Yesterday I held objects more than 2000 years old at the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology. To date, I have been volunteering as a research assistant, specifically cataloguing the Teotihuacan, Mexican collection of pottery figurines. One of my main tasks has been to carefully measure and weigh all figurines (in total 36). I can then type each of the heads and categorise them in the existent catalogue. Before I undertook this task the figurines pretty much all had the name “clay figurine”. Using incredibly recent archaeological research I was able to differentiate all of the figurines. In the future, these figurines will be much easier to locate!
It has been very exciting to actually handle the objects and study them in depth. What makes it even more exciting is that in February this year I visited Teotihuacan in Mexico and learnt about what types of figurines they created in that exact location. I’m almost done with the first twelve in the collection. The bald head figurines (known as portraits) have so far been entered into the adlib museum system. Now that I have all the measurements and weights, the rest should be pretty straight-forward.
Essentially these figurines were used in household rituals. There was no evidence to suggest they were for temples or public use. In these rituals the heads would be detached from the bodies and destroyed. It’s therefore incredibly rare to have an intact body. We have two!! Alongside this problem is the fact that dating these objects is virtually impossible. Excavations and natural disasters have worn away and disrupted the ground these objects were found in thereby preventing an exact chronological record to be kept. Nevertheless research combined with obsessing over the objects has led me to approximately date a few.
Overall, there is so much that can be done with this collection. Initially, there was not much information recorded at all about the figurines. I’m changing this and I’m sure it will be beneficial to the museum and to knowledge of its collection!