museum

Busman’s Holiday

Just a short blog this year – some of my previous ones have been quite epic!  If you want to know more about my general Historic Environment Record work then please check my previous posts.

Recently I’ve been to a few archaeology events.  It’s been good to go to a few Festival of Archaeology things to remind myself how fun archaeology can be (sometimes when you’re stuck in an office all day you start to forget!).  Since my son is now 4 1/2 we’ve had fun dragging him round things..!  Also my Father in Law is a flint knapper, and my Sister in Law assists him, so we’ve seen them as we’ve visited things.  It’s a bit of a family affair, really.  🙂

Bradgate Park Fieldschool Open Day

Flintknapping and hornblowing at Bradgate Park – photos from Fieldschool Facebook page

We went to the Bradgate Park Fieldschool Open Day at the beginning of July.  This is a student training and research excavation project being run by the University of Leicester.  They’ve been test pitting/excavating all sorts of things including a Scheduled Monument of a moated site, which has come up with some amazing results.  And of course, at Bradgate Park there’s always the Palaeolithic site to talk about.  (I posted about that previously.)

Romans at Jewry Wall

Roman lady and man at Jewry Wall Museum (his lady expression makes me laugh…)

The other big event we went to was ‘Bringing the Past to Life’ at Jewry Wall museum in Leicester.  This is a major re-enactment spectacle in the museum and Roman Bathhouse ruins.  It has to be said that my little boy was more interested in running around than paying attention to much, though we did get him interested in mosaic jigsaws and tic tac toe.  Plus his Granddad was there, and his Auntie, and he was also very interested in the Leicestershire Industrial History Society display because they had a model of Stephenson’s Comet.

Of course we also managed a summer holiday in Norfolk where we made him look at things such as windmills and castles.  But I don’t think we’ve had as much as a Busman’s Holiday as my colleague, who has been off digging with local groups.  Maybe that’s yet to come!

Bringing archaeology to life through public interpretation at Montgomery Parks

Henson portrait line drawing

Josiah Henson

This week, volunteers and staff of Montgomery Parks Archaeology Program worked through the latest blistering heat wave in Maryland to continue excavations at the Josiah Henson site and progress towards the eventual goal of our work here – public interpretation of the past through a museum dedicated to the life of Henson and to slavery in the county. Henson led a remarkable life; he lived on this plantation for more than two decades, eventually escaping to Canada to start a new, free existence. After publishing his slave narrative, Henson became a role model for Harriett Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom” character in her best-selling novel. To say this one slave’s experience had an influence on the arc of history in the United States during the mid-19th century would be no exaggeration! Montgomery Parks has committed to making that story as widely accessible as possible – many people have heard of Uncle Tom’s Cabin but many fewer have heard of Josiah Henson.

tooth and WW

Recent artifacts

B+GSGSW

 

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Volunteer Fran sharing the latest finds with a school group

Other than continuing our excavations on the plantation where Henson was enslaved – we continue to find the typical trash and features of a 19th century farm – this week we also welcomed an independent filmmaker on a mission to create a documentary of this largely unknown man’s life. The filming team, comprised of two Canadian gentlemen, are following Henson’s travels around the country and we were happy to have them visit us and share our findings as well as the place where Henson experienced life as a slave.

Paul profiling

Volunteer Paul profiling a finished unit

This week also marks the start of next stage in the design process for the Josiah Henson Museum – both for the outside landscape design and the indoor exhibit spaces. This upcoming year will see designs finalized and I expect it to be a fantastic and exciting way to bring so much of what we’ve learned to the public. As archaeologists, we love to find the bits of the past that survive in the ground, but making them meaningful to non-archaeologists is how we can share our particular focus on reconstructing that past. It makes the past alive again and that is what public interpretation is all about!

henson portal

Preliminary design plans for some of the museum exhibits

 

http://www.montgomeryparks.org/PPSD/Cultural_Resources_Stewardship/heritage/josiahhensonsp.shtm

 

The Work of the Ceramics, Glass and Metals Section, British Museum Department of Conservation and Scientific Research

The Work of the Ceramics, Glass and Metals Section, British Museum Department of Conservation and Scientific Research. The curatorial record of 1994 said this Italian 14C casket had one lock that was closed. We had a written conservation record from 1982 stating the casket was not locked, merely jammed, and could be opened with "appropriate leverage". X-ray shows 3 locks, all open.

