Praesos: Dance [at a festival]

Department Archive
Collection SPHS BSA Image Collection
Reference No. BSA SPHS 01/2855.7271
Level Item
Description Glass negative, full plate size, presumably a copy negative.
Dimensions 21.5 x 16 cm
Place Praesos
Dates 1901
Creator The British School at Athens
Collection event Praisos Excavation 1901
Scope and Content Part of a collection of images from the BSA excavations at Praisos, Crete in 1901. The original description in the SPHS register reads: "Praesos: dance".
Notes Date based on the excavations at Praisos in 1901.
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.