The El Kurru Heritage Project

Great post about the village of El Kurru, Sudan.

Kelsey Museum

BY SUZANNE DAVIS, Curator of Conservation, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

For the past several years, I’ve spent part of the winter in the small Sudanese village of El Kurru, and every year I fall a little bit more in love with it. I work there with Kelsey Research Scientist (and Kurru dig director) Geoff Emberling on the excavation and preservation of an ancient, royal cemetery.  Two years ago, the Kurru project team began to deliberately focus on community engagement as a way to forge stronger links between the local community and the ancient site.

This work has evolved slowly, beginning from plans to present the site to tourists (of which there are a surprisingly large number). El Kurru is an interesting site, with a big pyramid, two beautifully-painted subterranean tombs, and a large rock-cut temple. But the site is only a small part of what I love about El Kurru…

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Viking ships of Roskilde

The present ARCHAEO-Crush counts for the months of March and April (again I find I have so little free time). It is an interesting group of Danish artefacts from a museum in Roskilde.

VIKING SHIPS OF ROSKILDE

Type: artefact (wooden ship remains)
Civilisation: Scandinavia, Middle Ages, Viking era, 793-1066
Date: 11th century

ARCHAEO-Crush: The remains of the viking ships at the museum in Roskilde were discovered in Roskilde Fjord, in a sailing channel between Peberrenden and Skuldelev. The five ships were deliberately sunk during the 11th century to create a barrier to  defend the most direct route to Roskilde.  The remains represent five different types of vessels.  Skuldelev 1 is a large ocean-going trader use to transport cargo on high seas (think North Sea, Baltic Sea and even North Atlantic Ocean). While it is impossible to know who owned it, this type of vessel was used by merchants and chieftains on trading expeditions.  Dendrochronology indicates that it dates to 1030.  Skuldelev 2 is a large warship dating to 1042 and built near Dublin, Ireland (a Viking settlement called Dubh Linn founded the 9th century, where a much older Celtic village already existed according to the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus, author of synthesis of geographical knowledge of the Graeco-Roman world). The crew of this type of longship counted 65-70 men and the vessels belonged to chieftains whose exploits are celebrated in Scandinavian sagas. In comparison, Skuldelev 3 is a much smaller vessel. It is a trading ship used on the Danish coast and the Baltic Sea for the transport of goods or people. The vessel was powered by wind with the use of the sail, but, in very calm weather and on short distances, the oars could be used as well. There isn’t a Skuldelev 4 because the remains thought to be a fourth vessel turned out to be part of Skuldelev 2. So we go directly to Skuldelev 5, which is also a longship albeit a small one–its  crew was only 30 men .  This type of warship had 13 pairs of oars and was the smallest in a war fleet.  As for the last ship, Skuldelev 6 was a fishing boat. Originally built in Norway with pine, the boat was modified with oak and  birch and transformed into a simple transport boat, manned by a small crew.

Bucket list status: I have seen these fabulous ships on a day trip to Roskilde after a conference in Copenhagen. I would have loved to sail on one of the replicas of these ships. There is one for each of the boats in the MuseUm Habour! At least I got to board on Sea Stallion from Glendalough, the replica of Skuldelev 2, the large warship.

Additional information: You will find additional information for each of the ships on the museum’s website, Vikingeskibs Museet: size, draught, speed, crew, number of oars and even place of construction! (And more!)  All you have to do is click on the blue links in the main section above. Be sure to read the Education section of the ‘Professions’ tab of the site for even more details.

Art in Bloom 2017: Mesoamerica

In my third and last post for Art in Bloom 2017, I’m sharing the floral design found in the Mesoamerican gallery.

Inspired by the Incense Burner
By Ailsa Tessier

It seems like all the floral arrangements ever designed for the Mesoamerican artefacts are always so elegant. This one is no exception. Inspired by the incense burner, you can almost see the smoke rising from the arrangement with the thin branches and the arum lilies in the vases in the back. With several vases, the arrangement has depth and texture fitting with the nature of the artefact and its purpose.  I like it.

And that’s it for Art in Bloom 2017!

Art in Bloom 2017: Greece, Rome and South Italy

In my second post about Art in Bloom, I am presenting the floral designs associated with artefacts from Greece, Rome and Greek colonies in South Italy.

Inspired by the Torso of Aphrodite
By Diane Joyal

Numerous people mentioned how wonderful it was that the designer had included a seashell-shaped vase for this arrangement.  I’ll admit that I did not even notice… because I was puzzled by the two vases.  The pale-coloured arrangement represented exterior forces of nature, while the darker one the ‘watery feminine domain of the inner world.’  I did not get it.  However, the roses and the myrtles are actually flowers associated with Aphrodite, so kudos for that.

Inspired by the Theatre Relief
By Erica Winston

I enjoyed the vibrant and contrasting colours of this arrangement, which, according to the label, matched the strong forms of the relief.  Considering that the relief is related to theatre, this is a great idea… although I do find that the forms in the relief are not that strong (especially when you see the relief straight on)!

