Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Filming Antiquity

Filming Antiquity
Filming Antiquity is an interdisciplinary collaboration and digitisation project funded by a grant from the Centre for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Projects (CHIRP) at University College London (UCL).  Over the next two years, Filming Antiquity will be digitising excavation films from the Harding archive held in the UCL Institute of Archaeology and making these films accessible through a project website.  The project team members come from three different UCL departments: Archaeology, English and Information Studies.

The project has three main objectives: a) the digitisation of excavation films currently held in the UCL Institute of Archaeology (IoA), b) an interdisciplinary symposium with screenings of a sample of the digitised films and discussion and c) the construction of an online archive of these films and supporting materials. 

The films we propose to digitise feature excavations and local context in 1930s British Mandate Palestine.  The early 20th century saw radical developments in technologies of transmission and mass communication.  In this period archaeology gradually shifted from amateur to professional practice, as the first generations of trained archaeologists solidified their techniques in the field.  Supported by the industrialists and museums who funded their work, these archaeologists embraced moving image technology to record life and work on site.  These amateur productions were sometimes shown alongside public exhibitions of artefacts as cinematic proof of the spadework tackling the problems of ancient civilisations within a changing modern context. 

The collection of these artefacts into an online archive will contribute to dialogues on information storage and knowledge production through digital resources.  Filming Antiquity provides a model for making excavation films accessible and inviting public discussions and interdisciplinary scholarship through online platforms.

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