Talk:V. Gordon Childe

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The facts of Childe's life are admirably stated, but surely his importance in the history of his subject lies not so much in his specfic excavations, but in the materalistic ie. Marxist interpretations he put on them? He was not dogmatic in his approach, but in populist works like "What Happened in History", he certainly sought to explain the development of the ancient world by means of successively developing technologies and their relationship to their societies. The article does not even mention his belief system, which influenced all of his work. djnjwd

Feel free to add to it, please. I admit to not knowing much about him, and only came across him at all through the Skara Brae excavations (which are a landmark in the history of archaeology on the strength of the significance of the site). The biographical dictionaries I normally use to get the basic data for an article don't mention Childe's political or philosophical beliefs. I would be glad to see a much longer article. Deb 16:58 13 Jun 2003 (UTC)

The style of his name[edit]

The article never actually mentions that he always (as far as I know) published under the style "Gordon Childe", dropping the "Vere". I couldn't see a way of putting it into the opening paragraph with making it too unwieldy. If someone can see a way of slipping it in nicely, please do, otherwise I'll have a go at some point.SamuelTheGhost (talk) 09:09, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Since then I've done so. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 19:49, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
Except I've almost always seen him cited as V. Gordon Childe, not Gordon Childe, not Vere Gordon Childe, not Vere G. Childe, not V. G. Childe. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 06:22, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree. It's almost always V. Gordon Childe. It should be moved but it requires someone with admin-like powers. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 11:06, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Personally, I think Vere Gordon Childe would make more sense. See George Bernard Shaw.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:39, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

I don't understand that comparison. I know in some places Shaw is called just "Bernard Shaw", but he's generally referred to by his full name. Childe was only rarely known by his full name. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 10:44, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
Shaw published as Bernard Shaw.--Jack Upland (talk) 03:25, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

Mountain climbing[edit]

"Mountain climbing" is not performed in the Blue Mountains. It's use in this article is misleading. Childe may have been rock-climbing or bushwalking. But he was not mountain climbing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:24, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was move per request. Since no evidence was presented, I confirmed that there are more than twice the result for the target using a Google books search, indicating more common usage.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 12:18, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Vere Gordon ChildeV. Gordon Childe – This is ths style always used in his own writings, and by which he is generally known. Jack of Oz [your turn] 22:18, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Personally I don't see the necessity here, as severak sources still refer to "Vere". Either way, I'm not too bothered, so if you are convinced that this change is necessary, you have my support. Anyone else have any other thoughts ? (Midnightblueowl (talk) 01:33, 24 May 2011 (UTC))
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Mythical concepts about Childe[edit]

Childe did not invent the term or the concept of Neolithic revolution (see Three-age system), nor was he ever much interested in African archaeology, which in his time had developed a new system from the old. Changing these errors will entail minor changes to the intro. More seriously this raises the question of what if anything he did innovate. Also I have serious questions concerning the branding as Marxist archaeologist. I don't see a thing Marxist about Childe, regardless of his personal sometime affiliations. In fact, Engels and Marx favored Morgan, but Childe summarily dismissed MOrgan. Childe followed Sir John Lubbock, as did Sir John Evans and these men were assuredly in no way Marxist. The article looks nice on the surface. It may not stand up to invesigation. Right now I do not have the time to check it. Eventually I may. Meanwhile, why don't some of you go over it? I will make small corrections to the intro as far as I can for the moment.Dave (talk) 11:55, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

The influence section[edit]

I've been reading this over and I must say I am really quite impressed with it. Outstanding for an amateur. There are a few points that mark it as non-professional. One is the failure to research the archaeological mileu in which Childe was working. Thus the editor(s) can imply that Chide devised such terms a Bronze Age and Stone Age and state that he invented the Neolithic Revolution. He did not. I will have to change that a little. You can find the research under Three-age system. The article however is really splendid in presenting him as a great interpreter. His presentations are quite excellent: lucid, summary, coherent. I'm a Childe fan along with everyone else. Not for nothing was he an avid politician. I vote for Childe. He did not, however, innovate any of the things the article claims he did. He got it all from the archaeologists that went before. As to whether there is anything Marxist about him beyond the lip service I doubt it. Going to Russia was pretty standard for the 1930's. Communism was very fashionable in those days. George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War. But few of them could handle the concept that Stalin made a pact with Hitler and basically threw the Spanish Civil War in favor of his new ally. I doubt if Childe knew any of that or could handle it. The supposed Marxist parts of his writings actually came from Wallace and Lubbock. What's the big deal? Childe argued that archaeological evidence could shed no light on history but it could on economy. Just what is so Marxist about that? We do not see any Marxist jargon at all in V Gordon Childe. His "materialist" ideas stem from the limitations of archaeology and the ideas of Sir John Lubbock, who in turn was working from the idea of Wallace. All these things are still in place but no one now tags them as Marxist or would would dare to do so. If Childe was a Marxist then HUAC was a Bible study group. Marxists go around spouting the jargon: dictatorship of the proletariat, working class, class stuggle, the predetermined victory of the working class etc etc. None of these appear in Childe. He even adopts the conservative view of the Mesolithic. Stalin was going around shooting men of his views as phonies. And they weren't his anyway. I have to make a few adjustments so this excellent article does not imply non-excellent conclusions. I will try to keep it to a minimum.Dave (talk) 13:11, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

