This Heritage, Memory and Archaeology Research Seminar by Bart Wagemakers (Hogeschool Utrecht) will demonstrate the significance of non-professional documentation for the history of archaeology.
From 1952 till 1958, Kathleen M. Kenyon directed the Second British Expedition to Tell es-Sultan, ancient Jericho. As usual, the dig was documented by official appointed draughtsmen and photographers. The surveyors and field assistants made notes in their notebooks about the stratigraphy and finds, which were collected by Kenyon at the end of every season. Based on these (official) notes, photographs and drawings Kenyon published several excavation reports and articles.
Besides these official records made and gathered by order of Kenyon, the members of the expedition produced many private records on their own initiative during the excavation. Unfortunately, these so called ‘non-professional’ documents, which include photographs, slides, notes, letters, drawings, and – not to forget – the member’s memories, have generally been neglected in the past. The fact that they were stored in private houses, not in official archives, made that over the course of time they slowly got forgotten.
This ignorance is undeserved, because this documentation is still significant for current archaeological research in several ways. The non-professional records give an insight into the circumstances of an excavation in the past, the people who joined the excavation, the techniques and methods used, the way the campaign was organized, the relations between archaeological institutions in the region, etc. Likewise, it creates a picture of the personal experiences of participants for whom the Jericho excavation often was a first field practice in Near Eastern archaeology. Their narratives reveal the smaller personal stories of the excavation. All this information is important for creating a more complete picture of the expedition and its historical context.
This talk will demonstrate the significance of non-professional documentation for the history of archaeology by discussing the results of the Jericho off the Record project, which gathered 707 black and white photographs, 52 colour slides, 93 letters which describe the progress on the site in detail, nine interviews with British, American, Canadian and Palestinian former participants, and even one 16mm colour film. Archaeological records which were regrettably neglected for sixty years, now being rescued for oblivion.
Bart Wagemakers lectures Ancient and Religious History at Institute Archimedes, the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, and has an interest in the history of archaeology. He is the coordinator of the Non-Professional Archaeological Photographs project (NPAPH project) which aims to preserve ‘non-professional’ documentation of archaeological campaigns – prior to the 1980s – to the future and make it accessible to the public via digital archives and publications.