A path-breaking engagement of classroom and archives

The first formal connection between the Norman Daly Collection, held by the Cornell University Archives, and a university graduate course has recently taken place.

Student class at Archives investigates contents of  boxes.

In the Spring of 2023, Professor Poppy McLeod had planned to take her Advanced Communication Theory class, a requirement for first-year PhD students, on a field trip to a physical environment that would illustrate a particular theory the class was studying from an interdisciplinary approach.

“At first I was thinking of taking them to a zoo,” McLeod said, “until I read the announcement that the Archives had acquired the Norman Daly collection, at the heart of which was ‘The Civilization of Llhuros.’ I thought ‘Wow, that’s it. That’s what I’m going to do!’”


Student class at Archives investigates contents of boxes.

Fictional Civilization Leaves Behind Lasting Legacy

Logo for the Cornell Chronicle
Graphic from video banner in original news story showing Norman Daly and Llhuroscian imagery.

By David Nutt
December 7, 2022

This fall, Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections acquired a trove of archival materials documenting the creation of this fictional society, giving researchers and historians a detailed view into a unique project that is both an absurdist critique of academic anthropology and an attempt to draw crucial connections between the past and the present, highlighting the challenges – spiritual, political and environmental – that all societies struggle to address.

“As an archivist, and someone who’s in charge of preserving the legacy of Cornell faculty, I saw right away that this was a collection that would be wonderful to have,” said Evan Earle ’02, M.S. ’14, the Dr. Peter J. Thaler ‘56 University Archivist. “It documents just one tiny little sliver of Cornell’s history. But it’s a fascinating one.”

Illustration of Llhuroscian landscape

The Llhuros Symposium Gets Real

Beauvais Lyons
Beauvais Lyons

On September 28, 2022, University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Professor Beauvais Lyons, coordinator of the upcoming Llhuros Symposium (October 8th) spoke to Todd Steed of station WUOT (University of Tennessee Public Radio) to discuss Norman Daly’s “Civilization of Llhuros”, as well as his own work. The interview lasts about 23 minutes and is well worth listening to.

The University of Tennessee School of Art hosted the very successful all-day virtual Llhuros Symposium on Saturday, October 8th to mark the the 50th anniversary of Norman Daly’s “Civilization of Llhuros.” Fifteen artists and scholars discussed this pioneering multimedia work of archaeological fiction.

L I S T E N  (23:00)

Note: The virtual symposium was recorded and will soon be available at the University of Tennessee School of Art Vimeo Site very soon. We’ll announce the availability.

UTK Prof. Beauvais Lyons

50 years ago, an artist convincingly exhibited a fake Iron Age civilization

Trallib (oil container) from the Middle Period of Llhuros, 1971. Photo by Marilyn Rivchin

Invented civilizations are usually thought of as the stuff of sci-fi novels and video games, not museums.

Yet in 1972, the Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art at Cornell University exhibited “The Civilization of Llhuros,” an imaginary Iron Age civilization. Created by Cornell Professor of Art Norman Daly, who died in 2008, the show resembled a real archaeological exhibition with more than 150 objects on display.

With scams, deceptions and lies flourishing in our digital age, an art exhibition that convincingly presents fiction as fact has particular currency.

Extracted from an extended article published by the Llhuros Symposium director, Beauvais Lyons for The Conversation, September 14, 2022.

We’re now looking ahead to the Llhuros (virtual) Symposium 2022. All are invited to attend.

An archival artifact--Trallib oil container -- from the Civilization of Llhuros