The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures of the University of Chicago is among the leaders in the recovery of the history, languages, and cultures of West Asia and North Africa. In the halcyon days of the 1930s, when universities and museums conducted expeditions on a scale now unheard of, ISAC teams worked in nearly every country of West Asia and North Africa. An integral part of each excavation was the expedition photographer, who was entrusted with capturing not only the routine of each day’s work but also the moments of discovery and exploration. These images recount some of these memorable moments, as ISAC sifted the sands of time.

Links are provided below to a sampling of images from ISAC's photographic archives. The complete archive contains over 100,000 negatives documenting the Institute’s activities from 1892 to the present. These images record now-vanished temples and tombs, famed archaeologists standing proudly near their greatest finds and scenes of life now effaced by modern times.

Links are also provided below to catalogs of several archaeological and survey expeditions to West Asia and North Africa which contributed thousands of images to ISAC's photographic archives. 


The following ISAC staff and volunteers contributed to the development of the Photographic Archives: Karen Wilson, Emily Teeter, John Larson, John C. Sanders, Charles Jones, Matthew W. Stolper, Lyla Bradley, Peg Cipolla, Irv Diamond, Irene Glasner, Nancy Gould, Peggy Grant, Robert Randolph, Karen Terras, Michael G. Kozuh, Sriram Kanteti, Nicholas Lezak, Peter Friedman, Mara Terras, Katherine Strange, and Bruce Williams, who assisted in identifying and locating several Egyptian sites from the original survey data.