Shouldering the past: Photography, archaeology, and collective effort at the tomb of Tutankhamun

Riggs, Christina (2017) Shouldering the past: Photography, archaeology, and collective effort at the tomb of Tutankhamun. History of Science, 55 (3). pp. 336-363. ISSN 0073-2753

[thumbnail of Accepted manuscript]
PDF (Accepted manuscript) - Accepted Version
Download (560kB) | Preview


Photographing archaeological labour was routine on Egyptian and other Middle Eastern sites during the colonial period and interwar years. Yet why and how such photographs were taken is rarely discussed in literature concerned with the history of archaeology, which tends to take photography as given if it considers at all. This paper uses photographs from the first two seasons of work at the tomb of Tutankhamun (1922-24) to show that photography contributed to discursive strategies that positioned archaeology as a scientific practice – both in the public presentation of well-known sites and in the self-presentation of archaeologists to themselves and each other. Since the subjects of such photographs are often indigenous labours working together or with foreign excavators, I argue that the representation of fieldwork through photography allows us to theorize colonial archaeology as a collective activity, albeit one inherently based on asymmetrical power relationships. Through photographs, we can access the affective and embodied experiences that collective effort in a colonial context involved, bringing into question standard narratives of the history and epistemology of archaeology.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: archaeological labour,history of archaeology,history of photography,egyptian archaeology,tutankhamun
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2017 02:02
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 07:31
DOI: 10.1177/0073275316676282


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item