Canadian archaeologist, Egyptologist, authority on the aboriginal cultures of North America, and historian of the discipline. Born in Preston, Ontario, Trigger took his doctorate at Yale in 1964. After a year at Northwestern University he returned to Canada to take up a post in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University, Montreal, where he remained for the rest of this career, latterly as Professor of Anthropology. As a historian he wrote an important critical biography of the Australian Marxist archaeologist Gordon Childe and various books on the methods of prehistory, but is best known for his wide‐ranging A history of archaeological thought (1989, Cambridge: CUP), most recently revised in 2006. Here, as elsewhere in his work, he urges others to acknowledge the inherently subjective nature of archaeological interpretation and to recognize the need to study the sociopolitical contexts of archaeological practice. In Egyptology, Trigger's fieldwork was mainly in Nubia, notably at Arminna West. His works on northeastern Amerindian and colonial archaeology and ethnography were pioneering and made him the leading prehistorian of his generation. He gave the prestigious Context and Human Society Lectures at Boston University in 1997, publishing them as Sociocultural evolution: calculation and contingency (1998, Oxford: Blackwell). He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and won its Innis‐Gérin Medal in 1985. In 1991 he was awarded the Quebec government's Prix Léon‐Gérin. In 2001 he was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec and in 2005 an Officer of the Order of Canada.
The Times, 7 December 2006