Don Brothwell

19 October 2016

Don Brothwell (Image courtesy of the University of York)

Institute staff, students, friends and colleagues will be saddened to hear of the recent death of Don Brothwell.

Don began his association with UCL as an Anthropology and Archaeology (with Geology and Zoology) undergraduate. Following graduation, he was employed as a Demonstrator at the Faculty of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Cambridge, working with Bernard Denston, who for many years looked after the collections of the Duckworth Laboratory which has since become part of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies.

In 1961 he went to work as a scientific officer at the British Museum (Natural History) as it was called then and he eventually became Head of Anthropology.

Don was Senior Lecturer, then Reader, in Zooarchaeology at the Institute of Archaeology from 1974-1993 after the retirement of Ian Cornwall. It was a natural succession as both were polymathic characters, with interests in zooarchaeology, human evolution and geology.

Simon Hillson, who himself arrived at the Institute in 1974 to start his PhD, remembered Don as 'a constant source of new ideas and somebody who was very happy to encourage his students to follow up these and their own ideas no matter how radical.  He was even suggesting new possibilities as I was showing him the final draft of my thesis'.

Don joined the University of York as Professor of Human Palaeoecology in 1993. Officially he retired in 1999 (thereafter being Emeritus Professor). This was the occasion of an international symposium to celebrate his career at which Simon presented a paper. The resultant volume 'Bones and the Man: Studies in Honour of Don Brothwell' reflected the diversity of his career over four decades, and the influence he had upon many aspects of archaeological science.

From 2006, Don was associated with the Department of Archaeology, Durham University as an Honorary Research Associate.

Again as Simon indicates:

'In spite of being retired, Don kept on going, still full of ideas, writing and winning really quite substantial grants. As always, he very much went his own way, following up all sorts of areas in archaeological science, not only human remains but also zooarchaeology and broader cultural issues'.

Our thoughts go out to Don's family and friends at this difficult time.