Events – The Kelsey Blog


Geoff Emberling To Give Lecture About Jebel Barkal

Jebel Barkal: The jebel (mountain) in the background with the Amun Temple (B 500) in the foreground. 2019 drone photo by Kate Rose.

This Wednesday, Kelsey Museum Associate Research Scientist Geoff Emberling will give a lecture about current archaeological work at the site of Jebel Barkal (ancient Napata) in northern Sudan. The site is being investigated as a joint project of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums of Sudan and the University of Michigan.

The lecture, “Collaborative Archaeology of Kush in Northern Sudan: Recent Work around Jebel Barkal,” will present the results of the project’s first seasons of work on Meroitic levels of settlement at the site, contemporary with the Roman occupation of Egypt (1st century BCE–1st century CE). Dr. Emberling will also discuss how the long histories of colonialism and structural racism have distorted our understanding of the ancient cultures of Africa and diminished their contributions to world history.

Visit Stanford University’s Archaeology Center website for more information and to register to attend this free lecture, which will be live-streamed from Stanford University on Wednesday, May 4, at 3:00 PM ET.

Giving Blueday is here!

Today is Giving Blueday, the University of Michigan’s 24-hour celebration of giving. A donation to the Kelsey Museum anytime today supports the conservation and study of our collection of exceptional ancient objects, the development of interpretive and educational programming in our galleries, and the continuation of our active archaeological field projects.

Any amount helps! Visit the Kelsey Museum Giving Blueday webpage to make your donation.

Thank you!

Ugly Object of the Month — March 2022

By Caroline Roberts, Conservator

This month we are celebrating Women’s History Month with an uncharacteristically handsome Ugly Object: a sestertius coin featuring the indomitable empress Julia Domna.

Bronze sestertius. Septimius Severus for Julia Domna, 193–211 CE. Gift of George Monks, 1991. KM 1991.2.657.

Julia Domna was born in modern-day Syria to a family of Arab priests and became empress of Rome when her husband, Septimius Severus, defeated multiple co-contenders to the imperial throne in 197 CE. Julia Domna was a highly visible and powerful political figure who influenced the reigns of both her husband and her son, Caracalla. Her image appears in a range of marble carvings, in painted wood on the famous Severan Tondo, and countless coins—including KM 1991.2.657. Julia Domna appears on the obverse side of this coin draped with hair coiled and waved, encircled by her honorary title, Julia Domna Augustus. The goddess Juno, accompanied by a peacock, appears standing on the reverse.

These powerful images of women—one historic, one mythical—would have played an important role in amplifying the authority of the emperor by circulating the empire as currency. We don’t know where this coin was found, but I like to imagine it was carried around in the pocket of someone outside Rome—maybe as far afield as Julia Domna’s own hometown?

Attention, Ugly Object devotees! Giving Blueday is Wednesday, March 16!

Announcing 2022’s Giving Blueday, the University of Michigan’s 24-hour celebration of giving. Every March since 2014, the global U-M community has come together on Giving Blueday in support of programs and causes they care most about.

We know that the Kelsey’s Ugly Objects are uppermost in your mind when you consider making charitable donations with your hard-earned money. Any donation you make to the Kelsey Museum on Giving Blueday will support our broadest goals—including the careful conservation of these unique beauties. Gifts to the Kelsey are like the artifacts we care for: even if they seem small or insignificant, we love and appreciate every one.

So mark your calendar and give a dollar on March 16! Give two dollars! Give five whole smackers in commemoration of the love we know you feel for Franken Horse!

Learn more about what your donation to the Kelsey Museum supports at our website.

Marshmallows and Monuments

By Mallory Bower, Executive Assistant and Social Media Coordinator

Throughout human history, people have utilized different types of building materials, like stone, mortar, mud, wood, and brick. On Monday, December 13, Kelsey staff and faculty and IPCAA students experimented with new—though not promising—building materials at our End of the Year Gathering. Using marshmallows, Dots, and other materials lying around in addition to toothpicks and coffee stirrers for internal support, these academics-turned-architects, working in four groups, created (not-to-scale) miniatures of famous structures from around the world.

Over the course of 30 minutes, the groups brought the Ziggurat of Ur, the Parthenon of Athens, the Round Temple in Forum Boarium in Rome, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater to life on Ann Arbor’s campus. No item was safe from potentially being used in construction, and these marshmallow structures reflect the creativity and ingenuity of the Kelsey team. Active collaboration, laughter, and appreciation of each team’s efforts permeated the room. It was truly a fun gathering!

