This week our assignment was to create an account on HistoryPin, a site crowdsourcing platform where users can place historical images on a map and create tours using the images. I initially wanted my tour to be of historical images from 1890s – 1920s showing major archaeological excavations in Egypt. However, I struggled to find images. I searched in museum collections, museums and institutions I knew funded digs during that time period, and yet I only found one excavation image. I think some of this problem could be the metadata for the online collections, or the excavation images may not be digitized. In the end, I pulled my images from the British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. My tour, “Ancient Egypt in Black and White,” can be found here.
It was simple to create an account with HistoryPin and very straight-forward and intuitive to pin images. I only ran into a few issues pinning my pictures to the street view and lining up the historical image with the modern-day view. Take a look at this camel and its rider blocking a perfect line-up of the Great Sphinx.
Another problem I faced was that historical sites are no longer in the same location…or even marked on a map. A few of my pins are just floating above the desert…or they are underwater. The Aswan High Dam, constructed in the 1960s, raised the water level of the Nile and subsequently there were several ancient monuments moved to higher ground, the most famous being Abu Simbel. One of the images I chose for my tour was of Temple de Deboud, a site that used to be located about 9 miles south of Aswan in Southern Egypt. It is now in Madrid, Spain. Where to pin the image? I wanted to show the image in the same spot as the photographer saw it, but there is nothing there besides water to compare to the historical image. I decided to pin the Temple de Deboud to the reconstructed temple in Spain. The pin on my tour seems out of place at first glance, but it presents an interesting moment in history.I also had some very successful match-ups! These are both images from the Luxor Temple complex. Doesn’t appear too much has changed over the decades!
I was surprised to see that HistoryPin only has 419,732 pins as of today – I was expecting a much larger collection. Because of some of the issues I encountered with the map and street view portion of the application, I see HistoryPin as more useful for Western historical societies, although it would be interesting to see others use the platform to place their image collections.