Father Thomas I. Gardner, Jesuit priest, was interested in archaeology since his days at St Beuno's Jesuit Theological College near St Asaph in North Wales. He was ordained in Dublin in 1899 and in 1902 arrived at St George's School, Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to teach. He became a member of the Rhodesia Scientific Association in 1904. With his pupils he made surface finds of prehistoric stone artefacts near the town in 1906 and also collected artefacts in the quarries at Gwelo (now Gweru, some 160 km north-east of Bulawayo). These finds were described before the Rhodesia Scientific Association in March 1907 and published as "Stone implements of the Bulawayo commonage" in its Proceedings (Vol. 7(1), pp. 17-24). The paper was beautifully illustrated, but unfortunately did not indicate clearly which artefacts came from which site. Three years later Gardner described "Stone implements, the cutting edge of which has been produced not by chipping, but by grinding" from sites near Umtali (now Mutare) and Bulawayo (Ibid, 1910, Vol. 10, pp. 5-6). All the specimens were made on epidiorite.
In 1917 Gardner went to the Monte Cassino Mission near present Harare, where he was in charge from 1918-1921. After serving at several other places he spent twelve years at the Jesuit Mission at Gokomere, near Fort Victoria (now Masvingo). During these years he published three further significant papers: "Excavations in a Wilton industry at Gokomere, Fort Victoria, Southern Rhodesia" (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1928, Vol. 58, pp. 497-510); "Gwelo Kopje - S. Rhodesia" (with P. Stapleton*, Proceedings of the Rhodesia Scientific Association, 1934, Vol. 33, pp. 4-14); and "The recent archaeology of Gokomere, Southern Rhodesia" (with L.H. Wells* and J.F. Schofield, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 1940, Vol. 28(3), pp. 219-253). He was a great friend of his co-author Father Philip Stapleton.