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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Professor Paul Pettitt

Pettitt, P. & White, M. (2013). John Lubbock, caves, and the development of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic archaeology. Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science 68(1): 35-48.

Author(s) from Durham


John Lubbock's Pre-Historic Times (1865) was the first publication to use the terms ‘Palaeolithic’ and ‘Neolithic’ to define major periods of early prehistory. Because of this he has come to be seen as one of the most influential figures in the history of prehistoric archaeology. We examine this image here, in terms of his influence on contemporaries both in Britain and in France, where early excavations were providing materials that came to form the basic periodization of the Palaeolithic that is still in use today. We show how Lubbock contributed to this emergence of a professional Palaeolithic archaeology, and what he did and did not achieve in the critical decades of the 1850s and 1860s before his interests moved elsewhere.