Each year around May, people in and around Ann Arbor start heading to Nichols Arboretum to see the blooming flowers and trees, the signs of spring returning to our area. This year, Nichols will not be planting their regular peony gardens, but people will still be making their way to the arboretum to see what other colorful flowers are growing.
And as the weather continues getting warmer, more people will venture out to their gardens and start planting their own flowers and plants. Soon our neighborhoods will be full of brilliant, beautiful colors and amazing smells. (Sorry, allergy sufferers!)
Flowers and natural beauty have been a source of joy and happiness for thousands of years. The natural world decorated the walls, pottery, and other items of the ancient world. Stroll through the galleries of the Kelsey Museum and you will see many examples of nature-inspired motifs on a wide range of objects.
So, too, did our predecessors at the University of Michigan appreciate the beauty of flowers. For this month’s “From the Archives,” we bring their flowers to you. Though not as brilliant and vibrant as the flowers you can see and smell in the gardens of Matthaei and Nichols, they evoke the beauty that people share no matter where they are. George R. Swain captured the beauty of flowers in England, France, Greece, Egypt, Belgium, Palestine, and Turkey, in gardens, placed near monuments, growing in the wild, and for sale. In his photographs presented here, we see a funeral procession, a decorated cenotaph, flower vendors in Brussels, someone’s private home garden. Swain was sure to point his camera everywhere while traveling with the U-M teams.
Soon, Ann Arbor will be full of flowers and beauty. We will wander the parks and gardens appreciating what we see, often stopping to snap our own photos to share. We are continuing a practice so many people have enjoyed for so long.
London, England. Flowers at the base of the Centotaph, a close up view. KS011.05.
Cairo, Egypt. Flower bed in foreground, looking toward two palms with path and bridge below. KS160.05.
Cairo, Egypt. Ezbekieh gardens, flower beds and vista down a walk. KS142.11.
Paris, France. Flower sellers by the Porte Maillot. KS235.06.
Cannes, France. Approach to a villa — flowers, palms, other trees. KS246.10.
Cairo, Egypt. Flower beds and walk at Gezireh island. KS160.12.
Brussels, Belgium. Flower vendors in the old Grand Place. KS236.02.
Athens, Greece. Palace Gardens. Flower beds, two palm trees, other trees and shrubbery beyond. KS210.04.
London, England. Peace centotaph, erected 1919. Many flowers at the base. KS011.01.
Jerusalem. Some of the formal flower beds in the garden of Gethsemane. KS129.02.
Cairo, Egypt. Flower bed with palm trees beyond, Gezireh island. KS160.10.
Cairo, Egypt. Close-up view of a flower bed and shrubbery beyond. Gezireh island. KS160.11.
Compiegne, France. Statue of Joan of Arc, flower market in front. KS228.11.
Paris, France. A flower push cart. KS014.12.
Cairo, Egypt. Flower beds, shrubbery and lawns, Gezireh island. KS160.04.
Cairo, Egypt. View in the park on Gezireh island. Flower beds in blossom at the left, trees (including palms) scattered about. Road down the center passing under bridge of palm logs. Expanse of lawn at the right, with shrubbery beyond. A lovely park. Size, 9 1/2 x 32 1/2 in. Cirkut027P01.
The International Kurru Archaeological Project is back in the field!
30 November 2018
By Gregory Tucker
Welcome to the first of a series of blog posts that I plan on writing every Friday over the next few weeks for the Kelsey Museum’s #fieldworkfriday series! This happens to coincide perfectly with our rest day in the field, so I thought I could take the time to share with you a bit of what we’re up to this season in Sudan.
The International Kurru Archaeological Project has been an international project studying the ancient Nubian site of El Kurru in modern-day Sudan near the city of Karima since 2013. As part of this project I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to conduct geophysical survey at El Kurru and the neighboring sites of Sanam and Jebel Barkal, to get a better understanding of the unexcavated areas of these sites without, or prior to, intensive excavation.
