Katy Soar (Royal Holloway)
Postcards as Archives: “Excavating” Popular Archaeology at the Turn of the Century
22 February 2017, 6-7 pm, Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology
Sir Arthur Evans’ excavations at the Palace of Knossos on Crete were the beginning of the development of what is now the most popular tourist spot on the island. From the very start, this site was created to be a living monument, a theatre of the past, albeit a specific vision of the past. One method this vision was disseminated was through the use of the picture postcard. While the discipline of archaeology has paid little attention to these non-official discourses, transmitted by popular culture, they play an important role in the transmission of particular images about the past.
The heyday of the tourist postcard was the Edwardian period – the period which coincides with the excavations Evans at the Palace. Through their mass-production and circulation among particular groups of people, postcards transformed a place into a commodity for global consumption. This talk will examine various examples of these representations of Knossos to show how they produced an enduring picture of the Minoans and consider how far the performativity, circulation and consumption of these specific images of the Palace authenticate understanding of the past.
Tina Paphitis (UCL Institute of Archaeology)
Sagas & Socialism: William Morris in Iceland
14 March 2017, 6-7 pm, Room 209, UCL Institute of Archaeology
The past and its remains have played a major role in the formation of a sense of place, and have been the inspiration behind numerous artistic and political outputs, as studies in historical consciousness and the archaeological imagination have revealed. This talk considers these concepts in the context of historical travellers’ motivations to visit, and their experiences of, other lands. It will focus on the artist, writer, poet and political activist William Morris (1834-1896) and his travels to Iceland in 1871 and 1873.
Examining Morris’s travel accounts alongside his artistic and political expressions, this talk will consider how his travels to Iceland began long before he set foot on the island, through his own interpretation and imagination of its Sagas. The Sagas in turn provided a blueprint for Morris’s itineraries and, whilst in Iceland, reinforced his socialist ideology. In this way, we shall see how an engagement with historical and archaeological remnants is not only a source of inspiration for contemporary endeavours, but an act of travel itself.