The stereoscopic glass slides in the AKMED collection contain photographs of archaeological sites taken by scholars visiting western Anatolia between about 1895 and 1910.
The collection consists of albumin images on glass, with each image having both negative and positive. Purchased from a private collector in Paris in 2008, the collection sheds light on the history, architecture, and lifestyle of the period concerned.
On the stereoscope:
Negative-positive glass stereo images first began to be produced in the 1850s, and were viewed with a special instrument called a stereoscope. The photographs were taken using cameras with a double-lens system, and when placed in the stereoscope they are seen as three-dimensional images. The system was invented by the British scientist and inventor Charles Wheatstone and further developed by David Brewster. Stereographs became popular in the 1860s, and in 1862, to give just one example, the London Stereoscopic Company sold more than 300,000 stereographs of the Great London Exposition.
The first stereograph images of Istanbul and Anatolia were taken with albumin on glass by Claude-Marie Ferrier in 1859. In the 1880s, sales of cameras increased, and soon amateur photographers were taking stereo images as well, which continued well into the 1920s.
Between 1896 and 1912, the French Revue générale des sciences organized archaeological tours known as the croisières des savants. Such renowned archaeologists as Charles Diehl and Gustave Fougères participated in these trips as lecturers, with the touring groups being met by the directors of archaeological excavations. The trips would depart from Toulon in France and visit Italy and Greece before arriving in Turkey, where they would visit ancient sites like Didyma, Miletus, Hierapolis, and Aphrodisias. The touring groups were made up of wealthy and highly cultured archaeophiles.