August Mariette, not just another treasure hunter

In my post from last week I stated how sad it was that looters and antiquarians were carting off so much of the history and culture of ancient Egypt.  I believe that much of this history would be lost forever if it were not for August Mariette.  His passion for the history of Egypt developed before he had ever even been there.  After he arrived in Egypt and became a rouge excavator, I was thinking he was going to be like every other treasure hunter and wanted to find “the next big thing” so he could “get rich quick”.  But then I learned all the work he did was for the love of the artifacts and the history they held.  By pointing out that the Egyptians had a right to keep their cultures history within the country, he led the way for new laws to be put in place.  By helping create these new cultural heritage laws Egypt was able to keep their artifacts from leaving the country, made sure the credit went to Egypt and also ensured the Egyptian government would be able to conserve antiquities so others could not destroy them.  This guaranteed the Egyptian past was safe for Egyptians and also others in the world to learn about.  The Egyptian Service of Antiquities, which August Mariette also oversaw, contributed to Egypt managing its cultural heritage as well.

As I said last week, I think we know quite a bit about this ancient civilization compared to others which their history has been completely lost and that is mostly thanks to August Mariette.  He did so much for the country simply because he loved the history.  I am happy to see that his efforts have lasted as long as they have.  Because of them the museums have kept growing and expanding its collections, needing to move to bigger and greater museums.  Hopefully one day I will be able to see one of them.


1 thought on “August Mariette, not just another treasure hunter

  1. Because I am currently taking Archaeology Policies and Laws, I too am beginning to see the importance of laws that have been set in place to protect certain aspects of archaeology and material culture. Without people like August Mariette who became pioneers of cultural history laws and other archaeological legislation, the field of archaeology would be very different today. These policies have saved many things from developmental destruction, looting, and vandalism and have made it mandatory to follow certain procedures to ensure all excavations are documented properly and with ethical cause.

    If not for these cultural history laws many cultures would have lost artifacts and land that belonged to their culture. In the case of the Native Americans, before certain laws were put into place, those who called themselves “archaeologists” (some were just mediocre wannabee’s looking to make a buck or a name in archaeological history) disturbed hundreds of burial mounds without their consent and took away a large portion of their cultural environment.

    Issues of the destruction of physical and natural culture have occurred all over the world. Preserving the past in a proper way, and respecting those who rightfully own their cultural past can only be done through proper laws and policies in the archaeological field.

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