20. Report of the Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum  (Department of Ethnology and Prehistory) for tbe year ending 31 July 1967

Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum and Head of the Department of Ethnology and Prehistory: B.E.B. Fagg, M.A., Fellow of Linacre College.
University Lecturers in Ethnology: Audrey J. Butt, M.A., D.Phil., Fellow of St. Hugh's College; K.O.L. Burridge, M.A., Ph.D. (A.N.U.), Fellow of St. Cross College.
University Lecturers in Prehistoric Archaeology: D. Britton, M.A., Fellow of St. Cross College; D.A. Roe, M.A., Merton College.
Honorary Assistant Curator: Miss B.M. Blackwood, B.Sc., M.A., Somerville College.
Secretary and Librarian: H.P.G. Unsworth; Assistant Secretary-Librarian: Miss E. Torr; Personal Secretary: Mrs. P.M. Bowler.
Technical and General: K.H. Walters (Principal Technician), R.P. Rivers (Senior Technician), V.P. Narracott (Senior Technician-Photographer), L.H. Taylor, Mrs. M. Fowler.

The Museum

Preliminary plans and scale models of the proposed new Pitt Rivers Museum and associated academic departments were completed by the architects, Professor Pier Luigi Nervi and Messrs. Powell and Moya, and presented to the University early in 1967. Outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the Banbury Road/Bradmore Road site to accommodate this building complex was granted by the Oxford City Council on 16 April. The site was subsequently purchased from St. John's College by the University.

The plans were seen and discussed by members of the museum profession at two meetings: the joint conference of the American Association of Museums and the Canadian Museums Association at Toronto on 31 May and the Annual Conference of the Museums Association at Glasgow on 29 June.

The preliminary analysis of the ethnographic collections on which the arrangement of the new ethnological gallery will be based was completed with funds provided by the Advanced Studies Fund. A grant of $3,000 for further studies of both the ethnographic and archaeological collections was approved by the Board of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

The display technician, Mr. R. W. Sword, who had laid out the first exhibition in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery, resigned his post after receiving a curatorial appointment in another museum. The last display to be mounted by him before his departure in November 1966 was the permanent exhibition of General Pitt Rivers's gun collection illustrating in detail the evolution of firearms. Historically this is perhaps the most interesting single collection in the museum since the General's entire anthropological and archaeological career was stimulated by this early work, begun when as a Captain in the Grenadiers he had worked out the principles of a technological evolution while supervising the development of a new rifle for the British Army, the Minié Enfield, which was adopted during the Crimean war.

The new combined departmental lecture room, demonstration room, and seminar room built by the University Surveyor's department inside the old corrugated iron shed (which since 1915 had contained a major part of the Museum's reserve collections) was ready for use by the beginning of Michaelmas Term, and proved a most successful, economical, and satisfactory conversion. The other half of the shed has been equipped to contain a new photographic studio and dark-room complex, display studio, chemical laboratory, research room and specimen stores, which are now being put to good use. The fitting out of this part of the building, however, has been carried out only to austerity standards since it is liable to partial demolition within a few years to make way for the extension of the Science Area boiler room next door.
The shed had originally been built in 1907 south-west of the Pitt Rivers Museum for the newly created Department of Engineering Science.

It is a pleasure again to record appreciation of the indispensable work done by Miss Beatrice Blackwood on the museum collections, their documentation and display, and on the maintenance of the Regional, Subject, and Donors' indexes. Miss Denise Gross continued her valuable help in the documentation department until she left for field work in South Africa, where she made more of her excellent rubbings of petroglyphs, of which she had presented a portfolio to the museum.

Mr. Jeremy Montagu began a period of research on the museum's fine collection of conches and horns from all over the world, preparatory to writing a monograph for the Pitt Rivers series of Occasional Papers on this subject.

Teaching, Research, and External Activities
Mr. Fagg: Lecture courses on: West African Material Culture, Preservation and Documentation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Material. Research on the early Iron Age in Nigeria with special reference to the Nok Culture site of Taruga, near Abuja. Member of Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Member, Advisory Committee for the Horniman Museum. External Ph.D. examiner, Cambridge University. Attended joint meeting of the American Association of Museums and the Canadian Museums Association, Toronto, May-June 1967, and meeting of the Museums Association, Glasgow, July 1967.

