An Archaeology of the Iron Curtain: Material and Metaphor by Anna McWilliams

By Anna McWilliams

The Iron Curtain used to be visible because the divider among East and West in chilly battle Europe. The time period refers to a cloth fact however it can be a metaphor; a metaphor that has develop into so robust that it has a tendency to mark our ancient figuring out of the interval. in the course of the archaeological research of 3 parts that may be thought of a part of the previous Iron Curtain, the Czech-Austrian border, the Italian-Slovenian border and the Berlin Wall, this examine investigates the connection among the cloth and the metaphor of the Iron Curtain.

“This paintings falls inside of what's frequently known as modern archaeology, a reasonably younger sub-discipline of archaeology. Few huge examine tasks have thus far been released, and strategies were defined as nonetheless a little experimental. during the fieldwork it's been attainable to recognize and spotlight the issues and possibilities inside of modern archaeology. It has turn into transparent how the fabrics stretch either via time and position demonstrating the advanced technique of how the cloth that archaeologists examine should be created.”

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An Archaeology of the Iron Curtain: Material and Metaphor

The Iron Curtain was once noticeable because the divider among East and West in chilly conflict Europe. The time period refers to a fabric truth however it can also be a metaphor; a metaphor that has turn into so strong that it has a tendency to mark our old realizing of the interval. during the archaeological examine of 3 components that may be thought of a part of the previous Iron Curtain, the Czech-Austrian border, the Italian-Slovenian border and the Berlin Wall, this examine investigates the connection among the fabric and the metaphor of the Iron Curtain.

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As time went on the Berlin Wall was upgraded and updated, particularly in 1975 when a major reinforcement operation was carried out. By 1989 it had become an almost impenetrable 47 AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE IRON CURTAIN barrier consisting of prefabricated L-shaped reinforced concrete slabs, reaching 3,6 m high with sewage pipes cemented to its top, making climbing almost impossible. It was accompanied by anti-vehicle obstacles and ditches, control strips, patrol roads, trip flares, dog runs, signal fences and an inner, 3–4 m high, wall (Rottman 2008) (Figure 4).

A structure that was closely connected to the Berlin Wall during the Cold War period, at least for those who used to cross it was the Tränenpalast, or Palace of Tears, a large hall at the Friedrichstraße Station. This was one of the main crossings between East and West Berlin both for Germans and people from other nationalities. The name refers to the many tearful goodbyes that were said inside the hall before those who were crossing over to West Berlin went through passport control here. There were several different windows for passport control, one for visitors, one for ‘Inhabitants of capitalist states’, one for inhabitants of West Berlin and a separate window for diplomats.

In Sonnennallee the Berlin Wall became the backdrop as well a reminder of the constant omnipresent ‘all seeing eye’, the East German 39 AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE IRON CURTAIN authorities, but it also helped to provide the setting for and portray a life that no longer exists. Historians Robert Rosenstone (2006) and Alun Munslow (2007) have argued that film production as a way of writing history has to be taken more seriously than it previously has been. They mean that film can “create experiential and emotional complexities way beyond the printed page” (Munslow 2007:522).

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