The Prehistoric Society

In memoriam: Professors John Davies Evans and Marek Zvelebil

In a single week, the Society has lost two distinguished Members: Professor John D Evans OBE (President, 1974–78) on 4 July, aged 86, and Professor Marek Zvelebil (Council member, 1996–99) on 7 July, aged 59. Both had made a major contribution to European prehistory and to the teaching of archaeology. The Society extends its condolences to the families and expresses its heartfelt thanks for their service to the Society.

John Evans specialised in Mediterranean – and particularly Maltese – prehistory and was the Director of the Institute of Archaeology in London from 1973 to 1989. He excavated several key megalithic sites in Malta during the 1940s and 1950s, and in 1952 was invited by the Royal University of Malta to prepare a catalogue of the National Museum collections in Valletta and to oversee archaeological fieldwork on the island. His connection with the island continued over several decades: in 1992 he advised Unesco on extending the inscription of Maltese temples. His many publications on Mediterranean archaeology include an influential article on 'Islands as laboratories for the study of cultural process' (1973). His work at the Institute of Archaeology – holding the Chair of Prehistoric Archaeology before serving as Director – included establishing the Field Archaeology Unit and overseeing the Institute's incorporation within University College London. His many distinctions include the fact that he was President not just of our Society, but also of the Society of Antiquaries of London (1984–87), and was the first President, in 1954, of the Archaeological Society of Malta. He was not only an eminent scholar but also a dedicated and widely respected teacher and communicator, who will be missed by all his students, as well as by colleagues across Europe.

Marek Zvelebil's life was very different. Born in Prague, he fled to the West in 1968 when the Soviet Union invaded, ending up undertaking his PhD on the Scandinavian Mesolithic under Graham Clarke in Cambridge and going on to lecture at Sheffield University from 1981. He specialised in the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Continental Europe, making game-changing contributions to the debate in publications such as Harvesting the Sea, Farming the Forest (1998) and, through his considerable linguistic skills, making otherwise difficult of access information available to an Anglophone audience. Having lived through political troubles (and, as he was amused to point out, having been drafted into the armies of three countries), Marek lived life to the full, and also gave much back to the country of his birth. A bon viveur, a brilliant scholar and a charismatic teacher, he generated a loyal following among his Sheffield students – so much so that a 'Marek Zvelebil Appreciation Society' exists. An unforgettable character, he leaves behind many happy memories and he will be sorely missed by prehistorians and friends around the world.

John Evans' funeral is to be held on 22 July 2011, at 11.30am, at Salisbury Crematorium, Barrington Road, Salisbury SP1 3JB, with refreshments afterwards at the Milford Hall Hotel, 206 Castle Street, Salisbury SP1 3TE. The family have indicated that they would love to meet as many of John's former friends and colleagues as are able to attend.

Marek Zvelebil's funeral service will take place in St Andrew's Church, Psalter Lane, Sheffield (S11 8YL) at 1.30pm on Friday 22nd July, and we will gather afterwards at Nonnas - an Italian cafe on Ecclesall Road (S11 8PR), and one of Marek's favourite places in Sheffield. Once again, all are welcome to attend.