A brief update

There’s been so much going on lately that I thought it was time for a quick update here. I’ve been using every spare moment to write my Masters dissertation – not easy during the school holidays! It’s on the University of Leeds’ ancient Cypriot collection, and is due at the end of August. Work in progress has been posted on here from time to time, tagged ‘University of Leeds‘. I’ve really enjoyed pulling all my research together, and attempting to produce a catalogue has been very good experience.

I had a great morning a few weeks ago visiting the newly cleaned objects at the Leeds City Museum’s Discovery Centre, and taking their portraits for the dissertation.

Photographing pots at the Discovery Centre

Photographing pots at the Discovery Centre

A few additional glass objects from the collection have recently come to light, in fragments. I took some photos of those too, at the University – rigging up a photography studio on a coffee table!

Glass bowl in sherds

Glass bowl in sherds

Broken unguentarium

Broken unguentarium

I think the small glass bowl, in several large pieces and many tiny fragments, may be too far gone to rescue; but another of the ‘candlestick’ vessels, and a small unguentarium, are really not too badly damaged and could possibly be repaired. I’m having to talk sternly to myself about cost/benefit and available time, at least for the moment.

I’m also beginning to put arrangements in place for my PhD, starting this autumn, which will focus on local ancient Cypriot collections and their reception. I’m thrilled to be funded by the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) via the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH), which will enable me to study as part of a supportive cohort, with access to further training and funding opportunities. Much more to follow about this as plans develop.

I’ve been working with colleagues to put together a panel proposal for next year’s Classical Association Conference, on objects and materiality, which would allow me to spend some time thinking about object biographies and the ways in which archaeological objects can convey meaning without secure provenances. This is a fascinating subject, and I’ve only scratched the surface so far. I particularly like the idea of applying methodologies and approaches from other disciplines to the Cypriot objects, and seeing where it takes me.

There are a couple of one-day events on Cyprus coming up, just to add to the excitement!

  • The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is hosting an event titled ‘Re-approaching Cyprus: A day devoted to recent research in Cypriot archaeology and Cypriot collections’, on 23rd October. There’s a great line-up of speakers, and it looks like a really valuable day.
  • The London Metropolitan Museum is also holding a ‘Cyprus Week’ in October, including a conference on the 30th, ‘Cyprus: Its Archaeology and Heritage – Effects on Politics, Identity, Tourism and Education’. I’m planning to attend, to give a very brief overview of my work and to meet people working on Cyprus from across the UK. It’ll be good to have a break from drafting at the laptop!
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The Ure Museum, Reading

Recently I attended the 2013 Classical Association conference in Reading. As ever, this was a great event – plenty of thought-provoking papers and conversations, and the opportunity to present a paper, which of course made mention of Cypriot art in Leeds!

One of the highlights was my visit to the Ure Museum, based on the University campus. It has a great collection of Greek, Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities, and is not to be missed. The Ure Museum also has an excellent online database, which strikes me as a model of how to make University archaeological collections accessible.

Probably my favourite item was this Base Ring juglet, which sheds further light on the themes I was exploring in relation to the Leeds City Museum examples. I love the snaky heads, and the way that the maker’s fingerprints are still visible in the clay.

I was also pleased to find a few comparators for Miss Stott’s aryballos, featuring very similar designs of marching warriors.

The similarity of the decoration makes me wonder whether it is an allusion to some specific mythological scene; but it’s probably more likely that it’s just an attractive design, well suited to the shape of the vessel. The second example above was found in Boeotia, indicating that there was an export market for these containers and their contents, which fits well with Miss Stott’s aryballos having come from Cyprus.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Ure Museum at first hand, and will certainly be making use of the database to compare notes at a distance. Online publication is the way forward!