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Notable Archeologists: Bateman & Brasseur de Bourbourg

Whether a true passion for archeology fueled their desire to dig for clues related to the past or their contributions have led the way in gaining a better understanding of an entire culture , archeologists help unlock the secrets of the ancient world and shed light on the unknown. In this article, you are introduced to Thomas Bateman and Charles-Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg.

Thomas Bateman

Not every archeologist was trained in the ways of digging and excavation. Sometimes, the knack for exploring the past is an inherited trait, as seen in the case of Thomas Bateman (~1821 , 1861), an English antiquary and barrow-digger. Born in Rowsley, Derbyshire, Bateman was the son of the amateur archeologist William Bateman.

After his father passed on in 1835, Bateman went to live with his grandfather, tending to the family estate from the age of 16. This is when his interest in archeology grew with one of his greatest influences being Sir Richard Colt Hoare’s Ancient History of North and South Wiltshire.

One of the first experiences in archeology that Bateman enjoyed was observing the demolition of a church in Bakewell that dated back to medieval times. He then joined the British Archeological Association in 1843, and while attended an archeological congress in Canterbury (in 1844), he took part in the excavation of 38 barrows in Derbyshire and Staffordshire. As a result, he was given the nickname of “The Barrow Knight.” In 1847, he published “Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire” , a book that combined his present work with that of previous excavations.

Bateman had a passion for exploring barrows and covered 50 between 1848 and 1849. Between 1851 and 1861 (the year that he died), he tackled another 22. When his second book titled, ” Ten Years’ Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave Hills in the Counties of Derby, Stafford and York” was published in the same year that he passed on.

After his death, Bateman’s son sold the majority of his collections. At the time, the Sheffield City Museum (now known as the Weston Park Museum) became the proud owner of Bateman’s possessions in 1893. Included amongst the belongings was the Benty Grange helmet, which was uncovered in 1848 at the Benty Grange farm in Derbyshire, England. The remains of the iron helmet display the image of a bronze boar on the crest. It is significant because the helmet falls in line with the descriptions of helmets worn by warriors in the publications, ‘Beowulf.’

Charles-Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg

Charles Bourbourg (1814 , 1874) earned a reputation as a notable French writer, historian, and archeologist. His specialty was in Mesoamerican studies , knowledge that he earned while traveling throughout the region. Without his writings, documents, and publications , all of the understanding associated with the region of the Mayans and Aztecs would not have been complete. Researchers have learned a great deal about the language, writing, history, and culture of the land. He also speculated that there was a relationship between the ancient Mayans and the lost continent of Atlantis.