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Elephant Pipes and Israelite Tablets: the controversy between the United States Bureau of Ethnography and the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences

Author:

Donald McVicker

North Central College/Field Museum, US
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Abstract

The Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences, founded in 1867, is a classic example of the small urban-based associations that characterized the democratic spread of knowledge throughout the United States in the post-Civil War era. Among their missions was to promote the gospel of scientific truth among the citizens of America. Members facilitated research, sponsored lectures and introduced responsible data collection. They sought to turn relic hunters and ‘arrow head’ collectors into serious archaeologists (C. E. Putnam 1885: 35–36) who would ‘share their wealth’. In the words of W. H. Pratt, one of the four founders: ‘Personal proprietorship is rather antagonistic to a liberal public spirit and true interest in the increase and diffusion of knowledge’ (McDonald 1992: 4). Therefore, the establishment of a museum became one of their missions.
How to Cite: McVicker, D., (2007). Elephant Pipes and Israelite Tablets: the controversy between the United States Bureau of Ethnography and the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology. 17(1), pp.9–19. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/bha.17103
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Published on 10 May 2007.
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