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This medal is awarded to the individual who has, in the view of the assessors, made the most distinguished contribution to the Humanities, including archaeology, classics, English, history, Irish language, modern languages and linguistics, philosophy and other cognate areas. It is awarded to Professor George Eogan, emeritus Professor of Archaeology in University College, Dublin, and a former Senator and a man whose life’s work has focused on the archaeology of Knowth.

Following the award of his PhD in Trinity College Dublin, George Eogan initially held research positions in UCD, then in Oxford, and in Queen’s University Belfast, before returning to University College Dublin, where he was appointed to the chair in 1969.

He began his momentous programme of work in the Boyne valley over 40 years ago. It has been recognised as “one of the greatest pieces of archaeology of our time”. These excavations have been the subject of three of George Eogan’s major monographs [two of which were published by the Royal Irish Academy]. The archaeology of Knowth and Brú na Bóinne is an area in which he continues to actively research and publish, and this entire body of work has transformed our understanding of the passage tombs and the settlement history of the Boyne Valley. As a consequence, the area was established as a national park and designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

In tandem with these achievements and in addition to numerous scholarly papers, George Eogan has acquired an international reputation for his three books on the metalwork of the Later Bronze Age, on swords, hoards and socketed bronze axes, the latter in the prestigious Prähistorische Bronzefunde series. His monograph on gold and gold-working in Ireland and Britain during the Bronze Age completes a series of critical baseline surveys which are central to wider understanding and interpretation of the Bronze Age.

Over his long and distinguished career, George Eogan has been a proponent of the highest standards in archaeological research and a highly effective advocate for his discipline, early recognizing the need for State involvement in major research programmes. Along with the Academy’s Committee for Archaeology, he was responsible for the setting-up of the Discovery Programme in 1991, sponsored by the Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, which has proved to be a key initiative in the development of Irish archaeological research and a model for similar programmes abroad. His crucial role in the development of Irish archaeology from the 1960s on has received recognition in his appointment to Seanad Éireann, in numerous awards and in membership of bodies such as the Academia Europea, the German Archaeological Institute, and the Society of Antiquaries, London.

Through his pioneering research, his leadership in his discipline and the international impact of his work, George Eogan stands as one of the most influential figures in archaeology, both nationally and internationally. He has greatly enhanced the standing of Irish archaeology worldwide and has brought great credit to Ireland.