Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East.

Author:Beckman, Gary
Position:Book review
 
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Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East. Edited by Jack Green, Emily Teeter, and John A. Larson. Oriental Institute Museum Publications, vol. 34. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2012. Pp. 184, illus. $29.95 (paper). [Distributed by The David Brown Book Co., Oakville, Ct.]

This volume accompanied an exhibition on view at the Museum of Chicago's Oriental Institute from February through early September, 2012. In addition to the beautifully printed version, the book--like all new and most older 01 publications--is available for free download, in this case at http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/ pubs/catalog/oimp/oimp34.html.

The topic of this show was the problem of conveying the results of archaeological work to those not privileged to be present at the sites. On display were both tools, such as cameras and notebooks, and examples of finished products, including drawings, paintings, photographs, and three-dimensional physical models, most of them from expeditions mounted by the OI itself.

In addition to the annotated catalogue of the material on view, this publication presents thirteen short essays covering various aspects of archaeological illustration. Following an introduction by Jack Green (chapter 1), chapters 2, 3, and 4 (by Emily Teeter, W. Raymond Johnson, and Ann Macy Roth) cover the early work of the OI in Egypt, explaining in some detail the methodology of the famous Chicago Epigraphic Survey.

Chapters 5 and 6 (by Emily Teeter and John A. Larson) discuss the use of photography, accompanying the text with numerous examples drawn from the more than 100,000 images in the Institute's Photographic Archives. Chapter 7 (by Scott Branting, Elise MacArthur, and Susan Penacho) views archaeology from on high, considering aerial photography from the days of balloons to today's satellite imagery.

In chapter 8 Nigel Strudwick calls long overdue attention to the aesthetic achievements of Nina de Garis Davies, Amice Calverley, and Myrtle Broome in copying paintings from Egyptian tombs. One must concur with...

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