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Colin Renfrew -- interviewed for the Signs out of Time project



Colin Renfrew is an English archaeologist, notable for his work on the radiocarbon revolution, the prehistory of languages, archaeogenetics, and the prevention of looting of archaeological sites.

Renfrew was educated at St Albans School, Hertfordshire and from 1956 to 1958 did National Service in the Royal Air Force. He then went up to St John's College, Cambridge where he read Archaeology and Anthropology, graduating in 1962. In 1965 he completed his PhD thesis Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of the Cyclades and their external relations and in the same year married Jane M. Ewbank.

In 1965 he was appointed to the post of lecturer in the Department of Prehistory and Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. Between 1968 and 1970, Renfrew directed excavations at Sitagroi , Greece. In 1968 he unsuccessfully contested the Sheffield Brightside parliamentary constituency on behalf of the Conservative Party. In that year he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and in 1970 was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

In 1972 Renfrew became Professor of Archaeology at the University of Southampton. During his time at Southampton he directed excavations at Quanterness in Orkney and Phylakopi in Greece. In 1973 Renfrew published Before Civilisation: The Radiocarbon Revolution and Prehistoric Europe in which he challenged the assumption that prehistoric cultural innovation originated in the Near East and then spread to Europe.

In 1981 he was elected to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology in the University of Cambridge, a post he held until he retired in 2004. In 1990 Renfrew was appointed as Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. He published Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of the Indo-European Origins in 1987. He served as Master of Jesus College from 1986 till 1997, and was awarded the prestigious Balzan Prize in Prehistoric Archaeology in the year of his retirement from the University. He was awarded a life peerage in 1991, and chose the title "Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn".

Colin is the author of scores of books and articles. His Curriculum Vitae can be found on his staff webpage at the McDonald Institute site.

Belili Productions is offering Colin Renfrew's complete interview on VHS as part of the Behind the Screen series -- see our ORDER PAGE for details.

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