ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BF, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: University of Southampton, Southampton, England, lecturer in archaeology, 2000—, cocoordinator of master's program in archaeology of art and representation, 2000, coordinator, 2001—, co-director of Community Archaeology Project, Quseir al-Qadim, Egypt, 2000, director, 2001—. Also works on history of museum display in archaeology.
Ancestral Images: The Iconography of Human Origins, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1998.
Contributor to journals and anthologies, including Archaeological Theory Today, Antiquity, Making Early Histories in Museums, Cultural Life of Images, and Picturing Knowledge: Historical and Philosophical Problems concerning the Use of Art in Science.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Constructing Egypt: The Display of Ancient Egypt at the British Museum 1756-1900.
SIDELIGHTS: Stephanie Moser is a lecturer at the University of Southampton in England. Her specialty is the representation of the past, and she teaches undergraduate courses in this field. She coordinates the master's degree program in the archaeology of art and representation, and is director of the Community Archaeology Project located in the Egyptian town of Quseir al-Qadim. She has written various articles on archaeological representation, and is the author of the book, Ancestral Images: The Iconography of Human Origins.
In Ancestral Images Moser investigates the relationship between representations of the past and human evolutionary theories. She explains that this relationship existed long before there was ever a scientific understanding of the development of the human species.
Moser has examined countless images of ancient humans and feels that they communicate more than scientific knowledge to the viewer. These images "also tell stories about who we are or what we want to be"; they embody the virtues of the masculine and feminine natures, explain the role of the nuclear family in society, or show the progress of human evolution.
In Ancestral Images Moser explores the role of visual images in shaping human thought. She argues that these images are much more influential than written texts because they "impact the mind at a deeper, less conscious level" than oral or printed stories. She feels that the viewer of an image has little ability to reject what has once been seen, in comparison with the relative ease with which a person can forget what has been heard or intellectually understood.
The book is filled with numerous engravings, paintings, photographs and representations. These illustrate how certain images originated in prehistoric times and then evolved through classical antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and on into the nineteenth century.
According to an American Scientist review by Robert Proctor, Ancestral Images is "a fine volume." The critic felt that although there was a striking lack of mention of books such as Landau's Narratives of Human Evolution and Haraway's Primate Visions, there is no book that "captures the iconography of human origins" as well as does Ancestral Images. Joan Vastokas, a reviewer for the Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, also wrote that "scientists as well as humanists and social scientists should all read this book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, July-August, 1999, Robert N. Proctor, review of Ancestral Images: The Iconography of Human Origins, pp. 376-377.
Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, November, 1999, Joan M. Vastokas, review of Ancestral Images, p. 609.
Choice, February, 1999, C. Hendrickson, review of Ancestral Images, p. 1099.
Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 1999, review of Ancestral Images, p. 68.
University of Southampton Web site,http://www.arch.soton.ac.uk/ (November 1, 2001).