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13io,qraphicat Memoirs VOLUME 83
]. DESMOND CLARK April 10. 1916-February 14, 2002 BY FRED WENDORF BY ANY MEASURE ]. Desmond Clark was the most influen- tial en c! productive archaeologist who ever worker! in Africa. More than any other incliviclual he shaped our un- clerstancling of African prehistory, en cl his interests en cl goals have structures! almost all the prehistoric research now un- clerway on that continent. . . I first met Clark in the fall of 1960, when he came to Santa Fe to give a talk on his work in Northern Rhodesia. I was then working as an American Southwestern archaeolo- gist, but CIark's talk stimulatecl my interest in the archaeol- ogy of Africa. It was only two years later, in 1962, en c! still knowing nothing about African prehistory, that I found my- self leacling the Combined Prehistoric Expedition in the salvage excavations at prehistoric sites in the Aswan reser- voir in Egypt and Sudan. It was my very good fortune that Clark was the first person I turned to in my frantic scramble to learn enough about African prehistory to clo my job en c! not embarrass myself totally. Clark responclecl quickly with a packet of reprints en cl a long list of reaclings that began my African education. On many occasions since then I turner! to him for guidance, en cl I found Desmoncl always to be generous with his acivice en cl encouragement. I have also 3
4 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS learner! that I was not alone in receiving help from Clark. In fact, there are very few archaeologists now working in Africa, inclucling Africans, who have not benefited from his acivice en c! support. Clark was remarkably well informal about the archaeol- ogy en cl Pleistocene geology of almost every part of Africa, mostly because throughout his life he fount! opportunities to clo fielcl work in a wicle variety of areas en cl over the whole chronological range of human experience in Africa, from the earliest human artifacts to an occasional ethno- graphic study of modern tribal groups. He was also an ex- ceptionally gifted synthesizer, en cl he cirew on his wicle ex- perience to write several summary books that remain the best available general texts on the archaeology of Africa (1954, 1959, 1970, 1982~. Desmonc! Clark was born in Lonclon into a fairly well-to- clo merchant family. One of his grandfathers was a chemist who hacl clevelopecl a profitable business in cosmetics, trav- elec~ wiclely on the continent, en c! acquirer! a strong inter- est in antiquities. Clark always creclitecl this grandfather with stimulating his own interest in prehistory. CIark's father was trainee! as an electrical engineer, but after he returnee! from service on the Western Front cluring WorIcl War I he took over the family cosmetic business en cl managed it un- tiT his cleath. When his father returnee! from service, Desmonc! and his family moved to the small village of Northend, in the Chiltern Hills, a beautiful wooclecl area about 40 miles west of London. It was here that Clark clevelopec! his inter- est in the natural environment. At age six he was sent away to boarcling school, first to a school at PortisheacI, near Bristol, en c! then to Swanbourne House, a preparatory school in Buckinghamshire, where he stucliecl for en cl passed his common entrance exams. From there he went to Monkton Combe School near Bath. Here his interests in archaeology
J. DESMOND CLARK 5 began to form, stimulates! by his teachers, of which one was a local antiquarian. In 1934 Clark was accepted by Christ's College, Cam- bricige, where he stucliec! history for two years, then archae- ology en cl anthropology uncler Miles Burkitt, who awakened in him an interest in artifacts en cl the history of the clisci- pline, en c! Grahame Clark, who taught him the importance of the paleoenvironment to archaeology, primarily how changes in the environment might influence human behav- ior. Another significant influence on Desmonc! at this time was Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who instructed him in rigorous fielcl techniques. Clark workocl for Wheeler at Maiden Castle cluring the 1936 Beld season and part of the summer of 1937. Desmond was an excellent student, and in 1937 he received his bachelor of arts degree with first-cIass honors, as well as an honorary bachelor scholarship from Christ's College. Despite his clistinguishecl unclergracluate academic record there were almost no positions in archaeology when Clark received his B.A. degree. In fact, there were only three per- manent non-museum positions in archaeology in the entire country, en c! none of these were open. Clark applier! un- successfully for several museum positions in EnglancI. Then in the late fall of 1937 he was offered a three-year appoint- ment, with an option for a Tong-term contract, in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) as secretary of the Rhocles- Livingstone Institute en cl curator of the David Livingstone Memorial Museum. The position incluclec! a salary of £400, plus a house with basic furniture. Although not previously interested in African archaeology, Clark eagerly accepted the offer en c! in micI-December went by boat to Cape Town, arriving there the first week of January 1938. A few days later he travelecl by train to Livingstone, a three-clay jour- ney. Although initially intending to stay only 3 years in North-
