Grahame Clark

An Intellectual Biography of an Archaeologist


Brian Fagan

First Edition • January 1, 2003 • 320 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813341132 • $42.00 USD$48.50 CAN

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      The British archaeologist Grahame Clark was a seminal figure in European and world archaeology for more than half of the twentieth century, but, at the same time, one whose reputation has been outshone by other, more visible luminaries. His works were never aimed at a wide general public, nor did he become a television or radio personality. Clark was, above all, a scholar, whose contributions to world archaeology were enormous. He was also convinced that the study of prehistory was important for all humanity and spent his career saying so. For this, he was awarded the prestigious Erasmus Prize in 1990, an award only rarely given to archaeologists. This intellectual biography describes Clark’s remarkable career and assesses his seminal contributions to archaeology. Clark became interested in archaeology while at school, studied the subject at Cambridge University, and completed a groundbreaking doctorate on the Mesolithic cultures of Britain in 1931. He followed this study with a magisterial survey, The Mesolithic Settlement of Northern Europe(1936), which established him as an international authority on the period. At the same time, he became interested in the interplay between changing ancient environment and ancient human societies. In a series of excavations and important papers, he developed environmental archaeology and the notion of ecological systems as a foundation of scientific, multidisciplinary archaeology, culminating in his world-famous excavations at Starr Carr, England, in 1949 and his Prehistoric Europe: The Economic Basis (1952). Clark became Disney Professor of Public Archaeology at Cambridge in 1952 and influenced an entire generation of undergraduates to become archaeologists in all parts of the world. He was also the author of the first book on a global human prehistory, World Prehistory (1961).

Born in England and educated at Cambridge University, Brian Fagan is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is internationally known for his popular books on archaeology. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.

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Fagan’s biography of Clark is a welcome contribution to filling this gap. Fangan’s analysis of Clark’s accomplishments is notable for its restraint and even-handedness.
— Journal of Field Archaeology

A fascinating and extremely lively and perceptive account of the coming of age of British archaeology in the 20th century and of Clark’s dominant, indeed magisterial role in that process.?
— The Times Higher Education Supplement

?Fagan’s biography of Grahame Clark is rich in details’However, in the details, the reader finds an even broader archaeological world that is promised.?
— American Anthropologist

?Fagan has done the discipline a very considerable service in illuminating Clark’s long and distinguished career.?
— Antiquity

?Fagan’s biography is a worthy testament to [Clark’s] greatness.?
— Library Journal

?This is a remarkable book, written in the lucid prose we’ve come to expect from Brian Fagan, and it should find a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the underpinnings of the archaeological world of today.?
— About.com

?A worthy account of a once pre-eminent figure whose influence has been widespread and profound.?
— New Scientist

?Probably no one outside the field of archaeology has ever heard of Clark, though veteran archaeology popularizer Fagan may change that. Fagan offers a thoughtful assessment of one of the twentieth century’s greatest pioneers in archaeology.?
— Booklist

?Grahame Clark was instrumental in the establishment of many disciplines in archaeology, including environmental archaeology, science-based archaeology, and the archaeology of hunter-gatherers. Clark’s own story, both personal and academic, reflects the emergence of prehistoric archaeology from its beginnings in antiquarianism to its world-wide expressions in both science and the humanities.?
— Professor John Coles, Fursdon Mill Cottage

?Grahame Clark was one of the great archaeologists of the twentieth century: he effectively founded ecological and economic archaeology, made the Prehistoric Society and the Cambridge Archaeology Department world-renowned organizations, and created the idea of a World Prehistory. He moved science into archaeology and archaeology into science in a way that benefitted both enormously. Brian Fagan shows how a scholar whose most spectacular find was a bone harpoon nevertheless revolutionized the study of the past in a way matched by few other prehistorians.?
— Norman Hammond, Professor of Archaeology, Boston University

?Fagan does a superb job—this book will become a classic. He presents a compelling picture of one of the twentieth century’s most important archaeologists, and shows clearly how Clark’s groundbreaking researches changed the nature of archaeology throughout the world. Anyone who wants to understand why archaeology is where it is today should read this book.?
— Peter Rowley-Conwy, Reader in Environmental Archaeology, University of Durham, UK

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