We know to question Wikipedia and leaked celebrity photos, but a new exhibition asks us to question scholarly images of the ancient past. The Oriental Institute’s “Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East” turns a skeptical eye on Egyptologists’ renderings of ancient lands, reconstructions of tomb walls and even photos of excavations. The museum points out archeologists’ guesswork and makes us rethink our childhood-textbook-formed perceptions of the ancient Mideast and Egypt. But the impetus behind this show isn’t necessarily archaeology’s misrepresentations: “We have a lot of cool art floating around,” says exhibition curator Emily Teeter, “and architectural illustration is really great stuff.” We look at five images and inspect the dubious details.
“Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East” runs through September 2.