Visions of Antiquity: The Society of Antiquaries of London, 1707-2007

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Susan M. Pearce, Society of Antiquaries of London
Society of Antiquaries of London, 2007 - History - 451 pages
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This fascinating portrait of the Society of Antiquaries of London, founded in 1707, assesses the impact that individual Fellows and the Society as a whole have had in influencing the way we visualise and understand the past. There are, for example, essays on the Society's pioneering role in recording monuments and antiquities for posterity, in establishing the scientific and empirical basis of archaeological studies, in replacing Biblically based timeframes with a clearer understanding of deep time measured in millions of years, in drawing up the first legislation protecting ancient monuments, and in funding and publishing the great excavations of the last one hundred years, from Stonehenge, Maiden Castle, Richborough and Sutton Hoo to Aksum (Ethiopia) and Mons Porphyrites (Egypt). All the papers represent fresh and original scholarship and they tell us much about the Society's achievements (and some of the accompanying conflicts between personalities and ideas) over three hundred years. They are based on diaries, letters, minute books and confidential government papers and on portraits that chart the changing image of the antiquary from a figure of fun to heroic seeker of forgotten people and civilizations. Visions of Antiquity reveals astonishing echoes across time - from the repeated and continuing attempts to record all ancient buildings and monuments to the continuity of the title 'antiquary' to describe scholars who build bridges between different branches of knowledge based on the study of material remains of the past and of a Fellowship whose numbers have included prime ministers, bishops, peers and parliamentarians, as well as radicals and free thinkers, such as William Morris and many of the founders of modern conservation.

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Introduction by Susan Pearce l
The Early Society and its Context 170751
Chapter Four The Incorporated Society and its Public Role by Rosemary Sweet

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About the author (2007)

Susan Pearce has published a number of books on the nature of material culture and the collecting process, including On Collecting: an investigation into collecting in the European tradition (1995) and Collecting in Contemporary Practice (1998). She has edited Charles Tatham's letters from Italy, 1794-6 (with Frank Salmon), and is now working on C R Cockerell's from Greece. She is Emerita Professor of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester and a Senior Research Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford. She was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1979 and served as a Vice-President of the Society from 2002 to 2004.

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