Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum

Report on Progress, 25 May 1999

Coins

488 more coins and electrotype copies have been catalogued and/or accessioned, bringing the total number of coins in the collection to 745. A brief overview of the coin collection is now available.

Much research was needed to find out when the coins were acquired and from where (and not all questions were answered). The coin classification system first established for the 1971 Catalogue was further developed for ease of reference to various collections. The relevant paperwork was completed for the coins to be formally accessioned into the University's collection.

Information from all available sources has now been entered into the database, and the entries checked. There are still many gaps in the information about these coins: not all of them have been weighed and/or measured, a few have yet to be identified, and descriptions are inadequate for many. Plenty of scope for future development!

The coins have been kept in a separate database. This allows searching for and displaying characteristics unique to coins (mint, issuing authority etc.) The coin database is accessed from the same page as the other databases. Images of all the coins are available on the web via the coin database.

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Databases

The decision has been taken to create separate databases for each of the major categories of objects - vases, coins, texts (manuscripts, papyri, inscriptions), sculptures, artefacts, textiles, animal.

This will make it a lot easier to search by criteria appropriate to each category of object, and to display the information appropriate to each object.

Every object will still be recorded in a central 'accessions' database so that the entire collection can be searched by criteria common to all objects (e.g. region, period).

The separate category databases will hold only the information unique to that class of object. The coin database has been constructed, and the others will follow shortly.

Addition of the coin database brings the total number of objects accessible on-line to 2,165.

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Web Site

The URL of the Virtual Museum Project home page has been simplified. The new permanent address is easy to remember: http://vm.arts.unimelb.edu.au

Technical problems overcome include the proper display of paragraph breaks in long text entries in the database, and the display of hyperlinks included in database entries. Text in non-latin scripts has been successfully converted into a graphic for web display (but not all such texts have been converted yet into graphics).

Additions to the website include a page of links to lists of on-line resources relevant to classics and archaeology, an overview of the coin collection, material submitted for a publication on Greek collections outside Greece, a listing of the Queen's College collection of Egyptian antiquities, and notes from the summer school.

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Object Database Updated

The object database has been updated with information from the stocktake.

The dimensions of a further 692 objects were recorded for the first time and the information entered into the relevant field of the database. Examination of the entire database revealed that there is incomplete, inadequate or missing information about the dimensions of 61 objects. Quite a few of these were missing or inaccessible at the time of the stocktake, and it will not take much time to complete this aspect of the project.

The locations of 569 objects have been updated.

The descriptions of 831 objects have been recorded for the first time or edited from notes made during the stocktake.

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Manuscripts

John Martyn has identified yet another of the texts in the Latin manuscript collection and provided a transcription and translation. The manuscript is from a Book of Hours, Flanders, c. 1460. The text is part of the Canticle of Zacharias, father of John the Baptist (Luke 1.69-79), recited daily at the end of lauds.

The database of classics manuscripts is in preparation; identification, transcription and translation of about half the texts has been completed.

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Summer School

The draft Virtual Museum was demonstrated at a successful two-day Summer School organized by Heather Jackson. Staff contributed their time, and profits from the Summer School represent a financial contribution to refurbishment of the display space for the Classics & Archaeology Collections.

The Virtual Museum was displayed in the following presentations:

John Burke - Introduction to the Collections and the Virtual Museum

Sally Salter - The Cypriot Collection

Guy Bunnens - Some items from the Near Eastern Collections.

The slides used in these presentations can be viewed here.

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Bab edh-Dhra' - vale Guy Bunnens

Many thanks to Dr Guy Bunnens for further assistance and materials relating to the tomb group from this site. The decipherment of the published descriptions is now complete and the database updated.

Dr Bunnens, Curator of the Near Eastern Collections, has resigned from the University of Melbourne and will be living in semi-retirement in Belgium (if that is what you can call two months digging on the Euphrates). It should be noted that Dr Bunnens created the first databases of the Near Eastern collection, which he generously made available to the Virtual Museum project - only one of many contributions to the project over the years.

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Presentations of the Project

Invitations were accepted to present the Virtual Museum Project on two occasions:

The Classical Association of Victoria held an in-service day for secondary teachers on 26 February, 1999, at Merton Hall. Although a live internet connection was not available until after the presentation, a 'virtual' version of the Virtual Museum was displayed from a laptop using a projector borrowed from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Tne National Gallery of Victoria's Education Programmes section organized a morning for senior high school students of Classical Societies and Cultures on 10 May, 1999. The lecture theatre was full, the students enthusiastic &emdash; and the computer froze halfway through the presentation! Which demonstrates the value of the Virtual Museum: it can be accessed from any networked computer around the world at any time of day or night. And also the real meaning of multimedia: the Virtual Museum web address and a list of other internet sites useful to the students was able to be photocopied and distributed. This list, slightly edited, is now available here.

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Athens Connection

A request was received from the Greek Ministry of Culture for information and illustrations of items in the Collections of Greek interest, for a volume on Greek museums and collections outside Greece.

Several high-resolution images were edited and slides made of them. A slide of the Potter Museum, featuring Christine O'Laughlin's 'Cultural Rubble', was included.

The text and images (reduced in size from about 1 megabyte each) that were submitted for this publication are included here.

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Queen's College Egyptian collection

The collection of Egyptian objects at Queen's College, University of Melbourne, has been inspected. Basic details of each object have been recorded in a separate database, adding detail to an earlier list believed to have been drawn up by Colin Hope. 58 of the objects are pieces of Coptic textile, most of them painted and decorated.

A brief listing of the 104 objects in the collection can be viewed here.

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