Harold John Edward Peake

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Portrait. Credit: Wellcome Collection

Harold John Edward Peake or Harold Peake F.S.A. FRAI (1867 – 1946) was a British archaeologist and curator for the West Berkshire Museum.[1] With Herbert John Fleure he wrote ten books in the Corridors of Time series covering aspects of archaeology and anthropology as well as several works on his own "Prospector Theory" and other archaeological themes.

Prospector Theory[edit]

Peake is most remembered for his "Prospector Theory" of the diffusionism school within anthropology which argues that a group of sea-voyagers from the Eastern Mediterranean sea colonised Europe from c. 2800 BC, introducing the Dolmen.[2] Unlike Grafton Elliot Smith, who believed these maritime colonists were Egyptian, Peake argued that they were descendants of the Sumerians.[3] Peake named this group of sea-voyagers the "Prospectors" based on the fact they were believed to be merchants or traders seeking for ores and metals. This identification was strengthened in Peake's opinion by the fact Bronze Age deposits of metal in Britain were always close by dolmens, an argument also put forward by William James Perry. Peake further maintained that the "Prospectors" were brachycephalic (broad-headed) and racially an intermediate Alpine-Mediterranean people.


Corridors of Time


  • The Bronze Age and the Celtic World (1922)
  • The English village: the Origin and Decay of its Community (1922)
  • The Origins of Agriculture (1928)
  • The Flood: New Light on an Old Story (1930)
  • The Archaeology of Berkshire (1931)
  • The Early Steps in Human Progress (1933)


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Harold John Edward Peake, 1867-1946", H. J. Fleure, Man, Vol. 47, Mar., 1947, pp. 48-50.
  2. ^ "The Origin of the Dolmen", Harold Peake, Man, Vol. 16, Aug., 1916, pp. 116-121.
  3. ^ The Bronze Age and the Celtic World, Chapter IV: The Prospectors, pp.55-60. [1]
  4. ^ Herbert John Fleure published the final volume 10 years after Peake's death. The work contains research and writings from Peake never before published.