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Sissi Archaeological (Photographic) Project

Photographing archaeology is hardly new, considering that the two disciplines have been inextricably bound since the 1830’s, revitalising and reinterpreting a European antiquity that ultimately led to the opening up the Near East, especially ancient Egypt, to a global audience. Yet nearly two centuries on my own photographic journey at the Bronze Age excavation of a Minoan-Mycenaean settlement on the Kephali Hill at Sissi, in north eastern Crete, has furthered this evolution through imaging the daily human interaction of the present as it connects with the ancient buried past. There is also the photographic recording of the future of the three hectare site, which at some stage will hopefully be opened up to the public.

Each season sees about 120 excavators involved in stripping back layer after layer of the four thousand-year-old settlement (2500-1200 BC). This archaeological ‘destructiveness’ is a necessary and well-documented process, including through photography. Indeed, as the French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson concluded '...photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.’ This is never more so than at the Sissi excavations where, since 2009 the Archaeological (Photographic) Project has centred on daily 'strolls' from one archaeological zone to the next, making discrete, up close and personal images of colleagues. It is a world of unpredictability, anticipation, improvisation and importantly being at the right place at the right time to snap that fleeting opportunity in black-and-white or 'shades of grey', that ultimately provides photos that are timelessness, aesthetic, realistic. As we say, it is how we 'look at colour’ compared with the way we 'look into black-and-white’.

The frontline tools included an Olympus E-510 SLR and a mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-MI Mark II and a M5 MII. M.ZUIKO Digital ED lenses included: 11-22mm wide angle; 9-18mm ultra-wide; 7-14mm; 40-150mm; 8mm.

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