During the 19th century in Europe, new states were founded and nationalism and colonialism were strengthened; while some Empires disintegrated, others managed to maintain or even increase their power. At the same time, archaeology was transformed into a structured discipline and large-scale excavation projects commenced across the Mediterranean. The stories of the people behind the antiquities trade in Greece during the 19th century—the diplomats stationed in Athens, the local art dealers and the private diggers—help us write an important chapter in the social, economic, and cultural history of Europe and of Mediterranean archaeology as a whole. This lecture explores how the commodification of the past became interwoven with power politics and gave rise both to different attitudes toward collecting and to debates on cultural property, ownership and the value of things in our modern world.
Yannis Galanakis is Lecturer in Classics (Greek Prehistory), Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics, Sidney Sussex College.
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