Oxen Ploughing on the Trojan Plain

Department Archive
Collection SPHS BSA Image Collection
Reference No. BSA SPHS 01/0223.1445
Level Item
Description Film negative, smaller than quarter plate, an original negative.
Dimensions 8.5 x 6 cm
Place Trojan Plain
Creator Seale, Rev. Ernest G.
Scope and Content The original description in the SPHS register reads: "Trojan Plain: oxen ploughing on".
Notes Latest date based on the JHS slide catalogue and Rev. E.G. Seale's donation of images to the SPHS collection - 'Proceedings of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies. Session 1911-12' The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 32 (1912) p. liii. SPHS Lectures & Slide Sets: This image appears in the SPHS Slide Sets: A.J. Toynbee, ca. 1924. Greek Life and the Greek Environment [later changed to The Geography of Greece]. Slide number 15; Unknown author, ca. 1925. The Travels of Saint Paul. Slide number 43 and B.I. and I.A. Lawrence, ca. 1933. The Expedition of Cyrus & Xenophon's Anabasis. Slide number 16.
Further information Scenes from Modern Greek Life
Historic images often show scenes from modern life. These are not modern in the current sense, but reflect a time they were taken. Some were captured unintentionally, recording an aspect of contemporary activity while composing scenes of other interest such as ancient or historical monuments. However, many were taken with the express purpose of recording folk life, part of a trend in the latter part of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The process of categorizing these ethnographic scenes of everyday life in image collections reflected contemporary folklore categories: material life (eg. domestic architecture, dress, craft and agricultural production), social life (eg. games, festivals) and spiritual life (eg. superstitions, religious activities).

However, a significant idea encapsulated in these ethnographic images was the 19th-century concept of continuity - relics or survivals - of ancient social life and practices in the present. In Greece, this concept of continuity was notably promoted by the scholar of folklore (laographia), Nikolaos Politis, and held by many British classicists and archaeologists of the time. In fact, the Irish classical scholar, J.P. Mahaffy encapsulated this idea in his 1876 travel book, Rambles and Studies in Greece: "Everywhere the modern Greek town is a mere survival of the old". These survivals were often linked to classical literature, cult and myth by scholars of the Greek world.


It is clear that these images are not simply quaint historical scenes, but they embody principles inherent in the discipline of Hellenic Studies in the recent past.

Reference 1912 JHS 32: 8th accession to 1904 slide catalogue. lxxviii.SPHS 1445. Link to article
1913 JHS 33: Catalogue of Slides. 19.SPHS 1445. Link to article
1921 JHS 41: Slide Sets. lxv.SPHS 1445. Link to article