6 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS ern Rhodesia, he remainec! there en c! hell! the same two positions for 23 years, until ~ 961, when he accepted an appointment as professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He stayer! at Berkeley as professor, en cl from 1986 as professor emeritus, until his cleath. While at Cambridge, Clark met a fellow student who was reacting moclern languages. Her name was Betty Baume, en cl she was from Yorkshire. Their friendship soon blos- somecI, en cl they became engaged cluring his final year. Shortly after his arrival in Livingstone, Clark sought en c! received permission to marry Betty from the governor (per- mission to marry was required of all first-tour staff. In late spring of ~ 938 Betty came to Livingstone, en c! a month later they were married. This began one of the great part- nerships in archaeology. Betty went with Desmoncl on all his expeditions, she ran the field! laboratory while he super- visecl the excavations, en cl she translatecl his notoriously terrible handwriting en cl type cl many of his manuscripts. She even server! as acting curator of the museum while he was away in service cluring WorIcl War II. They hacl two chilciren, a son, John Wynne Desmoncl Clark, now living in England, and a daughter, Elizabeth Anne Cable Clark, who resicles in Australia. Betty cliecl two months after DesmoncI. During the 1930s Clark was one of the three or four professional archaeologists in southern Africa, but when he arrivecl in Livingstone his first efforts were to clo something about the Rhocles-Livingstone Museum. Clark founcl the museum to be a disorganized shambles, with collections, mostly ethnographic and historical materials, displayed on open tables, and housed in an old PalIadian-style building that hac! previously server! as the Uniter! Services Club. There was only one small display of archaeological artifacts, and these were from Gatti's 1929 excavations at Mumbwa caves. Most of the collections were still in boxes. There was no
J. DESMOND CLARK 7 technical staff en c! the collections were little more than assemblages of artifacts en cl mineral specimens with few or no records. He set about reorganizing the museum: creat- ing thematic exhibits of both archaeological en c! ethnologi- cal materials en cl writing an accompanying handbook. Clark also clirectecl an annual two-week winter fielcl school in ar- chaeology that was baser! at the museum. All these activities en cl improvements at the museum were popular with the local people en cl schooIchilciren, en cl after WorIcl War II this popularity macle possible the construction of a new museum with funcling from several private companies en cl the Northern Rhodesia government. With the museum in reasonable shape Clark turner! his attention to research on the local archaeology. He began his fieldwork with geologist Basil Cooke from Johannesburg, en c! their stucly of the stone tools en c! fossils of the OIc! Terrace gravels of the Zambezi River resultecl is his first publication, in 1939, with H. B. S. Cooke. He publishecl two other papers that same year, one a summary of the known Stone Age sites in Northern Rhodesia (issuccl as the first occasional paper of the Rhocles-Livingstone Museum), en cl the other a discussion of the origin en c! aims of the Davic! Livingstone Memorial Museum, which appeared in the Mu- seums Journal (Lonclon). Clark also obtained a research grant to excavate the Mumbwa caves in Northern Rhodesia, en cl his report on that work (1942) recorclecl a sequence of StilIbay, Rhoclesian Wilton, en cl Iron Age seasonal occupa- tions in those caves. From 1941 to 1946 Clark was in the British army, serv- ing initially as a sergeant in the Seventh East African Fielcl Ambulance Corps in Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Somalia. His unit took part in the retaking of Berbera in British Somaliland, and several engagements on the plateau at Hargeisa en c! Boroma, en c! finally, in late 1941, atGonciar,