Dr. Butt: Lecture courses and classes on: Ecological Systems of Selected Peoples of America and Africa (two terms), Material Culture and Technology (three terms), Practical Aids to Field Research. Research into the prophet cults of the Guyanas. Lecture delivered to a joint meeting of the British Ecological Society and the Society for the Study of Human Biology entitled 'Land Use and Social Organization of Tropical Forest Peoples of the Guianas', in a Symposium 'Human Ecology in the Tropics' at the Linnean Society. Member of the Council of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Geographical Society Exploration and Research  Member of the Joint Brazil Expedition Committee (Anthropology and Geography Planning Group) of the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society. Hon. Secretary of the Committee for Middle and South American Research of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Member, Committee of the Society for Latin American studies. External Ph. D. examiner, Cambridge University.

Dr. Burridge: Lecture courses on: Ecological Systems of Asia and Oceania (two terms), Perspectives in the History of Ethnological Theory, Ethnological Models. Diploma Secretary for Ethnology. External activities: visiting lecturer at the University of Sussex. Summer School Course at the University of British Columbia. External Ph D. examiner, Cambridge, London and Australian National Universities.

Mr. Britton: Lecture courses on: The First Village Communities in the Old World, Material Culture of the Neolithic, The Later Neolithic in Europe, Archaeology and the Natural Sciences, Prehistoric Europe: 2000-1500 B.C., Prehistoric Archaeology: theory and practice. Diploma Secretary for Prehistoric Archaeology. Studies of recent finds of Bronze Age metal work from Penzance, Cornwall, and Horridge, Devon Secretary, Neolithic and Bronze Age Research Committee, Council for British Archaeology.

Mr. Roe: Lecture courses and classes on: The Old Stone Age and Middle Stone Age (three terms), Material Culture of the Old Stone Age and the Middle Stone Age (three terms). Research into the British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic with special reference to the handaxe industries. Secretary, Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Research Committee of the Council for British Archaeology. Member, Council of the Prehistoric Society. External Tripos Assessor, Cambridge University.

Mr. Baden-Powell: Research into the geological age of fossil man and early stone implements, and into the climatic changes during and since the last Ice Age with special reference to Africa and other tropical areas. He has also collaborated with officers of the Geological Survey in field-work in the north of England, and in East Anglia.

Miss Blackwood: Research work on the collections in the museum. Member of Council, Folk-Lore Society. Member, Middle and South American Research Committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Member, General Committee of the Field Studies Council.

Baden-Powell, D. F. W. 'On the marine mollusca of the NarValley Clay and their relation to the Palaeolithic Sequence.' Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society, 21, 1967, pp. 32-42.

Blackwood, Beatrice. 'Museum News.' Folklore, 77, Winter 1966, pp. 311-18.

Burridge, K. O. L. 'Levi-Strauss and myth.' In: The Structural Study of Myth and Totemism (E. R. Leach, ed.). Tavistock Publications, 1967.

Butt, A. J. Wavell (ed.), Butt, and Epton. Trances. Allen Unwin, 1966.

Butt, A. J. 'Land use and social organization of tropical forest peoples of the Guianas.' Synopsis published in Journal of the British Ecological Society.

Butt, A. J. 'The birth of a religion.' Reprinted (from the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute: 90 (1), 1960, pp. 60-106) in Cods and Rituals: Readings in Religious Beliefs and Practices, ed. J. Middleton. American Museum Source Books in Anthropology.

Butt, A. J. Review of Manning Nash, Primitive and Peasant Economic Systems, in Current Anthropo1ogy, 8, No. 3, June 1967.
Butt, A. J. Review of Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind. Nature, 1967, 213, p.14.

Fagg, B. E. B. Review of Iron Age Cultures in Zambia (Kalomo and Kangila), Vol . I, by Brian M. Fagan, London, Chatto and Windus 1967. Nature, 1967. 214, p. 1167.