As the editor responsible for the recent additions and expansions to this article, I thank you for your kind comments. As the referencing illustrates, the information I have added is primarily biographical in nature, taken from Sally Green's 1981 biography of the man. I would be the first to admit that my knowledge of Childe's influence and influences is scant and based upon what I have read in a few published sources. In these, it is common for him to be called a Marxist archaeologist, but with certaine xceptions - he was certainly no orthodox Marxist. - Midnightblueowl, 10 June 2011.
There is ample evidence in the article that Childe had a Marxist orientation. (And, by the way, the Spanish Civil War was over by the time of the German-Soviet Pact, not that it was Stalin's war to throw.)--Jack Upland (talk) 08:40, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Were the Wobblies in Australia Marxist?[edit]

The article as it currently is written reads, "Instead he became involved in the Australian branch of an international revolutionary socialist group called the Industrial Workers of the World that advocated a specifically Marxist worldview." From context, it appears that this refers to the situation c. 1920.

I don't know if it's accurate to call the Wobblies socialist at this time and place, but I think it's specifically inaccurate to call them "specifically Marxist". Check out, where it says that: The 1908 split between the Chicago and Detroit factions in the United States was echoed by internal unrest in the Australian IWW from late 1908, resulting in the formation of a pro-Chicago local in Adelaide in May 1911 and another in Sydney six months later. By mid 1913 the "Chicago" IWW was flourishing and the SLP-associated pro-Detroit IWW Club in decline.[37] In 1916 the "Detroit" IWW in Australia followed the lead of the US body and renamed itself the Workers' International Industrial Union.[38] The Detroit Faction is associated with the Socialist Labor Party, the Chicago Faction more with anarchists and "the bums". Minor point, sure, but if someone has the Green book cited could they check this to see what's actually being cited. Generally, calling the IWW Marxist or socialist after c. 1908 seems to me painting with too large brush strokes. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:16, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Always socialist, never Marxist.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:49, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
Someone has re-edited the page to describe the IWW as a "union". It was not a union as most people would understand that term.--Jack Upland (talk) 06:12, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
I made the edit. The appropriate place to discuss the topic would be Talk:Industrial Workers of the World, where apparently you already have a thread which I had commented on some time back. There are many articles that such a distinction would affect, so let's try to centralize it.
As far as the organization being Marxist, it's complicated. Its preamble uses some language which are almost direct quotes of Marx, its literature often discusses it at length, and works by him were often distributed by members. That's a lot of influence to speak of, but the union also had similar influence by anarchists and other tendencies within the labor movement. Historically this has created a rather à la carte selection of theories and strategies combining into a new philosophy rather unique to the union. The multiple splits in its history weren't due so much to an adherence to Marx or not so much as between electoral politics and direct action, which had already long been a strongly divisive topic in the labor movement. djr13 (talk) 07:33, 11 May 2014 (UTC)
The IWW page no longer (for now) describes the IWW as a union. If a reader wants to know about the IWW, they can look at that page. However, on this page I think it is misleading to say Childe joined a union.--Jack Upland (talk) 01:00, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
Industrial Workers of the World still describes the organization as a union throughout the article. I will try to get access to the source cited in that section of the article to find the context of his affiliation. I can think of no reason why his joining a union of similar organizing philosophy to his own would be so unusual, but knowing the year and circumstances of him joining it would help in considering the state of the organization's efforts to organize workers, aid them in disputes, and any other such activities commonly attributed to unions. djr13 (talk) 04:52, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
I am still intending to check the book which is cited for his joining of the union, but unfortunately am on a waiting list for it. Meanwhile I have changed the description again, based on descriptions of its activities in Burgmann, Verity. Revolutionary Industrial Unionism: The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia. Cambridge University Press. . Apparently the Australian section at the time was much more active in "boring from within," advocacy within existing unions, than it was in directly organizing workers under its banner. This was before the organization was declared illegal. One reason cited for this difference in method was that the existing unionization rate in Australia at the time was some 40%, while in the US it was around 12%. djr13 (talk) 05:21, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

