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Listening to Dura Europos: An Experiment in Archaeological Image SonificationOpen Data

Shawn Graham and Jaime Simons

Cite this as: Graham, S, and Simons, J. 2021 Listening to Dura Europos: An Experiment in Archaeological Image Sonification, Internet Archaeology 56. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.56.8

Summary

Side on view of a man standing in stone doorway
Man standing in doorway of block B2. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, z-90; corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 5

We present an experiment in sonifying archival archaeological imagery to make the act of looking at photography strange and weird. The sounds produced will then arrest us and slow us down, and make apparent to us the different ways that archaeological vision is constructed to particular effect/affect. It makes us alive to what is hidden or elided in the image itself; in slowing down, listening/looking/moving at one, we are moved towards enchantment, and engage in a kind of digital hermeneutics that reveals more than what the lens may have captured.

The inline audio used in this article may be best experienced on desktop rather than mobile devices.

  • Google Scholar
  • Keywords: image sonification, Dura Europos, Syria, 20th century, archaeological photography, archaeological enchantment, experimental archaeology, music, sound, digital archaeology
  • Accepted: 4 June 2021. Published: 26 July 2021
  • Funding: The publication of this article was funded by Carleton University
  • PDF download (main article text only)
  • Data Availability: The reader is encouraged to take our code, which may be found at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4684671 and run it on archaeological images of their choosing.

Corresponding author: Shawn GrahamORCID logo
shawn.graham@carleton.ca
Department of History, Carleton University

Jaime SimonsORCID logo
Carleton University

Full text

Figure 1: A visualisation of our impression of the intensity of the music on a scale of 1–10 versus our description of the emotions in each piece as scored using the AFINN lexicon for sentiment analysis

Figure 2: House of Lysias, Block D1. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, k-327; corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 1

Figure 3: Man standing inside Tower 1, ancient fortifications. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, c-172; corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 2

Figure 4: Worker inside the Temple of Azzanathkona. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, Fx-8; corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 3

Figure 5: Man standing in doorway of block B2. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, z-90; corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 5

Figure 6: Workers pushing removed dirt in rail carts. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, z-92. Corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 15

Figure 7: Yale expedition members taking notes on excavated area of the Mithraeum. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, g974b. Corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 9

Figure 8: Yale-French Academy team members above trench on main street. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, d108. Corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 10

Figure 9: Cumont and Rostovtzeff in the Mithraeum. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection g852a. Corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 11

Figure 10: Young man wearing an ancient textile cap. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection g-785. Corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 4

Figure 11: Three faience jars from a private house. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection Fiii63. Corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 19

Figure 12: Bone objects from Dura-Europos. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection Dam-147. Corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 22

Figure 13: Man on camel in the Palmyrene Gate. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection, y-550. Corresponds with Baird 2011, fig. 18

Table 1: Original emotional responses and impressions of the intensity of the resulting image sonifications prior to looking at the images

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