In rewriting … The Dawn of European Civilisation in 1956, I began to realise how right Hawkes had been in 1940 when in his The Prehistoric Foundations of Europe he had insisted that by the Bronze Age Europe had achieved a kind of culture distinctively its own. I saw not only that this was so but also why.
— V. Gordon Childe, Retrospect (1958b:74)
Gordon Childe is a suitable name to invoke in responding to the considerable honour of delivering the Inaugural Address at the first meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. For this is a historic occasion, and in founding such an association we are participating in the heritage left by the fathers of our discipline: such great names as C. J. Thomsen, J. J. A. Worsaae, Heinrich Schliemann, Oscar Montelius, Arthur Evans, the Abbé Breuil, and in our own day perhaps I might add the names of two such very different scholars as Sir Grahame Clark and the late Marija Gimbutas, whose absence we regret today. As Napoleon is reported to have said to his troops before the pyramids at Giza: ‘Soldats, songez que, du haut de ces pyramides, quarante siècles vous contemplent.’ Well, many more centuries of history and of prehistory look down upon us, as well as a century and a half of European archaeological scholarship. This is a notable heritage in two senses: the heritage of our European past, and the heritage of scholarship in the field of archaeology which has revealed and is revealing that past to us. But let us not forget that it is a heritage also in a more troublesome sense. For it is we as archaeologists who reconstruct (or some would say construct) that past. In this we cannot avoid doing so from the standpoint of the present, and we have the responsibility of interpreting that past for our contemporaries in the present.