Senior Project Specialist, Field Projects

Thomas Roby

Tom Roby was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he attended a Quaker school that nurtured, among other things, his love of music and his interest in archaeology. This interest, sparked by a trip to Greece organized by his high school history teacher, led to his majoring in classical and Near Eastern archaeology at Bryn Mawr College, while receiving his undergraduate degree from Haverford College. During those years, he worked on summer excavations in Greece and Israel, where he saw for himself the extent to which excavated sites were threatened by deterioration.

After graduation, Tom spent several years with the American Friends Service Committee's Middle East Peace Education Program, before entering the University of Virginia's School of Architecture, where he earned a master's degree in architectural history and a certificate in historic preservation. During his first summer in the program, he did fieldwork in Sicily, which led to his first visit to Rome and a lifelong tie to the city. In 1985 he received a scholarship from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to attend the University of York Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies; after earning a master's degree in conservation studies, he moved from York to Rome.

For the next four years, several private conservation companies employed Tom as a conservator at archaeological sites and historic monuments throughout Italy; among the sites were Solunto in Sicily and the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome. In 1991 he began working as an independent conservator, employed directly by academic and conservation institutions on archaeological projects in Italy, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Lebanon. In 1994 he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, during which he evaluated past conservation treatments on marble monuments in Rome.

Also during the 1990s, he attended a GCI course in Cyprus on the conservation of excavated sites. In 2000 he was hired as a consultant by the GCI to develop a training program in Tunisia on the maintenance of in situ archaeological mosaics. Within a year, Tom joined the GCI staff full-time, managing the Tunisian training program and also serving as the senior project conservator on the development of a conservation plan for the hieroglyphic stairway at the Maya site of Copán in Honduras. His responsibilities at the GCI provide him ample opportunity to continue to do what he enjoys most—working on sites out in the field.