Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Land of Marvels

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Land of Marvels

A Novel

By Barry Unsworth

Land of Marvels
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2009,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2010,
    304 pages.

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Beyond the Book

A Short History of Archeology
The fictional John Somerville's interest in archeology was typical for his time. Most so-called archeologists of the period were, like him, self-taught because there were virtually no academic courses offered. Additionally, his desire to secure a rich benefactor to fund his excavations was standard operating procedure in the field; for example, the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1923 was made by archaeologist Howard Carter, but financed by the wealthy George Herbert, 5th Lord of Carnarvon.

Archeology as a science is a relatively recent discipline. Before the 19th Century what passed for archeology was little more than grave pillaging with the plundered artifacts removed far from their point of origin to grace the curio cabinets of well heeled private collectors. A relatively few artifacts ended up in museums.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "The development of scientific archaeology in 19th-century Europe from the ...

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