8 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS the last battle in the Ethiopian campaign. After officer training he became a civil affairs officer in the British Military AcI- ministration in Somalia, where he was stationed in the south- ern part of the country. During this perioc! he also traveler! to Kenya en cl became close friends with Louis en cl Mary Leakey, visiting them frequently. While in Ethiopia and So- maTia, in aciclition to his work as a soiclier en c! later as a civil affairs officer, Clark also managed to clo some archaeology, recording sites en cl even performing limitecl excavations. In 1944 en c! 1945 he publisher! three short articles, all on Stone Age sites he found in Ethiopia. By 1946, when he took his discharge from the army, Clark hacl accumulatecl 22 petrol boxes of artifacts en c! quantities of field! notes from his studies in Somalia en cl Ethiopia. With the help of the army he managed to get them all safely to Livingstone, en c! eventually to Cambridge. Later the sites he surveyed! en cl the ciata he collectecl proviclecl an important part of his Ph.D. dissertation en cl the basis of his highly respected book The Prehistoric Cultures of the Horn of Africa ~ ~ 954) . On his release from the army and his return to North- ern Rhodesia in 1946, the improvement of his museum was again CIark's first concern. One of his initial tasks was to begin planning a new Rhocles-Livingstone Museum, the ciraw- ings for which were publishecl in 1947. This was followocl in the same year by an article issues! by the Rhocles-Livingstone Institute on the public service role of museums. Other pub- lications cluring this period were limitecl to a few brief ar- ticles on a variety of topics, inclucling the Bushmen, copper procluction in Central Africa, en cl the formation en cl chro- nology of the Victoria Falls. Clearly, there was a lack of focus, but this was to change shortly. In 1947, less than a year after Clark returned to North- ern Rhodesia, Louis Leakey organized en cl hostecl the First Pan-African Congress on Prehistory. This congress brought
J. DESMOND CLARK 9 together for the first time almost everyone interested! in African prehistory archaeologists, Quaternary geologists, en cl paleontologists who came from 26 countries en cl from all parts of Africa en c! abroad. It gave those who attenclec! the opportunity to meet en cl learn what others were cloing en cl to discuss mutual problems. It was a lancimark event for African prehistory en c! for Clark. He gave a well-receivec! paper on his research in the Somalilancis, but his engaging personality, together with his scholarly competence en cl ex- perience with the prehistory of southern en c! eastern Africa gave him consiclerable prominence beyond his presenta- tion. Most important, however, the discussions at the con- gress stimulated CIark's commitment to archaeological re- search, and over the next clecacle following ~ 947 Clark concluctecl excavations in the upper Zambezi Valley, slug the Late Stone Age cave of Nachikufu, en c! reexamines! the Broken Hill site (1959) where "Rhoclesian man" hacl been cliscoverecl in ~ 92 ~ . T ~ ~ A ~ ~_1 1 In ~ u~ Flare took a year-e leave anct returnee! to Cam- bricige to complete his residency requirement for a cloctor- ate. He received his degree in 1951, writing his thesis on his work in the Zambezi Valley en c! the Horn of Africa. The previous year he publishecl his first regional synthesis, is- succl as a monograph by the South African Archaeological Society (1950~. In that year he also publisher! several ar- ticles on a variety of archaeological topics, en cl served as president of the South African Archaeological Society. Clark was rapidity becoming a leacler among African archaeolo- gists, a position that was reinforced by a remarkable publi- cation record that included 57 papers and six books pub- lishec! in the ~ O years between ~ 950 en c! ~ 959. He also continual to be active in the museum fielcI, en cl in 1955 he served as president of the South African Museums Associa-
0 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS tion, giving a presiclential aciciress on the role of museums in public education. Clark was also interested in cultural preservation, en cl he realizer! that something neeclec! to be clone to protect the archaeological en cl historical sites in Northern Rhocle- sia. To provicle this protection, in 1950 he founclecl en cl was secretary of the Northern Rhodesia National Monuments Commission, with authority to protect all monuments built before 1897. Clark served as secretary of the Commission until 1961, when he left to go to Berkeley. He was then electecl an honorary member of the commission, a position he helcl until his cleath. The Seconc! Pan-African Congress was hell! in 1952 in Algeria, en cl Clark served as chairman of the prehistory section. Stimulatecl by the papers en cl the collections he saw while at the congress, Clark proposer! a correlation of prehistoric cultures north en cl south of the Sahara that was publishecl in the South African Archaeological Bulletin (1954~. Although the mocle! he proposer! is now known to be incorrect, it was CIark's first attempt to view African prehistory as a whole. The Thirc! Pan-African Congress was hell! in Livingstone in 1955 with Clark as the organizing secretary en cl coeditor of the proceedings. Shortly after the congress in Livingstone, Clark was invites! to clo field! work in Angola, where mining activities had exposed many archaeological horizons buried in fossil clunes. He spent four fielcl seasons there (1959, 1960, 1963, en c! 1968) en c! he wrote four volumes on the results of his excavations. These were publishecl by the Museu clo Dunclo in Lisbon (1963, 1966~. Although Clark mover! to Berkeley in 1961, he contin- ued his archaeological research in Northern Rhodesia (each year from 1962 through 1968 and again in 1972), as well as smaller projects in South Africa (in 1962, 1966, 1979, and