Unionism in the USA is unique. As an Australian unionist, I think it is true to say that the craft vs industrial union issue was never particularly important in Australia. As you say, unions have been relatively strong in Australia. In Australia, the Wobblies represented a more radical alternative to the Labor Party (which had no American equivalent). The Wobblies' anarchistic opposition to the parliamentary system would have dovetailed with Childe's critique of Labor in power. In joining the IWW I think Childe was expressing his commitment to socialism and his disenchantment with the Labor Party. I think he was joining a radical organisation, rather than a labour union as most people would understand it.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:54, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

I just browsed the biography. It doesn't really directly say much about the IWW or his involvement. It says that he came into contact with the IWW sometime during the anti-conscription movement, possibly via member Jim Quinton. Childe made a failed attempt to get the Labour government to seek a redress for purjury committed by prosecutors in the trial of the Sydney Twelve. Childe was inspired by the concepts of the "One Big Union" and the general strike, and wanted other unions to take heed to them. He later wrote in How Labour Governs (1923) about his fear that the "One Big Union" concept would be as vulnerable as the Labour Party to opportunism.
I still have the book. Anything else I should look up while it's on hand? djr13 (talk) 22:05, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I think it would be good to clarify his attitude to the USSR, particularly after WW2. I raised a couple of points below.--Jack Upland (talk) 00:42, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:V. Gordon Childe/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Adam Cuerden (talk · contribs) 16:16, 27 August 2013 (UTC)


  • The prose is pretty good, but it could probably use a copyeditor before FA, just to smooth out the occasional rough patch.

University in Sydney and Oxford: 1911–1917

  • "Wishing to continue his education, he gained £200 from the Cooper Graduate Scholarship in Classics" - this is a little bit awkward; it would be better to state how he gained the scholarship, e.g. "he submitted an essay to and won" or "he applied for the Cooper Graduate Scholarship in Classics and was awarded £200." Also, is that per year, or a lump sum?
  • "Oxford University Fabian Society" - This could use more explanation. The Fabian Society... well, it's hard to judge from having never heard of it, but I don't believe it's so well-known outside of socialist circles as to justify it not being glossed.
  • "At Queen's, Childe was entered for a diploma in classical archaeology followed by a Bachelor of Literature degree, but did not complete the requirements for the former; here, he studied under John Beazley and Arthur Evans, the latter acting as his supervisor." - I honestly have no idea what the linking word "here" is meant to mean.

London and early books: 1922–1926

  • "of outstanding importance" - This is a direct quote, but the citation at the end of the paragraph lists three different sources. Quotes need specific sources. Adam Cuerden (talk) 16:16, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

I've made a few minor copyedits, and, on the whole, this article looks pretty good. If you can at least get the [citation needed] tag fixed, I'm happy to promote to GA; the other things - whilst needing fixed - are small enough not to block. Adam Cuerden (talk) 16:33, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for doing this Adam; it is much appreciated! I honestly cannot remember where the "Of outstanding importance" quote came from, so I have removed it and replaced it with non-quote text. My use of "here" meant "at Queen's College, Oxford"; I've altered the text to clarify this. Regarding the Fabian Society, I've mentioned that it is a "left-wing reformist" group". I am unsure as to how Childe specifically obtained the scholarship, so I have changed the text to "he gained a £200 Cooper Graduate Scholarship in Classics". Kind regards, Midnightblueowl (talk) 22:33, 27 August 2013 (UTC).
I made a few additional copyedits (your fix of the "here" created a sentence fragment, for instance), and think it's now at GA. clarifying the scholarship details would be a good thing to do moving forwards to FA, and it'd be useful to get a copyeditor in before FA, but this clearly is enough for GA.  Pass Adam Cuerden (talk) 23:01, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Soviet Union?[edit]

I query the following:

The event [the invasion of Hungary] made Childe abandon faith in the Soviet leadership, but not in socialism and Marxism. Childe retained a love of the Soviet Union, visiting on multiple occasions, and he was involved with the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR, a CPGB satellite body, being president of their National History and Archaeology Section from the early 1950s until his death.

The invasion was in 1956; he died in 1957. He appears from the text to have visited the USSR in 1956, but not multiple times. And the only significance here of his involvement in the society was that he didn't resign in 1956.--Jack Upland (talk) 05:19, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

Childe had indeed visited the USSR on multiple occasions; I will make some small alterations to the text in the article in an attempt to reflect your concerns. Thanks for bringing them up! Best, Midnightblueowl (talk) 13:14, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
As strange as it may be, the reference cited appears to fully back up the statements of the event in the article. "The event made Childe abandon faith in the Soviet leadership, but not in socialism and Marxism," is perhaps easy to misunderstand. His handling of the controversy was probably more subtle than anything, and unfortunately was probably tempered by his intention to refocus on "sorting out his affairs," handling unfinished business, and leaving final words (perhaps considering other matters of higher priority) before taking his life.

