Peter Hellyer: Colleague, friend, family

He was always there to support the archaeologists and promote the UAE’s archaeological discoveries

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Peter Hellyer with Dr Ziolkowski’s son, Suhail
Peter Hellyer with Dr Ziolkowski’s son, Suhail

By Michele Ziolkowski

Published: Tue 4 Jul 2023, 12:07 AM

Last updated: Tue 4 Jul 2023, 12:08 AM

I first met Peter Hellyer in 1993 as an undergraduate student working on an excavation in Sharjah. Peter had a deep interest in the history, archaeology, and culture of the UAE. Every winter field season, he would visit the archaeological teams working throughout the Emirates. Peter was eager to learn about the discoveries we had made and our theories. He was always there to support the archaeologists and promote the UAE’s archaeological discoveries.

I was lucky enough to work with Peter on several occasions over the years. This included fieldwork and publications. Peter was a colleague, a mentor, and a friend. His unwavering interest and enthusiasm encouraged us all to dig deep and continue our work. He supported so many struggling archaeologists and researchers by creating job opportunities and developing a network of people who supported each other, which still exists to this day. So many of us were aided by Peter in our careers.

I remember working with Peter on various field surveys in Fujairah. We were both happy when we spotted a copper slag scatter, rock art, Bronze Age pottery, or a crumbling old village. We would discuss theories regarding how people lived in the past and how the sites fit together to tell the story of the Emirates. In the last few years, we worked closely on a publication series for Fujairah Government. I have learned so much from working with Peter. He encouraged me to push myself beyond my comfort zone and focus on my writing.

The memories I cherish the most are the times we just chatted about anything and everything. Listening to Peter speak about his childhood and upbringing, and about his home in Jersey. The times when Peter and his family came to visit us at our home in Fujairah. The phone calls where we caught up on each other’s news. His concern for my family and in particular my son.

It’s hard to put it all into words. I can only just imagine his editing comments on this collection of memories.

One thing I do know, Peter was family, and he will be greatly missed.

Dr Michele Ziolkowski, Archaeologist


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