If you are not familiar with
the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences, it rivaled, and even
excelled, the Smithsonian collection at the turn of the 20th century.
It was one of the many amateur Academies set up to study our world
and its history. Of course, my main area of interest is the
work they did on the Archaeology of the America's.
In the forefront were questions of the origins of the Mound
Builders and whether primitive man inhabited America before, or
during, the last Ice Age. Remember that this was before the
discoveries of chipped stone artifacts, undeniably made by
humans, in direct context with Ice Age mammals during the
first quarter of the twentieth century. Many amateurs of the
19th Century shared
the belief that man was here at that time and a few were a little
too anxious to turn this theory into accepted
No matter what eventually transpired from the actions of a few
misguided members, the Academy saved many artifacts in their
collection and recorded
details of mound excavations that would have been lost forever.
Many of these mounds now have houses, roads or factories over them. We
them a debt of gratitude for this.
So, if you get a chance, please come to Davenport's Putnam Museum
(the direct descendent of the Davenport Academy)
and see what the fuss was all about, and then take a look at the
many wonderful artifacts that were preserved for posterity by these
archaeological pioneers. The Putnam Museum certainly deserves kudos for keeping
the Academy's collection intact.