He did specifically express his continued friendship with Palme Dutt and careful continued faith in the CCCP, if I'm reading it correctly, even as he reservedly expressed his disappointment over the invasion and criticized Dutt effectively shrugging it off. He did not leave the party because of the event as many did, nor did he sign a letter which had been signed by many leading Communists distancing themselves from the invasion. The book summarizes his views ultimately to be, "But he was deeply upset by the Russian action, and he lost his faith in Soviet Communism, though not his faith in communism itself, which was still his ideal." "Lost faith" could simply mean he no longer took things at face value, had his doubts about the leadership, and as it says in a quoted letter he wrote, "But of course one must not believe anything one reads—not even in the Daily Worker!"

I've transcribed a large portion of the two relevant pages. If these are desired and there's a proper way to share them, let me know. djr13 (talk) 08:28, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

I queried the text originally because of the dates. But are you saying he was a member of the Communist Party? This isn't mentioned in the article.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:45, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Oops, all that work and I forget to even make sure I'm answering the right question. :) Page xxi of the book says that he was "apparently" never a member. I misread the reference, which said many people left the party and then mentioned the letter he didn't sign.

At most he probably admired the party despite often finding faults in it, though this would be a bit odd given his seeming ample opportunities to join it. After the German-Soviet pact, the book says he was "convinced that the dogmas of Fascism and of Marxism–Leninism could be equal threats to humanity," though this may have been primarily due to his opinion that the masses of people had an "epipalaeolithic mentality" which rapid political developments had overwhelmed. djr13 (talk) 10:49, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Eastern Europe?[edit]

He consistently referred to the socialist states of eastern Europe by their full official titles, and called towns by their Slavonic rather than Germanic names, further confusing his students.

Did he really call all the states by their official titles, or is this referring to the German Democratic Republic and the USSR? Is the second part referring to Germany's changed borders after WW2, so that Danzig became Gdansk?--Jack Upland (talk) 05:32, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

I added such information on the basis of the published biography of Childe by Sally Green. If my memory serves me correctly, it wasn't just the USSR and GDR that he referred to under their full titles, but also such nation-states as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Poland. With regard to the latter point, Childe would talk of "Warszawa" rather than "Warsaw", and "Praha" rather than "Prague", thus using the native Slavic names rather than their Germanic counterparts which his students (mostly being native Anglophone speakers) were familiar with. Best, Midnightblueowl (talk) 13:05, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
In that case I think it would be better to say, "their Slavic rather than their English names". "Warsaw" and "Prague" aren't "Germanic names".--Jack Upland (talk) 10:42, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, English is a Germanic language, but I take your point. "English" is far better here. Midnightblueowl (talk) 17:25, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Editor reverting changes to meet style guidelines[edit]

Edits I made to align the article's formatting to WP:MOS were reverted, with the following reasons:

  • the previous mistakes were "longstanding" thus they should be kept;
  • they reverted my edits so I am required to go to the talk page to discuss their reverts, rather than restore the changes with an edit description as I had done.

Proposal: the article should follow WP:MOS. djr13 (talk) 21:37, 30 March 2016 (UTC)

Hello, Djr13. Thank you for opening up a talk page discussion as per the WP:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle. Part of my concern regarding your recent changes, and one of the reasons that I reverted them, is that they were undertaken unilaterally, with no attempt made to discuss them with longstanding contributors to the page on the Talk Page first. Nevertheless, we are here now, and that's what counts. As I understand it, you propose that the use of quotations in quote boxes should be removed from the article; this is despite the fact that they have served this article perfectly well for a long time and are a common sight on many GA and even FA-rated articles here at Wikipedia (for instance, you can see them in use on FA-rated articles devoted to Britain-based archaeologists like Margaret Murray and Mortimer Wheeler.) Clearly, there is nothing wrong with quote boxes, for if there were then they would never be permitted on FAs. Again, as I understand it, while removing the quote boxes you wish to keep the quotes inside them, but have them incorporated into the main prose of the article. I've consulted the "Block quotations" sub-section at WP:MOS and frankly I don't think that it supports what is being claimed of it; it stresses that longer quotations should be distinguished from the main article prose, but that is accomplished perfectly with quote boxes anyway. Moreover, I believe that quote boxes aligned to either the left or right are more aesthetically tidy than a quotation stuck into the middle of the article prose, dividing up paragraphs that otherwise flow into each other. Best, Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:33, 1 April 2016 (UTC)