© Edmund Engelman

As Freud’s patients relaxed on his famous couch, freely associating, they were watched over by exotic remnants of lost worlds. A plaster cast of a Roman bas relief showing a young woman, the Gradiva (a detail of the Roman original appears in the next photo), and a colored print by the 19th-century artist Ernst Koemer depicting the Egyptian temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel hung over the couch. One patient remarked that “there was always a feeling of sacred peace and quiet” in Freud’s consulting room. To Freud, antiquities were similar to the images in his patients’ minds: Both were bits of congealed meaning that could not be understood until their larger contexts were known. The archaeologist and the psychoanalyst explore these contexts—whether a Bronze Age citadel or an infant trauma.