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Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod, 1892-1968

Dorothy Garrod was a pioneer both as a prehistorian and as a female academic in Cambridge. Her archaeological career began after the first world war (in which all three of her brothers died) . She studied with the Abbe Breuil in Paris, carried out research on the Upper Palaeolithic of England, and then embarked on a career of archaeological fieldwork and research. After discovering a Neanderthal child at Devils Tower, Gibraltar, she excavated in Palestine, especially at Mt Carmel, also in Kurdistan, Bulgaria and France. She is especially associated with the Levantine Mesolithic, the culture known as Natufian, where she laid the foundations for the prehistoric sequence still in use today. She often employed and trained local women on her excavations, as well as other European archaeologists.

At the time of her election to the Disney Chair, in 1939, women could not be full members of the university of Cambridge: her election contributed to the recognition of the absurdity of this situation, although it was only after World War II, in 1948, that women were at last admitted as full members. She was the first woman to be elected a professor in either Cambridge or Oxford. Archaeology remains a field with few female professors, hardly any of those prehistorians.

Dorothy Garrod was a scholar and fieldworker, and like many other academics, she found administration increasingly unattractive. She resigned the Chair when she was 60 and spent most of her remaining life in France, continuing to carry out research and fieldwork into her seventies. She produced a long series of archaeological reports, articles and synthetic books.

Her papers were for long thought lost but in fact were deposited with those of her friend Suzanne de Mathurin in the Musée des Antiquités Nationales at St Germain en Laye. Her achievements have been lasting, and are perhaps recognized more widely now than in previous decades.

Catherine Hills, 2004

To read further

  • Dorothy Garrod and the Progress of the Palaeolithic: Studies in Prehistoric Archaeology of the Near East and Europe, William Davies and Ruth Charles (NC1987), Oxbow 1999
  • Dorothy Garrod as the First Woman Professor at Cambridge University, Pamela Jane Smith 2000, ANTIQUITY 74(283): 131-6.
  • Dorothy Garrod in Words and Pictures, Pamela Jane Smith et al. 1997, ANTIQUITY 71(272): 265-70.
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