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Lister's London Beginnings: Virtuoso, Antiquarian, And Benefactor

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Chapter Summary

Lister was in the process of making a number of donations of Roman artifacts to the Ashmolean Museum, becoming one of its most significant benefactors. His generosity was not completely altruistic, as he hoped for an honorary medical degree from Oxford in exchange so he could practice in London. Lister as an antiquarian did have a genuine interest in Roman artifacts. He applied his skills in the detailed observation and taxonomic cataloging of specimens in natural history to his studies of antiquities, setting a new tone in what we could recognize today as archaeology. This chapter shows that his proposal for the first stratigraphic map was inspired by his interest in mineralogy and his knowledge of different clay types acquired when excavating archaeological findings. It also shows that Lister's histogram marked the conceptual beginnings of the plotting of data points with the goal of investigating significant patterns in natural phenomena.

Keywords: antiquarian; benefactor; histogram; honorary medical degree; London; Martin Lister; natural history; Roman artifacts; stratigraphic map; virtuoso



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