It is with sadness that we announce that Prof. PhDr. Evžen Neustupný, CSc. (born October 31, 1933) died in Prague on January 14, 2021. Neustupný, whose archaeological expertise were known worldwide, was for decades one of the greatest personalities of Czech archaeology as well as a respected member of the European archaeological community. His main fields of research, which gave him wide recognition, were prehistoric archaeology and archaeological theory. His scientific contribution resulted not only from his deep experience and sophisticated methods of work but also from his intuition in recognizing the key topics of current (and future) archaeological research. Many phenomena and relationships which he identified were further developed in his research, as well as in the works of many other researchers whom he inspired.
Evžen Neustupný contributed to the new understanding of the Central European Eneolithic and elaborated its chronology, economics, social structure, and symbolic systems (especially in works on the Globular Amphorae and the Corded Ware cultures). Since the 1960s, he independently formulated some of the principles of the processual paradigm and participated in the development of the radiocarbon dating method, especially by developing the issue of data calibration (cf. joint article with V. Bucha in Nature in 1967) and its application to the chronology of European prehistory. His contribution was well emphasized by Sir Colin Renfrew when he summed up his laureate at the Neuron Award in 2014: “Neustupný was a great innovator in the early days of radiocarbon dating.”
Still highly inspiring, albeit lesser-known internationally, is Neustupný's work on the origins of patriarchy (1967), in which he emphasized the importance of the ploughing and fallowing system of agriculture and their impact on deeper economic and social changes during the Eneolithic. Although Neustupný spent the 1970s and 1980s in isolation due to the communist regime, he was able to remarkably develop his processual way of thinking. Papers he published in those decades concern, for example, the application of quantitative multivariate methods, probabilistic sampling, paradigms of archaeology, the deductive cognitive model, migrations in prehistory, demography, and many others. He also profoundly influenced Czech archaeology with his “settlement (community) area” theory, building on the assumption of an inherent structure of the prehistoric settlement remains. The theory and the related terminology have been widely applied in Czech landscape archaeology, as well as field survey methodology and information systems. In the 1990s, Neustupný summarized the main features of his concept of archaeology in two books published in English, Archaeological method (1993) and Space in prehistoric Bohemia (1998).
With the end of communism in 1989, and the following political changes in Central and Eastern Europe, a new chapter began in Neustupný’s life, that he may not have even anticipated. In the spring of 1990, he became the first post-revolutionary director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences in Prague. This was the first and last time in the history of the Institute that its director was elected by its staff researchers, who thus confirmed Neustupný’s outstanding position in Czech archaeology. As director of the Institute, and acting on behalf of the then Czechoslovakia, Evžen Neustupný participated in the establishment of the Malta Convention (Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage of Europe) in La Valletta in 1992. He was also involved in the formation of the European Association of Archaeologists (Ljubljana 1994).
His other significant contribution to the discipline was that through his efforts, a network of regional institutes of archaeological heritage management was established. As a direct result, the first non-governmental archaeological units began their active role in the field of rescue archaeology in Czechia.
Following his departure as the director of the Institute of Archaeology, Neustupný founded the Department of Archaeology at the West Bohemian University in Pilsen in 1998. Already in retirement age, he finally found himself in a leading pedagogical position in which (under democratic conditions) he should have been at least thirty years earlier. During the seven years he worked as the head of the Pilsen department, he was able to educate a large group of students and pass on to them his modern view of archaeology.
Neustupný's contribution to archaeology has been also reflected in many Czech and international awards he received. Among these are the Europa Prize, the Annual Prehistoric Society Award for 1999, and the Neuron Foundation Award for Contribution to World Science in 2014. The works of Evžen Neustupný certainly became a standing part of Czech and world archaeology. In this sense, their author lives with us and will continue to live on.
by Martin Kuna (email@example.com) and Jan Turek (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bucha, V. – Neustupný, E. 1967: Changes of the Earth‘s magnetic field and radiocarbon dating. Nature 215, 261–263.
Neustupný, E. 1967: K počátkům patriarchátu ve střední Evropě – The beginnings of patriarchy in Central Europe. Praha: Academia (Rozpravy Československé akademie věd 77-2).
Neustupný, E.1993: Archaeological Method. Cambridge: University Press.
Neustupný, E. (ed.) 1998: Space in Prehistoric Bohemia. Praha: Institute of Archaeology CAS.
Some personal reflections from Kristian Kristiansen
I just learned of the death on 14th January of an old friend of the EAA, and an old friend of mine: Evžen Neustupný. At 87 he had lived a full life, made major contributions to European prehistory, the organisation of archaeology both in the Czech Republic and at the European level. He was
thus in the founding group of the European Journal of Archaeology, and later continued in the founding group of the EAA. In that capacity he hosted one of our meetings in Prague in 1992, where we started work on the statutes, and part of the work took place in an estate outside Prague, from
where I took several photographs of the group. We published some of these photos in the preface to a Festschrift, but here you can enjoy them again. I had the honour of editing a Festschrift for him, together with Ladislav Smedja and Jan Turek on the occasion of Evžen’s 80 years birthday. He received it after a session to his honour at the EAA meeting in Pilzen in 2013. The significance of that location bears testimony to Evžen’s stamina and engagement in all aspects of archaeology: here he
founded a new institute of archaeology in 1998 after he went into official retirement. He crowned this achievement by hosting the EAA annual meeting in the same year as he turned 80, while still active at the PhD seminars.
I had the privilege to serve as visiting professor during three years leading up to the conference and can testify to many lively discussions with Evžen, Ladislav and their students. A fuller picture of Evžen's personality and lifelong contribution is found in the obituaries by Martin Kuna and Jan Turek, above, and in Jan Turek’s online obituary: 'Goodbye Professor. Uncompromising Evžen Neustupný.’ He may have been uncompromising in his archaeological principles, but his attitude to life was one of black humour, always presented in a soft spoken way. This combination of black humour and uncompromising academic principles carried him through the darker time after 1968 that brought an end to the Prague spring, and made him ready for another flourishing after the fall of communism. He has left a strong legacy in the Czech Republic and across Europe. Long live his memory!
by Kristian Kristianseng (email@example.com), EAA President 1994-1998