The Work of the Ceramics, Glass and Metals Section, British Museum Department of Conservation and Scientific Research. The curatorial record of 1994 said this Italian 14C casket had one lock that was closed. We had a written conservation record from 1982 stating the casket was not locked, merely jammed, and could be opened with “appropriate leverage”. X-ray shows 3 locks, all open.


Museum.Dià: museums in the 2.0 era

The field of museum studies is experiencing a period of great discussions and changes as new technologies and new ways of cultural heritage presentation have become part of our daily lives.

To foster the dialogue in the field, Fondazione Dià Cultura has created, in collaboration with the British School of Rome, the Museum.Dià project. It has been imagined has a tool for reflection, strategic elaboration and international professional cooperation.

We structured Museum.Dià as a series of international study meetings to spark the discussion on the themes of museum design, programming, and management.

The case studies that have been presented at the international conference that launched the project, RomArché 2014 V Salone dell’Editoria Archeologica, were diverse. Although they varied in location, typology, and objective, all of the presentations imagined the presentation cultural collections in a structured environment.

The conference covered many topics including: museums and storytelling, the importance of research on collections and how to communicate it, object preservation, the character of historic properties and Home Museums, virtual museums, protecting the function and physical integrity of museums in war zones, and the public role of contemporary museums.

We are now planning the second cycle of meetings for May 2016. Follow our activities and you will know this year’s theme very soon!

copertina museum.dià

Where art meets archaeology: Finding artefacts for an art exhibition of excavations at Calleva Atrebatum

Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen.

To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent blog, which has a new post every Monday.

Hampshire Archaeology blog: https://hampshirearchaeology.wordpress.com/

Nicole Beale

Sarah is a volunteer at Hampshire Cultural Trust and has been working with Lesley (who is not in today so we couldn’t get a snap of her!) to prepare a display on some of the material from 1970s and 1980s excavations at Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester).

Sarah – A Trust volunteer

The pieces will be on display at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke, another Trust managed museum, from the 15th to the 29th August and will accompany a special exhibition ‘Silchester: Life on the Dig’ which is made up of works by Silchester’s Artist in Residence for 2014, Jenny Halstead.

The exhibition will be on display in numerous other locations in the south, but the Silchester objects that Sarah has been selecting will be exclusive to the Willis Museum.

Sarah and Lesley need to choose a representative sample of objects, but also to identify objects that are appropriate for display, because they have an interesting feature, are not too fragile, and in the case of some of the tiny coins, large enough to see!

They picked out a selection of coins, there is also a glass bead that will be included in the display.

Coins! Lots of coins!

I don’t know what I love more, the coins, or the envelopes that the coins are stored in

Lovely coins

The glass bead

Sarah is holding a whetstone that is a fragment of sandstone, originally used as a roof tile, and then reused as a whetstone to sharpen chisels.

Sarah is holding the whetstone

The whetstone

The Samian bowl is very attractive and caught the eye of both of them when they were selecting items. It has all sorts of animals, including a deer, a goat, a hare, a boar, a bird, a dolphin, around the outside of it, and Sarah and Lesley thought that it would be fun to find out a bit more about the decoration. The bowl was made in Lezoux in the 2nd century AD.

The Samian bowl

A boar and a hunting dog?

A hare

The pair also found some nice details on some of the tiles in the stores, including one that has a clear dog print on it.

Some of the tiles and brickwork from Silchester

Naughty dog

Finally, just before re-packaging the items to be sent over to the Willis Museum, Sarah needs to type and print labels that will go on display alongside the objects. This task can be quite time consuming as it is nice to be able to provide a little contextual information for each object, and so some research must be done for some of the less common artefacts.

The objects will be on display at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke: http://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/willis-museum

Nicole Beale

Taking the Iron Age to the Romans: Researching Iron Age finds for an open day at Rockbourne Roman Villa

Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen.

To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent blog, which has a new post every Monday.

Hampshire Archaeology blog: https://hampshirearchaeology.wordpress.com/

Nicole Beale

Two of the Trust’s volunteers, Peter and Jane, have spent the morning working through a collection of artefacts from a late Iron Age site near to Rockbourne.

Peter and Jane checking objects against the archive inventory

The site was excavated in the mid-1970s as part of a British Gas pipeline being installed, and our intrepid volunteers have been doing some detective work to try to make connections between the objects from the stores here at Chilcomb and the paper archive which was published some time ago.

Objects need to be located and then checked. This is also a great opportunity to re-pack some of the more fragile objects.

Rockbourne Roman Villa is run by the Trust and this weekend will be hosting a family fun day. The event organisers want to celebrate the area’s Iron Age connections, and so the team at Chilcomb have been set to task to find objects to showcase on the day.

