Digital Images Provide Access to Rare Paper Squeezes
July 25, 2011
The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives announces a new 3-D digital resource that will enable scholars and the public to learn more about the ancient Near East through a unique group of pressed-paper molds called squeezes. This resource provides unparalleled access to the archives’ collection of squeezes from ancient Near Eastern archaeological sites.Proceed directly to the Squeeze Imaging Project
The squeezes were created in the early 20th century by the German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld (1879-1948), a prominent scholar on the ancient Near East, as a way to record intricate inscriptions on monuments and other stone buildings. They were formed by pressing layered, wet, moldable paper into an inscription and leaving it to dry, creating a 3-D mirror-image representation of the original. Created to serve as temporary reference materials, the squeezes have become vital to continued research for archaeological sites that are no longer accessible.
The squeezes contain Arabic script, Middle Persian and Cuneiform impressions from archaeological sites such as Pasargadae, Persepolis, Naqsh-i Rustam and Paikuli. The captured inscriptions were often carved on commissioned temples, civic buildings and statues to record battles won, titles acquired or the lineage of kings. Scholars have used the squeezes to chronicle the reigns of local rulers and discover the nature of otherwise unidentifiable structures. More recently, scholars have used microscopic traces of pigments retained from the original surface to provide a unique and exceptional journal of the color and decoration used at the time of the monument’s creation. . .
The squeezes in the Archives, Ernst Herzfeld papers date from 1911-1934. The squeezes range from very high-grade, robust paper to low-grade cigarette paper. Over time, the squeezes have been transported around the world, handled and stored in ways not approved by F|S archivists, and have suffered from various issues that affect all paper products. The squeezes contain Arabic script, Middle Persian, and Cuneiform impressions from archaeological sites: Bastam, Isfahan, Rayy, Samarra, Shiraz, Sunghur, Taq-i Bustan, Tus, Sarpul, Pasargadae, Persepolis, Naqsh-i Rustam, and Paikuli. The Herzfeld papers have been vital in the research of these sites, and the squeezes he created for temporary reference have helped scholars access information from monuments that for many reasons may no longer be available.
And see also Ernst Herzfeld Papers