1838 in archaeology
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- August 31 - Scottish-born scene painter David Roberts sets sail for Egypt (with the encouragement of J. M. W. Turner) to produce a series of drawings of the region for use as the basis for paintings and chromolithographs.
- The 5th century BC bronze Chatsworth Head (found on Cyprus in 1836) is acquired by the 6th Duke of Devonshire at Smyrna from H. P. Borrell.
- Etruscan statuettes found in Lake of the Idols.
- Winter 1837/38 - The Neolithic settlement of Rinyo on Rousay in Orkney (Scotland) is discovered.
- Rifa'a el-Tahtawi publishes The History of Ancient Egyptians.
- Jacques Boucher de Crèvecœur de Perthes publishes the first part of De La Création, Essai sur L'Origine et la Progression des Êtres.
- Jean-Frédéric Waldeck publishes the first detailed account of the Maya ruins of Uxmal.
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- March 12 - Richard Polwhele, Cornish antiquarian (b. 1760).
- May 19 - Sir Richard Colt Hoare, English archaeologist (b. 1758).