The Kentucky Mummy: Encountering Antiquity in 19th Century America

Start: Nov 09, 2017 06:00 PM
End: Nov 09, 2017 07:00 PM

Location: Room 209, UCL Institute of Archaeology

“Cave-in-Rock,” The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley (John Egan/Montroville Dickeson), @ 1850. Courtesy St. Louis Museum of Art

James E. Snead (California State University, Northcliffe) will give a seminar organised by the Institute's History of Archaeology Research Network at the Institute on 9 November.


The 1815 discovery of the “Kentucky Mummy,” was the first iconic find of American archaeology.   Discovered deep in a cavern, this desiccated burial became the subject of scholarly competition, traveling exhibitions, and even poetry.  Over the next sixty years the Kentucky Mummy was periodically “rediscovered” by new generations of archaeologists, with their own distinct perspectives on the nature of the past that she represented. The story of the Kentucky Mummy leads through rural museums, mound excavations, touring “panoramas,” civil war battlefields, and ultimately into the famous attic of the Smithsonian Institution.  Derived from letters, maps, paintings, novels, memoranda, and reports, the tale describes a critical encounter that shaped the American relationship with the material past in ways that are only now being understood.

All welcome!

Any enquiries about the event may be directed to Amara Thornton.