Detalles del recurso
Digital Collections at Brigham Young University
Descripción: Papers reflect his service as a Mormon missionary in Brazil, 1939-1942; service in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, 1943-1945; career as a professor of archaeology at Brigham Young University, 1952-1978; activities as a founding member of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology (SEHA); interest in Book of Mormon archaeology; participation in Leadership Week and Education Week on the BYU campus and elsewhere; and family activities. Includes diaries; correspondence; research papers and field notes; speeches; periodical articles; papers relating to symposia on the archaeology of the scriptures; draft writings about the Phoenicians; school papers; course materials for classes he taught on archaeology and anthropology; photo scrapbooks; family history records; and a small number of artifacts, mostly relating to archaeology. Countries reflected to a significant degree in the collection include Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, and Egypt. Ross T. Christensen was born to Oswald and Nettie Christensen in approximately 1920 in Rexburg, Idaho. Rexburg was a small but dynamic town, home of LDS Church-established Ricks College. The son of a college professor, he made his childhood one of learning and education. Like many of their neighbors, Ross and his family were members of the LDS church. He remained an active member all his life and spent his adult life teaching the principles of his religion.In June 1936, Christensen graduated from high school. Later that same year he began attendance at Ricks College. He was a popular man involved in many extra-curricular activities, including the debate club. His dry and ever-ready wit endeared him to many of his classmates. He also kept them laughing by creating an alter-ego he named Abdul "the Bul-bul" Ameer. He even had a costume for the character. His yearbooks suggest that he was quite popular with the young ladies, who filled the volumes with their signatures and best wishes. In his second year of college he placed second for the reddest head of hair in school. Every one of his children inherited his red hair. College wasn't all fun and games for Christensen, who began seriously studying archeology, the field he would eventually enter.Christensen's love for the past began at an early age. "I used to be fascinated by my Father's ancient history book," he said. In the summer of 1930 Ross read two books. The first was The City of the Sacred Well by T. D. Willard. It dealt with excavations in the Yucatan peninsula. The second was the Book of Mormon,a set of scriptures dealing with the ancient inhabitants of the American continents. These two books set his mind on fire. He decided then and there that he would be an archaeologist. He never looked back.On June 3, 1938 Christensen graduated from Ricks College and traveled to Provo, Utah, to attend Brigham Young University. He only attended a year, however, before he was called on a mission to Brazil in 1939 by the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) church. Leaving in October of that year, Christensen spent the next two years teaching the Gospel truths that he loved. In Brazil his own convictions were strengthened and he had the pleasure of watching friends discover the Gospel. He remained in contact with many of these people until his death. The mission was beneficial in more than just spiritual ways. Christensen attained fluency in Portuguese and at least a working knowledge of Spanish, both of which would become necessary in his later research. It also strengthened his desire to study the ancient American ruins which dotted the landscape. In January 1942 he was released from his mission.After returning home he took his final year of school at BYU and graduated with a bachelor of arts in archaeology. Even in this Christensen was unique. Prior to Christensen's studies at BYU, the university did not offer a degree in archaeology. His studies were under the anthropology department. Eventually the archeology program grew until in 1943 Ross T. Christensen became the first student to graduate from the newly-created Archaeology Department. After graduation, he was drafted into the armed forces and served in World War II.He returned home from the war in 1945 with an honorable discharge. After a little rest he entered graduate school. In 1947 he obtained his masters degree from BYU. Much of his research focused on Native American burial mounds in and around Utah County. While in school, Christensen met and married Ruth R. Richardson.In 1948 Ross was accepted to Yale University and spent two years there taking classes and preparing for his doctoral dissertation. Along the way he was given a fellowship to study in Peru, where he supervised the excavations of a new site named the Hacienda Chusis site. He spent the next year there. His correspondence with Ruth during that time shows their devotion to each other. The fellowship turned out to be a success and the site produced many archaeological findings, which became the basis for Christensen's dissertation.In 1949 Christensen and his family moved back west so that he could attend the University of Arizona and finish his studies. Two years later he finished his graduate studies and returned to Provo, Utah, where BYU offered him a teaching position in their new Archeology Department. From 1952 to 1978 Ross taught archaeology at BYU.His role at BYU wasn't just that of professor. Being a church-funded school, BYU felt