Sciences of Antiquity

Sciences of Antiquity : Romantic Antiquarianism, Natural History, and Knowledge Work

By (author) Noah Heringman

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In the course of the eighteenth century, discoveries ranging from Tahiti to Pompeii initiated a scientific turn in the study of the past. Seeking a formal language to display these new findings, Romantic-era plate books presented a wide array of objects as ancient relics. This proliferation of antiquities, a product of old affinities between natural history and antiquarianism, provided new material for the formation of archaeology, geology, anthropology, and other modern disciplines. Sciences of Antiquity traces the production of five scholarly plate books on subjects of major literary and scientific interest at the time: South Pacific voyaging, Mount Vesuvius, ancient Greek vases, monuments in English cathedrals, and the geology of southeast England. Focusing on illustrators, fieldworkers, and ghostwriters associated with this type of scholarly publication, Heringman explores how the expertise acquired by these largely self-educated intellectuals precipitated a major shift in the way research was done - from patronage to professionalism. Their scholarship and technical skills demanded recognition, sparking conflicts over the division of labour and the role of institutions such as the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. Ambitious, collaborative plate books, such as The Collection of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Antiquities (1776) and Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain (1799), forged a broader and deeper perception of antiquity as extending far beyond the Greco-Roman world.

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  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 725.74g
  • 19 May 2013
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford
  • English
  • 26 in-text illustrations and 8 pages of colour plates
  • 0199556911
  • 9780199556915

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Author Information

Noah Heringman is Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri. His previous books include Romantic Rocks, Aesthetic Geology (2004) and Romantic Science: The Literary Forms of Natural History (2003). He has published articles and chapters on Romantic poets, on the history of geology, and on Romanticism and the disciplines.

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Review quote

In his analysis of the querelle and throughout his discussion of the Society of Antiquaries, Heringman is acutely attentive to status ambiguity and inversion. Jonathan Sachs, European Romantic Review Heringman seeks to reclaim antiquarianism and its objects as precursors to and generative sources of modern knowledge production in its earliest iterations of professionalism. Erudite, comprehensive, and meticulously documented. H. Doss, Wilbur Wright College, City Colleges of Chicago, CHOICE

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