Troy at the British Museum

IMG_2267-Edit
Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

The Troy: Myth and Reality exhibition at the British Museum has just opened in Gallery 30. The beautifully designed exhibition takes the visitor from the Skaian Gate at Troy through to the installation of the Shield of Achilles.

IMG_2246-Edit
‘The Death of Hector, King Priam and the Skaian Gate’, Anthony Caro, 1993–94. Photo: David Gill

The narrative of the Trojan War was supported by a range of objects, underpinned with figure-decorated pottery from the museum’s extensive collection. One of the first pieces on display is the Geometric ‘Nestor’s cup’ from Pithekoussai (‘I am the cup of Nestor, good to drink from’).

IMG_2250-Edit
Skyphos from Pithekoussai © David Gill

There is a section on the excavations at Troy, and another one on the documentary evidence. The final section is on the reception of Troy, and includes a poem written by a British officer at Gallipoli in his copy of The Shropshire Lad. 

IMG_2296-Edit
Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

The exhibition contained two late 15th century Italian panels by Biagio d’Antonio (on loan from the Fitzwilliam Museum) showing the Death of Hector and the Wooden Horse entering the city.

IMG_2297-Edit
The Siege of Troy, Biagio d’Antonio. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum. Photo: David Gill

Schliemann’s part in the uncovering of Troy was explored a space that displayed some of the finds from the excavations against a backdrop of the great trench.

IMG_2293-Edit
Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

What were the personal highlights in the exhibition? The Roman silver kantharoi from Hoby in Denmark were stunning pieces of luxury art. The representation of Priam seeking the return of Hektor’s body before Achilles on one of them was moving.

IMG_2278-Edit
Kantharos from Hoby. Denmark, Nationalmuseet. Photo: David Gill

The real surprise was the Roman sarcophagus from Ephesus that now forms part of the collection at Woburn Abbey. This scene shows the weighing of Hektor’s body.

IMG_2270-Edit
Sarcophagus from Ephesus. Woburn Abbey. Photo: David Gill

This is one of the best temporary exhibitions to be mounted in Room 30. The design and installation of the exhibition was inspired, especially the graphics explaining the iconography on Attic figure-decorated pottery.

IMG_2299-Edit
Shield of Achilles. Spencer Finch, 2013. Photo: David Gill

Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019

IMG_2150_Suffolk_Mus
Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019 © David Gill

The Awards Ceremony for Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019 was held at the University of Suffolk on Wednesday 30 October 2019. I was honoured to be one of the judges and we were all impressed by the variety and quality of museums across the county.

The results:

  • Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019: large category. The Red House, Aldeburgh
  • Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019: small category. Bawdsey Radar
    • Highly Commended: Felixstowe Museum
  • Innovation Award. Ipswich Museum
  • Family Friendly Award. Lowestoft Maritime Museum
  • Volunteers of the Year: Natural Science Volunteer Team at Ipswich Museum
    • Highly Commended: Elaine Nason from Laxfield Museum and Paul Durbidge from Lowestoft Museum
  • Schools Session Award. Palace House

Object of the Year was … The Tin of Chocolate Worm Cakes from the Museum of East Anglian Life.

Many congratulations to the winners and all those taking part.

News items

  • Story in the EADT (31 October 2019)

Jupiter Dolichenus at Vindolanda

IMG_3875-Edit
Vindolanda, temple of Jupiter Dolichenus © David Gill

The sanctuary of Jupiter Dolichenus lies just inside the northern ramparts of the fort at Vindolanda. It was excavated in 2009.

IMG_3915-Edit
Vindolanda, altar of Jupiter Dolichenus © David Gill

One of the finds was a stone inscribed altar (now displayed in the museum). It bears a relief of Jupiter standing on the back of a bull. The inscription is dedicated to Jupiter Dol<o>chenus by Sulpicius Pudens, prefect of the Fourth Cohort Gallorum.

Sulpicius Pudens also appears on a second altar dedicated to Jupiter (but not Jupiter Dolichenus) that was found at Staward Pele in 1885 (RIB 1688). The earliest dedication to Jupiter was probably made by the prefect Quintus Petronius Urbicus dating to 213-235 (RIB 1686). Another prefect also made a dedication to Jupiter (RIB 1687). A fourth inscription, dedicated Naevius Hilarus, probably came from Vindolanda (RIB 2062). Some of these may have been dedicated in the praetorium building.

