Archaeologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
I love early archaeologists – Or I suppose I should say antiquarians. The greats of the early age – Heinrich Schliemann, Howard Carter, and Sir Arthur Evans for example. They used no proper scientific methods by any stretch of the imagination; And they probably did more damage to the sites they excavated than good. But their passion and their excitement over the past is what affects all us crazy archaeologists – and we are crazy – In a good way 🙂
These are a few artefacts in particular, which illustrate the lack of scientific method, or logical deduction used by these early archaeologists.
The Mask of Agamemnon, which was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae in 1876. This hammered gold mask was labeled as the burial mask of the legendary king of Mycenae, largely because Schliemann WANTED it to be Agamemnon’s. He had virtually no evidence whatsoever (and it’s authenticity to the site is even questioned).
The Queen’s Throne, which was found on the Island of Crete at the site of ancient Knossos. Was restored in 1930 by Sir Arthur Evans. That this is a Queen’s throne is skeptical; is it even a throne? Evans’ evidence for the reconstruction was tenuous at best.
Howard Carter literally ripped the wrapping from King Tutankhamun’s face in his excitement to remove his gold burial mask after discovering his tomb in 1922.
Though we find many cringe worthy elements about these men today. I find it hard to blame them for their faults. Looking back with hindsight – we know what they were doing wrong. However, like with any profession, there were some growing pains and lessons learned. Their methods may be outdated – and sometimes questionable, but their enthusiasm created those of us who follow in their footsteps.