by Alex Cook
As an intern under the archivist at the British School at Athens, I went through glass and photographic negatives dating to original excavations in Greece, c. 1880-1930. I re-housed into photo or glass-specific containers, reorganized them into size and numeric order, and started a database for the BSA’s collection. In the course of my internship, I learned the importance of housing negatives in a proper environment as many were deteriorating. Because of that and an evaluation of the negatives’ condition required for the database, I also learned about the different kinds of deterioration in glass and photo negatives. For example, silvering is the accumulation of silvery spots that slowly grow to cover a negative as the image breaks down and was very common amongst both glass and photographic negatives. The worst stage of deterioration for a photo negative is brittling, when the negative’s surface has tiny bubbles between it and the base and the entire structure crumbles easily. Fortunately I only came across a few of these unsalvageable cases. In the future, the BSA archivist plans to upload the negatives from most to least damaged so as to preserve the precious pictures.
After work, some of the other interns and I went to various sites and museums around Athens. We were each given ID cards that allowed us to get into sites and museums for free all over Greece, as part of the amount paid for the internship. It was amazing seeing places like the Acropolis and National Archaeological Museum for free! The BSA’s hostel accommodated me, and had good living quarters and a large kitchen. Overall, the internship was a great experience for me, and I highly recommend it to others.