“Excavating a Museum: The 1930s Princeton University Antioch Project”


“Excavating a Museum: The 1930s Princeton University Antioch Project”

Type of Event: Lecture
Presenter: Dr. Asa Eger

March 20, 2019
5:30-6:30 pm
Graham 307

During times of conflict, archaeologists can turn to older materials in museums when fieldwork is unsafe to carry out for any reason. In the 1930s, Princeton University conducted large excavations in the city of Antioch, once the 3rd largest city in the Roman world and presumed in decline, now in modern Turkey on the Syrian border. However, the excavations were only partially published and included the most beautiful museum-worthy pieces with no stratigraphic information. As such, our project investigates whether one can piece together a ninety-year-old dig through the available archive of records and material culture. In this talk, I will discuss the process of excavating a museum archive – analyzing 300 boxes of material culture heretofore untouched sitting in the storerooms of Princeton University’s Art Museum. These along with a repository of saved records in the Department of Art and Archaeology’s Visual Resources Department have allowed us to understand one sector of the city – a case study and pilot project – in surprising and dynamic ways. The sector of 17-O, in the heart of the city, shows us how a city transformed, adapted, and thrived over time in the face of political change, conquest, and natural disaster. This has greater implications on the ways in which we understand the afterlives of post-Roman cities, long thought to be sunken in decline or abandoned.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Archaeology Program and Archaeology Club.