The bright shining light of archaeological method and conscience
July 26, 2019 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Pioneering Scottish archaeologist Alexander Henry Rhind was born on this day in 1833. Often overlooked due to his early death aged 29, Rhind is best known due to the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, the most extensive mathematical document preserved from ancient Egypt. He was also the first to systematically excavate a broch, a type of Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure unique to northern Scotland, publishing a detailed plan and the finds from Kettleburn. Suffering from tuberculosis, Rhind travelled to Egypt and his Thebes, Its Tombs and Their Tenants became the first publication of a systematically excavated and recorded ancient Egyptian tomb.

Rhind was passionate about making archaeology accessible to all, and he even lobbied Crystal Palace Exhibition to add a replica “Picts’ house” (broch) to their displays so that the British public could learn about their prehistory. Although his efforts went unrewarded, today the Caithness Broch Project has taken up the mantle and are planning to build a replica broch.
Rhind left a substantial legacy to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland to fund further excavations in the north of Scotland and for an annual public lecture series on archaeology which continues to this day.
posted by adrianhon (2 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
It's amazing how much of humankind's recent and ancient history has been forgotten. When someone who was as evidently noteworthy as this is forgotten, in a field that's all about the past..... it's ironic, yet illustrative, of our inability to keep ahold of the past.
posted by mightshould at 6:00 PM on July 26, 2019

So cool, thank you for posting this! I'd never heard of him.

That link about broches is fascinating. Double-walled cylindrical building, with stairs within the void between the inner and outer walls, and
The inner wall also contained ‘voids’ running to the top, allowing smoke from the hearth (and possibly the heat generated from animals kept within the broch) to circulate through the galleries and keep the broch cosy.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:04 PM on July 26, 2019

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