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A scholar, artist and heir to a considerable fortune, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey set off from his native France in 1842 for a tour of the historic archeology of the Eastern Mediterranean. But, more than just an eager sightseer, Girault de Prangey planned to capture such famed structures as the Acropolis in Athens and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem via daguerreotype – the world’s first publicly accessible photographic process – with the intent of publishing and selling his images. These pictures, as well as the additional street scenes and cityscapes he would capture along the way, would eventually become historic in their own right, in some cases representing the oldest surviving photographs of the places depicted. However, as this video essay from the YouTube channel Kings and Things details, these remarkable images would go almost entirely unseen until the 1920s, some three decades after Girault de Prangey’s death. Inviting viewers to retrace this photographer’s footsteps, the video presents a riveting window onto the Eastern Mediterranean as it existed nearly two centuries ago, at the dawn of the photographic age. For more from Kings and Things, watch The Impossible Architecture of Étienne-Louis Boullée.
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