Meet the Team

The Exploring the Institutionalisation of Archaeology research group is the brainchild of two PhD researchers, Subhashini Robert William and Abbey Ellis, based at King's College London and the University of Leicester respectively.

Subhashini Robert William

Subha is a first year PhD student at KCL. Her doctoral project explores the relationship between the Victorian press and the institutions of archaeology in the nineteenth- century. It starts from the premise that the press has been largely underrepresented in recent studies of the history of archaeology. Focusing on the period from the 1840’s onwards, when the British Archaeological Association was formed and when archaeology was becoming more established as a discipline, this thesis explores how archaeology became the more popular science in the mid-nineteenth century and how the press reflected the various discourses of archaeological knowledge that was emerging during this period. This thesis has two strands. Firstly, it will evaluate the cultural implications that led to the increase in publications of newspapers and periodicals in the mid-nineteenth century and explore the receptions of archaeology in both the national and provincial press. There is a lack of substantial discussions on the production of archaeological knowledge in the nineteenth-century provincial press, the representation of archaeological writing from women in both fiction and non-fictional forms and the self-fashioning of archaeologists in the press. Her thesis will address these gaps in three different chapters. Secondly, this research will also examine the development of provincial archaeological societies and museums and draw on a range of archival material to show the connections between museums, archaeology and the Victorian press in the nineteenth-century.

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Abbey Ellis

Abbey graduated from Merton College, Oxford in 2016 with a first class BA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History. In 2017, Abbey achieved a distinction in her Masters degree in Classical Archaeology, also at Merton. Abbey’s current AHRC-funded collaborative PhD project is split between the University of Leicester, where she is supervised by Sandra Dudley, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, where she is supervised by Bert Smith and Milena Melfi. Her work is set in the museum's Cast Gallery and focuses on archaeological plaster casts, namely the exact replicas of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures made from Plaster of Paris. Her project seeks to redefine how the authenticity and value of these objects can be understood. She aims to achieve this through an investigation into the use and status of plaster and the technique of casting in the ancient world. In addition, as part of a visitor studies focused phase of her project, Abbey seeks to examine the perceptions that museum visitors currently have of casts. She will be exploring to what extent the average visitor views casts as authentic and worthy of display in the museum. She is investigating whether current museum displays are doing enough to present these casts as important objects in their own right, as opposed to merely being stand-ins for ancient original sculptures.

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