A brief history of MAT
The Mediterranean Archaeological Trust (MAT) was founded by Lord William Desmond Taylour (1904-1989), who was known affectionately to his colleagues and family as ‘Billy’. Billy, who hailed from Irish aristocracy, was the younger son of The Marquis and Marchioness of Headfort. His father Geoffrey, 4th Marquis of Headfort, married the famous Gaiety girl Rosie Boote in what was an unconventional and, within some circles highly controversial, match for the time.
Although an early interest of his, Billy formally studied archaeology only as a mature student when he returned from fighting in the second World War. He graduated with a PhD in Archaeology in 1955 from Trinity College, Cambridge University.
In an obituary, Billy was referred to as the Lord Peter Whimsey of Archaeology, a reference to him being an archaeological version of the British Gentlemen Detective of which Whimsey was deemed typical. Billy’s many trips to Greece in a battered Land Rover (introducing students to European arts and culture along the way) became somewhat legendary among the British archaeological community. Whilst Billy may have enthusiastically played the part of the eccentric lord, he was a competent and dedicated archaeologist with a particular interest in Mycenaean artefacts and associated analyses of the late Bronze Age.
In 1959, Billy founded a trust (MAT) to promote the study of archaeology. The terms of the trust deed stipulated that as far as possible, preference and priority were to be given to Mycenaean archaeology of Greece and other places in the Central and Western Mediterranean. In recent years, the trust has awarded grants to sites in countries and regions outside of this stipulated area, whilst remaining interested in Mycenaean archaeology and the late Bronze Age in general.
The trust is a Registered Charity in the United Kingdom, Charity number 238967, and is primarily managed from England and South Africa.