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The City Walls of Tarragona 13 January 2010

Posted by Troels in : Archaeology, Photography, Travel , add a comment

"Cyclopean" wall at Tarragona
City walls of Tarragona. Photo: TMK, December 2009.

Some shots of the city walls of Tarragona, including some of the “cyclopean” bits. More below the fold.

City wall of Tarragona
City walls of Tarragona: Masons’ marks. Photo: TMK, December 2009.

City wall of Tarragona
City walls of Tarragona. Photo: TMK, December 2009.

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Industrial Heritage in Barcelona 8 January 2010

Posted by Troels in : Photography, Travel, Urbanity , add a comment

DSC_6137
Factory facade reused as waterfall in Parc del Clot, Barcelona. Photo: TMK, December 2009.

My old blog (in Danish) frequently featured posts on urbanity, ruins and urban exploration, topics that I have only rarely touched on here. Yet during a recent visit to Barcelona, I was struck by notable attempts to incorporate the industrial heritage of the city into the urban fabric, especially in the case of Parc del Clot (further discussion here), opened in 1986. Elements of the factory that once stood on its grounds have been re-used in a number of creative ways. Part of the old facade has become a waterfall, a chimney stands majestically as a landmark in the park, etc. More photos below the fold.

DSC_6136
Parc del Clot, Barcelona. Photo: TMK, December 2009.

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Visiting Abu Mina – A Coptic Pilgrimage Site 6 January 2010

Posted by Troels in : Late Antiquity, Photography, Travel , add a comment

Det nye kloster i Abu Mina
The new monastic complex at Abu Mina, as seen from the ruined Northern Basilica. Photo: TMK, May 2008.

In a post last month, I mentioned my emerging interest in pilgrimage, especially from as seen from the perspective of material and visual culture. This interest stems, at least in part, from visits to sites that are still frequented by worshippers. The Coptic monastery at Abu Mina, 45 km southwest of Alexandria, is one such site. Many visitors on the way to the archaeological site of Abu Mina, one of the most spectacular early Christian sites in the Mediterranean, stop by the modern monastery (the monastery’s official website is in Arabic only). Architecturally it may not live up to everyone’s expectations of an “authentic” Coptic monastery, but the life that its clergy and patrons bring more than makes up for it. Their activities can be only be imagined when visiting the archaeological site.

Den nye kirke i Abu Mina

Interior shot of the new Cathedral of St Menas that holds his relics. Photo: TMK, May 2008.

The new monastery has many of the facilities that the ancient pilgrimage site would have had. It has several very large dining halls and dormitoria for visitors. The “secondary” activities that we imagine taking place in sanctuaries, such as trade and industry, can also be observed. During my visit, I was, for example, very surprised to find that the monks now market their own series of household products!

Det nye kloster i Abu Mina
The “old” visitors’ rest house at the “new” Abu Mina monastic complex. Photo: TMK, May 2008.

Abu Mina-klostrets egen serie af husholdningsprodukter
Abu Mina household products on sale. Note the logo with the camel! Photo: TMK, May 2008.

Spare Parts in the Desert 14 December 2009

Posted by Troels in : Making of the Archaeological Record, Photography , add a comment

DSC05581
Command Helicopters. Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona. Photo: TMK, December 2005.

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Tails. Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson. Photo: TMK, December 2005.

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The Archaeology of the Hajj 6 December 2009

Posted by Troels in : Archaeology, Making of the Archaeological Record, Photography , add a comment


The holy mosque at Mecca with high-rise pilgrim hotels and other construction massively re-shaping the cityscape. Photo copyright Khaled Desouki.

One of my future projects is to take a closer archaeological look at pilgrimage in a cross-cultural perspective. So it was fascinating to see this photo essay in the Danish newspaper Information on the Hajj and especially its archaeological footprint, the infrastructure that it generates (including both tent towns and high-rise hotels) and all of the debris left behind by the pilgrims during their time in Mecca.

