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Internet archaeology - exploring beginnings and birth of Internet Culture

tamrabInternet Archaeology seeks to explore, recover, archive and showcase the graphic artifacts found within earlier Internet Culture. Established in 2009, the chief purpose of Internet Archaeology is to preserve these artifacts and acknowledge their importance in understanding the beginnings and birth of an Internet Culture. We focus on graphic artifacts only, with the belief that images are most culturally revealing and immediate.


Most of the files in our archive are in either JPG or GIF format and are categorized by either still or moving image, they are then arranged in various thematic subcategories. Currently, a major focus of Internet Archaeology is on the archiving and indexing of images found on Geocities websites, as their existence has been terminated by parent company Yahoo; who discontinued GeoCities operation on October 26, 2009.


WebTV's Holloween Queens


Internet Archaeology is an ongoing effort which puts preservation paramount.



1997 - Born Again Bikers

Unlike traditional archaeology, where physical artifacts are unearthed; Internet Archaeology's artifacts are digital, thus more temporal and transient. Yet we believe that these artifacts are no less important than say the cave paintings of Lascaux. They reveal the origins of a now ubiquitous Internet Culture; showing where we have been and how far we have come.

1996 - Babistar's Fun Page


1999 - MOLE





1997 - Carol And Kids








1998 - Caitlins Page









  • How did you come up with the idea for the Internet Archaeology project?

In early June 2009 I heard about GeoCities closing. This left quite an impression on me. I started using the internet at the height of GeoCities’ popularity, and ever since, the internet has become an ever more integral part of my life. At the time, there was very little news or concern about the closing; an event which I saw as a major milestone in the internet’s history. I was deeply irked by this, and took it upon myself to do something about it. Coming from an artistic background, I created Internet Archaeology with the belief that the preservation of digital artifacts is not only important to historians, but also artists, designers and their enthusiasts. If you look at the history of art and design you’ll notice that movements and styles speak to and are inspired by the past. This is one of the main reasons why museums are vital institutions to society; they offer a glimpse into our past and in return, they inspire. In today’s Web 2.0 era, digital information moves at warp speed around the world, with an emphasis on what’s most current or new. This characteristic is what makes a blog post from just a month ago passé. I wanted to make a space that lives within the current Web 2.0 model while presenting artifacts found within earlier internet culture. The internet changes every second, and its quickly become the most pervasive media; at the pith of Internet Archaeology’s mission is the idea that digital content has value and should be saved, shared and presented.

  • How is it different from the Internet Archive?

The Internet Archive is a wonderful institution that’s gone through great efforts to save and archive digital content for over a decade. It has an extensive GeoCities collection amassed, which can be accessed using its Wayback Machine. The problem with the Wayback Machine is that you need to know the URL of the page you would like to view, and realistically, who can remember a GeoCities URL? Internet Archive can be thought of as a storage facility that saves as much of the internet as possible, while Internet Archaeology can be viewed more as a museum, which, along with preserving and saving content, also seeks to curate and showcase it in a comprehensive manner

  • What kind of ‘graphic artifacts’ are you aiming to archive and showcase specifically?

We archive as much as we can, but showcase artifacts that we find culturally significant, graphically unique or humorous.

  • How fast is the site growing? How many images have been archived already?

There are over 5,000 images showcased on the site at present. Everyday images are posted to the blog by its contributors from around the world. The Netscraps section allows anyone to post images to be considered as additions to the collection; this section grows everyday as well.

  • How many GeoCities sites did you manage to archive before Yahoo turned the switch off?

I managed to download about 260GB, and let’s say the average GeoCities site is about 5MB, so that would make roughly 53,000 sites. Note that the bulk of these sites were not downloaded blindly. The downloads were aggregated from specific targeted searches and areas of interest within GeoCities. As opposed to other archivists, who went after anything and everything.

  • What’s planned next for Internet Archaeology? Where will you turn to now that Geocities is no more?

Internet Archaeology will continue digging through the GeoCities archive and adding to the collection. Other areas we’ll soon venture into include: artifacts from the defunct, bankrupt and forgotten startups of the Nasdaq 5000 era; graphics found within early internet pornography websites; and of course, it wouldn’t be right to dig through GeoCities without also digging through Angelfire and Tripod, both of which are still up! Other plans for Internet Archaeology include a book and an exhibition – just looking for the right space, please contact if you think you can help!


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