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Objects: From the Excavation Site to Storage: Archaeological Objects in Transit.

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What happens to archaeological objects between their excavation and their incorporation in museum collections? Focussing on 19th century excavations in ancient Mesopotamia, this talk will investigate the relationship between Antique objects found at the excavation site and attempts to shift and incorporate them into European canonical traditions at the major museums in London, Paris and Berlin. Even though archaeology has often been motivated by political interests, its historiography has hitherto failed to help us understand how European canons and values are the result of a complex transfer in which objects and cultures move from one canonical space to another. The talk will pay attention to the time and space where the objects seemed to have “no status” and their meaning was still dynamic and negotiable. It will show that this status even persisted once the object arrived in the museums. Here, the main story took often place in the storage area, in attics and basements rather than the exhibition hall.

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