David L. Clarke (Bromleigh, Kent 1937- Cambridge 1976)

British archaeologist, in his short life he conducted research works on the Beaker pottery of Great Britain and Ireland, to which he dedicated a detailed monograph, and more in general on subsistence economy in Mesolithic Europe. As author of the seminal book “Analytical Archaeology” he is considered one of the advocates of the British approach to the New Archaeology movement.

He began his academic career at Cambridge University in 1957, where he graduated in archaeology and anthropology under the guidance of Grahame Clark. After his PhD (1964), he was named Fellow of Peterhouse College and then assistant lecturer in archaeology (1975). In 1976 he died at the age of thirty-eight.

In 1968 he wrote “Analytical Archaeology”, in the same year as Binford’s “New Perspectives in Archaeology” appeared. The book caused controversial reactions, but it soon became the manifest of an innovative way of exploring the past, highly influenced by the emerging New Geography and Cybernetics. Clarke defined archaeology as an independent discipline («archaeology is archaeology is archaeology») with its own methods based on Systems Theory.

The number of papers included in the book “Models in archaeology” edited by Clarke in 1972 can testify to the success of his approach, which aimed at contributing to the renewal of archaeology, as he stated, in the following year, in the introduction to his well-known article “Archaeology: the loss of innocence”: «The loss of disciplinary innocence is the price of expanding consciousness; certainly the price is high but the loss is irreversible and the prize substantial».

After his untimely death, his colleagues published the book “Analytical Archaeologist: collected papers of David L. Clarke”. Since then, many studies were inspired by and dedicated to his methodological approach, from “Pattern of the Past. Studies in the Honour of David Clarke” (1981) up to the most recent “ARCHEOSEMA. Artificial Adaptive Systems for the Analysis of Complex Phenomena. Collected Papers in Honour of David Leonard Clarke” (2014).