Each sticky, squishy, sugary construction was worthy of accolade. Fallingwater received the award for Most Daring, the Parthenon received the award for Most Creative, and the Ziggurat and the Round Temple tied for Most Accurate.

Which structure is your favorite? Wish we had tackled a different one? Try your hand at re-creating an ancient (or modern) monument using marshmallows or other materials! It will be an activity to remember.

Events Roundup

The Kelsey is bringing you some interesting and fun virtual events to wrap up October. Follow the links for more information, and remember to keep an eye on our website events calendar to stay abreast of the latest happenings.

Thursday, October 28, 6 PM
Hybrid FAST Lecture | The Greek Colonization of Southern Italy: A Multi-Scalar Approach to Cultural Encounters

Our speaker for this hybrid in-person and virtual lecture is Giulia Saltini Semerari, a research affiliate of the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology (UMMAA). Dr. Saltini Semerari’s research seeks to harness the Mediterranean’s rich archaeological record to reconstruct and model diverse aspects of cultural contact. In particular, she is interested in understanding how small and large-scale socioeconomic dynamics affect long-term fluctuations in connectivity.
Physical Attendance Location: Classics Library (2175 Angell Hall)
Virtual Attendance Location: Zoom Meeting ID: 984 5928 9799 // Passcode: 706013

Friday, October 29, Noon
Museums at Noon | At the Intersection of Time and Culture: Reflections on Researching Ancient Sculpture in the Present-day Louvre

IPCAA’s very own Zoe Ortiz will discuss the ancient site of Gabii, the sculptures that once stood there, and their journey to the Louvre. (Registration is required to attend this Zoom webinar.)

Saturday, October 30, 2 PM
Virtual Saturday Sampler | Spooky, Weird, and Magical: Halloween with the Kelsey

This tour explores a variety of objects in the Kelsey through the lens of Halloween. We’ll look at animals, mummies, funerary inscriptions, headless sculptures, and more from the ancient Middle East, Greece, Egypt, and Rome. 

Wish you had been there when Vesuvius erupted? Pittsburgh feels you.

Hey, history nerds! For those of you who are within driving distance of Pittsburg and are itching to take a road trip, the Carnegie Science Center has an exhibition currently on view about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

With over 180 objects on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum and an “immersive 4D eruption theater” that uses CGI imagery, surround sound, vibrations, and special effects to bring Mount Vesuvius to life “with startling reality,” Pompeii: The Exhibition seems like it might be worth the price of admission.

Or, for a less bombastic experience, you could come to the Kelsey and sit in the calming quiet of our Villa of the Mysteries room.

If you decide to make the trip, let us know what you think about the exhibit!

Join us on YouTube for a Scribal Snacks Cook-Along!

Today is International Archaeology Day and to celebrate, the Kelsey has produced an archaeology-themed cooking demonstration. Scribal Snacks offers a tasty exploration of two of the world’s oldest writing systems: Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform. Cook along with Kelsey Museum Community and Youth Educator Mallory Genauer as she creates sugar cookie ushabtis and cuneiform lentil tablets. Head to the Kelsey website to download and print the recipe sheet, materials list, and helpful resources about hieroglyphs and cuneiform. When you’re ready, navigate to the Kelsey YouTube channel to watch the video and cook along with Mallory. Have fun creating your scribal snacks, and be sure to share photos of your cookie creations using the tag #EatYourWords!

Hungry for more? The Digital Resources playlist on our YouTube channel has many bite-sized videos about aspects of the ancient world, including Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform.

Events Roundup

We hope you can join us for one or more of these upcoming events offered by the Kelsey Museum.

Thursday, September 30 | 6:00 PM | Hybrid FAST Lecture | “The Archaeology of Western Anatolia, ca. 1200–133 BCE,” by Christopher Ratté

Our speaker for this hybrid in-person and live-streamed FAST event is IPCAA core faculty member Dr. Chris Ratté, whose lecture is entitled “The Archaeology of Western Anatolia, ca. 1200–133 BCE.” His research focuses on the role played by the built environment, from individual monuments to regional settlement patterns, in the articulation of social and cultural identity, especially in regions on the peripheries of the Greek and Roman worlds.

Physical Attendance Location: Classics Library (2175 Angell Hall)
Virtual Attendance Location: Zoom Meeting ID: 977 7669 0432, Passcode: 747615

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Friday, October 1 | Noon | Flash Talk |“Once Upon a Time, There Was a River: The Environmental History of the Tiber Valley before Rome, from the Neolithic to the Iron Age,” by Laura Motta

Due to a bad internet connection, this Flash Talk could not take place in July as originally scheduled. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you can join us on October 1 for a do-over!

