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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 12:05 GMT
Archaeologist receives top honour
Prof Colin A Renfrew
Prof Colin A Renfrew pioneered radiocarbon dating
A retired Cambridge archaeologist has been given a top award for his work.

The pioneer of radiocarbon dating which estimates the ages of settlements, Prof Colin A Renfrew, received the Balzan Prize for prehistoric archaeology.

One of science's top accolades has gone to an academic who studied ancient civilisation on Greek Islands, the Orkneys and the Eurasian steppes.

He found that the ages of artefacts and ancient settlements could be measured by examining the remains of burnt wood.

Prof Renfrew was honoured as Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn and was until October head of archaeology as well as director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the university.

Honours most committed

"Renfrew is one of the very few who have demanded that prehistoric archaeologists do not simply contemplate their own navels," said Professor Hermann Parzinger, President of the German Archaeological Institute, Berlin.

"His theoretical work encouraged the archaeological legacy of man to be viewed in the widest possible context."

The International Balzan Foundation was established in 1956 and its prize is one of the most renowned in the world of science honouring the most committed scientists.

Each winner receives 1m Swiss francs half of which must be devoted to research projects involving young researchers in the winner's field.

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