Amelia Edwards in America – A Quiet Revolution in Archaeological Science

Bulletin of the History of Archaeology. 2017;27(1) DOI 10.5334/bha-598


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Bulletin of the History of Archaeology

ISSN: 1062-4740 (Print); 2047-6930 (Online)

Publisher: Ubiquity Press

LCC Subject Category: Auxiliary sciences of history: Archaeology

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, XML



Roberta Muñoz (Wilbour Library of Egyptology, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York, US)


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

This article examines the American tour of the Egyptologist, novelist and travel writer Amelia Edwards in 1889–1890. Edwards’s lecture tour was a critical and largely overlooked event in the evolution of modern archaeology. Edwards rejected the dominant male-centric culture of ‘heroic archaeology’ along with its trophies and myths. She told the story of Egypt with an emphasis on everyday life, including the lives of women. She did not present simplified or ‘dumbed-down’ versions of existing histories in order to make them suitable for women, as the male scholars of the time, who opposed her, charged. Nor did she sensationalize the past to dazzle or ‘hook’ her audience as previous adventurers and showmen had done. A gifted novelist, Edwards told a big story made of many small things. Despite fierce opposition, Edwards’ approach to Egyptology did more than just popularize the subject; it shaped the methodology of modern archaeology.