From the Excavation Pit to the Museum Shelf: Building James Breasted's Early Scientific Network


James Henry Breasted's first expedition to Egypt in 1894-95 as a newly minted Egyptology PhD was crucial to his career. Not only did the trip provide him with experience in the field, which he needed in order to be considered a true professional Egyptologist, but it also allowed him to build his dynamic scientific network. This paper focuses on two important nodes of his network: the Director of Antiquities and the Cairo Museum, Frenchman Gaston Maspero, and the British field archaeologist Flinders Petrie. This paper will examine the importance of place in building and maintaining scientific networks for the field scientist by using Breasted and his early network as a case study. Scientific relationships built primarily in urban areas or within scientific institutions, such as in museums in Cairo, tend to maintain an air of formality in them as well is in the types of work they do together. On the other hand, meeting in a space far removed from the urban setting, such as at an isolated excavation site, allows for the informality and familiarity that field sites and field knowledge often have. By examining Breasted's relationships with Maspero and Petrie, I will reveal the nuances behind these varying sites of knowledge creation and the effect that the urban institution or the rural field site can have on the development of scientific networks, their means of communication, and the scholarship that results from these relationships.

Meeting Name

21st Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, EAA Glasgow 2015 (2015: Sep. 2-5, Glasgow, Scotland)


History and Political Science

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2015 EAA Glasgow 2015, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2015

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