Posted on July 31st, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post by Archaeology Intern Erin Pruhs. Erin works under the supervision of Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink. To read more posts by Erin and the other interns, click here.
Most people when they think of archaeology may think of Indiana Jones. Although those movies may have made some people more interested in the idea of archaeology, it does not actually show anything close to what archaeologist do. I’m not saying that archaeologists are not trying to fight off grave/site robbers, because that part is pretty true, but I’m more referring to the lack of proper procedures and practices seen.
Image from an excavation at Lloyd Street Synagogue.
The Jewish Museum of Maryland has a surprisingly large collection of archaeological materials from various excavations around the building because of renovations; objects date back to about 100 years ago. Whenever something is built, an archaeological team has to step in and make sure that there is not anything of extreme importance in the ground that they may be building on. The actual procedure is quite timely and may consist of: walking the grounds, filing paperwork, waiting to get approval, digging small test areas, expanding into larger areas, filling out paperwork for everything done, bagging and tagging objects and processing and storing everything in the lab or museum. From there, what the public sees or hears about is a very small portion of what was actually found, and museums tend to only put out the “pretty” objects for display.
There is some good news. The idea of public archaeology is becoming more and more common. Public archaeology is trying to make an effort in making the public more aware of the different projects that happen and hopefully to gain some interest. I have been an archaeologist for a few years now and have gone on various digs and participated in a variety of public archaeological opportunities. What is the hope for the future? For me, it is just to make people have a better understanding of what actually happens in the field of archaeology. Sure, old things in museums are cool, but the question is: how did they get there?
Posted on June 19th, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post by collections intern Erin Pruh. Erin is working with the Lloyd Street Synagogue archaeological collections this summer with Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.
This is a weird artifact that appeared while taking pictures of the Lloyd Street Synagogue archaeological excavation materials. most of the objects have been parts of bricks, glass or rusted nails, but this appears to be a bead.
The bead looked like it was made of bone, but I wanted to be sure, so I tested it.
One way to test, which there is a pretend picture of, is putting the end of the bone to your tongue – if it sticks, it’s bone. (No objects were actually licked in the making of this photoset.)
Another way, which is the way that was done, is putting it in water. If it floats, it’s wood – if it sinks, it’s bone.
It is, in fact, bone!
ETA: In response to some comments over on our facebook page: “I did more research when i got home – I had very little time to actually look into it before it was posted. had a friend of mine who is a bioanth look at pics and she says it’s not bone. It’s really hard to tell. It doesn’t look like any kind of ceramic that i have seen. i specialize in late prehistoric ceramics (grit and shell tempers). I was debating about it being clay – but considered it. The records don’t give any information and previous interns considered it possibly bone. Another option, which I am really skeptical about, is it being made from horn. I appreciate the input and will definitely look more into it. A pipe stem would fit the context. There are some records where past interns noted objects that would be from prehistoric context, such as a stone tool, which is missing…but there are no records that indicate that there was any prehistoric activity in this area. thanks for letting me know what it is!” -Erin
Posted on July 2nd, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by LSS Archaeology Intern Karen Bishop.
A few weeks ago a few of my fellow interns and I tagged along on a lighting meeting with a representative from Sylvania light bulbs, who are helping the museum phase out the use of incandescent light. While touring the basement of the Lloyd Street Synagogue one bulb in particular caught everyone’s eye– the bulb lighting the mikveh (a bath used for ritual purification).
The lighting specialist was very intrigued, and although he didn’t know its exact age, he guessed it was at least from the 1920’s. You can clearly see the looped path of the filament and the pointed tip of the glass bulb indicates that it was likely hand-blown. Jobi is sending a few photos to a specialist who hopefully will be able to tell us its exact age. It is amazing that it still works considering it is turned on and off every time The Synagogue Speaks exhibition is opened for the public, four days a week!
My and Kierra’s main project for the summer is to inventory the contents of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Most of the time we are detailing old records and reconciling object numbers and photographs. The mikveh light bulb is an interesting surprise, as we will get to do some research and make a new record for it. As of now we’re not sure where the light came from or how long it’s been screwed into its current location.