February 7 - September 2, 2012, Oriental Institute, Chicago.
Download the Show Catalog in Adode Portable Document Format (pdf)
Picturing the Past presents paintings, architectural reconstructions, facsimiles, casts, models, photographs, and computer-aided reconstructions that show how the architecture, sites, and artifacts of the ancient Middle East have been documented. The show also examines how the publication of those images have shaped our perception of the ancient world, and how some of the more "imaginary" reconstructions have obscured our real understanding of the past. The exhibit also shows how features of the ancient Middle East have been presented in different ways for different audiences, in some cases transforming a highly academic image into a widely recognized icon of the past.
Among the topics covered are the Oriental Institute's contributions to the documentation of Egyptian monuments through the development of an epigraphic method. James Henry Breasted's notebooks of careful hand copies of hieroglyphic inscriptions and his own camera are shown alongside archival photos of the 1905 expedition to Nubia during which the epigraphic process was invented. The work of the current Epigraphic Survey is shown by a sequence of photos and collation sheets that illustrate the many steps that culminate in the final publication.