Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod

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Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod 1892-1968

The death of Dorothy Garrod is a sad loss, not only to archaeology, to which she contributed so much, but to her friends and colleagues all over the world.

Her career was distinguished by any standards and the honours she received were very well merited.

After attending both Cambridge and Oxford she started her digging career by excavating the Devil’s Tower cave in Gibraltar in 1925-26. Though a small site, the results were spectacular, producing the remains of a Neanderthal child in a well stratified Mousterian context. The results of the excavation were published in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1928.

In 1926 her book on the Upper Palaeolithic in Britain was published, the first attempt to bring order into this rather chaotic material, much of which has been excavated in the last century. Her reputation for sound judgement, even as early as 1927, was indicated by her inclusion in the International Commission to investigate the site of Glozel in France.

In 1928, as Director of the joint Percy Sladen/American School of Prehistoric Research expedition, she excavated two caves in Iraqi Kurdistan, thus beginning her involvement in Middle East prehistory which was to prove so fruitful. Moving to Palestine in the same year, she first excavated Sukbah and then the three caves on Mount Carmel, a piece of research which set the seal on her growing reputation; this was published as The Stone Age of Mount Carmel. The problems raised by her book in the Middle East led to the excavation of Bacho-Kiro in Bulgaria, which was published in 1939.

In the same year she was appointed Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge, thus becoming the first woman Professor of the University. Although holding the chair until 1952, much of her tenure was interrupted by the war, in which she served in the W.A.A.F.

On retiring from Cambridge in 1952, she returned to the field excavating the rich Magdalenian site at Angles-sur-Anglin in France and then returning to the Middle East to excavate a series of rock shelters in the Lebanon, the last of which, Bezez, she was preparing for publication when she was taken ill.

Her list of academic honours was impressive; as well as her D.Sc. from Oxford, she received honorary degrees from Toulouse, Poitiers and Pennsylvania; the Huxley Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Gold Medal of the Society of Antiquaries, was President of Section H of the British Association in 1936, and President of the Prehistoric Society 1928; she was also a fellow of the British Academy and a C.B.E.

That these honours were richly deserved, there is no doubt. She brought to her work an exceedingly high standard, great critical judgement and an encyclopaedic knowledge of her subject. As a teacher she was outstanding, her lectures were a model of clarity, and nothing was too much trouble where her pupils and colleagues were concerned. In spite of her great international reputation, she remained the same shy, charming, humorous and generous person throughout her life.


This obituary first appeared as: von Waechter, J. d’A.. 1968. ‘Obituaries’. Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 1968, p. 67-68 Reproduced with permission.


To cite this article:

WAECHTER, J. d’A. 1968. ‘Obituaries’. Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 1968, p. 67-68 (available on-line: