Dorothy Garrod

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Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod
Dorothy Garrod.jpg
Dorothy Garrod, c. 1913, while at Newnham College, Cambridge
Born (1892-05-05)5 May 1892
Died 18 December 1968(1968-12-18) (aged 76)
Nationality British
Fields archaeology

Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod, CBE, FBA (5 May 1892 – 18 December 1968) was a British archaeologist who was the first woman to hold an Oxbridge chair, partly through her pioneering work on the Palaeolithic period; she served as Disney Professor of Archaeology from 1938 to 1952.


Garrod was the daughter of the physician Sir Archibald Garrod and was raised at her family home in Melton, Suffolk by a number of governesses.[1] In 1913, she entered Newnham College, Cambridge where she was one of very few women students. Garrod left Newnham with a second class degree and undertook war work until she was demobilised in 1919. By this time she had lost three brothers. She then went to Malta where her father was working and to occupy herself she took an interest in the local antiquities.[2]

Garrod 1928 standing with George and Edna Woodbury of the American School of Prehistoric Research

When her father was appointed Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, Garrod decided to read for a Diploma in Anthropology at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, where she was taught by Robert Ranulph Marett. It was Marett who inspired Garrod to be a prehistorian and she was then able to spend two years with the leading French prehistorian Abbé Breuil.[3] Breuil had already visited Gibraltar and he recommended that Garrod investigate Devil's Tower Cave which was only 350 metres from Forbes' Quarry where a Neanderthal skull had been found previously. Devil's Tower Cave had been discovered by Breuil on an earlier visit to Gibraltar with William Willoughby Cole Verner.[2][4] Garrod discovered the important Neanderthal skull now called Gibraltar 2 in this cave the early 1920s.[5]

Between 1925 and 1926 she excavated in Gibraltar and in 1928 led an expedition through South Kurdistan that led to the excavation of Hazar Merd Cave and Zarzi cave.

The importance of Mount Carmel as a site in prehistory was discovered only because the British had decided that it would be a good source of quality stone for their plans to establish Haifa as the primary port into Palestine. A preliminary survey however found not only Natufian deposits but also prehistoric art objects and this was reported in the influential Illustrated London News. As a consequence, decisions were taken in London that there would not be a quarry and Garrod was requested to undertake further investigations into three caves.[2]

Garrod undertook excavations at Mount Carmel in Palestine where, working closely with Dorothea Bate, she demonstrated a long sequence of Lower Palaeolithic, Middle Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic occupations in the caves of Tabun, El Wad, Es Skhul, Shuqba (Shuqbah) and Kebara Cave. Her work was a major contribution to the understanding of the prehistoric sequence in the region. She also coined the cultural label for the late Epipalaeolithic Natufian culture (from Wadi an-Natuf, the location of the Shuqba cave) following her excavations at Es Skhul and El Wad. The chronological framework established by her excavations in the Levant remain crucial to the present understanding of that prehistoric period.[2] Her excavations at the cave sites in the Levant were conducted with almost exclusively women workers recruited from local villages, although she worked with fellow archaeologist Francis Turville-Petre at Kebara Cave, the type-site for the Kebaran culture.

Garrod at the International Symposium on Early Man, Philadelphia, March 1937

After holding a number of other academic posts she was made Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge in 1939, a post she held until 1952, aside from a gap towards the end of the Second World War when she served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She was based at the RAF Medmenham photographic interpretation unit as a section officer.

Dorothy Garrod was the first female professor at Cambridge.[6] The first women University Teaching Officers were appointed to Cambridge University in 1921, and in 1926 Cambridge University women first gave women the titles of degrees but without associated privileges (i.e. no participation in University government). It was not until 1947 that full membership for women was granted by Cambridge University.

Personal life[edit]

The archaeology writer Brian Fagan stated that Garrod had been a "quiet, self-effacing chair, who was happy when engaged in her own research".[7] He added that she was "distant, shy, and hard to get to know, but she worked very hard on university committees, often with scant respect from the general board of the University, which controlled funding. She was unaccustomed to the hierarchy and negotiation style of her senior academic colleagues."[8] He added that although her reforms within the department were "important", she had been "a dull public lecturer who preferred to write rather than present her findings orally."[7]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Garrod was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1952. In 1965, she was awarded the CBE. She felt it was important that archaeologists travel and therefore left money to found the Dorothy Garrod Travel Fund.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bar-Yosef, Ofer (1970–80). "Garrod, Dorothy Annie Elizabeth". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 21. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 103–108. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Garrod, Dorothy Annie Elizabeth". Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Exhibition on Dorothy Garrod at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford Archived 6 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine., accessed 2 July 2013
  4. ^ Devils Tower Cave,, retrieved 24 February 2013 
  5. ^ Garrod, D. A. E.; Buxton, L. H. D.; Elliot-Smith, G.; Bate, D.M. A. (1928). "Excavation of a Mousterian rock-shelter at Devil's Tower, Gibraltar". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 58: 33–113. JSTOR 4619528. 
  6. ^ "First Cambridge woman professor appointed". The Glasgow Herald. 6 May 1939. Retrieved 14 August 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Fagan, Brian (2001). Grahame Clark: An Intellectual Biography of an Archaeologist. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. p. 169. ISBN 0-8133-3602-3. 
  8. ^ Fagan, Brian (2001). Grahame Clark: An Intellectual Biography of an Archaeologist. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. p. 170. ISBN 0-8133-3602-3. 
  9. ^ Price, K.M. 2009. One vision, one faith, one woman: Dorothy Garrod and the crystallisation of prehistory. In R. Hosfield, F.F. Wenban-Smith & M. Pope (eds.) Great Prehistorians: 150 Years of Palaeolithic Research, 1859 – 2009 (Special Volume 30 of Lithics: The Journal of the Lithic Studies Society):x–y. Lithic Studies Society, London

References and further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Ellis Minns
Disney Professor of Archaeology, Cambridge University
Succeeded by
Sir Grahame Clark