J. DESMOND CLARK 11 1985~. He also fount! time to spenc! two field! seasons in Syria (1964, 1965) en cl two more along the Nile in central Sudan ~ ~ 972, ~ 973) . In 1953 Clark cliscoverec! the most important site of his career at Kalambo Falls in Northern Rhodesia. This was a cleeply stratified, waterIoggecl Lower Paleolithic locality with superb preservation of wood, semis, leaves, en c! pollen. Be- cause of the aciclity of the soil, however, almost no bone was preserved. It was here that Clark introclucecl the tech- nique of "point plotting" each incliviclual artifact. This re- sultecl in the first record of African Acheulian activity areas. Because of his earlier training at Cambridge en cl his initial experience with Cooke en c! other geologists, the research at Kalambo Falls was organized as a multiclisciplinary project with a focus on the reconstruction of the paleoenvironments of the site. A number of students en c! young scholars, in- clucling many who are now major figures in prehistoric studies in Africa en cl elsewhere, participated in the excavation en cl writing of the reports. The first two books on his work at Kalambo Falls (1969, 1974) establishecl him as one of the two leacling African prehistorians, the other being Louis Leakey. The thirc! volume on Kalambo Falls (2001), an even more massive report than the first two, was clelayocl in part because of the enormous size of the effort and because Clark began to lose his eyesight while he was working on the manuscript. Fortunately he was able to finish the report en cl see it through the press. He was nearly blincl when he flier! a few months later. Shortly after Clark arrivecl in Berkeley in 1961 he en cl his colleagues in the Department of Anthropology began the clevelopment of a research en c! graduate training pro- gram in African prehistory and related disciplines that soon became the most clistinguishecl center in the worIcl for such studies. In aciclition to the outstanding faculty involves! in
12 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS the program, a key feature was the active recruitment of students from Africa. By the time Clark retired from teach- ing in 1986, 10 Africans from 6 different countries hacl receiver! their doctorates uncler his direction. These Afri- can graduates are now university teachers, museum clirec- tors, en cl heacis of antiquities organizations in their own countries. Beginning in 1974 Clark began a Tong-term project in Ethiopia. Initially it was focused on the Arussi-Harar Pla- teau en cl the Gacleb Plain, on the eastern sicle of the Rift Valley in the southeastern section of Ethiopia. He worker! there for four seasons, until 1978, en cl he publishecl several interesting papers on the results of these investigations, which were mostly at Lower Paleolithic (OIclowan) en c! AcheuTian sites. Then in 1981 en cl 1982 he shifted to the Afar MicicIle Awash Valley where he workocl in the rich Lower and MicicIle Paleolithic localities in that area. Unfortunately only one paper based on this work was published, in part because the research was unfinished. The project was placecl on hoist when the Ethiopian government cleciarec! an eight- year moratorium on all paleoanthropological research in Ethiopia by foreign scholars while the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture establisher! new rules en c! regulations. It was not until 1990 that Clark was able to return to the Middle Awash en cl the Afar Basin. Unable to work in Ethiopia, Clark turned his attention to other areas, en cl for the first time he began to clevelop long-term projects outside Africa. It had long been known that Lower Paleolithic sites with lithic assemblages at least superficially similar to those in Africa occurred in central and western India. Clark was interested in these because they inclicatec! possible contacts with Africa en c! might re- late to the spreacl of early humans into Southeast Asia. In 1980 Clark, with several Indian colleagues, began a study of several Lower Paleolithic sites in the Mac~hya Praclesh of
J. DESMOND CLARK 13 north-central India. He spent four seasons there between 1980 en cl 1983, In 1983 Clark publishecl a book with G. R. Sharma on the results of this research. In many respects, however, the results were disappointing. Preservation was poor, associated fauna was limitecl to nonexistent, en cl ciat- ing was insecure. In early 1987 Clark was invited to visit north China en c! see the Paleolithic sites there en c! stucly the collections from these sites. Later that year en cl con- tinuing into 1988 he returned to visit the Paleolithic sites in south China. His interest in China continues! in late 1989 en cl early 1990, when he clicl archaeological research at several very early Paleolithic sites in the Nihewan Basin in western China. Unfortunately the results