The Fourth Cohort Gallorum was stationed at Vindolanda from c. 213 to 367. The unit is identified in an inscription of c. 213 (RIB 1705). The unit is recorded in a building inscription of 223 (RIB 1706); it probably relates to the rebuilding of the south gate of the fort. The cohort is recorded on an inscription that dates to the reign of Probus, 276–282 (RIB 1710). Another prefect, Pituanius Secundus, erected an altar to the genius of the praetorium at Vindolanda (RIB 1685).

IMG_4335
Altar dedication by Quintus Petronius Urbicus from Vindolanda, Chesters Museum © David Gill

Winifred Lamb: museum curator and archaeologist

Lamb_Cambridge3

I will be exploring the relationship between Winifred Lamb’s work as an archaeologist in the Aegean, and her role as Honorary Keeper of Greek Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. In the museum there are recognisable strands to her curatorial work: the display (and publication) of the Greek figure-decorated pottery, supplemented by the Ricketts and Shannon loan (and later Shannon bequest); the formation of a prehistoric gallery; the development of a collection of Greek, Etruscan and Roman bronzes; and finally material from Anatolia. The Greek pottery interest was influenced by her work with (Sir) John Beazley in Room 40 during the final stages of World War 1.

In a second paper I will consider the process of writing Lamb’s biography: the archive sources including her correspondence, diaries, and photographs; her acquisitions for and gifts to the Fitzwilliam; and her publications. I will then turn to the writing of a life from an essay in Breaking Ground to the memoir in ODNB. What should be included or excluded? Where do the emphases lie?

Whithorn: guidebooks

Whithorn_blue
1953 (5th impress. 1968)

C.A. Ralegh Radford and Gordon Donaldson prepared an official guidebook for Whithorn and Kirkmadrine in 1953. This covers the monastery and later priory at Whithorn; St Ninian’s Chapel at the Isle of Whithorn; St Ninian’s Cave at Glasserton; the museum at Whithorn that contains material from surrounding locations; and the Kirkmadrine stones displayed in the old church. There is a fold-out plan of the priory at Whithorn. The guide contains an extensive history of the region (pp. 3–27).

whithorn_HS

The present History Scotland guide is by Adrian Cox with Sally Gall and Peter Yeoman. The focus is on Whithorn but there are sections on St Ninian’s Chapel and Cave, as well as a double page spread on Kirkmadrine.

Winifred Lamb: the need for a biography

Lamb_cover (1)

I have been reflecting on why Winifred Lamb deserved a biography.

First, she pursued two parallel careers (captured in the sub-title). She was an active field-archaeologist during the inter-war period at sites that included Mycenae and Sparta, and her own excavations on Lesbos, Chios, and later at Kusura in Turkey. At the same time she was the honorary keeper of Greek antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum over nearly a 40 year span.

Second, she was closely involved with the on-going work of the British School at Athens (and contributed to its Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1936). She was also involved with the establishment of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara after the Second World War.

Third, she worked alongside some key figures in the discipline of archaeology. Among the names was Sir John Beazley with whom she worked in Naval Intelligence (Room 40) during the First World War. Sir Leonard Woolley introduced her to the Turkish language section of the BBC during the Second World War.

Fourth, she was one of a small group of women who worked at the British School at Athens immediately after the First World War. She was also one of the first women to excavate in Turkey in the 1930s.

Margam Stones Museum: guidebook

Margam_MPBW
1949 (2nd impress. 1967)

The guidebook presents the collection of a Roman milestone, early Christian inscriptions, and later monastic material that were moved into the old School House at Margam in 1932.

The guidebook by C.A. Ralegh Radford starts with a history of the area that allows the material in the museum to be placed in context: The Silures and Glamorgan in the Roman period; the restoration of native rile and the introduction of Christianity; the early Christian memorial stones; the formation of Glamorgan; the Celtic monastery at Margam; the pre-Romanesque crosses; the later history of the kingdom of Morgannwg; the Norman conquest of Glamorgan; the Cistercian abbey of Margam.

The second half includes a description of the pieces, starting with the early 4th century Roman milestone from Port Talbot (RIB 2254).

The guidebook includes a plan of the museum showing how the stone were displayed.