Hokes Archives

The Hokes Archives is a project in fictive archeaology created by artist Beauvais Lyons. Lyons has created the artefacts for at least two fictional ancient near Eastern civilizations, the Apasht and the Aazudians. In addition, he creates the field notes, diagrams, and other scientific documents pertaining to archeological excavations of these civilizations. Lastly, he creates museum-style exhibitions of the artefacts and documents, often accompanied by lectures that he gives as "Dr. Lyons," director of the Hokes Archive, or his German counterpart, Heinrich Dreckmueller. While the meticulously detailed nature of Lyons' creation often fools viewers into thinking they are learning about a real ancient civilization, there are a number of clues pointing to the fictive nature of the enterprise: "Hokes" Archive sounds like the word 'hoax', while the first syllable of "Dreckmueller" is the German word for 'shit'.

Left: “Aazudian Fresco Depicting Tamoot Fighting Pestilence” (1986).

Objects like the ceramic fresco at left and the reproduced fresco (below right) gain credibility by conforming to standard scientific practices, such as not filling in missing areas in the original, or doing so in a different tonality so that the demarcation between the original object and the archaeologist's best guess is clear.

Right: lithograph from “Catalogue of the Apasht Excavations, Vol. II”, 1983. This is an image from tablet 4 from an edition of the Creation Codex, as reconstructed by archeologists. Described (misleadingly) as ‘primordial hermaphrodite nursing winged canine’.

The lithographs right and below are typical of the "scientific" productions of the Hokes archives. Again, the diagram below gains credibility by including such standard elements as a scale, a key, a map, and cross-sections.

Left: lithograph from “Catalogue of the Apasht Excavations, Vol. II”, 1983. The Creation Codex above was exhumed from one of these mounds.

One of the most appealing aspects of the Hokes Archive excavations is the inventive license of that Lyons allows to his ancient civlizations. The Aazudian ceramics detailed in the lithograh below are quite whimsical: while obviously vessels of some kind, they are each constructed in ways that thwart their utility-- most won't stand upright on their own, while others have no visible outlet.

Right: lithograph, “History of Ceramics” (1993).

These lithographs reveal another consistent feature of the Apasht and Aazudan excavations: by their visual and typographic style, they point to 19th rather than 20th century archeology. In other words, Lyons is working in two different fictional pasts: the ancient past of the civilizations themselves (Aazudian culture was supposed to flourish along the Euphrates River near the Iraqui-Syrian border, ca. 3500-2000 BC) and the more recent past of the 19th century excations of these civilizations, as documented in the prints and diagrams (note that lithography represented the high end of mid 19th century printing technology). Lyons returns to the present for his museum-style exhibitions and lectures, as shown in the image below.

 Left below: iinstallation view of the mock archeology project “Reconstruction of an Aazudian Temple, ca. 1990. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:  Print magazine, [more info TK]; The Hokes Archives web site.

See also:  “The Centaur: Excavations at Volos”.