The Prehistory of European Society


200 pages | Paperback

ISBN: 978 0 85124 7564


By V. Gordon Childe

‘Gordon Childe was the leading prehistorian of the first half of the 20th century. An Australian by origin, who had studied in both Sydney and Oxford and played an active role in left-wing politics in Australia before coming to Britain to stay permanently in the 1920s, he went on to hold senior positions at the University of Edinburgh then the University of London, as Director of the Institute of Archaeology. Throughout his academic career his declared goal was an understanding of the evolution of European society as “a peculiar and individual manifestation of the human spirit”. He pursued this goal at two different levels, on the one hand producing detailed accounts of the emerging archaeological evidence for European prehistory on the basis of his own first hand examination of material in European museums, on the other writing higher level syntheses to convey his developing ideas to a more general audience. As a result of widely read works such as Man Makes Himself (1936) and What Happened in History (1942) Childe’s ideas were very influential far beyond the narrow confines of archaeology, an influence never equalled by later generations of archaeological synthesisers.’

Stephen Shennan
UCL Institute of Archaeology
From his new Foreword