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Archival collections contain photographs, documents, papers, and records of enduring value that were created or collected by the Museum, its individual affiliates, or other related entities.
Once you have compiled a list of material you would like to consult in the reading room, please contact Peabody Museum Archives at pmresrch fas. Skip to main content. Browse Repositories Collections Digital Materials. Papers of Alexander Marshack,. Collection Overview. Collection Inventory. Overview The Alexander Marshack Papers include correspondence, notes and publications written by Alexander Marshack during his career of researching Paleolithic peoples.
Conditions Governing Access Unrestricted. Conditions Governing Use Unrestricted. Scope and Contents. The Marshack Collection consists of papers and photographs primarily 35 mm slides. The slides are processed and stored separately as Additional Description. In his 40s he became interested in early notational calendar systems after reading an article on the discovery of an ancient African bone fragment in Scientific American.
He spent much of the s studying incisions on Paleolithic plaques of bone, in pursuit of his theory that the notches represented early lunar calendar systems, demonstrating complex thought patterns in early humans.
Eventually, Marshack developed a method he called 'internal analysis' by which a microscope could be used to determine the order and structure of markings on Paleolithic objects. Using his background in photography, he also used infrared and ultraviolet techniques to analyze the materials and construction of cave paintings in France.
Marshack published over articles and numerous books during his career, most notably The Roots of Civilization: The Cognitive Beginnings of Man's First Art, Symbol, and Notation , which had a lasting impact on both the archaeological profession and the public.
His later work focused on the evolution of human thought and the neuropsychological content of early symbol systems. Although some critics disputed his structuralist theories and lack of formal training, his scientific approach to looking at artifacts and his portrayal of early humans as intellectually complex were notable contributions to our understanding of Paleolithic peoples.
Marshack died on December 20, at the age of Van Gelder, Leslie, and Kevin Sharpe. Arrangement This collection of papers includes correspondence, notes and publications written by Alexander Marshack during his career; broken down into seven series arranged by date or alphabetically by subject.
Series I. Correspondence: Alexander Marshack's original correspondence to and from friends, colleagues and the general public; includes discussions of research questions, academic controversies, lectures, and routine business.
There is also considerable "fan mail" regarding his articles and television appearances. Series II: Notebooks, including initial drafts of book chapters. Series III: Research notes: a record of Marshack's thoughts and ideas for articles and books he authored about a variety of topics, including early calendar systems, the Americas, Mesolithic art, language, symbols, and mythology. Series IV: Publications and drafts: Marshack's existing drafts and proofs detail earlier versions of articles that appeared in popular magazines i.
Marshack also made several drafts of his book The Roots of Civilization. Series V: Oversized items: Transparent overlays of cave paintings and calendar systems used for Marshack's research on early notation systems.
Other notes include Marshack's lecture audiotapes and manuscripts and a copy of The Roots of Civilization. Series VI: Offprints with notes: A sampling includes Marshack's recorded notes within offprints on numerous topics related to his research, including astronomy, mythology, communication, Native American picture writing, Australian rock art, Olmec civilization, and anthropology.
Series VII: Computer data disks: Marshack retained electronic data of his letters and research notes stored on various computer disk formats. Physical Location Peabody Museum Archives. Immediate Source of Acquisition Marshack November Related Peabody Museum Collections Administrative Information.
Title Marshack, Alexander. Repository Details. Contact: 11 Divinity Ave. Search within Collection. From year To year. Ready to get to work? Digital Accessibility Send Feedback Help.
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Alexander Marshack April 4, — December 20, was an American independent scholar and Paleolithic archaeologist. He was born in The Bronx and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from City College of New York , and worked for many years for Life magazine. Movius , giving him access to state and university archaeological collections that he would not otherwise have been able to view. Using microscopic analysis, Marshack suggested that seemingly random or meaningless notches on bone were sometimes interpretable as structured series of numbers. Prior to Marshack's work, many Paleolithic archaeologists focused their work on art such as the cave drawings at Lascaux , but paid little attention to the abstract notches and marks on plaques and other artifacts found at these sites. Marshack's work has been criticized as having over-interpreted many artifacts, finding numerical and calendrical patterns where none exist. In a book was published in his honor with contributions from many in the field.
Papers of Alexander Marshack,
Archival collections contain photographs, documents, papers, and records of enduring value that were created or collected by the Museum, its individual affiliates, or other related entities. Once you have compiled a list of material you would like to consult in the reading room, please contact Peabody Museum Archives at pmresrch fas. Skip to main content. Browse Repositories Collections Digital Materials. Papers of Alexander Marshack,. Collection Overview.
Roots of Civilization
Alexander Marshack, a self-taught anthropological researcher who first interpreted certain Stone Age artifacts as primitive calendars, advancing the notion that prehistoric man was more inventive than previously thought, died on Dec. He was 86 and lived in Manhattan. In the 's, using novel scientific techniques, Mr. Marshack analyzed small incisions in plaques of bone, in southwest France, which dated from the Paleolithic Period, about 30, years ago, in the latter part of the last ice age. While most anthropologists and archaeologists interpreted the markings as decorative, Mr.