The Davenport Conspiracy Revisited Cover

The Davenport Conspiracy Revisited

Marshall McKusick

Iowa State University Press, 1991,193 pp, notes, references, index, €34.10, ISBN 0-8138-0344-6. Counter page views.

About the Book

The Davenport Conspiracy Revisited continues where The Davenport Conspiracy left off in setting the record straight on a notorious nineteenth century archaeological fraud. In meticulous detail, Marshall McKusick, former state archaeologist of Iowa, traces the circumstances of the discovery of "ancient" artifacts in Daveport, Iowa. In exposing this fraud, McKusick also takes a look at the competitive world of nineteenth-century archaeology, which was rife with such scandals.

First published in 1970, The Davenport Conspiracy has been highly acclaimed in professional journals and continues to be widely quoted and cited in publications:

His compilation points up the importance and utility of delving into the historic aspect of any field of science. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book twice; two colleagues have applauded it; and a third is waiting to read it. I recommend it to the layperson as well as the professional audience.

Robert W. Neuman
Louisiana State University

The "Davenport Conspiracy" was a notorious case of archaeological fraud in the late nineteenth century, a case that focussed worldwide attention on Davenport, Iowa, and the small society of amateur archaeologists that perpetrated the hoax. In meticulous detail, Marchall McKusick traces the circumstances surrounding the discovery of "ancienct" artifacts in Davenport, the spread of their fame throughout the world of archaeology and the scandal that threatened to erupt when questions were eventually raised about the authenticity of the relics.

The Davenport Conspiracy Revisited does not merely set the record straight on a single case of archaeological fraud, however. It offers insight into the highly competetive world of nineteenth-century archaeology, which was riddled with scandals such as the Davenport hoax. In addition, Marshall McKusick argues persuasively that the pas two decades have witnessed a resurgence of interest in specious archaeological "discoveries". He discusses books promoting exotic theories of ancient populations from Europe or the Middle East to North America, theories founded on "evidence" that is speculative and often demonstrably false. Such notions find currency in a culture increasingly fascinated with science fiction and fantasy but McKusick warns readers that they do not represent the serious science of archaeology.

About the Author

Marshall McKusick is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa. He received a B.A. and an M.A. in history from the Universityof Minnesota and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Yale. He was state archaeologist for Iowa from 1960 to 1975. With grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he developed a series of films on Iowa prehistory and historic forts. He also has written several books and monographs.


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