Unloading the kiln!
Our kiln unloading was as unexpected as our first. You never know how things will come out of a furnace that goes up to 1100 degrees C! We learned quite a bit--that higher temperatures might be better for our slip to turn black; that even further prolonging and controlling our reduction phase might be useful; and we've got to figure out how to better position our wares so that we get a reducing atmosphere going across (and into) concave surfaces. Plus, we need saggars to deal with all that pesky fly ash. Back to the drawing (painting, slipping?) board.
Firing the Ancient Greek Kiln, Take 2
We've learned a lot in the second firing of our Greek kiln. Thermocouples on our different kiln shelves told us how different the heat distribution is from the top to the bottom of the kiln. We controlled our reduction phase of the firing much better. And we made it through the whole firing in 10 hours...would have been faster had it not been for a pesky slump in temperature around 780 degrees C. What will our fired results look like? Stay tuned, we open our kiln tomorrow!
Ancient Greek Kiln Firing, Take 2
You know you've missed those weekly updates on our attempts to recreate ancient Greek ceramics. So here you are, another chance to see our valiant attempt (take 2) to figure out how those geniuses in the ancient world made red clay go from red to black to red and black. We firing tomorrow @[134129173324786:274:Baltimore Clayworks], stop by from about noon to 8pm if you want to help stoke the fire. Nothing like thunderstorms, 90 degree weather and a fire going up to almost 1700 degrees Fahrenheit to keept hings interesting! Wish us luck!
In Spring 2015, Sanchita Balachandran, the Archaeological Museum’s Curator/Conservator taught an interactive, hands on course titled “Recreating Ancient Greek Ceramics.” In collaboration with expert ceramics artists including Matthew Hyleck and Cami Ascher at Baltimore Clayworks, and thirteen undergraduate students and one graduate student assistant at Johns Hopkins, the course attempted to recreate one of the most iconic, beautiful and technologically complex objects known from ancient Greece–the red-figure kylix or cup. The course brought together not only students across disciplines, but also involved extensive consultation with art historians, archaeologists, art conservators and materials scientists across the country in the attempt to recreate vessels similar to the ancient examples held at the Archaeological Museum. Throughout the course, students made replicas of painted kylikes in teams, reported on their progress in the course blog, prepared workshop journals, and created their own tiles to fire. Please explore our site to learn more about all of these activities!
The museum is undertaking several major projects to enhance the use and study of our collection in courses, student and faculty research, and for the enjoyment of the public. Some of our current endeavors include:
- Rehousing the entire museum collection. We are currently unpacking thousands of artifacts which were packed and moved from Gilman Hall prior to the building’s renovation. Our task is to unpack all of this material and have it rehoused in archival storage containers so that they can be moved into museum study drawers or our new storage area, and thus be made accessible for the first time in many years.
- Cataloging all objects in our collection. We are in the process of cataloging our entire collection so that it can be viewed as part of an online searchable database within the next two years. This challenging project includes extensive archival research; careful description and examination of each artifact; and high quality photography of each object. As part of this project, we developed a new database which will capture all of this information and include invaluable research information such as references, links to other objects within our collection which are relevant and information on the conservation of the artifacts.
- Conserving artifacts for display and study. As part of our mission to conserve and care for the museum collection, we are examining and conserving objects in need of conservation prior to their display or storage.
- Analytical research of museum objects. We are currently in the process of purchasing state of the art scientific equipment to better understand our museum collection. To this end, we will be purchasing a high quality microscope with digital photography and videography capabilities for examination of objects and for displaying this information to students within the classroom. We will also be acquiring a portable X-ray fluorescence instrument which will allow us to non-destructively analyze pigments, metal compositions, and other material characteristics.
To read more about cylinder seals, an excellent introduction is Dominique Collon’s First Impressions: Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East. For more detailed discussions, see the series Catalogue of the Western Asiatic Seals in the British Museum: Cylinder Seals, which has five volumes dedicated to particular periods (Vol. 1: Uruk through Early Dynastic; Vol. 2: [...]Read more