The BSA was saddened to learn of the recent death of David French. Professor Lord Renfrew, former Chairman of the BSA, has kindly contributed this short memoir of David French's research in Greece.
David French, second from right. Photo courtesy of Dr Lisa French.
David French. who died on 19 March, was Director of the British Institute at Ankara from 1968 to 1994. He began his research career in Greece, first working with Alan Wace in the Nauplion Museum in the summer of 1956, assisting at the excavations at Aghios Stephanos in 1959, and later conducting systematic site survey in Central Macedonia, in Thessaly and in Central Greece, in which the find material was documented to a high standard. These were circulated privately to relevant libraries (including the BSA Library in Athens) and researchers. These, and related survey work in Western Turkey, were more concisely published in a series of periodical articles, in which several sites later excavated by other workers, including Sitagroi in the Plain of Drama, were first documented in print. With his unparalleled knowledge of the prehistoric sites of central and northern Greece, his careful attention to detail, and the good quality of his drawings of sherd material, he established a high standard in the publication of sites and finds which later scholars have aspired to follow.
David French began his excavations at Can Hasan in Turkey already in 1961, and in the 1960s continued his work both in Greece and Turkey. His doctoral dissertation Anatolia and the Aegean in the Third Millennium BC, was approved by the University of Cambridge in 1968. He was the first to recognise the distinctively Anatolian character of the material recovered in the lowest levels in the excavations at Lefkandi in Euboia, later termed the ‘Lefkandi I Assemblage’. At the request of the excavators he prepared for publication the material from the early bronze age levels at Lefkandi, as well as the Pre-Mycenaean pottery from the British excavations at Mycenae (both now awaiting publication). From 1968 he was active mainly in Turkey, with an important series of surveys, excavations and publications, yet remained one of the foremost authorities on the prehistory and archaeology of the Aegean as a whole. Until this year he was a regular participant at the Mycenaean Seminar in London. He married the archaeologist Elizabeth Wace in 1959 (they had two daughters), and the conservator Pamela Pratt in 1977 (they had one son): all survive him.