When you hear archaeologist, you probably imagine a person on his/her knees with a tiny brush in hand and a great amount of patience. However archeologists today have more tools than picks and shovels; armed with education, experience, and a trained eye, today’s archeologists have digital technology in their toolboxes.
Such a research project is currently underway at the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities. On weekdays between June 7-16, 2017, Valentina Vassallo, a PhD student from Lund University, will be working on her dissertation at the museum. Valentina is 3D-scanning ca 50 terracotta figurines from the open air sanctuary Ayia Irini, Cyprus to find information that is undetectable with the naked eye. Among other things, she hopes to answer the following questions: How are the figurines made? Can we identify different craftsmen? Which techniques were used?
Valentina has previously scanned figurines from the same group in Lund and Cyprus. In the video below, Valentina explains her research and its significance.
New technologies are often tested in archeological science, ranging from aerial photography, total station and GIS to various scan and x-ray methods. By using techniques that don’t harm the objects or material, new studies can be done and new information layers can be added. Everything depends on which questions are asked, which selection is made and what method is used.
Research is always ongoing
At most museums, much of the work happens behind closed doors. We register information in databases, move objects, photograph them, plan and build exhibitions, take care of image orders, lend objects to other museums… and all the administration that goes with it.
But something that you may not know is that many museums welcome researchers and others interested in studying obkects from the collections which are not currently exhibited. People from all over the world come to the National Museums of World Culture to study objects for various reasons: for dissertations, doctoral theses, technology and material studies, or for inspiration and personal interest – many of these people have nerdy interest in what they’re studying!
For us who work at the museum, it’s exciting to meet people with a lot of knowledge in an often fairly narrow area of interest. Visits need to be scheduled in good time, at least 3 months in advance, sometimes longer, and the visitor needs to provide us with a list of the items to be studied so that we can attain them. The items can be found in our database on our website. It is absolutely free to do this kind of visit – the only thing we require in return is the knowledge the research visit results in (papers, theses, books, craft items and more) is added to our database, so everyone can benefit from it. Do you want to apply for a research or study visit at our museums? Just fill out this form.
The 3D-scanning of the terra cotta figurines is taking place at Medelhavsmuseet/The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm on weekdays from June 7-16. It is open for the public. Read more on our website.