Dissecting Pharoahs: Elliot Smith in Egypt in the 1900s

Grafton Elliot Smith (1873-1937) is a great forgotten Australian – a world authority on brain anatomy and human evolution, and a controversial amateur anthropologist/archaeologist, whose theory of cultural diffusion caused a great stir. He was in Egypt as professor of anatomy when teams of famous archaeologists (including the Hearst expedition. George Reisner, even Flinders Petrie) were excavating the Valley of the Kings. From 1900 to 1909 he dissected thousands of mummies, especially “dessicated brains” found in Egyptian skulls, work never done before (too gruesome!)People he worked with included the psychologist/anthropologist W. H. R. Rivers and the discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb Howard Carter. Have you been watching the TV miniseries Tutankhamun? seems reasonably accurate (minus the romantic bits).

For more on all this read my book Grafton Elliot Smith, Egyptology and the Diffusion of Culture (Sussex, 2012).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s