Dr. Jaromir Malek (1943-2023)


It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our colleague the Czech/British Egyptologist Dr Jaromir Malek.  


Jaromir Malek first arrived in Oxford in Summer 1967, and joined the staff of the Griffith Institute in 1968, where he was first appointed to assist Dr Moss and Mrs Burney who were working on the second edition of volume 2 of the Topographical Bibliography [TopBib]. Upon Dr Moss’s retirement in 1970, he was appointed the Bibliography’s Editor, and directed the project for over forty years. The publication of the revised Memphite volume in 1981 marked a change of direction for the project, when Malek began to work with the significant body of material yet to be addressed, the monuments in museums and private collections with no documented provenance. This huge undertaking resulted in the publication of the four parts of volume 8 covering statues and stelae. Malek’s passion for the TopBib and the huge responsibility he felt for it, even in retirement, was inspired by Dr Moss’s own dedication to the project. 


In 1980, Malek also assumed the role of Keeper of the Griffith Institute Archive. For over thirty years he initiated a program of development, communication, and outreach, beginning the reorganisation and description of its collections to modern standards. Malek was an early adopter of technology, recognising its potential for both the Archive and the TopBib’s future development. He was solely responsible for the creation and content of the Griffith Institute’s website, which was one of the first websites in the humanities. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the full online publication of the Tutankhamun Archive, known as “Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation”; working with a small budget, over 15,000 pages of documentation were created by Malek and his team, and he himself devoted many hundreds of hours of his own time to ensure the documentation was made freely accessible to everyone on the web. 


Malek was also a regular member of the Egypt Exploration Society’s expedition teams working at the Ptah enclosure in Memphis and the Serapeum at Saqqara during the 1980s and early 1990s. He also produced an impressive number of publications, both for academic audiences and the general public, and he shared his love for felines with the highly successful The Cat in Ancient Egypt. He was invited to lecture all over the globe, inspiring enthusiasm and support for the Institute’s projects.  


Jaromir’s breadth of knowledge was remarkable. He was a formidable personality, yet beneath the serious, and seemingly tough, persona, lay a very kind, warm, and generous heart. He was quick to assist anybody, possessed an admirable moral compass, and was always willing to share his time and expertise, especially with young students and colleagues. He was welcoming to all visitors to the Institute and was always delighted to receive Egyptian friends and colleagues. He will be much missed in our international discipline, but particularly here in Oxford.  


Any messages of condolence may be sent to the Griffith Institute (griffith.institute@ames.ox.ac.uk), and we will forward them to Jaromir’s wife, Jane, and the family in due course.