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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Seminar - Grahame Clark’s Map of the World: Europe, Australia and Global Prehistory

24th October 2016, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Professor Ann McGrath (Australian National University)

On the wall of his office, archaeologist Grahame Clark, who held the prestigious Disney Chair of Cambridge’s Peterhouse College, displayed a world map on which he indicated all the places to which he had sent his former students. The image of a senior academic in the British imperial metropole enacting a plan to send out young men to the peripheries of Empire anticipates a new era of grand discovery. This time, the brave young men would explore the deep pasts of lands previously outside the gamut of both history and prehistory.

At a time when historians are calling for more expansive geographic and temporal scales for history (Guldi and Armitage 2014; Christian 2004), the work of earlier twentieth century scholars who narrated grand global human pasts may prove instructive. This paper considers in particular the work of early British archaeologists and/or prehistorians Grahame Clarke and Gordon Vere Childe, the Abercrombie Chair at Edinburgh. In doing so, it examines the early relationships between history, prehistory and archaeology.

The disproportionate role of Cambridge archaeological training on the development of the discipline in Australia – dubbed ‘Cambridge and the Bush’ - has received considerable attention. Many of Australia’s leading archaeologists were trained there, including UK-born Rhys Jones, Jack Golson, Wilfred Shawcross, Australian born-John Mulvaney, Isabel McBryde and South African born Carmel Schrire. Although the vantagepoint of early prehistoric archaeology appears to have been distinctively European, it is worth considering the impact of southern exchanges, as well as the extent to which the relevant professions succeeded in ‘colouring in’ the world.

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