In the first few boxes, they had already found some great objects to be taken up to Rockbourne for visitors to see.

Lots to work through!

In one of the boxes, Jane unpacks a huge tankard. It’s much larger than we had all expected and lots of jokes about the serious business of beer-drinking in the Iron Age ensue.

Jane finds an Iron Age tankard

The huge tankard

Unpacking the tankard

Next, they unpack fragments of a kiln lip. On the underside there are clear finger-marks, left from where the clay had been quickly shaped.

The kiln rim

The pair spend some time focussing on the profile of a Late Iron Age large pot that is in several parts, and manage to piece it back together. It will provide a great prop for showing younger visitors how archaeologists can infer pot shapes from diagnostic sherds.

Hang on a minute, I think there’s a good profile here…

Does this go here?

Now we’ve got it!

Tucked into one of the boxes is a nice example of a spindle whorl and also a small box which contains a bronze pin, probably from a brooch.

The brooch pin (you can just see the spindle whorl under Jane’s right hand)

A big pot!

Still plenty left to unpack and check

Peter and Jane

We’ll create labels for all of these objects and then transport them up to Rockbourne in time for the event on Sunday. Do come along if you’re in the area.

More about the event: http://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/event/festival-british-archaeology-experience-iron-age

Nicole Beale

Under the archway, Through the little blue door, Up the stairwell, To the exhibition floor

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Welcome to our Laboratory! No two days are the same on the coin hoard project, it’s all part of the fun; but here’s what we got up too on our day of archaeology.

Wednesday mornings always start the same, with an 8.30 meeting between the conservation team, our curator of archaeology, our museum’s registrar and our director of archives discussing the previous weeks work and any upcoming plans for the coin hoard.

Some of the team deep in discussion about the project

Some of the team deep in discussion about the project

Usually after these meetings Georgia and I will head back to the lab to start the day’s coin removal process. We’re using a Faro metrology arm to record each coins position on the hoard mass to produce a 3D map that can eventually be linked to our database. It’s hoped this can help research in the future. It also produces laser scans that can have photographs superimposed and could even be 3D printed. It’s quite exciting stuff and we always look forward to seeing how many coins we’ll be able to remove that day.

However, this particular Wednesday we were scanner-less! Not to panic, it’s gone on a little holiday to Germany for its yearly service and should be back with us soon.

Our sad little scannerless tripod

Our sad little scannerless tripod

This Wednesday was also slightly different from normal as we had a 9 am visit from the South Korean Ambassador. We offer these tours a lot now as the coin hoard project has become on of the things that visiting dignitaries to the island likes to see. It’s a chance for them to come behind the glass and enter the laboratory to see behind the scenes all of the work that is being undertaken to conserve the hoard.

The rest of the day was spent with conservation technicians and volunteers working on finished coins. This involves an array of tasks including; using a vibrating tip tool to remove excess corrosion,  dry brushing the coins to remove any dust, writing up their final bags with object number and grid reference, inputting onto the database and photography.

Conservation Technician Georgia and one of our volunteers putting the coins on the database and writing their final bags

Conservation Technician Georgia and one of our volunteers putting the coins on the database and writing their final bags

Additionally, our museum registrar, Val, and I are working on putting together some award applications for the coin hoard project and the afternoon was spent editing these for final approval. There were cookies at the end as a reward for getting through the four page document, and as you can see from the picture below the team is a big fan of brightly coloured infographics! 

Registrar Val admiring the infographic

Registrar Val admiring the infographic

Our Museum Conservator also had an interesting day, he was visiting the museum of our neighbouring island of Guernsey and consulting with them about some material they have loaned from France.

There you have it! That pretty much concludes the Coin Crew’s day in archaeology! Who knows what tomorrow may bring. I’ll leave you with this picture of the conservation team in happier coin removal times!

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Have a great Day of Archaeology Folks!

Viki Le Quelenec

Social Story Time in the Sala Niobe!

Get ready for social story time in the Sala Niobe! Beginning at 10.30am tomorrow at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Fabrizio Paolucci, Cristiana Barandoni and Giovanna Conforto will give a dynamic presentation on the Niobid sculpture group.

Part of the international Day of Archaeology 2015, storytelling sessions are planned in both Italian and English.

Can’t be at the museum? You can still follow all of the action on Twitter (@GoldUnveiled, ‪#‎dayofarch15‬) and on the Facebook page Gold Unveiled.

Niobe...work in progress