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'Striking the Imagination through the Eye'. Relating the Archaeology of Mesopotamia to the British Public, 1920-1939

Maloigne, Hélène; (2020) 'Striking the Imagination through the Eye'. Relating the Archaeology of Mesopotamia to the British Public, 1920-1939. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis explores how British archaeologists working in Iraq during the interwar period engaged with the public through popular books, newspapers and radio broadcasts. Based on the main case study of Charles Leonard Woolley and his excavations at Ur for the British Museum and the Pennsylvania University Museum (1922–1934), I show how this popularization of archaeology went hand in hand with its professionalization during a formative stage of the discipline. Looking at popular and scholarly work over three different media from a historian’s vantage point contextualises archaeology as a well-established and popular subject in interwar reading and listening. It also demonstrates the strong overlap between the three media and therefore connects the work of the thesis with current scholarship in archaeology, modern British history, history of science and media history. Chapters One and Two explore the development of (field) archaeology in the interwar period and some of the major themes in archaeological thinking of the time (chronological sequences, migrations, race, the role of women in ancient societies). I explore how these themes advanced the discipline and disciplining of archaeology, and how they were intricately connected with and influential on contemporary debates on eugenics, race relations, international and home politics and society. Finally, Chapters Three to Five examine how archaeologists communicated with the public and each other through newspapers, the radio and books. The transmedial appeal of archaeology is explored through Woolley’s and other archaeologists’ success in writing for newspapers/magazines, with the BBC and on the popular book market, using published and archival sources to anchor the development and popular appeal of archaeology in the interwar period in its historical, social and disciplinary context. The conclusion reviews the findings of the thesis and outlines further avenues for research.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: 'Striking the Imagination through the Eye'. Relating the Archaeology of Mesopotamia to the British Public, 1920-1939
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10102093
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