1st Edition

Archaeology's Visual Culture Digging and Desire

By Roger Balm Copyright 2016
    298 Pages
    by Routledge

    298 Pages
    by Routledge

    Archaeology’s Visual Culture explores archaeology through the lens of visual culture theory. The insistent visuality of archaeology is a key stimulus for the imaginative and creative interpretation of our encounters with the past. Balm investigates the nature of this projection of the visual, revealing an embedded subjectivity in the imagery of archaeology and acknowledging the multiplicity of meanings that cohere around artifacts, archaeological sites and museum displays. Using a wide range of case studies, the book highlights how archaeologists can view objects and the consequences that ensue from these ways of seeing.

    Throughout the book Balm considers the potential for documentary images and visual material held in archives to perform cultural work within and between groups of specialists. With primary sources ranging from the mid-nineteenth to the early twenty-first century, this volume also maps the intellectual and social connections between archaeologists and their peers. Geographical settings include Britain, Cyprus, Mesoamerica, the Middle East and the United States, and the sites of visual encounter are no less diverse, ranging from excavation reports in salvage archaeology to instrumentally derived data-sets and remote-sensing imagery. By forensically examining selected visual records from published accounts and archival sources, enduring tropes of representation become apparent that transcend issues of style and reflect fundamental visual sensibilities within the discipline of archaeology.

    1. Insistent Visuality            

    A Theoretical Framework           
    Visual Culture as a Field of Investigation         
    Images in Science            
    Agents and Networks            

    The Context of Modernity          
    Rupture and Rapture           
    Visual Stability           
    Visual Instability           
    Spaces of Display           
    Looking Inwards and Seeing Through                     

    2. Scopic Privilege and Appropriation        

    Circulation of the Archaeological Story        
    Cesnola and Squier in Print          

    Set in Stone: Cesnola in Cyprus         
    Temples, Tombs and Temptations         
    Family Photographs           
    Appraisal and Accusation          

    Metrics and Meaning: Squier in South America       
    Sizing-up Tiwanaku           
    Photographing Tiwanaku        


    Roger Balm is a geographer with a research interest in the ancient cultural landscapes of Mexico, South America and the Mediterranean. He was a 2010 Fulbright scholar in Cyprus and has also held a fellowship with the American Geographical Society. He is an independent scholar.