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Virtual exhibition on archive archaeology and Palmyra

It is now possible to explore the virtual exhibition 'Excavating Archives: Narratives from 20th-Century Palmyra'.

The archival records of the archaeologist Harald Ingholt are stored in Denmark. The records are kept in boxes, folders and large envelopes at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, and it is yet awaiting full publication.

It is therefore a true pleasure for the Archive Archaeology project, in collaboration with the Palmyra Portrait Project, UrbNet and the Museum of Ancient Art in Aarhus, to present the open-access virtual exhibition Excavating Archives: Narratives from 20th-Century Palmyra. Across the globe, the wider public as well as people from the academic field now have the possibility of exploring Ingholt’s Palmyra through his own recordings.

You can access the exhibition through the Archive Archaeology webpage and through this link: Excavating Archives: Narratives from 20th-Century Palmyra

Archive on display

In the legacy data of Harald Ingholt, there is a wealth of material from his excavations and travels in the Near East, in Syria in particular. He directed excavations in Palmyra and Hama in the 1920s and 1930s. Observations in the field were meticulously noted down, and he was a diligent photographer, capturing excavation work in progress as well as ancient objects and monuments. Furthermore, he studied the funerary portraiture from Palmyra, and for this task he compiled images of and notes about different known Palmyrene portraits.

Some of his records are now on display in the virtual exhibition Excavating Archives: Narratives from 20th-Century Palmyra. In 14 themes, you have the possibility of getting closer to 20th-century archaeology, to ancient Palmyra and to Syria under the French Mandate. Each theme contains a selection of archive sheets, extracts from excavations diaries, official documents, letters and photographic material that are commented on and contextualised by Assistant Professor Olympia Bobou, Professor Rubina Raja and Postdoc Julia Steding – all experts within the field of Palmyrene archaeology and archival research.

For those of you who stop by Aarhus during the summer, a visit to the Museum of Ancient Art at Aarhus University will furthermore bring you in contact with eight objects given to the museum by Ingholt. They are exhibited in the entrance room. And don’t worry: if you won’t be in Aarhus, the objects are of course also highlighted in the virtual exhibition.

Exhibition booklet

In connection with the exhibition, a booklet with the 14 exhibition themes has also been produced. Illustrations and texts are taken from the virtual exhibition.

Bobou, O., Raja, R. & Steding, J. (2022). Excavating Archives: Narratives from 20th-Century Palmyra, Aarhus.

Further information and relevant links

Do keep an eye out for the publication of the full archive. Olympia Bobou, Amy C. Miranda, Rubina Raja and Jean-Baptiste Yon are in the process of publishing the Ingholt Archive with Brepols Publishers. It will be published in the series Archive Archaeology in August 2022. For more information on the publication, see Brepols’ webpage.

Archive Archaeology: Preserving and Sharing Palmyra’s Cultural Heritage through Harald Ingholt’s Digital Archives

Palmyra Portrait Project

Centre for Urban Network Evolutions

Museum of Ancient Art at Aarhus University