Among the acquisitions recorded during the year, the following gifts and transfers are gratefully acknowledged: Mr. Ruy Cinatti, recording of traditional Portuguese music from the province of Alentejo. Sir Wilfred Le Gros Clark, six drawings by Mandoh, a Sea Dayak of hunting and dancing scenes. Very Reverend Dr. James Hutchinson Cockburn, cosmetic bottle of Northern Nigerian origin. Miss G.M. Coltart, Chinese bottle-shaped gourd flask with wooden stopper. The late F. de F. Daniel ethnographic collection from Nigeria. Mr. G. H. Emerson, set of 25 Tibetan masks. Professor E.E. Evans-Pritchard, two flint axe-blades of the middle Neolithic period from Jutland, Denmark. Curator, Museum of the History of Science, smithing equipment made and used in Lagos, Bight of Benin, prior to 1861. Mr. James Holroyd 3 species of hallucinogenic mushrooms collected in Mexico. Mrs. Pamela Knight, working model of a spinning-jenny made of bone by French prisoners of war between 1805 and 1815. The late H. F. Mathews, ethnographic collection from Nigeria. Lady O'Malley, model of totem pole. Mr. S.R. Mayers, collection of ethnographic specimens from the Nicobar and Andaman Islands, collected before 1928. Mr. C.R. Stonor, collection of ethnographic specimens from the Hagen area of the Central Highlands of New Guinea. Dr. Eric Thompson, gourd and spatula for lime from Huanuco, N. Central Andes, Peru. Mr. S.L. Tuita, mat from Samoa and girdle from Tonga Island. Miss S. White, Radstone, near Brackley, Northants, Egyptian pottery water bottle. Mr. W.H. Wolstenholme, clubs and dancing staff from the Melanesia and Polynesia. The most notable specimen acquired during the year was the bronze head in the style attributed to Udo, a town about 24 miles west of Benin City. One of not more than twenty examples of what is now regarded as the only provincial sub-style of the Court art of the Kingdom of Benin. It is tentatively dated to between A.D. 1600 and 1800. It is thought to have been used like the uhumwelao heads of the Benin Court style (and these have been made throughout the last 41/2 centuries) on low earthen altars dedicated to the cult of the King's ancestors. It was purchased by the University with generous financial support from the National Art Collections Fund, the Victoria and Albert Museum Grant Fund, the United Africa Company, Christ Church, St. John's College, and Mr. R.S. Jenkinson.



Pitt Rivers Museum Department of Ethnology and Prehistory

IN 1965 a new gallery was built in the Museum's main court at the foot of the stairs from the University Museum, and was opened to the public on 27 November I965. The space lost to permanent displays on the ground floor has been recovered by a corresponding extension of the gallery above. The first of the temporary exhibitions to be held in this new gallery is entitled:


The Pitt Rivers collection of West African Art covering approximately half of the sculpture-producing area of Africa (from Senegal to the Cameroons mountains) is best represented by specimens from Nigeria, with important collections also from Ghana and Sierra Leone.  For historical reasons the French-speaking countries are less well covered, though these are being augmented as opportunity occurs. The area to the South West, mainly within the catchment area of the Congo River, will be the subject of a later exhibition. This exhibition has been enriched by the loan of 24 Benin bronze plaques from the British Museum, the Jebba bronze, a bronze head from Ife and terra cotta heads from Nok kindly lent by the Government of Nigeria and by traditional rulers, and other Nigerian works lent by the generosity of private individuals. An illustrated catalogue is available from the attendant, price five shillings.

THE PITT RIVERS COLLECTIONS form an integral part of the University Department of Ethnology and Prehistory, the present and past of the same subject. They are not in the main arranged by areas, but by subjects, to illustrate the origin, development, geographical distribution, and variation of the principal arts and industries from the earliest times until the coming of mass production, or to explain technical processes in them.

THE COLLECTION was founded by General Pitt Rivers in 1851 at Bethnal Green, and began with a study of the history and development of firearms, which he afterwards extended to cover many other subjects. It next moved to South Kensington, and was given by the General to the University of Oxford in 1883, with the provision that a separate annex to the University Museum be erected to hold the collection and subsequent additions, and not used for any other purpose, and that a person be appointed to lecture on the subjects of the Museum (the first lecturer being E.B. Tylor, afterwards Professor, who was succeeded as Curator by Henry Balfour and later T.K. Penniman). The Museum has always been a teaching and research department of the University.

