Photographing Magnesia on the Meander: Image, Exhibition and Excavation

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This article examines nineteenth-century photographs of the archaeological site of Magnesia on the Meander, focusing on the work of Alexander Svoboda in the 1860s and that of a German archaeological team who excavated there in the 1890s. While a brief archaeological campaign was undertaken at Magnesia in the 1840s, by the 1860s, when Svoboda took his photograph, the site was abandoned and unstudied. Through an investigation of both the career of Svoboda and the history of archaeological photography in the region, this article places Svoboda’s photography in the larger context of investigation at Magnesia. It argues that Svoboda’s photograph of Magnesia was part of his most important project, a book of photographs and an accompanying exhibition on the Seven Churches of Asia. Svoboda’s inclusion of Magnesia within this project exposed the site to a much larger audience, and influenced how the site was viewed and understood. This photograph, therefore, represents a turning point in the history of this site, leading to the eventual recovery and study of this important classical city under the German excavators, and their own photographic recording of the city’s classical ruins.


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Recommended Citation

Herring, Amanda. “Photographing Magnesia on the Meander: Image, Exhibition, and Excavation." History of Photography 39.1 (2015): 71-87. DOI: 10.1080/03087298.2014.993880