In general, geophysical survey attempts to detect features beneath the surface by remotely sensing various properties at, or just above, the earth’s surface. Perhaps it might be useful to think of an x-ray or other medical imagery detecting something within your body without actually touching the bones or other internal body parts; geophysical survey for archaeology works similarly. In the case of this season’s work I will be conducting a magnetic gradiometry survey over two locations at Jebel Barkal. This technique is similar to the one used by metal detectorists who you may have seen at the beach or in parks, but instead of looking for individual objects we are seeking patterns in the subsurface that are indicative of various structures or other features, and our instruments are able to document all of the readings at the surface as I walk across the desert which I then plot them in a map at the end of the day. This technique has proven especially effective in the conditions we are expecting to experience this season at Jebel Barkal and with any luck we will have exciting results once again!
Over Thanksgiving and the subsequent few days, I traveled from Sohag to Cairo to London to Doha to Khartoum, leaving another Kelsey Museum project at Abydos, Egypt, to pick up the magnetic instrument that I will be using this season in Sudan from its home in England.
I had traveled through Doha to reach Sudan once before, in 2016, but that was before the route was changed due to airspace issues, and the flight from Doha to Khartoum has now become two hours longer than just two years ago. There was some good news for me though: The longer itinerary meant a low passenger load and a mere handful of us had almost the entire coach section to ourselves!
Once I arrived in Khartoum I collected my belongings, including the magnetic gradiometer, and I made my way to the hotel for the night to rest for the journey to Kurru the following day. In the morning I met with our colleague and friend Sami Elamin, who is assisting my work as our inspector from the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), and we made the six-hour trip through the desert to Kurru.
This past week has been spent getting started in the field, from arranging logistics related to the work, such as how we would get our breakfast delivered while in the field, to meetings with our colleagues from NCAM and another active project at Jebel Barkal run by the University of Venice, to once again taking part in the vibrant life of the village, for instance by attending a pre-wedding party last night which was open to all and featured a live band and much revelry, at least until the power went out over the entire region for the night.
With the help of my colleagues from Kurru and NCAM we have already collected some very useful data and set out the grid that will guide our work across the landscape.
Next weekend (and remember: our rest day is on Friday), I hope to share a bit more about the site of Jebel Barkal and the projects that I am working with this field season.
2. In addition to our 2016 publication we have presented our results at the 2018 Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) annual meeting in Boston and the 2018 International Conference for Nubian Studies in Paris.
It’s been pretty quiet in the corridors of Newberry Hall lately. The Kelsey staff is as busy as ever, but the students are all away for the summer; some are taking part in fieldwork projects, others are conducting their own research. (Some might be kicking back, though I’d wager it’s not very many.) The Kelsey research library and the IPCAA study areas — normally hives of activity enlivened by the voices of students chatting about their research, an upcoming exam, or the latest happenings on campus — are dark and deserted.
Frankly, it’s been a little dull around here.
But the new semester is approaching and the students have begun to trickle back, hale and tan and with renewed energy, and we who have stayed behind prod them for details about their adventures abroad.
The first to return this year is one of our favorite Canadians, Craig Harvey, who’s beginning his sixth year as an IPCAA grad student. We sat down with Craig to learn about his summer and (let’s be honest) to live vicariously for a little while as he regaled us with tales of his travels.
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The Kelsey: Welcome back, Craig! What have you been up to this summer? Craig: Quite a lot! My “summer” actually started back in January when I left for what I thought would be a three-month research trip to Israel, Cyprus, and Jordan to collect data for my dissertation. During my trip, I was invited to join a survey project in Saudi Arabia, which extended my travels until June when I presented at a conference in Jordan and participated in a second project in Israel.
Kelsey: Wow. That sounds amazing. What specifically were you working on?
Craig: During my time in Israel, Cyprus, and Jordan I was doing a lot of traveling to sites relevant to my dissertation, which is on Roman-period construction in the Eastern Mediterranean. Specifically, I was looking at the extent of local influence on the construction techniques and materials used in Roman baths. When I was not visiting sites, I was conducting research in libraries and meeting with local scholars.