THE MUSEUM has since acquired ethnological and archaeological specimens from earlier collections made by the University since the foundation of the Ashmolean Museum in 1683, and by donation, purchase, and exchange. It now houses well over three-quarters of a million specimens from all over the world, and these, with photographs, negatives and lantern slides, make the whole collection number over a million objects. Large collections used in teaching and research are stored in three external buildings.

THE COURT displays firearms and armour including the Founder's evolutionary series of hand firearms, fire-making and lighting appliances, writing materials, methods of weaving, lace-making, clothing, basketry, containers other than pottery, illustrations of the influence of material on design, work in ivory, bone and horn, a comparison of various styles of art, musical instruments, means of navigation, magical and religious objects, the treatment of the dead and of enemies, and various special arts and industries.

THE LOWER GALLERY exhibits pottery, personal ornaments, currency, fishing techniques, modern non-European metallurgy, agricultural implements and tools of various crafts, including some complete sets of tools, food preparation, surgery, toys and games.

IN THE UPPER GALLERY, mainly devoted to Archaeology, the desk and rail cases show Stone Age Techniques and Stone Age Industries, ancient and modern, as well as natural fractures simulating human work. Each equipment of tools [sic], from Palaeolithic Europe to modern New Guinea, is shown in comparison with others of its own period in other areas. This series will be continued by one of ancient techniques in Copper, Bronze, and Iron. The Wall Cases show hunting and fighting weapons.

A  SOUTHERN WING holds a Library of about 18,000 volumes and as many pamphlets specially chosen to illustrate and explain the subjects of the Museum, with reading rooms, a recording, and a photographic studio. The Museum also has two small laboratories fitted for metallographic, metallurgical and other analyses, and a well-equipped workshop and conservation laboratory. There is a regional card index of the objects in the Museum, and also a subject index.

THE MUSEUM publishes Occasional Papers on Technology (books dealing with principal subjects of the Museum), details overleaf

I. The Manufacture of a Flint Arrow-Head by Quartzite Hammer-stone by SIR FRANCIS H.S. KNOWLES, BART., B.Sc., M.A. (out of print)

2. The McDougall Collection of Indian Textiles from Guatemala and Mexoco by LAURA E. START, M.ED.     21s.    

3. The Technology of a Modern Stone Age People in New Guinea, by BEATRICE BLACKWOOD, B.Sc, M.A., F.S.A. 15s.

4. Notes on the Prehistoric Metallurgy of Copper and Bronze in the Old World, by H. H. COGHLAN, A.M.I.MECH.E., F.S.A. 15s

5. Pictures of Ivory and Other Animal Teeth, Bone and Antler, with a brief commentary on their use in identification, by T.K. PENNIMAN, M.A., F.S.A. 10s

6. Stone Worker's Progress, a study of stone implements in the Pitt Rivers Museum, by SIR FRANCIS H.S. KNOWLES, BART., B.SC., M.A 15s

7. Hair Embroidery in Siberia and North America, by GEOFFREY TURNER M.A. 15s

8. Notes on Prehistoric and Early Iron in the Old World, by H. H. COGHLAN, A.M.I. MECH.E.., F.S.A.    25s

9. Bagpipes, by ANTHONY BAINES.       25s

Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum and Head of the Department of Ethnology and Prehistory: B.E.B. FAGG, M.A., F.S.A., Fellow of Linacre College
Lecturers in Ethnology: MISS A.J. BUTT, B.LITT., M.A., D.PHIL., Fellow of St. Hughes, K.O.L. BURRIDGE, M.A., PH.D. (A.N.U.), Fellow of St. Cross College.
Lecturer in Prehistory: D. BRITTON, M.A., Fellow of St. Cross College.
Lecturer in Prehistoric Archaeology: D.A. ROE, M.A., Merton College.
Hon. Assistant Curator: Miss B.M. BLACKWOOD, B.Sc., M.A., Somerville College.
Administrative Secretary of the Museum and Librarian: H.P.G. UNSWORTH.
Secretarial Staff: MISS E. TORR, MRS. P. M. BOWLER.
Attendants and Caretakers: L.H. TAYLOR, MRS. M.E. FOWLER

University Press, Oxford

virtual collections logo

Supported by the John Fell OUP Research Fund


(c) 2012 Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford