Metal Heads! (The archaeological kind.)

Last week, the objects under study for the classical catalogue were the ancient metals (bronze statuettes and gold finger rings). Ancient bronze specialist Carol M. visited the NCMA to examine our (very lovely) pieces and Corey was there as well for the conservation assessment. However, Noelle, our very tech-savvy conservator of record for the research project, had all the fun!

Some of the statuettes were x-rayed and the fabulous Head of a Woman in the Guise of a Goddess was zapped in the eye with the XRF (to obtain the composition of the silver used for her eyes).  Noelle also brought the Head to the mail room this morning so it could get weighed!

Cue whatever heavy metal band you’ve got on your playlist and take a look at these cool pics!

 

La vie en rose

Earlier this morning, the classical galleries were closed for ‘research and conservation.’  Bill, our chief conservator, and I were there to take samples of the bright pink pigment found on the South Italian ceramics.  We have a good idea of what this pigment might be but we’ll send samples to a colleague in Italy for scientific confirmation.

Sampling is always a delicate procedure because it is destructive.  Bill had to scrape some of that fabulous pink off the four vessels that use it in their decoration. We picked locations on the vessels that are less visible when you’re visiting the galleries and viewing the pots.  You shouldn’t notice where the pink pigment was scraped off.

The results will be published in the NCMA’s upcoming catalogue of classical art.

 

VENI, VIDI, VICI

Last week, the study of the classical collection continued when Laurel Taylor came to the Museum to look at the other Roman artefacts (not the Roman marble statues that have already been studied). Corey Riley was there as well, taking care of the conservation assessment. The collection of Roman ceramics is rather small and not of good quality compared to other ceramics we have from elsewhere in the ancient Mediterranean.

Two of the objects were not even Roman and two others were probably forgeries!  The rest were cute if not spectacular. Although we had fun, I guess our Roman study session was more like  VENI, VIDI, SED NON VICI.

His Eminence…

In June, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta Clergy-Laity Assembly and Philoptochos Conference was held in Raleigh and the NCMA hosted the opening reception. We took this incredible opportunity to show case our wonderful classical collection, the Bacchus Conservation Project and the philanthropic work of our Friend of Greek Art.  Of course, as the curator of ancient art, I was in attendance (I gave the opening remarks, actually).

Also in attendance was His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, a wonderful and kind man with whom I had great pleasure chatting. This picture was snapped of the two of us. It’s such a great photo, I thought I would share!

 

Overwhelmed…

Aside

I have to beg forgiveness from my readers for my absence from An Archaeologist’s Diary.  I have been completely swamped… both at work and at home.

Last year, I had to put most of my work projects aside in order to concentrate on the Rolling Sculpture exhibition at the NCMA in the fall of 2016.  I have just barely caught up and I find myself where I was back in January 2016 (it feels like I have lost a year and a half of my life).  Not only have I managed to catch up, I have also written an article that will be published in November. (This came out of the blue after I presented a paper at the Archaeological Institute of America meeting held in Toronto back in January.)  I managed to submit my material two months ahead of the deadline, trying to make time to complete the article I was revising before Rolling Sculpture took over my life. I’m desperately trying to complete it by the end of August… if it’s not ready by then, it will never be published.

At home, it’s volunteer projects (both professional/academic and social) that occupy my evenings: the creation of a new open access journal (designing the cover and the article template, typesetting said articles, communicating with authors and reviewers, and working with colleagues in Heidelberg to design the web site where the journal will be hosted), curating and producing the content of the Canada Cultural Booth at the Raleigh International Festival, hosting various projects for the Canadian club of which I am president and other projects that have since been completed.  At some point, I calculated that I was juggling between four and seven projects at the same time.  You will understand that after approximately 17 hours daily on the computer (at the Museum and at home), I had no desire to write and post anything on An Archaeologist’s Diary. All I wanted to do was rest my eyes…

I’m still overwhelmed, but in August I will host more scholars who will examine the remaining classical material for the catalogue project.  Considering that I have been blogging about this for a few years, I would be remiss not to continue posting short notes about what’s going on and see this project through!

I’ll be back!

International Museum Day 2017

In 2017, the theme of International Museum Day is  “Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums”.  In this day and age, It is a rather pertinent topic and here is how ICOM explain why museums are important institutions in our tumultuous world.

History is a vital tool for defining a given people’s identity, and each of us defines ourselves through important and fundamental historic events. Contested histories are unfortunately not isolated traumatic events. These histories, which are often little known or misunderstood, resonate universally, as they concern and affect us all.

Museum collections offer reflections of memories and representations of history. This day will therefore provide an opportunity to show how museums display and depict traumatic memories to encourage visitors to think beyond their own individual experiences. 

By focusing on the role of museums as hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people, this theme highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation. 

 

A little ray of sunshine

A really weird package came for me in the mail a few days ago. It was from the marble guy with whom I’m working on the Museum’s marble sculptures.  A gilded and pointy thing made out of wood. With it a simple note that said: Can you guess what this is?

Huh?!?!

As I walked back to my desk, it hit me like a bolt of lightning! It was a little ray of sunshine!  Our statue of the Celestial god (possibly Helios, the Greek god of the sun) wears a headdress that has little holes in it.  These may have held gilded metal rays to create a radiant crown (a bit like the Statue of Liberty).  My colleague had send me the mock-up of a ray to insert in the headdress to determine the correct proportions. Once that is figured out, a set of twelve rays will be made to recreate the golden crown for a photo.

Our verdict: the ray needs to be thinner and shorter.