Logan D. S. Henley '21, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Department 1



The Renaissance was named for the cultural rebirth it witnessed. It meant a decrease in the widespread artistic and scientific suppression of the Middle Ages. As a result, Europeans enjoyed a new exploratory enthusiasm, which brought them to the far corners of the world. The concept of exoticism was renewed by European contact with places like China and Brazil. But as well as new cultural connections being bolstered, immense scientific discovery was going on. Science, then named natural philosophy, was seeing breakthrough after breakthrough. Scientists and interested persons brought knowledge and specimens from far and wide together in curiosity cabinets, museums, and galleries. These wunderkammern, as German speakers called them then, were truly an embodiment of the scientifically inquisitive times. What better then, to embody these cabinets of curiosities, than an object which featured in so many of them: the narwhal tusk? [excerpt]

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Produced as part of a collaboration between Kay Etheridge's course FYS-188: Exploration of the Marvelous: Art and Science in the Renaissance, and Felicia Else's course ARTH 284: Wonders of Nature and Artifice: The Renaissance Quest for Knowledge.

Original version online at

Includes audio guide on cetacean relics.