pioneering British


in Egyptian and East African prehistory. Caton-Thompson was born in London and In 1921 began to study archaeology there with Flinders Petrie at University College. From 1921 to 1926, she attended the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, where she continued to work with Petrie. From 1934 to 1951, she was a fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge. Caton-Thompson also did research on Malta (1921–1924) and in Yemen, her work established for the first time some of the prehistoric sequences in Egypt, and her thorough archaeological publications usually included excellent geological studies as well.

In Egypt, she excavated at Abydos (1921–1922) and at Qau and Badari (1923–1925). She also conducted archaeological and geological surveys in the Faiyum (1924–1928). From 1930 to 1933, she excavated at the Khargah oasis. In 1928–1929 she excavated at Zimbabwe, demonstrating that the culture was not as ancient as had been proposed. Her archaeological and geological work in the Ḥadhramaut (now in Yemen) was important: she excavated a pre-Islamic temple and tomb site at Ḥureidha (1937–1938).

Caton-Thompson received a number of awards and honors, including the Cuthbert Peek Award from the Royal Geographical Society In 1932, the Rivers Medal from the Royal Anthropological Institute In 1934, and the Burton Medal from the Royal Asiatic Society In 1954. In 1944 she became a fellow of the British Academy and In 1954 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University.

[See also Abydos; Faiyum; Ḥadhramaut; Ḥureidha; Malta; Yemen; and the biography of Petrie.]


  • Caton-Thompson, Gertrude, and Guy Brunton. The Badarian Civilisation and Predynastic Remains near Badari. London, 1928. Excellent final report dealing primarily with the predynastic villages and tombs at Badari, Qau, and Hemamieh.
  • Caton-Thompson, Gertrude. The Zimbabwe Culture: Ruins and Reactions. Oxford, 1931. Based on careful excavations and artifact parallels; correctly dates the Zimbabwe culture.
  • Caton-Thompson, Gertrude, and E. W. Gardner. The Desert Fayum. 2 vols. London, 1934. Major final reports combining geological and archaeological history.
  • Caton-Thompson, Gertrude, et al. Lake Moeris: Re-Investigations and Some Comments. Cairo, 1937. A small study of the Fayum that argued against a high Lake Moeris in the area.
  • Caton-Thompson, Gertrude. The Tombs and Moon Temple of Hureidha (Hadhramaut). Oxford, 1944. Important early archaeological excavation of a South Arabian temple and tomb site, together with early geological observations about the area.
  • Caton-Thompson, Gertrude. The Aterian Industry: Its Place and Significance in the Palaeolithic World. London, 1946. Small study assigning the Aterian to the Upper Paleolithic period.
  • Caton-Thompson, Gertrude. Kharga Oasis in Prehistory. London, 1952. Major final report describing the site's Paleolithic-Neolithic remains.
  • Caton-Thompson, Gertrude. The Zimbabwe Culture: Ruins and Reactions. 2d ed. London, 1971. Updated publication of her results, together with radiocarbon data supporting the later date for the Zimbabwe culture.

James A. Sauer