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The Archaeology of Hollywood

Traces of the Golden Age

Paul Bahn

The Golden Age of Hollywood, dating to the hazy depths of the early 20th Century, was an era of movie stars worshipped by the masses and despotic studio moguls issuing decrees from poolside divans… but despite the world-wide reach of the movie industry, little more than memories of that era linger amidst the freeways and apartment complexes of today’s Los Angeles. Noted archaeologist Paul G. Bahn digs into the material traces of that Tinseltown in an effort to document and save the treasures that remain.

Bahn leads readers on a tour of this singular culture, from the industrial zones of film studios to the landmarks where the glamorous lived, partied, and played, from where they died and were buried to how they’ve been memorialized for posterity. The result is part history, part archaeology—enlivened with pop culture, reminiscence, and whimsy—and throughout, it feeds and deepens our fascination with an iconic place and time, not to mention the personalities who brought it to life.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 280Size: 5 3/4 x 9
978-0-7591-2378-6 • Hardback • April 2014 • $39.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-5381-0496-5 • Paperback • March 2017 • $26.00 • (£17.95)
978-0-7591-2379-3 • eBook • April 2014 • $24.00 • (£15.95)
Paul G. Bahn is a noted British, freelance archaeologist. Bahn has authored or co-authored numerous title including Disgraceful Archaeology (with Bill Tidy, 2nd ed. 2012) and Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice (with Colin Renfrew, 6th edition 2012). He is one of many enthusiasts of the Golden Age of Hollywood and is dedicated to its preservation.
1. The Prehistory of Hollywood
2. Why Hollywood? The Historical Background
3. Riddle of the Sands: Hollywood Egytpology
4. The Industrial Zone: The Industrialisation of Dreams
5. The Entertainment Areas: Bread and Circuses
6. Residential Areas: The Original Beverly Hillbillies
7. Hollywood Hieroglyphics: Cult Centres and Sacred Rituals
8. Stardust: Cities of the Dead
Appendix: Lists of Resting Places
About the Author
Cinema has been powerfully shaped by Hollywood, yet few Americans realize how much of its physical history in Tinseltown has been lost. It’s not just the loss of the early films themselves—only ten to 20 percent have survived—but also that studios, film sets, celebrity homes, movie palaces, costumes, props, equipment, hotels, and restaurants have all but disappeared. Bahn’s latest is aptly subtitled, because, as he reveals, traces are all that are left of early Hollywood. The author examines those remnants through a pop culture lens, moving from industrialized areas to the final resting places of the early industry giants and several areas in between. It is evident that Bahn enjoyed writing this book, both when rooting through the vestiges of an almost vanished era as well as disproving the myth that archaeologists only investigate the long-distant past. Verdict: This title will circulate well in public libraries and will be of interest to those fascinated by the iconography of Hollywood, early film history, and digging through the past.
Library Journal

The Archaeology of Hollywood is a light-hearted investigation of a magical era. . . . British archaeologist Paul Bahn has assembled. . . a very readable volume that examines the material remains of the film culture.
American Archaeology

[T]he author . . . takes the reader through the 'cities of the dead'—the cemeteries—with a narrative that takes the reader well behind and beyond the engraved words on stone. . . .What makes it a very good read can best be attributed to the interesting and often fascinating tidbits of information Bahn relates about the personalities, dreams, plans, places and acts of the famous town's inhabitants through those early Golden years—and not just the celebrities, but the producers and businessmen and dreamers and visionaries who made Hollywood what it was and is today. . . .And if you don't have the time or inclination to read something the length of War and Peace—this publication is a very quick read.
Popular Archaeology

In Paul G. Bahn’s slender and well-illustrated book, The Archaeology of Hollywood: Traces of the Golden Age he looks at Hollywood and how much of its past is still standing, exists or has been memorialised. . . .It is an interesting read and does advise that any tour of Hollywood for tourist should be taken with a pinch of salt. It will, hopefully incite any reader take an active interest in the conservation of Hollywood and its archaeology.

Paul G. Bahn takes the reader on a virtual tour of some of the most important historical spots in Hollywood in this meticulously researched page-turner. For L.A. experts, Bahn’s thorough and thoughtful examination of Hollywood history will provide a unique and intimate insight into this fascinating city. For those who have never been to Hollywood, this book will make you want to book your flight.
Lara Gabrielle Fowler, classic film scholar; blogger, Backlots (A Classic Film Blog)

A refreshing account of Tinseltown’s heyday. In this compact narrative, Bahn describes Hollywood’s magical era from the perspective of the material splendor of the film colony’s celebrity mansions, elite hotels, iconic restaurants, unique cemeteries, etc. He contends that by focusing on the tangibles, we can better understand this long-gone lavish era, its colorful individuals, and its majestic, privileged way of life. Enhancing his highly readable presentation are a wonderful array of period photos and a detailed appendix of which celebrities are buried where. Recommended reading.
James Robert Parish, author, The Hollywood Book of Extravagance

Archaeologist and lover of cinema lore Paul Bahn provides an engaging tour of Hollywood before, during and after its Golden Age. In this compact and engaging volume, Bahn guides readers through the remains of long-buried monumental movie sets, studios, theaters and other architectural treasures still standing or now covered by parking lots, as well as celebrity gravesites that have been places of pilgrimage for nearly a century. The fascinating stories, legends, and gossip heard along the way buttress Bahn’s central and well-supported argument that the remnants of Hollywood’s past are worth preserving.
Jennie R. Ebeling, University of Evansville; author, Women’s Lives in Biblical Times

Over 75 images!

Color interior!

Extensive list that features the resting places of the stars!

• Winner, The Huffington Post: Best Film Books of 2014