‘3,000 Years of History Are Literally Just Beneath Our Feet’
By Steve C. Brown
“So what have we got behind us? 3,000 Years of History Are Literally Just Beneath Our Feet.” With this simple, yet powerful image, the photographer David Leesman — who’s long been at the forefront of a new movement in the world of archaeological photography — captures a slice of time in which what you are seeing is, in truth, entirely real. “I’m doing the whole history to be able to do this photograph,” he explains.
Archaeological photography is, in fact, a relatively new form of photography. In fact, it is almost impossible to imagine that anyone has actually taken the first image on the surface of the moon. It wasn’t until August 1969, when the Apollo 11 mission’s Lunar Rover photographed the surface, that history was made. At that point, the first picture ever taken on the moon was not simply a single photo or two, but a series of images spanning some three hours.
As fascinating as it was, that process was far from simple. It would take years of research and experimentation before a series of images depicting the surface of the moon would be produced, and they would, in turn, form the basis of an entire new way in which images were made.
“It was just a matter of time until we were able to get there,” says Leesman, who has himself spent years cataloging the history of this form of photography. “And I don’t mean just cataloging, but actually digging down and exposing these images that were just a few minutes old.”
This new process of making photographs on the moon has, over the years, been a key part of the effort to unravel and understand our past. But, as Leesman’s work will soon show, images that reveal history not just from the surface of our past, but from the past that was made on its surfaces, is not a recent development.
“From the moment we were down there and saw that little dot from the camera, that was our first piece of history,” says Leesman. “And then as we began to get more pictures, we were able to piece together the