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!

 

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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.

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!