Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Talking About Fakes

I thought Kenneth Lapatin, author of "Snake Goddesses, Fake Godesses" expressed a very interesting view of the importance of forgeries in this recent interview in Archaeology Magazine:

"When a modern object is taken to be a historical artifact, the past is misrepresented, and hence it is likely to be misunderstood. And because successful forgeries are successful to the degree that they appeal to our modern ideas and ideals about the past, forgeries can contribute significantly to our tendency to re-create the past in the manner most attractive to our modern needs and desires. For that reason I think that when forgeries are recognized and exposed it is important and valuable not to bury--or worse, to destroy--them simply because they are fake and potentially embarrassing, but rather to study and display them so as to employ them as examples of how we are constantly refashioning the past as part of the historical enterprise. They are also useful for the training of students."

Lapatin's book on the subject, Mysteries of the Snake Goddess: Art, Desire, and the Forging of History (2002), has now appeared in paperback form (Da Capo Press, $16.95)

Comic Book Series Tackles the Trojan War

"I first got the idea for Age of Bronze in February 1991. I listen to books on tape alot while I'm working, and I was listening to the March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, by Barbara Tuchman, and there's a chapter in there on Troy, and it just sort of, listening to that opened this whole world of possibilities. I just thought, boy, that would be a great story to tell as a comic. But at the time I thought, 'oh, what a huge, huge project. I just don't have time for that.' But the idea kept coming back in various ways, and I finally realized I'll just give in and do this thing. So I was doing a lot of research for several years, gathering information on both the story and the archaeology of the time, and then I had to sort of shop the idea around the publishers. I started actually drawing in 1997, and I finally found a publisher and the series began publication in 1998, in November.

I do consult archaeologists whenever I can, and in fact there have been some archaeologists who have been quite enthusiastic about the project, and have pushed their help on me, almost, like Shelley Wachsmann, who's at Texas A&M University. I'm on an email list called AegeanNet, and when I first wrote to it saying I was working on this project, and was anyone interested in seeing anything, he immediately wrote to me and said, "This is my book, you have to get it." So I did, and he was right, I needed it. Some other archaeologists who've been helpful have been Bernice Jones, who's done a lot of research into costumes of the time. Eric Cline, who's been really enthusiastic about the comic book series. When I first found out that there were ongoing excavations at Troy, I immediately called up the University of Cincinnati and spoke to Getzel Cohen, he's at the Institute of Mediterranean Studies there, and he seemed really enthusiastic about it. I originally called him up because I wanted to find out how I could get copies of their excavation reports, which are published in Studia Troica.

One of the earliest questions I got when I began announcing that I was going to be publishing Age of Bronze was, how am I going to handle Achilles and Patroclus? So I knew that people were going to be watching. When I sit down at my drawing table and decide what's going to happen in a my version of the story--[a story that has] developed over so many centuries--I want to be as inclusive as possible, to tell as many of the episodes, to use as many of the characters, and to tell every aspect. It wasn't really a question of whether I was going to show the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, it was just how I was going to do that, and how much of the erotic aspect I was going to show of that.

See also: Age of Bronze