Amateur Researchers, so often denounced by professionals, have frequently succeeded where experts failed. However, it is unfortunate that so many amateurs, when given a modicum of publicity, have assumed that their new status gives them a right to adopt the other side of the coin of arrogance. It must always be kept in mind that should an amateur manage to undermine some particular established belief, it does not automatically mean that their replacement theory is correct. There is always the possibility that both the old AND the new ideas are wrong.
- The most frequently quoted example of successful amateur persistence is the case of Heinrich Schliemann who discovered what was accepted as Troy, at the time believed by the establishment to be mythical. In fact, the site he uncovered at Hissarlik appeared to be too small to match the city described by Homer. Nevertheless, recent excavations have discovered evidence, adjacent to the original site of a much larger urban complex, reviving interest in Schliemann’s original identification of the locality as Troy.
- In 1839 an American diplomat, John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, an English artist, joined forces and eventually rediscovered many of the great Mayan cities of Central America. They are considered to have laid the groundwork for American archaeology.
- In the early 19th century it was Georg Friedrich Grotefend, a German schoolmaster, who made the first breakthrough in the decipherment of the ancient Persian cuneiform script.
- Peter Dobson from Connecticut & theory of glacial movement.
- More recently, Nicholas Clapp, an amateur archaeologist, using satellite photography, discovered the remains of the ancient city of Ubar, referred to by Lawrence of Arabia as the ‘Atlantis of the sands’
- At a more local level, there was the case of John Pull, a self-taught amateur archaeologist who discovered an important Neolithic settlement in Blackpatch, Sussex in the 1920’s and was vilified by the class-conscious establishment who could not accept that a person from a modest working-class background had any right to to involve themselves in such matters. It should be noted that in other disciplines, amateurs(a)(b) have been equally active and successful over the centuries exemplified by people such as Thomas Edison (inventor), Robert Evans (astronomy), Michael Faraday (electromagnetics), Henrietta Swan Leavitt (astronomy) and Gregor Mendel (genetics).
- (a) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/orchid/amateurs.html(b) http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/jupiter-struck-by-comet/story-e6freo8c-1225752873675