University of Cambridge > > Wolfson Research Event 2016 > Places and Practices in Victorian Egyptology: ‘Armchair Archaeology’ at Tell el-Yahudiyeh, 1870-1880

Places and Practices in Victorian Egyptology: ‘Armchair Archaeology’ at Tell el-Yahudiyeh, 1870-1880

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  • UserMeira Gold – PhD Student, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Wolfson College
  • ClockFriday 04 March 2016, 14:45-14:55
  • HouseLee Hall, Wolfson College.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Francisco Orozco.

In recent years, there has been increasing attention paid to the institutionalization of European Egyptology at the end of the 19th century and the shift from antiquarianism to an independent, unified, professional discipline. However, the traditional narrative that the field developed linearly—quickly progressing towards the inevitable implementation of a number of scientific techniques—is misleading. My paper will muddy up this narrative by discussing some unconventional ways Egyptological knowledge was produced and disseminated during this period, and how these ideas received credibility. I will focus on early British fieldwork at the now-overlooked Egyptian site of Tell-el Yahudiyeh. Once of immense interest to 19th century scholars because of its biblical associations, knowledge of Tell el-Yahudiyeh was initially circulated amongst Victorian audiences through a network of ‘armchair archaeologists’ (museum practitioners and professors) in London and ‘fieldworkers’ (explorers and antiquities collectors) in Egypt between 1870 and 1880. While the phenomena of late 19th century “armchair” scholarship has been discussed in the context of other expeditionary sciences, such as anthropology and geography, it is not normally associated with archaeological excavations. Examining these antiquarian practices at Tell el-Yahudiyeh will highlight some of the lesser-known methods Egyptologists deployed in attempting to make authoritative claims about ancient Egypt.

This talk is part of the Wolfson Research Event 2016 series.

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