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Ortwin Dally

Professor of the German Institute of archaeology, Berlin
German Institute of Archeology, Berlin
The Origins of the Use of Photography in German Archaeology in the Second Half of the 19th Century and Beginning of the 20th Century
01 September 2011 -
30 September 2011

Ortwin Dally is the Secretary General of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and Honorary Professor of Classical Archaeology at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 1996, he received his PhD in archaeology from the Heidelberg University, completing his Habilitation dissertation in history and cultural sciences in 2004 at the Freie Universität Berlin. Dr Dally has taught at Heidelberg University and at the Freie Universität Berlin, and has been a fellow of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC. Since 2008, he has been President of the Berlin Archaeological Society, and was a guest professor at the Collège de France in 2011. His publications notably include: Canosa, Località S. Leucio. Untersuchungen zu Akkulturationsprozessen vom 6. bis zum 2. Jahrhundert v. Chr. am Beispiel eines daunischen Heiligtums, Tonio Hölscher, Heidelberg, 2000.

Archaeology requires visual representation to expose its research. In this respect, illustrations played a notable role in the gradual construction of specialized knowledge: they were the essential driver in the creation of the world’s first archaeological institute, the Institute for Archaeological Correspondence, founded in Rome in 1829. Archaeological discoveries could be exploited, discussed and made available for research. Alongside traditional means of illustration (namely plaster moulds and drawings), which were familiar to scientific researchers of Antiquity in the first half of the 19th century, photography appeared in the second half of the century. Through the example of natural science atlases of the 18th and 19th centuries, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison have shown that the idealised representation of an object gave way to a new ideal of objectivity made possible by photography. What status did photography hold in the second half of the 19th century within the horizon of strength-ened institutional archaeology in Germany? What was its relationship with other means of illustration? Firstly, I shall consider photography of artefacts, then photography of archaeological excavations, and lastly the introduction of slideshows in university teaching. My aim is to show that the use of photography and visual documentation is the expression of archaeological thought, while conversely, photography influenced archaeological thought. Nowadays, in the age of the Internet and PowerPoint, another visual media revolution has taken place; we must measure this evolution in the history of archaeology and Altertumswissenschaft.

Contemporary period (1789-…)