Inspired by the Double Vase with a Central Handle
By EW Fulcher

Oh! This is my favourite of the ancient art inspired arrangements! Excellent work! I love how the designer replicated the shape of the actual artefact, but also mimicking the decorative lines painted on them. I would have loved to see pink flowers instead of the orange ones, simply to reflect the bright pink used on this wonderful South Italian vessel. It is such an astonishingly vivid colour! Okay, I’ll admit being somewhat biased because the South Italian ceramics were studied this fall and we’ll be analysing the bright pink pigment in the coming months!
This floral arrangement gets the ‘curator’s favourite’ ribbon!

Inspired by the Celestial God or Hero
By Steve Taras

I think it’s a bit too easy to use pale-coloured flowers to illustrate a white marble sculpture. Considering that the statue represents either Helios, the Greek god of the sun, or one of the Dioscuri–Castor or Pollux–the twins sons of Leda who are the patrons of sailors (who appear to them as St. Elmo’s Fire), also associated with horsemanship.  A bit more colour would have been appropriate and welcome.
That being said, Steve Taras won my curatorial ribbon last year with his spectacular mosaic of flowers… Not so this year.

And to end this particular post, l am adding another classically-inspired floral arrangement, but this one is neo-classical Roman goddess displayed in the European galleries. In this instance, the white orchids absolutely work, especially associated with the rattan structure that is both imposing and fragile. The design beautifully represents the goddess.

Inspired by the Venus Italica
By Carol Innskeep

 

The third and last Art in Bloom post will come soon!

 

Art in Bloom 2017: Ancient Egypt

This past weekend, the NCMA hosted its third annual floral fundraiser Art in Bloom. Once again, designers picked a work of art out of a hat and created a floral arrangement inspired by that artwork.  As I have done in the past, I visited the galleries for this colourful occasion and am presenting on An Archaeologist’s Diary the ones found in my ancient galleries.  Let’s start with ancient Egypt, shall we?

Inspired by the Inner Coffin of Djedmut
By Bonnie Mirmak

I must admit that this particular arrangement did not strike my fancy even though I like blue, indigo and purple flowers. The colours found on the coffin are reflected in the choice of flowers, but I found the arrangement too horizontal for such a tall and slim artefact. (Actually, the design made me think of a boat and there is an ancient  Egyptian model boat nearby.)  However, I did notice how some of the papyrus umbels were gathered and tied at the top and that reminded me of the white crown of Upper Egypt (Whether this was intentional, I did not know. The description references flowers found on coffins…)

Inspired by the Reclining Bull
By Avant Gardeners Garden Club

This was my favourite floral design in the Egyptian galleries.  I thought it was a wonderfully whimsical interpretation of the work–inspired not just be the colours but also the shape,  down to the horns! What made me smile was the little bell hanging from the plants gathered at the top.  A fun element that reminds us all of the bells around cows’ neck and the melodic sound of them moving around.  Nice job!  (And the club has a cool name, too!)

 

 

Amara West: a new book for children

A wonderful post from my colleagues who work at Amara West. The delightful book for children mentioned in the post can be downloaded in English or Arabic.

“This book presents everyday life in Abri, Amara East and Ernetta island as a part of the broader history and culture of the area. Abri lies in the centre of the Sikood region which is located in the middle of modern Nubia, Sudan, some 725 km north of Khartoum. This book is to engage children with local heritage, including the local archaeological sites.”

Amara West project blog

Book cover A book for children, Life in the Heart of Nubia, presents local heritage found within the communities, from traditional lifestyles to archaeology.

Tomomi Fushiya, Leiden University

I arrived at the Amara West dig house in Ernetta island towards the end of the 2017 season with a final draft of the children’s book,  Life in the Heart of Nubia. Designed as an introductory booklet for schoolchildren in the local communities around Amara West – Abri, Amara East and Ernetta – the book explores the lifestyles, culture, language, oral histories and archaeology of these communities.  It is shaped by members of these communities and their responses, and also questions we received from them during the interviews and outreach programmes over the last two years.

In November 2016, I had travelled to Abri to discuss and plan the book with those who were willing to volunteer in their spare time on this…

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What I did this weekend: Excavating Kush

On Sunday, I was invited to lecture at the  Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University for the American Research Center in Egypt, Georgia Chapter.  My talk, however, was not on ancient Egypt, but on ancient Sudan. I was happy to lecture about Nubia because it seems I’m always talking about Egypt! It was entitled Excavating Kush: Exploring the Architectural Landscape of Nubia and focused on the sites of Meroe and Dangeil, where I have worked. It was well attended by enthusiastic people, which was great.

It was a long weekend, mostly because it’s a 6 hour drive to Atlanta and I spent a lot of time on the road.  Actually, it’s about the same time one spends on the bus from Khartoum to Dangeil! Ha!