Glyn Daniel

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Glyn Daniel, RAI President 1977-79, died in Cambridge on 13 December at the age of 72. He was Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge from 1974 to 1981 and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1982.

Daniel was well-known to the television public, especially in the 1950s, for his appearances with Sir Mortimer Wheeler on the BBC’s ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?’ As editor of Antiquity between 1958 and his death, and general editor of the Thames and Hudson ‘Ancient People and Places’ series, he was energetic and successful in the dissemination of archaeology and prehistory at all levels of sophistication. He was a pioneer in the history of archaeology and its underlying ideas, and he also specialized in the study of European megaliths. His pupils include a wide range of distinguished scholars and he was devoted to his Cambridge college, St John’s. He wrote two detective novels in his spare time, and was a notable connoisseur of food and wine and a generous host. His Obituary in The Times appeared on 15 December, followed by a note by his successor, Professor Colin Renfrew, on 20 December.

Glyn Daniel’s second Presidential Address to the RAI was published in RAIN 33, August 1979, under the title ‘The Forgotton Milestones and Blind Alleys of the Past’ – an allusion to A. E. Housman’s words about Frazer’s The Golden Bough.

Daniel’s book of memoirs, Some Small Harvest, published by Thames and Hudson last year, mentions how he saw the relationship of his work to anthropology as a whole. Daniel explains that he always hankered after the wide anthropological vision of E. B. Tylor. Despite his friendship with and respect for such anthropologists as Evans-Pritchard, Fortes, Edmund Leach and Jack Goody, he lost his interest in social anthropology early on, and even the influence of the above-named was not enough to allay his intense suspicion of that discipline. He attributes this to his having had Gregory Bateson as one of his Cambridge supervisors; he found Bateson’s supervisions unrewarding and could not understand Naven which ‘all the anthropologists I trust tell me. . . is one of the classics of anthropology.’

An Obituary of Glyn Daniel also appeared in The Guardian on 15 December.

This obituary first appeared as: Feb. 1987. ‘Obituary’. Anthropology Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 26 Reproduced with permission.


To cite this article:

Feb. 1987. ‘Obituary’. Anthropology Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 26 (available on-line: