Events Calendar

RAI Research Seminar: Diffusionism meets Prehistory
Monday 10 October 2022, 04:00pm - 06:00pm
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Monday 10 October 2022 at 4.00 - 6.00pm (BST)  

This event will be held online on Zoom, to register go here: 

Diffusionism meets Prehistory:
Vere Gordon Childe and his archaeological and anthropological network in Vienna

Maxime Brami (Palaeogenetics Group, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)

Victoria Immervoll (Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology University of Vienna)

Katie Meheux (Institute of Archaeology Library, LCCOS, University College London)

Peter Rohrbacher (Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Following Childe’s dismissal from his London-based post as Research Officer for the Australian government in April 1922, he turned his back on a career in politics and returned to Archaeology. The next five years, until his appointment as Abercromby Professor of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, proved formative for the development not only Childe’s research interests, but also of the networks and connections that would sustain him throughout his career.

Childe spent these years moving between four distinct but interactive clusters of archaeologists and anthropologists: John L Myres and Arthur Evans and other archaeologists at Oxford University; the Royal Anthropological Institute, where Childe was appointed as Librarian in 1925; the Anthropology Department of University College London, home to the British School of Diffusionists; and the museums and institutions of Central and Eastern Europe. Childe’s developing theoretical ideas and archaeological work reveal the influence of all these groups, linked together, and constantly shifting in his own idiosyncratic style.

In the autumn of 1922 Childe travelled to Vienna to study unpublished material in the Prehistoric Department of the Natural History Museum. He became acquainted with the leading representatives of the Viennese School of Diffusionism, which pursued a universal-historical approach by parallelising archaeology and ethnology. The “Kulturkreislehre” (doctrine of culture circles), as this Viennese school of thought was also called, subsequently had a lasting influence on Childe’s work. Questions remain how this influence should be balanced with strong evidence for Childe’s relationships with colleagues from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire more widely.



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