pioneering archaeologist and former director of UC Berkeley's
anthropology museum, dies at 70
Patricia McBroom, Media Relations
- James F. Deetz, a professor of anthropology at the University
of California, Berkeley, from 1978 to 1994 who helped build
the field of historic archaeology, died Saturday in Charlottesville,
Va. He was 70.
for his original interpretations of Pilgrim life in Plymouth,
Mass., Deetz was director of the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum
of Anthropology at UC Berkeley from 1979 to 1988. Known then
as the Lowie Museum, the anthropology museum provided a foundation
for Deetz to carry out his innovative explorations of early
American life, which also included excavations in the mining
town of Somersville in Contra Costa County.
was early American life at Plymouth that captured Deetz's
real passion. Through imaginative reconstructions of social
life based on such small things as tableware, Deetz was able
to revolutionize images of the Puritans from dark, sober,
religious settlers to lusty Elizabethans who wore colorful
clothing, drank heavily and often got into trouble.
interviewed frequently at Thanksgiving because of his discoveries
concerning the food probably consumed at the first Thanksgiving
feast - goose and perhaps eel, but not turkey.
a leader in re-envisioning the Colonial period," said UC Berkeley
archaeologist Kent Lightfoot who, as a young assistant professor
in the 1980s, knew Deetz as a humorous, articulate exponent
of historical archaeology and a popular professor with a huge
following among students.
deeply about students, and he went out of his way to help
me," said Lightfoot. "He was a great colleague and a great
awarded the campus's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1982.
His classic texts, "Invitation to Archaeology" (Doubleday,
1967) and "In Small Things Forgotten: The Archaeology of Early
American Life" (Doubleday, 1977), are still read.
before his death from pneumonia, Deetz published his last
book, "The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth
Colony,"(W.H. Freeman, 2000) co-authored with his wife, Patricia
Scott Deetz, a cultural historian.
Cumberland, Md., in 1930, Deetz was educated at Harvard University,
receiving his PhD in anthropology in 1960. His doctoral research
was on the Arikara, a group of the northern Plains. This work
blossomed later into an interest in cultural interaction between
Native Americans and early European settlers and came to full
bloom at Plimoth Plantation, a living museum reconstruction
of the early settlement. The museum, where Deetz was assistant
director from 1967-1978, is near Plymouth.
a professor of anthropology at UC Santa Barbara from 1961-67
and also at Brown University. After retirement from UC Berkeley
in 1994, he became the Harrison Professor of Historical Archaeology
at the University of Virginia.
to his wife, Deetz is survived by six sons, James C. of Berkeley;
Joseph of Mendon, Mass.; Eric of Williamsburg, Va.; Geoffrey
of Oakland, Calif.; Joshua of Taipei, Taiwan; and Hartman
of Mashpee, Mass., and by four daughters, Antonia Deetz Rock
and Kelley Deetz-Mallios of Williamsburg; and Kristen and
Cynthia Deetz of Albany, Calif. He is also survived by a sister,
Barbara Deetz of Charlottesville, Va., and 16 grandchildren.
His former wife, Eleanore Kelley Deetz, resides in Albany,
services, to be held Saturday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. in St. Bede's
Catholic Church in Williamsburg, Va., are open to the public.
Memorial donations may be sent to the James F. Deetz Fund
at Plimoth Plantation, P.O. Box 1620, Plymouth, Mass., 02362.