Institute of Archaeology


Gordon Childe Lectures at the UCL Institute of Archaeology

The Gordon Childe Lectures, organised by the UCL Institute of Archaeology and normally held annually, commenced in 2016. The events are named in honour of Vere Gordon Childe, Director of the Institute from 1946-57.

V. Gordon Childe

A revolutionary in all senses of the word, Vere Gordon Childe (1892-1957) pioneered radical new ways of thinking in archaeology and was, during his lifetime, the most cited Australian author in the world.

A committed Marxist, he was placed under investigation by MI5 whilst a student at Oxford. After graduating he became fluent in several languages and published over 250 academic works spanning the prehistory of Europe, Asia and the Near East.

In 1946, he was appointed director of the Institute of Archaeology, London. Upon his retirement in 1957, he returned to the Blue Mountains in Australia, where he ended his life. He remains the most widely read archaeologist of the 20th century.

Thanks to a generous donation, the UCL Institute of Archaeology hosted its first Gordon Childe Lecture and Seminar (previously known as the Annual Lecture) in 2016.

The renaming of the Annual Lecture event signified a revision of its overall aims. The annual Gordon Childe Lecture now features speakers able to take a broad view of their topic and make it interesting and relevant to both the general public as well as subject specialists. The addition of an accompanying seminar also offers an opportunity for extended discussion on the themes raised in the lecture.

Due to ongoing Covid-related concerns, the next Gordon Childe Lecture is now due to be held in 2023.

Previous Lectures

TAG2019 conference is being held at UCL in December

Gordon Childe Lecture 2019

Matthew Johnson (Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University) gave the 2019 Gordon Childe Lecture entitled ‘On Writing the Past Backwards’ on Thursday 12 December from 6.30pm. The lecture was held in association with TAG 2019.

Professor Kristian Kristiansen (right), speaker at the annual Gordon Childe Lecture in February 2018, receiving the Graham Clark medal from the British Academy in 2016 (Photo: British Academy).

Gordon Childe Lecture 2018

Kristian Kristiansen (Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg) gave the 2018 Gordon Childe Lecture entitled 'Towards a new European Prehistory - genetics, archaeology and language' on 21 February 2018.

Patricia A. McAnany giving the Gordon Childe Lecture 2017 at UCL

Gordon Childe Lecture 2017

Patricia A. McAnany (Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina) gave the 2017 Gordon Childe Lecture entitled 'Rethinking Political Solution and Dissolution in the Maya Lowlands' on 2 May 2017.

The Gordon Childe Lecture 2016: A Brief History of Flight from the State

Gordon Childe Lecture 2016

James C. Scott (Department of Political Science & School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Anthropology, Yale University) gave the (inaugural) 2016 Gordon Childe Lecture entitled 'A Brief History of Flight from the State' on 10 May 2016.