Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Book Review: Grafton Elliot Smith, Egyptology & the Diffusion of Culture

Gabrielle Bryden's blog

Paul Crook describes Sir Grafton Elliot Smith (1871-1937) as a ‘great forgotten Australian’. He was an Australian medical doctor who rose to the top of the British scientific establishment in the early decades of the twentieth century. He became ‘one of the world’s pioneering anatomists, an authority on human evolution, and a renowned, if controversial amateur archaeologist/ anthropologist’.

He was most famous for his controversial theory on cultural diffusion. This theory stemmed from his expert knowledge of evolution which was based on his ‘ground-breaking dissection of thousands of mummies in Egypt during the great excavations of the 1900’s. His speculations, made in association with thinkers such as W.H.R Rivers and W.J. Perry, bore fruit in a spate of publications that sparked global debate, arousing particular anger from American ethnologists opposed to ideas of foreign influence upon Mesoamerican cultures.’

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