Oxford University’s Pitt Rivers Museum is a unique place where artifacts are arranged by their usages and how they evolved over time, something more common in the 1800s, and not by geography, which became more common with the rise of Franz Boas’s cultural and geographical ideas in the early 1900s. Below are some photos showing how the artifacts are grouped. Although museums normally mirror the philosophical changes of their societies, the Pitt-Rivers is a kind of fossilized museum, preserving the vision of Lt. General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers, one of the earliest scientific excavators in British archaeology.
“The Past! the dark, unfathom’d retrospect!
The teeming gulf! the sleepers and the shadows!
The past! the infinite greatness of the past!
For what is the present, after all, but a growth out of the past?”
Walt Whitman, Passage to India, 1900