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In Pursuit of Ancient Pasts

In Pursuit of Ancient Pasts: A History of Classical Archaeology in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Stephen L. Dyson
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    In Pursuit of Ancient Pasts
    Book Description:

    The stories behind the acquisition of ancient antiquities are often as important as those that tell of their creation. This fascinating book provides a comprehensive account of the history and development of classical archaeology, explaining how and why artifacts have moved from foreign soil to collections around the world.As archaeologist Stephen Dyson shows, Greek and Roman archaeological study was closely intertwined with ideas about class and social structure; the rise of nationalism and later political ideologies such as fascism; and the physical and cultural development of most of the important art museums in Europe and the United States, whose prestige depended on their creation of collections of classical art. Accompanied by a discussion of the history of each of the major national traditions and their significant figures, this lively book shows how classical archaeology has influenced attitudes about areas as wide-ranging as tourism, nationalism, the role of the museum, and historicism in nineteenth- and twentieth-century art.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13497-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 The Protohistory of Classical Archaeology
    (pp. 1-19)

    European artists and intellectuals have engaged in continuous dialogue with the classical past since the Renaissance. In the seventeenth century that dialogue was enriched by the growth of a strong antiquarian tradition but also complicated by the cultural and political wars of religion that pitted Protestant against Catholic. The Continent was often unsafe for travel, and the international scholarly community that had flourished during the Renaissance was often riven by bitter religious and ideological divisions. By the eighteenth century peace had largely returned to Europe. New demands were placed on the classical past in part as a result of the...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Foundations of Classical Archaeology
    (pp. 20-64)

    For much of the period from 1796 to 1816 French armies, first of the revolution and then of the emperor, dominated Italy. They defeated the Austrians and the Bourbons and humiliated the popes. They also had a major cultural and archaeological impact. They hauled off some of the great papal treasures to France yet also undertook important archaeological work in both Rome and Pompeii. At one time they held one famous archaeological figure of the period, Lord Elgin, captive and forced another, William Hamilton, to flee from Naples to Sicily under the protection of Lord Nelson, who was more interested...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Opening of Greece
    (pp. 65-85)

    One of the most important changes in classical archaeology during the nineteenth century was the emergence of Greece at archaeological center stage. At the start of the century Greece represented a still little-known and rarely studied archaeological culture. By its end the country was the focus of much of the best archaeological research. What the advocacy of Winckelmann and Stuart and Revett had not been able to accomplish, a combination of political, cultural, and scholarly developments in Europe and America brought about.

    Heightened archaeological interest in Greece was reinforced by two often contradictory cultural movements within Europe, neoclassicism and romanticism....

  8. CHAPTER 4 Nationalism and National Traditions Before the Great War
    (pp. 86-132)

    The defeat of Napoleon III by the Prussians at the Battle of the Sedan in 1870 ended the reign of one of the most archaeologically enthusiastic rulers in European history. It also set off a succession of events that led to the creation of two new nations, the kingdom of Italy and the German Reich, and produced an intellectual and cultural crisis in France. Meanwhile, the United States had recently emerged from the bloodiest war in its history endowed with new vigor, and was slowly trying to find its place on the world scene. Throughout the West an expanding capitalist...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Emergence of the Great Museums in Europe and America
    (pp. 133-171)

    By the end of the eighteenth century many of the great classical art museums had come into existence, and the foundations of a museum tradition had been laid. Most of the major art museums traced their real or spiritual origins to the collecting impulses of the Renaissance; the oldest were the Capitoline and the Vatican Museums in Rome, the products of papal patronage. These had been followed by numerous royal and noble collections, one of the newest of which had been the museum of the king of Sweden in Stockholm. With the start of the nineteenth century new types of...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Political Ideology and Colonial Opportunism During the Interwar Period
    (pp. 172-213)

    The guns of August 1914 quickly destroyed the late-nineteenth-century international order on which the foundations of modern classical archaeology had been laid. Soon Britain, France, Italy, Austria, and Germany were locked in a death struggle. Violence spread from Europe to the eastern Mediterranean. As war engulfed the collapsing Ottoman Empire, archaeologists were called on to put their knowledge of Arab and Turkish lands at the service of different powers. Theodor Wiegand combined intelligence and archaeological activities as a liaison with the Ottoman army.ยน David Hogarth, archaeologist and former director of the British School at Athens and keeper at the Ashmolean...

  11. CHAPTER 7 After World War II: Capitalism, Corporatism, and Marxism
    (pp. 214-248)

    In May 1945 the war in Europe came to an end. Once more the continent had been ravaged, and the European powers bled dry. Germany, the country that between the wars had been the greatest center for classical archaeology, was not only devastated but discredited by the crimes of the Nazis. In Italy the regime that had used classical archaeology for self-promotion was defeated and disgraced. France had been occupied and demoralized, only restored to freedom by Anglo-American forces. For England, the war had been a Pyrrhic victory. All but bankrupt, the country could play only a limited role in...

  12. Afterword
    (pp. 249-254)

    The UNESCO excavations at Carthage make a good place to end this study, for they capture many elements of the changing world of classical archaeology as the discipline moved into the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The fact that the Carthage dig was a rescue excavation is signifi cant, for it is rescue and salvage work that has come to dominate archaeology in both northwestern Europe and the Mediterranean. The countries of Europe and the classical Mediterranean are undergoing massive, rapid development both in urban and rural areas. Although all the countries have laws protecting sites and antiquities and...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 255-278)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 279-304)
  15. Index
    (pp. 305-316)