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Title: Transitions : the history and philosophy of County Archaeological Society museums in mid-nineteenth-century England
Author: Chung, Y. S. S.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2002
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As a link between academia and the public, museums are institutions that produce and exhibit knowledge. The significance of this knowledge lies in that it forms what is regarded as collective knowledge. Museums have always created this significance through the three functions of preservation, research, and communication of objects. It is of particular interest in this dissertation to see the process in which museums began to emerge as agents in creating collective knowledge. Like museums, prehistoric archaeology as a distinct scientific field of investigation comes to the foreground in England during the mid-nineteenth century. The connection between both the growth of museums and prehistoric archaeology during this period provides an appropriate example of the production and sustenance of collective knowledge. Public museums, as opposed to private collections, already existed since the seventeenth century (e.g., Ashmolean Museum). Learned society museums were established in the late eighteenth century, but the new phenomenon of what was called the county archaeological society museum happened during the mid-nineteenth century. The transition towards congealing into a county archaeological society museum is demonstrated in the art of collecting archaeological objects in order to complete the history of the individual counties. Another transition is visible when archaeological society members try to overcome antiquarianism (particularly, in its dependence on textual data), through the functioning of Temporary Museums, network research, excavations, and two-dimensional sources, such as photographs. The application of relative chronology and the Three-Age System were two more signs that showed the crystallisation process of county archaeological society museums into a more scientific setting during the mid-nineteenth century. The process in which county archaeological society museums formed as public institutions and how they communicated collective knowledge of prehistoric archaeological objects are not matter-of-fact. Various factors such as political, cultural, and scientific are intertwined in these processes. This dissertation explores this network and aims to make a contribution to the history and philosophy of museums and archaeology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available