of this research hacl not been publishecl when he cliecI. Clark received many honors for his research en cl schol- arship. His first was in 1960 when he became a commander of the Order of the British Empire. This was followocl in 1967 by the Commancleur cle I'Orcire National cle Senegal, the Huxley Mecial from the Royal Anthropological Insti- tute, Lonclon, in 1974, en cl in 1985 the GoIcl Mecial of the Society of Antiquaries in Lonclon. In 1985 he also received two honorary doctorates, one from the University of Witwatersrancl in Johannesburg en cl the other from the University of Cape Town. He was elected a foreign associ- ate member of the National Academy of Science in 1986 en cl a full member in 1993. Clark also received the GoIcl Mecial of the Archaeological Institute of America in 1989. The quality of CIark's research en c! his establisher! recorc! for publishing his results were widely admired by his col- leagues, en cl for this reason his requests for funcis were usually favorably receiver! by the aware! panels at the Na- tional Science Foundation ~ ~ 0 grants between ~ 962 and ~ 984 for paleoanthropological research in Africa), the Smithsonian Institution (five grants between 1980 en c! 1985
4 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS for research in central Inclia), en c! the Wenner Gren Foun- ciation (with several grants to assist his research in Africa, to publish two books Atlas of African Prehis tory en cl Back- grounc! to Evolution in Africa], to funs! a movie on flaking stone artifacts, en cl to assist with ciata analysis for volume III of The Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site) Possibly one of Desmoncl's most treasurer! public hon- ors, anct certainly the most emotional, was the great party helcl at Berkeley for him when he retired in 1986. Nearly 200 of his oic! students, friends, en c! colleagues came from all over the worIcl to celebrate his enormous professional achievements en cl to express their thanks for all that he had done for them. It was a measure of his contributions to archaeology as both teacher en cl scholar that they came from several countries in Africa, from Europe, from China, en c! from many universities en c! museums in the Uniter! States. . . · . .. . . ~ . IN THE PREPARATION of this biographical memoir I have drawn exten- sively on two publications: a brief autobiography by J. Desmond Clark, "Archaeological Retrospect 10" in Antiquity 60~1986~:179-88 and a second by H. B. S. Cooke, T. W. K. Harris, and K. Harris, "T. Desmond Clark: His Career and Contribution to Prehistory" in the Journal of Human Evolution 16~1987) :549-81. I also wish to thank his son, Tohn Clark, for the photograph of Desmond included with this memoir and for help with his family's history.
J. DESMOND CLARK SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 1942 15 Further excavations (1939) at the Mumbwa caves, Northern Rhode- sia. Trans. R. Soc. S. Afr. 29:133-201. 1950 The Stone Age Cultures of Northern Rhodesia. Cape Town: South African Archaeological Society. 1954 The Prehistoric Cultures of the Horn of Africa. London: Cambridge University Press. A provisional correlation of prehistoric cultures north and south of the Sahara. S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull. 9~34) :51-66. 1959 The Prehistory of Southern Africa. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Further excavations at Broken Hill, Northern Rhodesia. 7. R. Anthropol. Inst. 89 (2) :201-32. 1960 Human ecology in Pleistocene and later times in Africa south of the Sahara. Curr. Anthropol. 1 (4) :307-24. 1963 Prehistoric Cultures of Northeast Angola and Their Significance in Tropical Africa. Lisbon: Museu do Dondo, Publicacoes Culturais No. 62. 1965 The later Pleistocene cultures of Africa. Science 150 (3698) :833-47. 1966 The Distribution of Prehistoric Culture in Angola. Lisbon: Museu do Dundo, Publicacoes Culturais No. 73.
16 B I O G RA P H I C A L 1967 EMOIRS The Atlas of African Prehistory (compiler). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. With W. W. Bishop, eds. Background to Evolution in Africa. Chi- cago: University of Chicago Press. 1969 The Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site. Volume I. London: Cambridge University Press. 1970 The Prehistory of Africa. London: Thames and Hudson. 1971 Human behavioral differences in southern Africa during the Later Pleistocene. Am. Anthropol. 73~5) :1211-36. 1974 The Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site. Volume II. London: Cambridge University Press. 1982 Ed. Cambridge History of Africa. Volume 1. From earliest times to cat 500 BC. London: Cambridge University Press. 1984 With S. A. Brandt, eds. From Hunters to Farmers: The Causes and Consequences of Food Production in Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1985 With J. W. K. Harris. Fire and its roles in early hominid lifeways. Afr. Archaeol. Rev. 3:3-27. 2001 With M. R. Kleindienst. The Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site. Volume III. London: Cambridge University Press.