Next Seminar: Reading the Past? Images in Archaeology as a Source of Information

The study of images has always played a significant part in archaeology as it is considered a useful tool towards the reconstruction of various aspects of life of ancient societies, such as beliefs and symbolisms that are not otherwise visible in the archaeological record. This is especially true in prehistoric archaeology due to the lack of writer sources. Wedde (1995), for example, discusses issues of Aegean Bronze Age hierarchical systems based on iconographic representations.

In fact, as Morgan (1985: 19), observes ‘iconography, as a notation of a culture, is as expressive and informative as any language’. However, even in historical periods, when written documents are more abundant and contain plenty of information, the careful study of images is crucial in order to differentiate myth from reality (see Ferrari 2003).

The aim of this seminar, led by Dr. Angelos Papadopoulos, is to present and discuss some of the key aspects of the study of images in order to comprehend to a greater extent the role of representations in ancient societies.

• Should images and representations be considered as ‘portraits’ or ‘photographs’ of the past and to what extend should the archaeologist be dependent on them in order to interpret the available data?

• Are images what may be called pure ‘art’ or where they manipulated and presented in certain ways in order to highlight individuals, such as the local elite(s) or specific moments in time, for example victories over the enemy?

• Are there common patterns between the various cultures and polities in the use and appreciation on certain icons, so that different peoples can understand the meaning of an image or a scene?

• Who had access to the images decorating the walls of palaces and temples and why there are variations in size and type of representations?

Seminar will take place at 7pm on Friday May 27th 2011 at the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies (IIHSA) at 51a Odos Notara. Numbers are limited to 15, please RSVP by email ( to book a place and request the reading


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