The Diaspora of Cypriot Antiquities and the British Museum, 1860-1900.
Date: 9 December 2013
University of Exeter
PhD in Geography
This thesis examines the invention of Cyprus’ ancient history through the diaspora of Cypriot antiquities in the latter half of nineteenth century and the role of the modern museum in it (1860-1900). It maps the movement of the objects from their excavation sites, to their circulation in metropolitan museums and, finally to their display ...
This thesis examines the invention of Cyprus’ ancient history through the diaspora of Cypriot antiquities in the latter half of nineteenth century and the role of the modern museum in it (1860-1900). It maps the movement of the objects from their excavation sites, to their circulation in metropolitan museums and, finally to their display in museum galleries. In doing so this thesis explores the emergence of archaeology as a field-based discipline in the broader colonial, imperial and geopolitical context. The research of this project was conducted mainly at the Cyprus State Archives, the Greek and Roman Departmental Archives (British Museum), Dartmouth College Archives (NH). The first part of the thesis provides the theoretical framework in which this research is situated. Chapter 1 introduces the project, its research questions, its research questions and outcomes. Chapter 2 discusses the literature providing the main concepts that formed the arguments of this thesis. Chapter 3 contextualizes the diaspora of Cypriot antiquities within the broader history of archaeology and Chapter 4 overviews the methodology followed and the archival sources that were used for this project. The second part consists of my empirical work and maps the diaspora of the antiquities. It is thematically divided in three chapters. Chapter 5, Law, looks at the colonial and legal context of the excavation and exportation of the objects. Chapter 6, Excavation, discusses the every-day conduct of Cypriot archaeology in the field. Chapter 7, Circulation, examines the practices of collecting Cypriot antiquities, their exportation and circulation in metropolitan museums, and their display in museums (particularly in the British Museum). Chapter 8 brings the thesis into a conclusion and highlights the main findings and arguments of this project. The thesis explores the production, circulation and display of scientific knowledge regarding the ancient past of Cyprus by following the antiquities in their various forms (texts, impressions, photographs, objects). By following the objects’ social lives it addresses the issues of the circulation of scientific knowledge, of the criteria for asserting its authenticity and credibility and of the local/global nature of archaeological science. It will demonstrate that the methodological tenor of writing the objects’ biographies links the different scales of science’s making and illuminates its hidden stories, such as the practicalities of collecting in the field.
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