Lyell, Sir Charles

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Scottish geologist largely responsible for the general acceptance of the view that all features of the Earth's surface are produced by physical, chemical, and biological processes over long periods of geological time (uniformitarianism). Lyell's achievements laid the foundations for evolutionary biology as well as for an understanding of the Earth's development. His work had a bearing on the development of archaeology at two points. His "Principles of Geology" (1830-1833) established the view that the earth had been in existence for very much longer than the 6000 years allowed by the biblical chronology and laid open the way for the later acceptance of the antiquity of man. In 1859 publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species" gave new impetus to Lyell's work. Lyell's "The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man" (1863) tentatively accepted evolution by natural selection.