Reaching for Atlantis is the mother-project to Too long, didn’t read, funded through the Freigeist-scheme (“Free Spirit”) of the Volkswagen Foundation (no ties with the car company!) and hosted by the Department of Public History at Hamburg University.
Reaching for Atlantis tells ‘cultural biographies of objects’ that were subject to the massive reinterpretation of material culture launched under the Swedish Empire (ca. 1650–1720).
In this period, Swedish scholars argued that Scandinavia had been the first place settled in Europe after the deluge; home to its first high civilisation that the ancient writings described under names such as Atlantis.
For this purpose, leading academics of the kingdom charged tangible evidence (or representations thereof) – e.g. coins, statues, archaeological remains, artifacts from the kingdom’s uncharted north, even mountains and seashores – with meaning to construct a glorious narrative of its early history.
Reaching for Atlantis and its sister project Too long, didn’t read explore online formats and visual storytelling to open up avenues to art and history that are more approachable, intuitive, and integrative for a wider audience.
In 2022, we officially launched Peek into Atlantis, a visual database that allows you to explore the vast pool of illustrations that Rudbeck published around 1700 to produce evidence for Sweden’s claims.
In its final project stage, Reaching for Atlantis will allow you to navigate through the layers of history of selected objects across time – e.g. the drum of a Sami shaman or an Egyptian artifact –, thus illustrating how the meaning of an item changes in different contexts.