Top 5 Photos on Flickr 21 October 2009

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Although I only make a small portion of my Flickr photos publicly available and only contribute to groups when invited to do so, I have had 100,000+ views on my account (however, this is small fry when compared with, for example, museum photographer extraordinaire Hans Ollermann). So what kind of images are people searching for? Here’s a top 5 list of the most viewed images on my Flickr:

#1 Getty Villa, Malibu, US
Getty Villa i Malibu
With 8484 views (as of 17 October 2009), this shot of the Getty Villa in Malibu easily takes first place. Photo: TMK, January 2007.

#2 Deir el-Medina, Egypt
Deir el-Medina
With 2217 views, second place is taken by this overview of the site of Deir el-Medina in Western Thebes. Photo: TMK, May 2007.

#3 VDNKh, Moscow, Russia
Cockpit i Tupolev 154
This shot of the cockpit of a Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft (parked at VDNKh in Moscow) has had almost 1500 views, which can be explained by its (invited) inclusion in several aviation groups on Flickr. Photo: TMK, September 2005.
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Looking Up in Alexandria 20 October 2009

Posted by Troels in : Photography, Travel , add a comment

Continuing the series “Looking Up” begun with Baalbek back in May, I now turn to Alexandria. The series is mostly an excuse to post some photos on the blog, but the act of looking up (to ponder the monumentality of cathedrals, mosques, artworks, etc.) is in many ways an integral part of the tourist gaze which I occasionally try to capture.

Cistern beneath the Alexandria Serapeum

Cistern beneath the Serapeum in Alexandria. Photo: TMK, May 2008.

Fort Qaitbey Mosque

Fort Qaitbay mosque. Photo: TMK, May 2008.

The Politics of Street Signs 17 October 2009

Posted by Troels in : Photography, Quick Notes, Travel , add a comment

Street sign in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem
Street sign in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Photo: TMK, June 2009.

Just another small but potent reminder of the political nature of everyday spaces in the Old City of Jerusalem: In the Jewish Quarter, the vast majority of streets (always labelled in Hebrew, Arabic and English) have had their Arabic names vandalised. This is only partially an act of erasure, and just as much part of an on-going negotiation between regional politics and the local environment of the streets.

More on the contested spaces and archaeology of Jerusalem here.

A Day at the Tokyo National Museum 30 September 2009

Posted by Troels in : Photography, Travel , 1 comment so far

Tokyo National Museum
A manuscript in the Tokyo National Museum. Photo: TMK, February 2009.

Tokyo National Museum is one of the best museums I’ve visited in the last couple of years. Beautifully laid out with plenty of space around the exhibited objects (preventing the clutter effect that causes that experience of information overload in certain other museums), nice display cases, useful labels, atmospheric light and wonderful gardens. I especially liked the Japanese galleries that took different approaches to the material on two floors, chronological on one and thematic on the other. The archaeology galleries are also world class, with lots of Jōmon material (including some of the earliest pottery known). Spending a day there was all in all the perfect antidote to Shibuya and Shinjuku.

Buddha Triad
Buddha Triad in the Asian Galleries, Tokyo National Museum. Photo: TMK, February 2009.

The museum’s attention to detail was also evident from these umbrella stands!

Der er styr på paraplyerne
Umbrella stands, Tokyo National Museum. Photo: TMK, February 2009.

Roofs of Piraeus 15 August 2009

Posted by Troels in : Making of the Archaeological Record, Photography , add a comment

I dug out some old photos taken on the roofs of Piraeus back in 2004. These roofs (and the life that takes place there), quite typical of many Mediterranean cities, have always fascinated me. At a quite trivial level, I guess my fascination (at least in part) stems from a Northern European envy of the pleasures of Mediterranean outdoor life. At another, the use of roof top space reminds me of certain prehistoric sites, such as Çatalhöyük (I’m especially fascinated by the endless numbers of stairs that are found on the roofs of Greek condominiums). And yes, part of my fascination is definitely also rooted in a profoundly archaeological interest in the processes of decay and site formation.

Piræus' tage
Piraeus. Photo: TMK, October 2004.

Piræus' tage

Piraeus. Photo: TMK, October 2004.

Piræus' tage

Piraeus. Photo: TMK, October 2004.

Piræus' tage
Piraeus. Photo: TMK, October 2004.

Piræus' tage

Piraeus. Photo: TMK, October 2004.