The academic discipline of classical archaeology
By the later 19th century the material evidence for the study of classical antiquity was extensive and the academic discipline of classical archaeology was evolving. The Germans created professorships and cast collections before the French and British. Strasbourg had the first professor in France in 1873, the Sorbonne followed in 1876. In England Oxford had made many attempts earlier in the century to establish a professorship but it did not succeed until 1885. The building of an academic cast collection became a high priority. It was considered an apparatus of scholarship, almost as important as an archaeological library. It was a laboratory where scientific experiments could be carried out.
The classic example of such an experiment was carried out around 1880 by Adolf Furtwängler who placed a cast of a marble head in Bologna on the body of a marble body of an Athena in Dresden, and proclaimed the newly united piece to be a copy of Pheidias's famous bronze statue for the people of the island of Lemnos – a statue mentioned in ancient literature. Most cast collections today display Athena as Furtwängler recreated her.