Penn Library

CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas


For 18th and 19th century Europeans, most American native cultures seemed to belong to a distant past. But the traces of those cultures, their "antiquities," fascinated some audiences. Searching for "antiquities" became fashionable, although the results of searches could take on vastly different forms in print.
Del Rio
Del Rio's Mayan discoveries provoked a surge of archaeological interest in the Maya, while León y Gama's account of excavation in Mexico City carried political overtones.
León y Gama
In the 19th century, the labors of European antiquarians led to the recovery of manuscripts by Landa and other early missionaries. The most prominent of the antiquarians were Alexander Humboldt, who produced lavishly illustrated folios, and Lord Kingsborough, who invested years in amassing and publishing Mexican codices.
In North America, antiquarian scholars also excavated sites and speculated on the histories of Indian tribes, often relying more on imagination than on data. Rafinesque created a mythology for the Delaware or Lenni Lenape Indians, the Walam Olum, which has fascinated readers since its "discovery."
Walam Olum

Colonial Fictions, Colonial Histories

Exhibition Contents | Introduction | Essays | Bibliography & Links

Last update: Monday, 05-Oct-2015 00:01:10 EDT
Send mail concerning this page to: