Revisiting the 1996 JMM Expansion

Posted on October 10th, 2013 by

During the expansion of the Jewish Museum of Maryland in 1996 there were many collected and forgotten artifacts and objects that can from the grounds beneath the land surrounding the museum and synagogues.  My fellow Urban Archaeology intern, Molly, and I have been taking a look at these forgotten objects, cataloging, cleaning and photographing them. Most of the materials we handle are different fragments of bottles, various glass, ceramics and metal, as well as some unidentified objects.

Bottle from the Bartholomay Brewing Company.

Bottle from the Bartholomay Brewing Company.

My favorite finds were the glass beer and soda bottles with embossing on them from various old Baltimore breweries that I dated to 1910 from researching the year of establishment of the name of the brewery. Some names that turned up frequently were the Bauernschmidt Co, American Brewing Co, Global Brewing Co, and Bartholomay Brewing Co. Often, the name would not be embossed, but just a monogram of a letter, and by using various websites we researched what company the particular monogram belonged to. There are also a number of small medicine glass bottles from local pharmacies.

Fragment of a bottle from the Bauernschmidt Brewing Company.

Fragment of a bottle from the Bauernschmidt Brewing Company.

Now that we have successfully assigned accession numbers to every object and added it into our database, and now we have begun the process of washing, labeling and photographing them! Woo!

A blog post by fall collections intern Carlyn Thomas. To read more posts by and about interns, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Journey from the Field to the Museum

Posted on July 31st, 2013 by

Erin PruhsA 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.

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 in jewish museum of maryland




The Bone Test!

Posted on June 19th, 2013 by

Erin PruhsA 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.

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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.

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The bead looked like it was made of bone, but I wanted to be sure, so I tested it.

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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.

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!

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 in jewish museum of maryland




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