Earthwatch Institute is saddened to note the passing of Dr. William H. Waldren, Oxford University archaeologist and principal investigator of the Earthwatch-supported Mallorca's Copper Age project, on November 26, 2003. Bill Waldren worked with nearly 400 Earthwatch teams over the past three decades, and will be remembered for his tremendous contributions to our understanding of Mediterranean prehistory.
A Renaissance man in a Y2K world, Waldren defied definition. After careers as a championship figure skater, a published poet, a photography teacher, and an accomplished painter, he went on to become a world-class archaeologist. At the age of 50, Waldren went to college for the first time, earned a doctorate from Oxford University, and became a member of their archaeology faculty. He went on to rewrite the prehistory of the western Mediterranean and build the Deia Archaeological Museum and Research Center (DAMARC) to hold 30 years' worth of discoveries.
Waldren's most recent book was Bell Beaker Culture of the Balearic Islands, and his innumerable articles have identified the earliest human remains on the island and charted local cultural and ecological changes relevant to prehistory across Europe. He unearthed thousands of skeletons of the extinct dwarf-antelope Myotragus balearicus in the cave of Son Muleta and excavated a 4000-year-old religious sanctuary revealing the earliest known Copper Age Bell Beaker artifacts.
Earthwatch began supporting Waldren in 1974, when it was still a nascent organization. A record 2,230 Earthwatch volunteers will remember Waldren as charismatic, down-to-earth, and a natural teacher, burning to share his knowledge and his life. "I'm the luckiest, happiest man in the world," Waldren would tell people, with wide-eyed sincerity, "because I do exactly what I want to do." His irresistible enthusiasm inspired several of his volunteers to pursue their own careers in archaeology.
Earthwatch offers its sincerest condolences to Dr. Waldren's family for their loss. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Jacqueline Waldren, and daughters Cee-Cee, Talis, Deia, Tana, and Mya.
"My father always felt so blessed for all that Earthwatch did to help support and nourish his passion for archeology and life," said Tana Waldren. "He always told us how lucky we were to live in a home where every day was filled with new knowledge and excitement."
In recognition of Dr. Waldren's many years conducting research with Earthwatch teams on Mallorca, we have created the Waldren Archaeology Fund in his memory. This fund will support the development of the archaeology research program at Earthwatch Institute. Contributions may be sent to Earthwatch with a notation on the check "Waldren Archaeology Fund," or contribute online.
View a recent interview with Bill Waldren