1848–1937) played an important role in both the Egypt Exploration Fund (now the Egypt Exploration Society) and the Liverpool Institute of Archaeology. He was also a pioneer in the field of collecting and encouraged the use of his museum in Tamworth, Staffordshire to aid in the study of ancient Egypt.

The thesis examines MacGregor’s life and character, how he became interested in Egypt, how this led to his significant role in the EEF, and ultimately, to him building his own museum to house his impressive collection. McGregor’s influence on the growth of Egyptology in the late nineteenth century, along with the opportunities that enabled him to collect during this time, are examined. The format of his collection is analysed, the history of the sale’s dispersed artefacts, and its importance to modern Egyptology, are discussed.