Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
18th c. understanding?
#1
Hello again!

I'm going to have to "ask around" this question a bit, as I know the general sort of information I'm trying to root out, but don't yet know enough to know what I don't know or where to start looking to learn more. So I hope this isn't too confusing. Smile


Anyhow, I came into my interest in Roman stuff via reading about the American founding, and constantly seeing references in letters and handbills to Classical sources.

It's my understanding from reading so far that most of the written sources we have now were known then, but there was little or no archaeological verification for the sources. Is that correct?

Is there a good overview available for how the last two hundred years have changed our understanding and interpretation of the sources? What authors might have been taken at face value and later rejected, or vice versa?

If we were to sit down with a well educated gentleman of 1760 say - what would he be surprised to hear from scholars today, and what would he just take as common knowledge?


Thank you!
Reply
#2
Hello Jennifer!

You are right there is not much of the real ancient sources left as Europe's climate isn't very supportive in preserving on whatever the classic authors wrote onto, besides the inscription on gravestones columns and so on. Many manuscripts/books we have today survived within monasteries, or in the case of ancient greek authors were first translated into arabic and later into latin, cause it was the lingua franca of the church and the ruling class, later also used by the educated class.

In the case of interpretation. I had Latin for six years in high school/Gymnasium and as far as I can tell we translated it the same way, as the generations before us did it, cause the grammar is naturally the same as it was the last 2 millennia and we have to stay by its rules. The school-books may be more appealing for pupils today but the rest hasn't really changed the only thing that I imagine is different is the persons own style of translation.

Hope I could help you a bit! If i am wrong I am glad about every correction you or other members of this forum can give me.

Patrick D.
Patrick D.
Reply
#3
If I understand your question correctly, then what you're interested in is the history of antiquarianism, which is a subject I've been looking into over the past couple of years. Although there had been an interest in 'antiquarian matters' (as Livy puts it) as long as there has been a history and relics to take an interest in, it really only begins to develop as a 'scientific movement' in the 16th century (with Leland being the foremost English example), peaking in the 17th and 18th century (which saw men like William Stukely travel the country making sketches of ancient monuments and linking them to classical sources and fitting them into the known framework of history) before evolving in the 19th century into the various disciplines of archaeology, art history, philology etc.

Whilst the antiquarians of the early modern age did a great deal of good work in promoting, preserving and recording monuments that, until then had been plundered at will for their art and their raw building materials, they lacked the recording methods of the modern archaeologist which lead to us knowning very little of value about most of their discoveries.

Still, it's a fascinating subject and, if you want to know more, I recommend that you read Rosemary Sweet's "Antiquaries" to start with.
"Medicus" Matt Bunker

[size=150:1m4mc8o1]WURSTWASSER![/size]
Reply
#4
The thing I find amazing, is that after standing for millenia, Ancient remains have vanished in the last 200 years...the age of Science and scholarly research! :? You would think this would have ceased completely then.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
Reply
#5
Quote:The thing I find amazing, is that after standing for millenia, Ancient remains have vanished in the last 200 years...the age of Science and scholarly research! :? You would think this would have ceased completely then.
The industrial revolution didn't really help! :!:
posted by Duncan B Campbell
Reply
#6
Yes I know. But the majority of people who could afford to undertake scientific
work were the rich....

Sad really.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
Reply
#7
It's a very interesting area, and we covered some of it in one of my Archaeolgy topics last month. If it's helpful, here is the reading list on the topic.


Bahn, P. (ed.) 1996 The Cambridge Illustrated History of Archaeology. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


Daniel, G. 1967 The Origins and Growth of Archaeology. Harmondsworth, Penguin.


Daniel, G. 1975 150 Years of Archaeology. London, Duckworth.


Daniel, G. and Renfrew, C. 1988 The Idea of Prehistory. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.


Gosden, C. 1999. Anthropology and Archaeology. A Changing Relationship. London, Routledge. Chapter 2.


Gräslund, B. 1987. The Birth of Prehistoric Chronology. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


Greene, K. 2010 Archaeology. An Introduction. Abingdon, Routledge. Chapter 1.


Hart, J and Terrell, J.E. (eds.) 2002. Darwin and Archaeology: A Handbook of Key Concepts. Westport, Conn., Bergin and Garvey.


Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. 2008 Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. London, Thames and Hudson. Chapter 1.


Stiebing, W.H. 1994 Uncovering the Past: A History of Archaeology. Oxford, Oxford University Press.


Trigger, B.G. 2006 A History of Archaeological Thought. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Chapters 2 and 3.