very strongly that secular knowledge should be tempered with spiritual knowledge. This, coupled with the Church's policy toward personal education, " to find out for yourself," created many service opportunities. One such opportunity was the yearly Leadership Week (later named Education Week), a lecture series to which both the public and students were invited. New insights and evidences supporting the gospel were presented.Christensen's research in archaeology had a direct impact on LDS scripture, the Book of Mormon. His emphasis on ancient American civilizations interested many church members and his lectures were popular. From his first year of teaching to the year of his death, Christensen was called upon again and again to address his fellow church members at one forum or another.One of his favorite subjects was "diffusionism," or the idea that common ideas between cultures are the result of mass migrations between them. Ross dealt specifically with how Middle Eastern motifs ended up on the ruins in North and South America. The Mormon book of scripture states that this was because a group of Hebrews left Jerusalem around 600 B.C. and traveled across the Pacific to settle somewhere along the west coast of Central or South America. This would explain the numerous similarities between the New and Old Worlds. For many non-Mormons this was difficult to accept. Dr. Christensen spent his time teaching and traveling to Central America to study such similarities.Christensen's theories came to be supported by such events as Heyerdahl's trip from the West Coast to Hawaii in Ra-Tiki II, a ship designed after ancient plans. One stance of opponents of diffusionism had been that primitive seamanship was limited to a small, local area. The ship, made of reeds, successfully established that trans-oceanic migrations could have happened. Finally, people were starting to think seriously that such things happened, and happened often. It was during this time that Christensen took his sabbatical to work on a project to find evidence that Phoenicians could have established a trade route to the Americas.Christensen's fascination for the Phoenicians began at an early age. A grade-school teacher caught him reading about these people and consequently gave Ross a nickname, "the Phoenician". As he grew older he realized that the Phoenicians were contemporaries of the peoples described in the Book of Mormon. Many of the geographical names in the book sounded like Phoenician names. More than one group came to the Americas, according to the book, perhaps by a Phoenician boat.From January to June 1969 Christensen, his wife and one of their daughters embarked on a trip that crossed four continents and three islands. They traveled to Britain, France, Tunisia, Italy, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Israel, stopping at Phoenician sites to do research. His final stop brought him to Latin America where he looked for possible sites. Ancient records told of a lost group of sailors somewhere in the West. Phoenician writing had also been found in Central America. Christensen came home after gathering data that satisfied his interest.His interests extended much further than the Phoenicians. He was interested in any story of colonization of the American continent, including legends of white men among the Eskimo natives of Alaska. Other professors at BYU were also interested, especially those who thought that there wasn't enough awareness among church members, of historical events that supported their religious teachings. It was for this reason that Christensen and others founded SEHA, the Society for Early Historic Archaeology. During its time it was the most widely known and widely respected of the church education societies. Here, leading scholars of the Church were able to present their research on ancient civilizations, and tie their research to LDS beliefs, in a respectable forum of colleagues. Christensen sat on the board of trustees and served as secretary for much of the time until SEHA was disbanded.While his public life was spent gathering evidence that the Book of Mormon was true, his private life was spent living by it's teachings. Ross served honorably in many church positions, including in the Sunday School and in the LDS priesthood. He was actively engaged in family history research, and gathered and compiled names of hundreds of his ancestors for LDS Temple ordinance work. Ross T. Christensen died in 1989. The collection comprises the personal papers, journals, books, maps, and correspondence of Ross T. Christensen, professor of archaeology at Brigham Young University from 1951 to 1979. Christensen was the first student to graduate from BYU's newly created archaeology program in 1943. He was interested in North and South American archaeology, particularly the Hacienda Chusis site at Peru, and Native American burial grounds (primarily sites in Utah). He also spent many years studying Phoenician culture. He was fascinated by the cultural "commonalities" shared by several ancient middle-east civilizations and ancient civilizations on the American continent. Christensen founded the Society for Early Historic Archaeology (SEHA) at BYU, and served many years on the SEHA board of trustees. Some materials have been transferred to other sections of the Lee Library. All photographs were transferred to the BYU Photo Archives. The below-mentioned books were transferred to the Book Acquisition Department, and maps were transferred to the Map Department.
Autor(es): Christensen, Ross T. (Ross Taylor), 1918 -