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From Worsaae to Childe: The Models of Prehistory

  • Glyn Daniel (a1)

In the first of his three chapters forming Aspects of Prehistory (1970), Grahame Clark discussed one important aspect of prehistoric archaeology about which he has not hitherto written much, namely the historical development of that branch of historical science which, by his own researches in the last forty-five years, he has done so much to further. This chapter, the first of three lectures he delivered at Berkeley in the spring of 1970, is entitled ‘The Relevance of World Prehistory’, and is mainly concerned with listing the story of the discovery of archaeological facts. The interpretation of archaeological facts is of equal importance and in this paper I am concerned briefly with some aspects of the history of archaeological theory and interpretation, and more particularly with the changing models of thought used by prehistorians.

Here, we need not go further back than the three-age technological model of C. J. Thomsen. Before that we note the mythological models of the medieval and later antiquaries who floated Trojans and Phoenicians and the sons of Noah across their invented prehistory, and the literary and theological models of the later antiquaries of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who, eschewing invention, sought prehistorical information in the Bible and in Classical writers, and made over our prehistoric monuments to the Druids, and our gravels to an Universal Deluge.

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Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
  • ISSN: 0079-497X
  • EISSN: 2050-2729
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