Illustrating the Past

Artists' interpretations of ancient places

By Judith Dobie

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Our understanding of the human past is fleeting. The mute evidence from excavation – the dusty pot shards, fragments of bone encourages abstraction and detachment. Reconstruction art offers a different way into the past, bringing archaeology to life, influencing and informing archaeologist’s ideas. At its best it delivers something vivid, vital and memorable, and is likely to endure beyond the text.

This beautiful illustrated book explores the history of reconstruction art and archaeology, exploring how attitudes to illustration have swung from the scientific and technical to a more imaginative way of seeing and back again.

Drawing on her specialist knowledge, Judith Dobie explores the work of seven influential artists, using conversation and correspondence to build a picture of how these artists’ personalities, interests and backgrounds influence their art. Extensively illustrated case studies featuring working sketches demonstrate how reconstruction artists deliver understanding and can change the interpretation of a site.

This book celebrates reconstruction art within the field of archaeology and explores its legacy.


  1. Introduction: Ways of seeing the past
  2. Alan Sorrell
  3. Terry Ball
  4. Frank Gardiner
  5. Ivan Lapper
  6. Peter Dunn
  7. Allan Adams
  8. Judith Dobie
  9. Summary: Interpreting the past

Additional Information

  • Series: Illustrated History
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 208
  • Illustrations: 150, colour
  • ISBN: 9781848022720


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