To chronicle the intellectual life of Grahame Clark (1907–1995)
is to participate in the history of the discipline of archaeology,
which Clark—almost single-bandedly at first—transformed
from an antiquarian pastime based largely on artifact classification
into a sophisticated study of the human past based on collaborations
among scientists from many disciplines.
Noted archaeology writer Brian Fagan, himself a former student of Clark’s at Cambridge University,
assesses Clark’s pioneering efforts in economic and environmental prehistory.
Out of the stultifying atmosphere of dull museum display cases,
Clark redefined prehistoric archaeology as the study of ancient communities
ceaselessly adapting to ever-changing environments.
His famous excavation of the Stone Age hunter-gatherer site of Star Carr
was a tour de force of environmental archaeology.
Clark also broke British prehistory out of its entrenched provincialism
to consider Britain within the context of Mesolithic Europe
and, eventually, global prehistory.
During Clark’s exceptionally long career, spanning well over half a century,
the generations of students he trained colonized the world of archaeology
and reshaped the discipline in Clark’s image.