It is entrenched in much of the historical and archaeological literature that the success of Rome was due to its favorable location along the major river in peninsular Italy. Is this assumption true? Indeed, we know little about the natural settings of the Tiber before it was encroached upon and urbanized during the late Republic and Imperial periods, creating an “eternal” image of the landscape. Recent investigations have instead revealed important changes in the local vegetation and a very dynamic fluvial environment, possibly affected by tectonic episodes, between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago.

Kelsey Museum Flash Talks are 15-minute Zoom lectures by Kelsey curators, staff members, researchers, and graduate students talking about their recent research or current projects. Each presentation is followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. Flash Talks are free and open to all visitors. They take place at noon on the first Friday of every month.

Join us via Zoom at:
Meeting ID: 965 5105 2011
Passcode: Kelsey

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Saturday, October 18 | 2:00 PM | Virtual Saturday Sampler Tour | What Is Archaeology? (Family Event)

Celebrate International Archaeology Day with the Kelsey Museum as we explore the question, What is archaeology? Have you ever wondered how archaeologists reconstruct the past just by looking at the artifacts they find? Join us for this family-friendly virtual tour to learn about the archaeology of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome!

Join us via Zoom!

Attending the Archaeological Institute of America annual meeting

BY KATHERINE LARSON, PhD candidate, Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology, University of Michigan

Over the weekend of January 8–11, I — along with the majority of the Classics Department — escaped the frigid air of Michigan to attend the joint Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)/Society of Classical Studies annual meetings in New Orleans, the first in which I participated by giving a paper. Attending these conferences is key for young scholars such as myself to establish a name and professional presence, to meet and network with friends and colleagues, and to learn about current, cutting-edge research. The AIA is the biggest and most widely attended, but many of us attend and participate in several conferences over the course of the year: alongside classes and excavation schedules, they are foundational to the annual rhythms of the archaeological academic life.

Back in mid-August, I submitted an abstract to the organization and learned in early October that it had been accepted for a fifteen-minute presentation at the meeting. My paper was titled “And Now, For the Rest of the Story: Interrogating Small Finds from Tel Anafa, Israel” (with a nod to the late Paul Harvey). In honor of the forthcoming Kelsey Museum publication of the final volume of the Tel Anafa excavation reports, I amalgamated the numerous studies of small finds from the site, including metal agricultural tools, terracotta spindle whorls and loomweights, and stone grinding implements, which have been written since the first volume on Anafa came out in 1994. We’ve come to realize over the years that, in addition to possessing luxurious imported objects from the Phoenician coast, the late Hellenistic residents of Tel Anafa were self-sufficient for their daily needs and engaged heavily in various forms of animal husbandry, agriculture, food production, and crafts (including metallurgy and textile manufacture). I argued that, while these objects are often overlooked in site-wide studies in favor of architecture and pottery and their discussion limited to specialist studies, they can tell us important things about daily life, economy, and social and cultural relationships in the ancient world. The Karanis objects on display at the Kelsey are another good example of this: they tell us so much about the people who lived and worked at Karanis, including how they spent their days, what they ate, what they wore, and so on.

The AIA annual meeting used to be more difficult for me: I didn’t really know anyone outside my own school, and I’m not good at walking up to people I don’t know to introduce myself. This isn’t the case anymore, and the meetings have become a fun and easy way to catch up with friends, former professors, field colleagues, and IPCAA alums. The book displays and sales are famous, with many publishers offering recently published texts at 25–50 percent discounts. Alas, I missed out on the deeply discounted inventory-clearing sales on the last day of the conference, when graduate students get in line at 7:30 a.m. clutching hotel room paper cups full of coffee in hopes of finding $100 volumes for $5.

The AIA isn’t all about formal papers and networking: many of us were able to find a little time to explore the nearby French Quarter. Highlights for me were eating charbroiled oysters and visiting St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Archaeologically, the burial ground is fascinating, with family mausoleums spanning from the 18th century to the present day, funerary inscriptions in French and English, and a particularly memorable monumental tomb of Italian design and imported marble.

Thanks to the financial support of the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology, I was able to attend this year’s annual meeting and present the results of important research in a public forum to a community of archaeologists. Next year, I’ll be “on the market” and with any luck will spend the meeting interviewing for jobs!

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