Artifact Investigation

I love those artefact conservation posts! Here is one from Carrie at the Kelsey about a bowl from Karanis covered with some mysterious white stuff. (And I love a good detective story as well!)

The Kelsey Blog

CAROLINE ROBERTS, Conservator, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

I love a good mystery, and nothing (save a really good crime novel) is better than an artifact mystery. I love the thrill of investigating an object, identifying its agents of deterioration, and nabbing those culprits one by one. I also really enjoy teaching new conservators how to use investigative tools to make their own observations. I recently spent a day looking at an object with Ellen Seidell, a U of M junior who is interning in our lab. The ceramic bowl – excavated at Karanis in 1929 – was covered with feathery white crystals, as well as a drippy, peeling surface coating. I had my suspicions as to what these were, but wanted Ellen to learn for herself how to identify unknown materials.

To do this, we examined the bowl under longwave ultraviolet light. This is a useful tool not only for…

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Death Dogs and a bunch of cool people

Last week, I travelled to Michigan to visit the Egyptian and Classical collections at the Detroit Institute of Art (Dr. Nii Quarcoopome kindly toured me around their lovely Egyptian galleries) and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

A glance at the exhibition on jackal gods in ancient Egypt (now closed).

A glance at the exhibition on jackal gods in ancient Egypt (now closed).

You might recall a post I reblogged a while back about the exhibition Death Dogs: Jackal Gods of Ancient Egypt. Well, I went to see the exhibition mentioned in that post. It was very lovely and it had super cool banners! Death Dogs is a small permanent collection exhibition with a focus on canine deities in ancient Egypt (beloved by children and Egyptologists all over the world). I’m all for that sort of thematic exhibition. I like to explore new ways to present material with which people may already be familiar… the objects feel new when you display them differently, following a theme. It was nice little show curated by Egyptologist Terry Wilfong.

However, I had another reason to go to Ann Arbor. I have been hearing great things about the university, reading fabulous excavation reports by Egyptologist Janet Richards and the conservators working on site with her at Abydos, and, while attending the Nubian conference in Switzerland back in September, I had met Geoff Emberling, who works there as well. So from Detroit, I drove to Ann Arbor and met with Janet, Suzanne Carrie and Madeleine. Everybody was so nice and I had great time touring with Janet in the galleries as well as in storage, and spending time in the lab with the conservators after lunch.

It was a great trip and it gave me great ideas for future Weinberg lectures!