The Life and Impact of V. Gordon Childe

Published: 2021-06-29 06:53:56
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The Life and Impact of V. Gordon Childe
The world of archaeology and prehistory is a very large domain with many unknowns. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to try to make those unknowns known, and the career of V. Gordon Childe was dedicated to just that. He studied classics and archaeology from a young age, taught and wrote about archaeology and technology of the past, and made a huge impact on how others viewed prehistory. Without such thinkers and researchers as V. Gordon Childe, the past of our ancestors may have never been understood as well.
The life of Vere Gordon Childe begins in north Sydney, New South Whales, Australia on April 14, 1892, where he was born to British decedents. While still in Australia, Childe studied classics at The University of Sydney, and then continued his education at Oxford University in Great Britain. It was during this period of time that Childe became deeply interested in the prehistory of Europe, studying under Sir Arthur Evans and John Linton Myers. Following his academic ambitions, in 1927 Childe became the first professor of prehistoric archaeology at Edinburgh University. He left Edinburgh in 1946 to become a professor of European archaeology at the University of London, where he finished his career with retirement in 1956. After his retirement, Childe moved back to his homeland of Australia, where he died on October 19, 1957. He is said to have died from falling off of a cliff in the Blue Mountains, but many speculate that he may have taken his own life due to his declining mental abilities and poor health (1).
During his archaeological career, Childe wrote many books pertaining to many unanswered questions in prehistory, and most of them had great impacts on many different fields other than archaeology. Some of his early works such as The Dawn of European Civilization (1925) and The Aryans (1926), focused on the relationship between archaeology and Indo-Aryan languages (2). In fact, The Dawn of European Civilization set a chronological and cultural framework for European prehistory, and was the most prevalent and regarded work on that subject for over forty years (3). His work called Man Makes Himself (1936) focused on the contrast between Despotism in the near East and the creative/technological enterprises of the European area. This work along with Social Evolution (1951), showed Childe's unique approach to try to understand how civilizations came to be. "He studied the legal, political, economic, religious, and sociological structures of primitive and developing societies and linked the relevant studies with anthropology, geology, biology, zoology, and paleontology", in order to reach toward this goal (2).
Another important facet of archaeology is the physical digging and the sites that are explored. This is where archaeologists gather much of their information, which they use to physically see how others lived and behaved, as well as create theories in order to try to find the truth about the past. Childe's most famous excavation was that of Skara Brae, located in Scotland on the Orkney Islands. Between 1928 and 1930 Childe worked on this site, unearthing a whole settlement, only some of which was known to exist from a storm that hit the location many years before. The site was incredibly well preserved from the sand that had covered it for thousands of years. Buildings, their contents, and even alleyways, could be studied because of the amazing preservation. Radiocarbon dating showed that this settlement

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