Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum

Report on Progress, 21 October 1998

Emphasis has been on development of working prototype of the web version of the Virtual Museum and completion of photography, but there has been progress on other fronts as well.

Curatorial

Lost and found
Recent accessions
Coin discovery
Roman glass discovery

Photography

Coins
Movies
Final still session
Shelving
And a few more

Database

Data entry
Editing

Prototype web version

A working model

Greek Vases catalogue

Second publisher's quotation

Mystery

Who is this man with the moustache?

 

Missing/Lost/Stolen/Found

One carton of antiquities remains missing.

Cross-referencing of archival papers with stocktake records and the databases, and some discreet personal enquiries, revealed that a number of objects now confirmed as missing were all stored in three containers. Two of these containers were found on 21 October 1998 (thanks to Robyn Sloggett in Conservation). The two containers found include 10 bronzes and an Iranian belt. But the third container never made it to Old Physics &emdash; or if it did, it went missing before photography of the collections commenced.

The bulk of the "Flinders Petrie" collection was in a cardboard carton, probably a bit larger than the usual Boreham's carton. These objects I personally removed from the drawers in the old department library on the 6th floor of Medley East and carried across to the Old Arts storeroom in June 1996. The FP objects include 5 ushabti, three figurines with inscriptions and two without, two other inscriptions, two tiles, two necklaces, two scarabs, a seal, a slingstone, some beads, a Hawk of Seker. Other items also packed into the same carton include a Roman brick and two ceramic antefix fragments, some terra sigillata, 10 small rectangular plaster casts, and a clay model of a "knitting Nancy".

Please give the matter some thought, and ask anyone who might have been in the laboratory or the Gallery storage area at the end of 1996.

Stolen vase.

One of our best decorated Greek vases, a hydria (MUV 40), was stolen in 1990. Images have now been made from the plates included by Peter Connor in his article "Replicas in Greek Vase-Painting: the Work of the Painter of Lourvre F6", BABesch 56 (1981) 37-44. Check out the images - and please keep an eye out for the vase itself.

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Objects Recently Accessioned

Melbourne Cyprus Expedition: 2 from Lapatsa and 19 from Palealona, acquired in 1972 but not actually delivered until 1997/8 (kindly brought down from Sydney by Kathryn Eriksson). Some are sherds, but some restored vessels are nearly complete.

This collection of material is now much more important as it contains six complete tomb groups (I include Pano Dikomo but am still not in a position to confirm that they were received under this arrangement). Only two of these tomb groups has been published; Kathryn Eriksson is close to finalising publication of the excavation reports for the other four tombs.

Objects associated with the Melbourne Cyprus Expedition now number 136 (of which 9 are listed as 'missing' but may still be in Sydney and were probably never received):

Site

Tomb

Objects
Missing

Lapatsa

Tomb 4

16
2

Palealona

Tomb 4

28

Palealona

Tomb 10

58
3

Palealona

Tomb 12

9

Ayia Paraskevi

Tomb 13

16
4

Pano Dhikomo

9

Near Eastern Collection: The three Near Eastern items that recently turned up in the storeroom - one each from Lachish, Jericho and Arad, previously listed as missing, have now been accessioned and photographed. Drill holes and some other indications that they were used for physical chemical tests of some sort have been confirmed by A Sagona, who advises that they were delivered by a retiree from chemistry who was cleaning out his room...

Several objects were de-accessioned because they were parts of other objects that had been separately accessioned, and a couple of objects were re-accessioned because they had been given accession numbers that had already been used or because their date of acquisition had been incorrectly recorded.

Coin Discovery

20 ancient coins in an un-labeled plastic bag were discovered by the Curator of Collections, Heather Gaunt, while she was moving things from Old Physics to the new storage space in the Ian Potter Museum. The coins appear to be already in the database, listed as MES 23 - MES 42 in the 1971 Catalogue of Works of Art, and marked as missing when the coin database was started in 1996. They are all identical with MES 21 and MES 22, bronze, issued by Ptolemy X (117-81 B.C.)

