Antiquarianism and Museums

Before taking this course, I did not have much of an awareness or knowledge of archeology or how archeology surrounds all of us so much throughout our lives. However, learning about antiquarianism in the online video lecture sparked my interest and made me realize that archeology plays such a big role in not only the past, but also the present. Archeology is present through museums around the world, which gain an enormous amount of tourist attraction. Antiquarianism is the “interest in (and collection of) ancient objects of art or science, archeological, and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts.” Antiquarianism speaks to the interest of the past and collection. When I first read the definition of antiquarianism, I immediately thought of museums and how tourists go to museums and other archeological sites around the world because of their interest in historical artifacts and learning about the past. Cabinets of Curiosity were explained as containing curious objects (driven by the interest of the collector), which evolved into rooms of curiosities, which eventually evolved into modern day museums. In the evolution of modern day museums, we learned that this was a shift from individual collections of artifacts and antiquities to national level collections meant to be put on display and to celebrate the objects, which was a great source of pride.

After learning this information in class, I realize that people learn so much culture and history from visiting museums filled with a vast array of artifacts from the past. Museums and globally recognized archeological sites inspire people around the world to travel to learn the history and culture of the past. Although this is not a traditional museum with a building filled with objects from the past, when I visited the coliseum in Rome a couple years ago, at the time it felt like it was just another tourist attraction I was visiting, but now, since being enrolled in this class, I am amazed by how much archeology and history surrounded me at the time. The coliseum was an amphitheater in Rome where people congregated for gladiator fights and animal fights. The coliseum is not only the physical remains of an intricate physical structure, but it also gives a look into the lifestyle of the ancient times and what people did for entertainment long ago. This goes along with the idea we learned in the beginning of the semester that archeology is not only about artifacts, but also about context, and its relation to people, society, and culture. In addition, I also visited the Catacombs in Rome and went down a ladder underground where I saw rectangles in the ground built up in the walls of the dirt. The sizes of the tombs made it very clear if a small child or an adult would have been buried there. As opposed to the Egyptian tombs we have learned about in class and how they are very elaborate, the Catacombs in Rome were very simple and not elaborate, which gave an indication of their lifestyle.

All in all, when I visited these two sites so full of history and culture, I didn’t automatically think of how much they were teaching us about the past because I was not knowledgable on archeology. I just saw them as well-known tourist attractions that everyone visits if they get the chance. However, since learning about antiquarianism in this class and the interest that people have in the past, I see how archeology really educates people on human activity of the past through physical remains, curious objects, and museums throughout the world. As I travel more and visit more museums and archeological sites, I will be more aware and grateful of how archeology lets us learn so much about past society through physical objects, remains, and material culture and how archeology inspires people to travel and visit tourist attractions to learn about history and culture.