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Reading: Captain Nemo/Lt-General Pitt Rivers and Cleopatra’s Needle — A Story of Flagships

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Research Papers

Captain Nemo/Lt-General Pitt Rivers and Cleopatra’s Needle — A Story of Flagships

Author:

Christopher Evans

Cambridge University, GB
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Abstract

Recently re-reading Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea for our children I was struck by the marked similarities between the novel’s elusive protagonist, Captain Nemo, and the renowned later 19th century British archaeologist, Lt.-General Pitt Rivers. Could they have been the same person? How could something so seemingly blatant have gone unnoticed? These questions are, of course, only raised in a spirit of academic tongue-in-check. Yet, in an ethos of ‘learning through amusement’ (itself directly relevant to the themes of this study), exploring the parallels between these two ‘heroic’ individuals provides insights into the nature of 19th century science, Victorian edification and disciplinary institutionalisation (e.g. Levine 1986). This eclectic contribution will, moreover, be introduced with the third component of its headline title – Cleopatra’s Needle – as this provides an appropriately quasinautical parable on the project of 19th century archaeology and the problem of ‘deep time’ (Murray 1993).
How to Cite: Evans, C., (2005). Captain Nemo/Lt-General Pitt Rivers and Cleopatra’s Needle — A Story of Flagships. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology. 15(2), pp.37–44. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/bha.15204
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Published on 22 Nov 2005.
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