Mike Parker Pearson bigraphy, stories - Archaeologists

Mike Parker Pearson : biography

1957 -

Mike Parker Pearson (born 1957) is an English archaeologist specialising in the study of the Neolithic British Isles, Madagascar and the archaeology of death and burial. A lecturer at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, he has previously worked for 25 years as a professor at the University of Sheffield in England, and was the director of the Stonehenge Riverside Project. A prolific author, he has also written a variety of books on the subject.

Parker Pearson gained his BA in archaeology from Southampton University in 1979. Supervised by Ian Hodder, at university Parker Pearson was a contemporary of Sheena Crawford, Daniel Miller, Henrietta Moore, Christopher Tilley and Alice Welbourn; these students adopted Hodder's structuralist ideas, then a pioneering part of the post-processualist current within archaeological theory. He went on to gain his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1985, producing a thesis on burials and bog bodies in Iron Age Denmark.

A media personality, Parker Pearson has appeared several times in the Channel 4 show Time Team in particular in one looking at the excavation of Durrington Walls. He also appeared in the National Geographic Channel documentary Stonehenge Decoded, along with the PBS programme "NOVA: Secrets of Stonehenge".


Early life: 1957–1985

Parker Pearson was born in 1957. He would later inform interviewers that he first took an interest in the past when searching for fossils in his father's driveway gravel aged 4, extending that interest into the human past aged 6 when he read a library book entitled Fun with Archaeology.Yewtree and Parker Pearson 2010. Deciding to study the subject at the undergraduate level, he attended the University of Southampton, attaining a first class BA with honours in Archaeology in 1979.UCL 2012.

Parker Pearson became interested in Marxism, the socio-economic and political theory developed in the mid-19th century by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In the 1984 anthology Ideology, Power and Prehistory, edited by Daniel Miller and Christopher Tilley, Parker Pearson published a paper in which he examined the pre-state societies of Jutland from a Marxist perspective. At the start of this paper, he noted that it had repurcussions for Marxism in that its findings discerned "a certain blurring between capitalism and non-capitalism."Parker Pearson 1984. p. 69. He obtained his PhD from King's College, University of Cambridge in 1985, for a thesis which he had titled "Death, society and social change: the Iron Age of southern Jutland 200 BC - 600 AD" in which he discussed what was known about the bog bodies of Denmark; it would remain unpublished.Parker Pearson 1999. p. 234.

Early career: 1985–2003

From 1984 through to 1990, Parker Pearson worked as an Inspector of Monuments for English Heritage, and in 1989 he received membership to the Institute of Archaeologists. In 1990, he secured an academic teaching position at the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, where he would work for the next 21 years. In 1991 he was admitted as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and in 1996 then became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Stonehenge Riverside Project and UCL: 2003–present

From 2003 through to 2009, Parker Pearson directed the Stonehenge Riverside Project. The project garnered three major archaeological awards: the Andante Travels Archaeology Award (2008), the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries Award (2009), and the UK Archaeological Research Project of the Year (2010). His work in leading the project also led to Parker Pearson being personally awarded the UK Archaeologist of the Year award in 2010.

In 2012, Parker Pearson left the University of Sheffield and began teaching at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, as Professor of British Later Prehistory.

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