Real-life Indiana Jones returns to Midlands to launch new degree course

22nd August 2018

A highly-regarded academic and globe-trotting archaeologist has returned to his roots in the Midlands to pass on his extensive knowledge to the next generation of historians.

Chris Kirby, from Warwick, will be lecturing on Stratford-upon-Avon College’s new BA Joint Honours History & English Literature course which launches this September. His exceptional background includes at various times archaeologist; museum curator and teacher – Warwickshire’s very own Indiana Jones.

Heavily influenced by his mother’s deep interest in the subject, Chris’s love of history, particularly Egyptology, dates back to his early childhood. “For my 11th birthday I had history books. I don’t know how many kids would be enthused by that, but I certainly was.” He even joined a Birmingham Museum club at the age of seven.

Distance Learning Stratford-upon-Avon College
Chris Kirby will launch the new BA History and English Literature degree at Stratford-upon-Avon College in September

After graduating from Birmingham University with an Honours degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, he spent several years as an archaeologist – he spent time excavating and surveying in Egypt over a 20 year period – before the draw of academia took him to some of the world’s most celebrated museums, working on collections that cover everything from prehistoric history to the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Tudors.

They include Oxford University’s Ashmolean, as research assistant and curator of its Egyptian collections, and the British Museum, where he spent five years as junior curator in the Oriental Antiquities Department. A highlight for Chris was working at the Museum of London at the time one of Shakespeare’s London theatres was being uncovered.

And as though his remarkable background was not already sufficiently varied, Chris also added teacher to his distinguished career, having lectured in archaeology at Birmingham, Oxford and Warwick Universities. “I’ve always had a passion for teaching. I want to make more contact with students and see their enthusiasm and share that knowledge that I’ve been privileged to be involved with.”

He believes strongly in bringing history to life. “I love to do very visual presentations and to involve a lot of interactivity in my classes to keep energy levels high. If we’re studying a battle, for instance, I like to create the scenario and allow students to take the roles of the commanders before investigating how the real life events played out.”

Chris’s background as archaeologist and museum curator will certainly be of exceptional help to his students and add unique value to the course. “My personal experience means that I will be able to give a first-hand account of what it’s like to be at particular locations, handling the objects themselves. Students won’t just learn the facts but will engage with something very distinctive about the past which they will connect with.”

Move over Indiana Jones – there’s a new professor in town.

You can meet Chris to find out more about the course’s modules and timetable, and to discover the College’s wide range of part-time leisure and distance learning courses, at the Adult & University Level Open Event on Wednesday 5th August, 5.00 – 7.00pm.