Willey, G.R. and Sabloff, J.A. 1993. A History of American Archaeology. New York, WH Freeman.
[Image: wip2_r1_c1-1-1.jpg] [Image: Comitatuslogo3.jpg]


aka Paul B, moderator
http://www.romanarmy.net/auxilia.htm
Moderation in all things
Reply
#8
Jennifer, (my turn) I think you're asking how the culture of the interpreter has changed over the last three hundred years; that is, how Thomas Jefferson approached and understood Cicero vs. say a 21st Century feminist?

Over the last few decades the term 'dead white men' keeps showing up as an excuse to dismiss the knowledge of the past 2000 years. That is a very recent mindset as far as I can tell, and maybe it is an excuse not to even make an effort to understand ancient texts and their authors; although you can see many feminist books written recently about, for example, women's roles in Rome and Greece. Or such as Black Athena.

It is also where I'd like to expand our Roman impressions, getting beyond the armor and into an understanding of the entire Roman civilization, the better to appreciate where the ancient authors were coming from.
Richard Campbell
Legio XX - Alexandria, Virginia
RAT member #6?
Reply
#9
Quote:The thing I find amazing, is that after standing for millenia, Ancient remains have vanished in the last 200 years...the age of Science and scholarly research!
I think you'll find that remains began vanishing a bit earlier, say around the 16-17th century when building relly too off again. Especially in our quarters (NW Europe) worked stone was a precious commodity, and it was used accordingly. As Castellum Fectio was re-used in the builing of Utrecht, so was Hadrian's Wall re-used in cathedrals, fortifications, roads...
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#10
Yes indeed Robert, 200 years is a very conservative figure.
The Acropolis/Parthenon, the Colleseum, and as you state hadrians wall and many other Roman edifaces in Scotlandand elsewhere, but very much in the relme of the Scientific Renaissance, gone....
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
Reply
#11
I think their take on Roman remains was far more practical in those days. They had no clue about archaeology, only antiquity, and collecting remains only took off then. I think we should be glad that so much survived! But what use a ruin? I mean, for us it's different...

Jennifer, part of the answer would be how they viewed their sources. I mean, religion had a lot more influnce on opinion than it does today.
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#12
The classic 18th century scholar of the Roman Empire is Edward Gibbon. Therefore, a reinterpretation of his Decline and Fall in the light of modern scholarship might go some way towards answering your question. I cannot recommend any particular book but a search may throw up some possibilities. This might be a useful start:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HzkiT...&q&f=false
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
#13
Quote:Is there a good overview available for how the last two hundred years have changed our understanding and interpretation of the sources? What authors might have been taken at face value and later rejected, or vice versa?
I have never come across such a study. I hope someone else can come to your rescue!

Most of the replies have concentrated on (Roman) archaeology, to which I would add this book.
posted by Duncan B Campbell
Reply
#14
What a great idea for a topic!

Quote:If we were to sit down with a well educated gentleman of 1760 say - what would he be surprised to hear from scholars today, and what would he just take as common knowledge?

I would guess that he would be interested by several different aspects of modern scholarship.

1. The use of archaeology, as so many have mentioned.
2. The use of other disciplines, such as statistics and mathematics in population studies, for example.
3. New technologies, like carbon-14 dating or satellite imagery.
4. Different “schools” of thought and different approaches to literary sources. For instance, there is a hypercritical school that distrusts anything written down.
5. Scholarship brought to bear upon literary sources themselves. Gibbon might have been surprised to learn that much of the Historia Augusta, that he uses so trustingly, has been shown to be fabricated.
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
Reply
#15
Quote:Is there a good overview available for how the last two hundred years have changed our understanding and interpretation of the sources? What authors might have been taken at face value and later rejected, or vice versa?
I don't know if tghere's a study available, but with regard to my own dabblings in early medieval studies regarding 5th-6th c. Britain I can tell you this: up until the early 1970s it was accepted to take every source quite literally. Of course differences in interpretation existed throughout the field, especially between historians and archaeologists, but it was common to see books published by the latter in which historical sources was used verbatim. Authors like Leslie Alcock or John Morris (their books are still widely read) used Gildas or 'Nennius' like eyewitness accounts, and Classical sources were even better. Especially the source-criticism regarding early medieval authors changed sharply from the early 1970s onwards, with historians like David Dumville taking a sharp minimalist stance, although the pendulum has swung a bit the other way in the last decade.

Critical sudies are therefore (in my opinion) relatively new. If anything, the rise of the spread of information through the internet causes a swing back to dilettantism, in which sources are taken at face value again. :-(
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Understanding lost-wax casting Eleatic Guest 6 1,309 05-08-2012, 10:15 AM
Last Post: huojin

Forum Jump: