We are delighted to report that the resources funded by Cambridge Digital Humanities have contributed to the Fitzwilliam Museum’s critically acclaimed new exhibition ‘Islanders: the making of the Mediterranean.’

CDH supported the Fitzwilliam Museum through a Digitisation Award, to bring archival material from the British School at Athens to Cambridge for the very first time. A set of thirty notebooks, letters and images from the archaeological site of Knossos on Crete were digitised and made available virtually to contribute to the research project ‘Being an Islander: Art and Identity of the large Mediterranean Islands’ under which the exhibition is framed.

Both the exhibition and research project, together with corresponding outreach activities, aim to elucidate what defined island identities in the Mediterranean. They explore how insularity affected and shaped cultural identity using the examples of Crete, Cyprus, and Sardinia, and provide a platform to debate cultural evolution in the islands as opposed to the surrounding mainland. The palace of Knossos in the Heraklion district is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site of Crete, and over a century of archaeological work at this site has contributed significantly to our understanding of the history of this island and more generally to its insular identity.

This set of notebooks, plans and photographs documents archaeology at Knossos from the 1930s to the 1950s undertaken by the then Knossos Curator, Richard Wyatt Hutchinson (‘The Squire’) and later Sinclair Hood during his time as BSA Assistant Director and then Director. Especially important are the rescue excavations undertaken just before and after WWII by Hutchinson whose broad chronological interests made him one of the first to see a long history of Knossos (and, indeed, of the much wider island of Crete) beyond the hitherto more intensively studied prehistoric ‘Minoan’ periods.

‘Islanders: the making of the Mediterranean’ is now open in the exhibition gallery of the Fitzwilliam until 4 June.

Research from the wider research project of ‘Being an Islander’ will be presented at a three-day joint interdisciplinary international conference on island identities held between Cambridge, Oxford and the London,  28–30 March.

Photo credits: Anastasia Christophilopoulou and Michael Loy, taken at Fitzwilliam Museum.

Thank you to Dr Michael Loy and Dr Anastasia Christophilopoulou for your contribution to the CDH blog, and congratulations for your receipt of our award and consequent work on the Islanders exhibition.

  • Posted 21 Mar 2023

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