Storm-wave watching and mystery photograph solved!

Our sleuths have finally identified the mystery photograph we posted last year…

St Leonard's on Sea, East Sussex

 

St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex

… it is St Leonards on Sea, Hastings. We also found out what all the people on the promenade are looking at…

An exceptional wave approaches

 

An exceptional wave approaches

Everyone runs for cover in the shelter at the centre of the picture…

The wave crashes against the promenade

The wave crashes against the promenade

…as the wave engulfs the promenade…

Slide4

Posted in Film negatives, HEIR, Photography, Tracking the Future of the Past | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Following in Kennedy’s footsteps – a trip to Petra

Image

Riding a camel is easier than walking on soft sand!

I have been dreaming for a long time of visiting Petra and I finally made it this year. While volunteering in the Institute’s archives, I was tasked with cleaning glass lantern slides – one box being photographs of Petra and its surroundings by the archaeologist, Kennedy – this made me want to go even more.

In November this year, I finally made it – a holiday in Jordan which included walking in Wadi Rum and Petra. With paper copies of several of Kennedy’s photographs, I was on a mission!

The walk from Wadi Mousa to the Siq was an eye opener, while walking through the Siq was just amazing and overwhelming but it never prepared me for the sights in the valley. Unfortunately the archway over the entrance to the Siq has collapsed, but many carvings are still visible in the walls – sculptures of their deities and depictions of life as it was during that time. It is difficult to imagine how a town of the living became so mixed up with the town of the dead, especially since very little, if anything, remains of the original town, while the remains of the burial tombs are still so prominent.

El Siq looking towards El Khazneh ('The Treasury'). Alexander Kennedy's 1923 image is on the left. Superficially, it doesnt' seem that much has changed here in the last 90 years...

El Siq looking towards El Khazneh (‘The Treasury’). Alexander Kennedy’s 1923 image is on the left. Superficially, it doesnt’ seem that much has changed here in the last 90 years…

The area covered by the settlement and necropolis is vast  – too much to cover in a day and half – it would be very easy to spend a whole week there. The different types of tombs and their decoration are beyond modern day comprehension – why build a tomb like the Khazneh? It must have been a really important person whom they wished to remember by creating something which is still recognisable as a beautiful building some 2000 years later.

The area around Petra has been populated for a long time. On the way into Petra (via the back road in order to avoid the 900 steps to reach the Monastery!), we passed a Bronze Age settlement at Umm Saysaban. During the tea/coffee break, prepared on a small wood fire by a local Bedouin, we were shown several Nabataean and Roman coins, which were found locally.

The rock-cut obelisks, which the Nabateans created by excavating at least 3,200 square metres of stone. Comparing Kennedy's photo to mine, it looks like some of the ground around the obelisks has been cleared since 1923.

The rock-cut obelisks, which the Nabataeans created by excavating at least 3,200 square metres of stone. Comparing Kennedy’s photo to mine, it looks like some of the ground around the obelisks has been cleared since 1923.

But it is not just the man-made buildings that are overwhelming, it is nature itself – the formation of the rocks and the erosion carved into it by wind and water; the colours created by the different minerals are beyond belief.

Thanks to our group leader Saleh and the “Camp Cook” Ibrahim, the setting of several of the Institute’s old photos were found. To see all these monuments to the death still as beautiful as they were that long ago made the visit to Petra an unforgettable experience.

Roelie

Posted in Archives Progress, HEIR, Lantern Slides, Photography, Tracking the Future of the Past | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An unexpected find

During electrical work at the Institute, we came across this box in an attic cupboard. It contained something left behind at the Institute by its founder, Professor Christopher Hawkes (1905-1992) (http://www.arch.ox.ac.uk/history-of-the-institute.html):

CFC Hawkes Archive Box 19

We were expecting old notes, photographs, scraps of paper… but no!

Matchboxes!

Matchboxes!

It is a collection of matchboxes. On closer investigation, some of them have labels – Professor Hawkes used the boxes to store small finds from his excavations. We checked them – they are all empty.  But they make a pretty display…

How many cigarettes do you have to smoke to collect this many boxes?

How many cigarettes do you have to smoke to collect this many boxes?

 

There are a variety of matchbox types here – Hawkes seems to have been a phillumenist! These include Solo, Morelands, Bryant and May, The Scissors, Northland, Double Diamond, Victor, Mace, Criterion, Blue Cross, Meteor, Fire Queen, Old Castle, Camp, Wavy Line, The Ship and the Kentish Map Company.

Archival photobomb

Archival photobomb

 

Posted in Archives Progress, Christopher Hawkes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mystery Photograph

Mystery Seaside Town

Mystery Seaside Town

Some of the old photographs and glass plate negatives in our archive have no labels and we are having trouble working out where they were taken. Do you recognize this British seaside town? The glass plate photograph was taken in about 1910. Was the photographer standing on a pier to take the picture? How much has the seafront changed since this picture was taken?

The Congregational Meeting House, Banbury c. 1930. Photo: Stuart Piggott

The Congregational Meeting House, Witney c. 1930. Photo: Stuart Piggott

Another mystery – solved. We knew that this photograph, taken by archaeologist Stuart Piggott in c.1930, was of a building in Witney, Oxfordshire, but where? One of our volunteers did some sleuthing, and discovered that it is the old Congregational Church, built in 1828, and demolished in 1976 to make way for a supermarket. Thanks, Roelie!

 

Posted in Archives Progress, Lantern Slides, Photography, Piggott, Tracking the Future of the Past, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Second Paul Jacobsthal Public Speaking Competition

Congratulations to the team from Oxford Spires Academy! They won the second Paul Jacobsthal Public Speaking Competition held at Christ Church College, Oxford last week. A big congratulations, too, to everyone who took part. The standard was, once more, incredibly high.

Special thanks to the students from Chenderit School who worked s0 hard to organise the event – great job! – and to Christ Church for looking after the teams. Extra thanks to  inspirational teacher Johnathan Briggs, and to everyone who contributed to the workshops.

The Chenderit organisers introducing the competition

The Chenderit organisers introducing the competition. Photo: Megan Price.

Posted in Jacobsthal, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank you!

A big thank you to Dr Brendan O’Connor for his generous gift. We look forward to using the donation for conserving and cataloguing part of our Christopher Hawkes archive relating to his work in Bronze Age archaeology. Professor Christopher Hawkes (1905-1992), who founded the Institute of Archaeology at Oxford, was an eminent prehistorian and was also instrumental in gathering material for the archives at the Institute. Keep an eye out for further information on the Hawkes project in the New Year.

Thank you also to all our volunteers and everyone who has helped us in the archives in 2012 – we appreciate your help!

 

Posted in Archives Progress, Christopher Hawkes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Martyn Jope and the history of archaeological science

Front and back cover of Programme and Abstracts from the first International Symposium on C-14 and Archaeology held at Groningen in 1981, with Martyn Jope’s pencilled notes.

Professor Martyn Jope of the Queen’s University, Belfast was active in the promotion of archaeological science. He was one of a group of scholars who developed and promoted research in radiocarbon dating, DNA analysis, collagen and molecular archaeology. Our small archive of Jope’s reserach notes, correspondence, offprints and other material relating to archaeological science has now been catalogued by our fieldwork student, Charlotte Robinson, and the outline of the archive is available at http://www.arch.ox.ac.uk/files/institute/Martyn%20Jope%20Archive.pdf. This archive is the history of archaeology in the making….

Posted in Archives Progress, Martyn Jope | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment