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December 13, 2010

How the art of plundering evolved into the science of archaeology

Posted at 10:21 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

In its early days, archaeology was far less the science that it is today, and far more an exercise in obtaining artefacts for personal gain, whether to be sold or to boost the reputation of the finder. Over the years, things have evolved greatly – the looting of ancient sites is now looked down on by most people, although museums often hang onto artefacts acquired during this earlier era, despite the fact that they would never be able to condone similar actions by archaeologists today.

Hi-Desert Star

Early archeology an adventure in plunder
By Rebecca Unger
Published: Saturday, November 20, 2010 2:26 AM CST

YUCCA VALLEY — “Archeological Discoveries” were on the menu for the Hi-Desert Nature Museum’s November Brown Bag Lunch lecture. Museum Supervisor Lynne Richardson introduced an assortment of characters, from the “antiquarians” of the 19th century to 1920’s Indiana Jones prototype Roy Chapman Andrews.

Many well-to-do Europeans were traveling and collecting treasures in the early 19th century with no scientific organization, Richardson said. One of them, former circus performer and inventor Giovanni Belzoni, traveled to Cairo in 1815, where he was convinced that there was money in exporting antiquities to Britain. In his first expedition, he undertook to move a giant royal statue from the Temple of Luxor for the British Museum — making him popular in Britain but not in his host country.
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