Roman Glass Discovery

Two previously unknown pieces of Roman glass were found while collecting for photography the three pieces from the Kaye collection on display in the Lower East dining room at University house. Archival research revealed that one was bought by University House for the Ernst Matthaei Memorial Collection of Early Glass in 1984, the other was gift to the House in 1993 from Mr Paul Hackforth-Jones. The two new pieces have now been photographed and incorporated into the database.

One piece of Roman glass in the Vizard Antiquities Collection, omitted from photography because of its condition, has now been restored in Conservation and will be photographed.

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Photography

Photography of the last 158 Bairstow coins and 32 electrotype pins has been completed. The film is being processed and the Photo-CD's made.

The last twenty five object movies, and the re-take of about 15 movies we weren't happy with, has now been completed. The files are being processed and archived, which will take several weeks. The processed movies average about 12 megabytes each and will fit onto 2 CD's, the unprocessed original files (up to 800 megabytes each) are being archived on DAT tape. The total number of objects movies will be 101.

The final still photography session started on Monday 5 October. The objects to be photographed were identified by comparing the object database with the image database. In the process, cross-referencing allowed correction of about 8 errors that had been made during indexing of the nearly 6000 images on Photo-CD's (or by the photographers including an incorrect accession number in the image).

Fifty two objects were brought from various locations to the studio, and the best part of three days spent directing the photography. Included in the final shoot are:

All these objects have now been packed and taken across to the Old Arts storeroom, where they will be shelved very soon and their new locations recorded in the database. The limestone stele (which weighs about 40 kilos) will be taken directly to the Ian Potter for storage in a stable microclimate.

Currently at photography (just when I thought it was all finished): the Iranian bronze belt, 10 other bronze objects, the repaired Vizard Roman glass.

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Database

Despite other priorities this month, data entry has proceeded. Nearly half of the additional information gleaned during the shelfcheck has now been entered. In a large number of instances this is the first time that the dimensions of the object has been recorded. Work on this front will proceed much more rapidly once the teaching semester ends.

Editing of the database has also proceeded. Locations have been updated as objects were moved to and from photography. The best part of whole day was occupied regularizing entries in various fields, particularly "Other no.", "Previous no.", "Findspot", "Country" &emdash; computers really are hopeless at guessing what you meant to type, and standardization of entry format is essential to search functions.

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Prototype Web Version

A rudimentary but functioning prototype web version of the Virtual Museum has now been set up. From anywhere on the internet around the world you can search the database and pull up an object or set of objects that match your search criteria, then look at detailed information about a particular object and view images of it.

Please note that it is still at a very rudimentary stage in its development. It works, but does not yet offer many possibilities. It serves up still unedited information from a relatively early copy of the database (no coins or manuscripts, no stocktake information). It contains a reference to all the images that have been indexed to date, but a large number of images have not yet been downloaded and the frequency with which you get a message saying "File not found" is very frustrating.

Now that they can see a working prototype, once I've tweaked it a little more and added some extra functionality to demonstrate the possibilities, I will be consulting people for advice about what they think the final version should look like and what it should be able to do. The prototype is at present mounted on the development computer and is not always on line. Access is restricted to those involved in the project.

A working but limited version of the Virtual Museum available for public access will be installed on an Arts Faculty web server by the end of November.

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Greek Vases Catalogue

A quotation has now been received from a second publisher. With 48 pages of colour photographs the cost would be around $80 per copy for 300 copies and $30 per copy for 1000 copies. Some further clarification is required. One question to be decided is whether we think it worth hanging out for the colour pages to be interleaved with the text rather than being included as a block.

Meanwhile, we wait for the response from Melbourne University Press.

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Who Is This Man With The Moustache?

Who is the man standing next to the frieze (?) in situ in the Themistoclean Wall? This old photograph was found in the files. It shows the original of one of our casts (now accessioned as 0000.0913) before it was removed from where it was found. Please let me know if you recognize the man with the moustache - and if you have any idea when, and how, we came by the copy that we have.

Postcript: Elizabeth Pemberton suggest that it might be Wilhelm Dorpfeld (1853-1940). She writes: "The base was found in 1922 when the Germans and Greeks excavated the Themistoclean Wall. Dorpfeld would have been about 70 years old. I think it could be him, but possible also one of the Greeks". She includes a photo of Dorpfeld, which I will scan and put a link to from here.

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