About the AFSM
Dr. Phillips

Merilyn Phillips Hodgson
"He Africa has been traversed for centuries. Turn your eyes east young man. The last great unexplored area is Arabia." Such were the words of advice from the great Aga Khan, former president of the league of Nations Assembly and the Muslim spiritual leader to a young adventurer, paleontologist and geologist, Dr. Wendell Phillips. Those words forever changed his life and opened the door to discovery.

Having led a 26-month expedition from Cairo to Capetown in 1947, following his graduation from UC California at Berkeley, Wendell knew that future efforts would require significant organization. A man of unprecedented vision and enthusiasm, he founded the non-profit, 501(C) (3) organization of the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM) in Washington, DC in May of 1949, aided by an impressive lineup of board members, directors and trustees:

  • Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S.N.
  • Mr. Samuel F. Pryor, Vice President, Pan American Airlines
  • Brigadier General T.A. McInerny
  • Mr. Walter Ditmars, President, Grey Manufacturing Co.
  • Mr. Charles J. Nager, Eagan and Nager
  • Mr. S. Bayard Colgate, Board Chairman, Colgate Palmolive
  • Professor William Foxwell Albright, PhD, Johns Hopkins University
  • William B. Terry, Vice President, AFSM
  • Charles McCollum, Vice President, AFSM
  • George Farrier, Vice President, AFSM

The newly formed AFSM thus embarked on a series of expeditions allowing Wendell's dreams of exploration of the origins of man to become a reality. Details of the expeditions under the direction of Dr. Wendell Phillips can be found here.

Unfortunately, Wendell met an untimely death and with the loss of its exuberant leader, the AFSM faded into the background until his sister, Merilyn Phillips Hodgson, re-activated the foundation in June of 1980 after being asked by the Government of Yemen to continue her brother's important work. Now, the AFSM once again enjoys the Phillips' spirit of adventure and exploration with Merilyn leading its presidency.

Currently conducting active research at the Mahram Bilqis in Marib, Yemen while also sharing Yemen's rich cultural heritage through a world-class museum exhibit, the AFSM, carried by Merilyn's unfailing enthusiasm, allows this mysterious region to be unveiled and shared worldwide.

More information on the timelines of Yemen history can be found here.