Saturday, November 06, 2010

John Lubbock

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
 --Sir John Lubbock
       John Lubbock was a wealthy English gentleman of the 19th century who dabbled in archaeology, among lots of other things. He is probably best known for his books On the Origins of Civilisation and Prehistoric Times, in which he coined the terms paleolithic and neolithic. He was an early proponent of ethnoarchaeology; studying modern primitive peoples to understand prehistoric ones.”
      British banker, politician, and antiquary, later Lord Avebury, best known to archaeologists as the author of Prehistoric Times (1865, London). Lubbock became interested in archaeology at an early age and as a close friend of Charles Darwin was an early advocate of evolutionary thinking in his approaches to archaeological material. He published Prehistoric Times at the age of 35, introducing two new archaeological terms—Palaeolithic and Neolithic—as subdivisions of the Stone Age. The book went through seven editions, the last in 1913, and was enormously popular. It drew on ethnography to help interpret the archaeological material, and it also touched on one of Lubbock's other interests, the preservation of archaeological remains. Lubbock was the architect of the first ancient monuments legislation in Britain finally succeeding in getting the Ancient Monuments Protection Act onto the statute book in 1882 after nearly a decade of negotiations. Outside of his archaeological life, Lubbock was a successful banker and a hard-working Liberal MP. Amongst his other successes in parliament was the introduction of a bill to establish bank holidays.
[Bio.: A. Grant Duff, 1924, The life-work of Lord Avebury (Sir John Lubbuck) 1834–1913. London: Watts & Co]
"Our duty is to believe that for which we have sufficient evidence, and to suspend our judgment when we have not."
The quotation "We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth" is widely attributed to Lubbock. This variation appears in his book The Pleasures of Life: "Not only does a library contain "infinite riches in a little room," but we may sit at home and yet be in all quarters of the earth."
He carried out extensive correspondence with Charles Darwin, who lived nearby in Downe. Lubbock stayed in Downe except for a brief period from 1861–1865, when he moved to Chislehurst. Both men were active advocates of English spelling reform, and members of the Spelling reform Association, precursor to the (Simplified) Spelling Society.[citation needed] Darwin rented ground, originally from Lubbock's father, for the Sandwalk wood where he took his daily exercise, and in 1874 reached agreement with Lubbock to exchange the land for a piece of pasture in Darwin's property.[8] When Darwin died in 1882, Lubbock suggested the honour of burial in Westminster Abbey, organising a letter to the Dean to arrange this, and was one of the pallbearers.

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