Discovering More Women in Archaeology

The Self-Starting Archaeologist crates are out of our office and have been arriving in mailboxes all over the U.S. and in Canada. We are so excited for little ones to meet the inspiring Bertha Parker Pallan and, perhaps, uncover a love for archaeology. Studying Bertha, I began to think about and wonder about all of the other female archaeologists that we may not have heard of in school or on the History Channel. So, I turned to TrowelBlazers, the best site I've found to learn about kick butt women in archaeology. Let's meet some some of those ladies now, shall we?

Dorothy Liddell: Dorothy was another self-taught archaeologist. She had no formal training in archaeology because she wasn't allowed to receive formal training. Say what?! And yet, this didn't stop Dorothy. In 1928, she went to work for the Devon Archaeological Society as a field researcher. Through her work with the society, Dorothy discovered pottery in Avebury that belonged to prehistoric British dwellers. The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then in 1930, a 17 year-old by the name of Mary Nicol joined Dorothy at the site she was excavating in Hembury, Devon. Mary worked with Dorothy for 5 years and she credited Dorothy with helping her in becoming an archaeologist and inspiring her as a woman. Dorothy also played a small role in introducing Mary to her husband, Louis Leakey. That's right. Dorothy mentored Mary Leakey, one of the most celebrated female archaeologists in the world. 

Photo via researchgate.net

Photo via researchgate.net

Dorothy Garrod: In 1939, Dorothy became the University of Cambridge's first female professor! And she'd probably have been an incredibly engaging professor given that she'd led excavations in Bulgaria, Palestine, Kurdistan, and more as an expert in Paleolithic archaeology. She also knew her stuff given that she had not one, but THREE honorary doctorates from prestigious institutions. 

Yusra: As a Palestinian woman, Yusra was ahead of her time. She not only had dreams of attending university at Cambridge, but also discovered a female Neanderthal skull in a cave on Mt. Carmel in 1932! While she didn't make it to Cambridge, Yusra did work on Dorothy Garrod's Palestine excavation as the excavation forewoman. She even went on to work on a dig at et-Tabun where she found a tooth that came from a crushed skull, which became one of the greatest human fossils to be uncovered. Despite all of this, researchers can't even give attribute a surname to Yusra. 

Photo via http://www.xingz.cn/f/280076

Photo via http://www.xingz.cn/f/280076

Zheng Zhenxiang: Zheng was the first female archaeologist in China. An expert in the Shang Dynasty, Zheng was convinced that she was on the trail of a Shang royal tomb. Her colleagues didn't support her hypothesis, but Zheng just knew that there was a tomb to be found in spot where she thought it would be and she wouldn't be stopped. So, she took matters into her own hands and she hired locals to help her. They dug and dug until finally a soil sample was found to have damp red lacquer and a jade pendant. They worked fast to uncover the tomb as it was filling with ground water. What did they find? They found a tomb belonging to Lady Fu Hao, one ofKing Wu Ding’s wives, no big deal. And this is why we trust our instincts! 

So there you have it, just a small number of females who have made incredible archaeological discoveries and yet, are relatively unknown. Want more? Be sure to check out the TrowelBlazers' website...it's chock full of biographies and little known facts about female archaeologists. You'll dig it! 

Or if your little one wants to know more about archaeology, be sure to check out these books (and we threw in one for you, too!): (The links listed below are affiliate links.)

Biographical information found at: TrowelBlazers