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.
Table of Contents
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
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
Appraisal and Accusation
Metrics and Meaning: Squier in South America
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.