Miss Gertrude Caton-Thompson (Biographical details)

Miss Gertrude Caton-Thompson (archaeologist; British; Female; 1 February 1888 - 18 April 1985)

Also known as

Caton-Thompson, Gertrude


Archaeologist; former Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, Governor of Bedford College for Women, fellow of UCL (q.v.) from 1984 until her death. She was educated at Miss Hawtrey's, Eastbourne, and in Paris. She worked first in the Ministry of Shipping (1915-19), then at the Paris Peace Conference (1919) before studying with the British School of Archaeology in Egypt (1921-26), when she excavated at Abydos and Oxyrhynchos (1921-22), Malta (1921, 1924), Qau and Badari (1923-25). On behalf of the School she inaugurated the first archaeological and geological survey of the Northern Fayum region of Egypt (1924-26), from which investigations she presented a collection of antiquities to the British Museum in 1927. She continued as Field Director for the Royal Anthropological Institute (q.v.) from 1927-28, and in 1928 was appointed by the British Association (q.v.) to conduct excavations at Zimbabwe and other sites in what was then Rhodesia; from her excavations at Zimbabwe she presented a second archaeological reference collection to the Museum in 1933. From 1930-33 she returned to Egypt to excavate in the Kharga Oasis and from 1937-38 she excavated in Yemen at the site of Huraydha (previously spelt as Hureidha in the archaeological literature); the main exported collection of finds from this site are in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology (q.v.), with smaller collections in the Ashmolean Museum (q.v.), Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (q.v.) and the British Museum (q.v.). During this time she met Freya Stark (q.v.), although relations between the two were less than amicable. Caton-Thompson's 'Who Was Who' entry lists her only recreation as "idleness" but she was far from idle, and in recognition of her various travels and other investigations she was awarded the Cuthbert Peek award of the Royal Geographical Society (1932); Rivers Medallist of the Royal Anthropological Institute (1933); Huxley Medallist (1946); and the Burton Medal of Royal Asiatic Society (1954). She published the following books: 'The Badarian Civilisation' (1928; part author); 'The Zimbabwe Culture' (1931); 'The Desert Fayum' (1935); 'The Tombs and Moon Temple of Hureidha, Hadhramaut' (London: Society of Antiquaries, 1944); 'Kharga Oasis in Prehistory' (1952). From 14 June - 14 July 1935 she held a student room ticket in the Dept of Egyptian & Assyrian Antiquities. Archive materials relating to Gertrude Caton-Thompson are held by University College London (q.v.). See AOA Ethdoc 292 - typed copy of 'On the Track of Prehistoric Man, with the Prorok Expedition. Ancient Abyssinian Gold Mines. The Lost Land of Ophir?' published in Egyptian Gazette Feb 20 1934, with covering note to H J Braunholtz. See also AOA Ethdoc 86: Comparative study of four beads, two from the Hadramout (Miss Caton Thompson) and two from the Acropolis at Zimbabwe (H J Plenderleith, 20.2.39).


'Who Was Who, 1981-1990', London: A. & C. Black, vol. VIII, p. 127.