A British traveller and archaeologist well known for her work in Egypt and Zimbabwe. She began studying archaeology in 1921 under the guidance of Sir Flinders Petrie at University College, London. Excavating with Petrie at Abydos, Egypt, she later went on to conduct her own excavations at the predynastic village of North Sapur, Hemmamiya. Turning her attention to Africa, she discovered a series of previously unrecorded Neolithic cultures living in the southern Saharan margins around Fayum Lake, work published as The desert Fayum (1934, London: Royal Anthropological Institute). In 1929 she began the first scientific investigation of the ruins at Great Zimbabwe, firmly establishing that they had been built by an indigenous African culture in the period ad 1270 to ad 1450. Together with Miss E. W. Gardner, Caton-Thompson excavated at the Saharan Kharga Oasis and went on with Freya Stark to excavate later prehistoric sites in southern Arabia just before WW2. This was the last of her fieldwork, although later publications include The tombs and moon temple of Hureidha (Hadhramaut) (1944, London: Society of Antiquaries) and Kharga Oasis in prehistory (1952, London: Athlone Press). She received an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University, and was an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge. She was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1939.
From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology in Oxford Reference.