Sir Francis Knowles, 5th Baronet
Knowles read Law at Oriel College, Oxford, and turned to anthropology for his post-graduate work. In 1908 he was one of the first two students to be awarded the Diploma in Anthropology, taught at the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University, to which he afterwards added the degree of B.Sc.
In 1909 he was appointed Assistant to the anatomist, Professor Arthur Thomson, specifically to carry out teaching and research in physical anthropology, the first post of its kind at Oxford University.
During the next three years he catalogued and recorded two large collections of skulls: the Rolleston and the Williamson Collections. He collaborated with Sir Arthur Keith in reports on various skeletal remains, including a paper on Palaeolithic teeth from St. Brelade’s cave, Jersey. At the request of William Johnson Sollas he examined the bones of the so-called Red Lady of Paviland in 1913.
In 1912 Knowles started fieldwork on the Iroquois Reserve, Ontario, and from 1914 to 1919 he held the post of Physical Anthropologist to the Canadian Government. His monographs On the Glenoid Fossa in the skull of the Eskimo and The Physical Anthropology of the Roebuck Iroquois were published by the National Museum of Canada.
Knowles then settled in Oxford, and took up the study of the methods used by Stone Age peoples in making their tools and weapons. He studied the collections in the Pitt Rivers Museum, and developed skills in the manufacture of stone tools for experimental archaeology. He arranged a series of exhibition cases for the Pitt Rivers Museum, showing the techniques employed in stone-working from prehistory to the gun-flint-makers of Brandon, and illustrated with his own illustrations. His book The Stone-Worker’s Progress (1953) summarized this research, as did a number of papers, including ‘The Manufacture of a Flint Arrowhead by Quartzite Hammer-stone.’
- B.M. Blackwood and T.K. Penniman, ‘Obituary : Sir Francis Knowles: 1886-1953’, Man, June 1953, n. 127, pp. 88-89.
- KNOWLES, Sir Francis Howe Seymour (1886-1953). Who Was Who (A & C Black)
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(of Lovell Hill)