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A Century of Air-photography

  • O. G. S. Crawford

When I wrote a short history of archaeological and other air-photography in 1928 the earliest examples quoted were those taken by Major Elsdale between 1880 and 1887 ; this information was given me by the late Colonel Sir Charles Arden-Close, himself a pioneer of the craft. Since then two earlier instances have come to light. The Science Museum, South Kensington, has exhibited an air-photograph of Boston, Mass., taken in 1877 ; but unfortunately it has no history. In a book published in 1930 there is reproduced a photograph taken above Paris from a captive balloon, taken by that photographic genius who called himself Nadar. Through the good offices of Professor Vaufrey, editor of L’AnthropoZogie, prints were obtained from the Service Photographique des Monuments Historiques, and two combined are here reproduced on PLATE III. They look towards the Arc de Triomphe, and have on the left the Avenue du Bois de Bouiogne (Avenue Foch) and on the right that of Victor Hugo : note that these splendid thoroughfares, then only a decade old, were still only half built-up (the left hand part of the photograph is defective). Photography itself was not much older, Fox Talbot’s first efforts having been made from 1842 onwards.

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1 Wessex from the Air. Introduction.

2 For the Exhibition, see The Times, 13 February 1953.

3 Aus der Fruhzeit der Photographie, 1840-70: ein Bildbuch nach 200 Originalen, von Dr Helmuth Th. Bossertund Heinrich Guttmann. Frankfurt a.M., 1930: fig. 163, photo by Gaspard Félix Tournachon (‘Nadar’), 1858.

4 See ANTIQUITVY, VI, 1932, 512.

5 The series was called Wissenschaftlicche Veroffentlichungen des Deutsch-Türkischen Denkmalschutx-Kommandos, and the one published had as its title: Sinai, von Theodor Wiegand, mit beiträgen von F. Freiherren Kress von Kressenstein, W. Schubart, C. Watzinger, E. Werth und K. Walzinger, mit 8 tafeln und 142 Abbildungen im text. Berlin und Leipzig; W. de Gruyter.

6 Annual of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 1914-15, 93.

7 The left-hand bottom corner of Plate ma overlaps slightly with the top left-hand corner of b.

8 ‘Die Sogennanten Trajanswalle in der Dobrudscha’, von Carl Schuchhardt: aus den Abhandlungen der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Jahrgang 1918, Phil.-Hist. Klasse No. 12. Berlin, 1918.

9 It may however be pointed out that in the top left corner are traces of older ploughing, antedating the existing field-plan : and a dark band that might possibly represent the ditch of a Roman marching-camp ; the lower end of the line seems to be coming round to form the typical rounded corner.

10 ANTIQUITY, XIX, 1945, 145-53.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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