Dorothea Bate – Paleontologist and… Pirate?


As a member or the Natural History Museum in London, I receive a magazine about the activities of the museum from time to time. I kept an issue of the autumn of 2006 and re-read an article about Dorothea Bate, an early twentieth century Paleontologist whose memory the museum tries to resuscitate.

The article is signed by Karolyn Shindler and it focuses on the excavating activity of Dorothea Bate in Crete in 1904, when the paleontologist was 25. That year the Cretan government passed some laws about excavations to mitigate the ransacking of, among other treasures, Minoan treasures in Knossos by Western archaeologists.

Whether Dorothea Bate was aware of the local legislation or not, she was a determined girl, using dynamite to blast her way through rock in her search of fossils of a Pleistocene marvel, the dwarf hippo.

She was summoned by the British consul and villagers and the local police reported to the authorities. She managed to obtain however permission to dig and only to take material away from Crete in the form of some duplicates.

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