Giant bones and the Taunton Stone: American antiquities, world history, and the Protestant International

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Two sets of strange mineral objects were discovered in British North America at the turn of the eighteenth century. The first was a collection of giant fossils, consisting of several teeth and bone fragments, unearthed in a field in Claverack, New York, which suggested the existence of an ancient, humanlike creature of gargantuan size. The second was a large boulder perched on a riverbank in Taunton, Massachusetts, with characters from an unknown language carved into one side. Reports of the giant bones and the Taunton stone circulated within greater New England before reaching London, from where they spread across Britain and Continental Europe. While the stony heft of the objects limited their mobility, words and images relating to these American curiosities traveled in various media – journals, books, and letters as well as by word of mouth – which enabled their circulation within local communities and across long distances.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEmpires of Knowledge
Subtitle of host publicationScientific Networks in the Early Modern World
EditorsPaula Findlen
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter8
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)978-0429461842
StatePublished - 2018

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