Kelsey: And in Saudi Arabia? Craig: In Saudi Arabia, I was part of a survey project documenting the archaeological remains around the city of al-Ula, and for the project in Israel, I was working as the numismatist and was processing and identifying their coins.
Kelsey: That sounds like an incredible experience. Did you get to travel around much? Craig: Yes, I got to travel a lot, although not all that much in Saudi Arabia. I have been going to Jordan since 2008, and yet there were still places I had not seen before, so this trip was a chance for me to finally get to these important archaeological sites.
Kelsey: What did you do in your free time? Craig: More travel! I tried to visit as many sites as possible, even those not connected to my dissertation. While in Cyprus, I rented a car and visited a number of the Painted Churches in the Troodos Mountains, and I even managed to visit Beirut and a few sites in Lebanon during the month I was in Jordan.
Kelsey: You must have seen some spectacular things. What would you say was your favorite aspect of the trip? Did you discover any “hidden gems”? Craig: Well, like I said, I have been going to Jordan for over ten years now, but I still cannot get over how friendly and hospitable the people are. In my opinion, they are some of the nicest people in the world. In terms of a hidden gem, I have to recommend Qasr Bshir, which is a Late Roman fort in the Jordanian desert. It is one of the best-preserved Roman forts in the world, with its walls and towers nearly fully preserved. In my opinion it is one of the best hidden sites in the Middle East and is just spectacular.
Kelsey: Thanks a lot, Craig! What’s next for you? Craig: Now I’ll go back to writing my dissertation!
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Craig would like to express his thanks to the American Center of Oriental Research, the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, and the Rackham Graduate School for the generous grants that funded much of his travel.
From December 6th to 9th, I had the opportunity to participate in two separate conferences on two different continents in different capacities. At the University of Edinburgh, I was invited along with U-M Classics professor Nicola Terrenato to give a talk about early Latin society and state formation based on evidence from Gabii, Italy, at the international conference The Dawn of Roman Law. Back in Ann Arbor, the Kelsey Museum was gearing up for Into the Third Century: The Past, Present, and Future of Michigan’s Archaeological Museums, a graduate and undergraduate student symposium sponsored by the Collaborative Archaeology Workgroup in conjunction with the bicentennial exhibition Excavating Archaeology @ U-M: 1817–2017 (which is currently on display at the Kelsey Museum). As one of the graduate student organizers for the event, I felt that I should do everything possible to make sure it went as smoothly as possible.
I arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the morning of December 6, about two hours before the beginning of the conference. What followed was approximately 36 hours of extended presentations on topics ranging from the use of the dative in the Twelve Tables to an Etruscan inscription that may be one of the earliest moments ever found for the culture, of dining on Scottish delicacies as well as quite odd Italian-Scottish fusion, and sleeping the sleep of the jet-lagged. Following our well-received presentation, however, it was necessary to switch gears quickly from presenter-mode to that of an organizer/administrator for the symposium back in Ann Arbor.
Organizing a conference is not easy. One must arrange and purchase meals, airport rides, and hotel rooms for the participants, reserve and set up lecture venues, create schedules, prepare introductions, cajole speakers, clean up, and deal with the inevitable technology issues that will arise. Fortunately, the team of doctoral candidate Kimberly Swisher from Anthropological Archaeology, Kelsey Museum educator Catherine Person, and myself had each other to help spread the load. After an excellent keynote address by Lisa Çakmak (Associate Curator of Ancient Art at Saint Louis Art Museum and IPCAA alumna) on Friday night, Saturday went smoothly with presentations by numerous graduate students from IPCAA, Anthropological Archaeology, and Classics, as well as remarks from the directors of the Kelsey Museum and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, Terry Wilfong and Michael Galaty, respectively. At the same time, there were multiple posters presented by undergraduate and graduate students and a technology session where participants could try out the newest technology for presenting archaeological materials to the general public. Overall, although an exhausting couple of days, it could not have gone any better!