By R. B. Halbertsma
This day, the nationwide Museum of Antiquities in Leiden is the world over identified for its awesome archaeological collections. but its origins lie in a trifling collection of artefacts used for research by way of Leiden collage. How did this variation come about?Ruurd Halbertsma has delved into the documents to teach that the appointment of Caspar Reuvens as Professor of Archaeology in 1818 was once the an important turning aspect. He tells the dramatic tale of Reuvens' fight to set up the museum, with battles opposed to rival students, pink tape and the Dutch perspective of overlook in the direction of archaeological monuments. This e-book throws new gentle at the means of making a nationwide museum, and the problems of convincing society of the price of the prior.
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Extra info for Scholars, Travellers and Trade: The Pioneer Years of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, 1818-1840
If it is pleasant for you to stand eye to eye with Roman generals, laurelled emperors and young caesars as commanders of the youth, then it will now be possible to see a number of them with your own eyes. If you ﬁnd pleasure in seeing queens and empresses, then the female portraits and representations, carved with utmost skill, will leave you astonished. If you prefer men of learning, you will not ﬁnd them absent. Or do you prefer to look at the hollow gods and demigods of the pagans, and treat them with a smile?
But if a people of antiquity, known to us either by its own writings or by those of Greeks and Romans, still exists today, and exists in nearly the same form as in the past, should it then be counted among the contemporary or the ancient civilizations? 5 These considerations were put to the test in 1820 when Reuvens asked the Department of Education, Arts and Sciences to remove twelve ancient Javanese statues from the Royal Cabinet of Curiosities in The Hague. P. van de Kasteele, strongly opposed Reuvens’ view in a letter to the Ministry of Education, in which he pointed out that the statues in question belonged to a still existing people and that they, therefore, belonged in his cabinet, and not among the antiquities in Leiden.
Generally speaking, according to Reuvens, a division could be made in the study of ancient cultures: on the one hand the written sources (opus ingenii, ‘work of the mind’), on the other the artefacts, the tangible remains of antiquity (opus manuum, ‘work of the hands’). Ancient written sources had quite a few problems: most of the literature had been lost, many texts were incomplete and the remainder had suffered from inaccurate transcriptions by medieval monks. The antiquities, less eloquent than Greek or Latin texts, had the advantage that they had not been corrupted by mice or monks, so they could give additional information to the ancient texts.