Ancient Egypt at the JMM

Posted on May 18th, 2015 by

I became involved in the development for The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen as I have a background in Egyptology, it isn’t something I ever expected to use when I started working at the JMM but recently it has been put to good use. In addition to working on the exhibit I have been able to plan a few programs that also draw on this knowledge.

Last month we held an Ancient Egypt family day here at the Museum. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t just the usual discussion of mummification but something that would teach some of the skills needed by an early Egyptologist like Mendes. We planned a series of interconnected activities that showed some of the process an archaeologist follows.

Excavation

Excavation

Understanding how to excavate was our first aim, everyone received their own archaeological dig to excavate. We started by carefully dividing the site into sections, these would be essential for recording our finds accurately . As we dug we also spoke about the importance of stratigraphy and how it helps to date a site and the objects we find.

Due to some careful planning everyone found the remains of two ceramic vessels which were carefully recorded and collected for the next stage.

ancient 2

Finds Analysis

This was an important part of the day that really taught some practical skills. We examined the pieces we found, discussing rim sherds especially. We looked at how they can be used to create a better impression of how a vessel may have originally looked, especially the size of the vessel. We also discussed why ceramics are such a common find on archaeological sites and what they can reveal.

Reconstruction

Reconstruction

Once we gathered as much information as possible regarding our sherds we stared the process of reconstruction, this took a lot of patience and a little creative thinking, but eventually we were able to reconstruct our precious artefacts!

Hieroglyphs

Hieroglyphs

The one thing that no Ancient Egypt day would be complete without is of course hieroglyphs. All of the materials that were excavated came ready inscribed with their ‘original’ contents, including bread, beer, cobras and fish. Once the translation was done we took the opportunity to do some writing in hieroglyphs ourselves.

Grave Goods

Finally we explored some of the types of object an archaeologist might discover. Most of the material that survives from Ancient Egypt, including all of the antiquities on display in The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, were originally intended for a funerary context. So we decided to make a few grave goods of our own including this fantastic death mask and some shabtis.

If you missed out on Egypt Day don’t worry! We have another great family day planned for June 14th, the closing day of The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen and Flag Day.

Trillion BremenA blog post by Programs Manager Trillion Attwood. To read more posts from Trillion click HERE.

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Program Wrap Up: Dr. Betsy Bryan on Egyptian Funerary Beliefs

Posted on April 2nd, 2015 by

This Sunday we welcomed Dr. Betsy Bryan of Johns Hopkins University to the JMM to offer a little more insight into Mendes Cohen’s collection of antiquities. Dr. Bryan’s fascinating presentation  discussed both the collection as a whole and the way in which it represents ancient Egyptian funerary beliefs.

The Program

The Program

The collection, originally consisting of nearly 700 objects, formed the basis of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, and was donated shortly after Mendes’ death by his nephew also named Mendes Cohen. Most of the pieces were acquired during his time in modern Luxor during his three month voyage down the Nile.

Dr. Bryan explained that the ancient Egyptians believed the afterlife to be similar to life, as such requiring many of the same possessions. These requirements ranged from the body, hence the need for mummification, to smaller items such as cosmetic containers, jewelry and food. Some items such as jewelry provided a dual function having protective powers, often associated with the preservation of the body.

Selections from Mendes' archaeological collection.

Selections from Mendes’ archaeological collection.

The talk predominantly  focused upon standards within wealthier members of the community especially Tutankhamun. However there was a particularly interesting discussion regarding ordinary members of society and the simpler grave goods that can be found in their burials based upon Dr. Bryans current work in Egypt.

Please enjoy this recording of Dr. Brayns presentation and share with friends and family!

Trillion BremenA blog post by Programs Manager Trillion Attwood. To read more posts from Trillion click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Program Wrap-Up: How Jews Entered American Politics: The Curious Case of Maryland’s “Jew Bill”

Posted on February 26th, 2015 by

 

Despite the wintry weather, we were pleased to welcome Dr. Rafael Medoff, the founding director of The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, to speak at the JMM this past Sunday. His talk focused on Maryland’s Jew Bill and explored how American Jews came to achieve full political equality in the United States. As Dr. Medoff explained, before there was a finalized federal constitution, the original 13 colonies had to have their own system of governance, which established the connection between one’s religious faith and the right to hold public office come. As each state enacted it’s constitution in 1776, each had to consider and articulate the qualification to hold public office. Many states, including Maryland, required an affirmation of one’s Christian faith in order to hold public office and enjoy other civic opportunities. The purpose, however, was not to exclude Jews, rather to affirm the Christian spirit of the new country but, consequently, it had the effect of excluding people. Critical turning point came after the Federal Constitution and northwest ordinance were enacted in 1787, which allowed the principle of full equality without Christian affirmation to be enshrined. However, the road to remedying the conflicting federal and state previsions was lengthy and complex and had a lasting impact on both local and global politics. It is this complex journey of the Jew Bill that sits at the heart of Dr. Medoff’s talk.

We are happy to invite you to listen and enjoy and even share this talk with friends and family!

 

We hope you will join us for our next talk on Sunday, March 29th at 1pm, where we’ll welcome Dr. Betsy Bryan of Johns Hopkins University. She will be speaking on 19th century Egyptology and the collection of Mendes Cohen!

See you there!

See you there!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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