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David Kendall

15th January 1918 - 23rd October 2007

Appreciation by
Clive Orton

The mathematician David Kendall, who had much to do with the introduction of statistical methods into archaeology, died on 23 October 2007 at the age of 89. Kendall was a Yorkshireman who studied and later taught at Oxford. In 1962 he moved to Cambridge to become Professor of Mathematical Statistics and Director of the Statistical Laboratory.

David Kendall will be most remembered for his work in probability theory and mathematical statistics, but he also made important contributions in other disciplines, including archaeology. With Roy Hodson, he was an organiser of the seminal Anglo-Romanian Conference on Mathematics in the Archaeological and Historical Sciences, held in Mamaia in 1970 and published in the following year. He was responsible for bringing much-needed theory back to the ad hoc world of seriation, and for recognising Flinders Petrie as "ranked with the great applied mathematicians of the nineteenth century". His work showed that statistical theory and modelling could have a strong influence on archaeological theory and practice, and he inspired many who were to follow him in this venture. His work lives on wherever quantitative methods in archaeology rise above the level of simple number-crunching.

An obituary was published in The Times of London on 22 November 2007.