Over the past 30 years, Eleanor and Lawrence (class of ’64) Jackier have acquired an impressive collection of archaeological artifacts representing the ethnically diverse populations of ancient Israel/Palestine. Spanning a period of 2,500 years, from the Bronze Age to late antiquity, the Jackier Collection includes items large and small, made from ceramic, metal, and glass, which together exemplify almost every aspect of life in the ancient world—commerce, war, beauty, politics, agriculture, domestic life, death, and religion.
This year, eight students entered the competition, each writing essays comparing one object either from the Jackier Collection or from the Kelsey Museum Collections with one object on display in the Museum’s galleries. The top three essays were chosen for the current exhibition, which the students produced together with Scott Meier, Kelsey Museum Exhibition Designer.
Objects on Display
Bovine have served a number of roles in ancient and contemporary society, so it is no surprise that they were incorporated into a trade weight system and given more value. The craftsman who chose to produce this trade weight might have chosen the shape of a zebu because these bulls played such an important role in everyday and religious life.
Ossuaries, objects common to burial practices in ancient Jerusalem (20 BCE), were rectangular stone boxes in which bones of the deceased were placed. From the stone used to construct the ossuary, the carved designs on the box, the pottery buried in them, and the inscriptions on the ossuaries, archaeologists have been able to deduce a remarkable amount of information regarding the burials and culture at the time, including information about social classes, the languages, as well as societal and religious beliefs.
Jews and Egyptians honored their dead through careful funerary processes that simultaneously reaffirmed their ethnic identity while integrating the norms instilled by the Roman Empire. Their treatment of the dead reflects how individuals composed themselves when alive and the relations held with those who chose to honor them. Despite its modest surface treatment, this ossuary was crafted in detail for storing bones in anticipation of resurrection. The Fayum Portrait displays an idealized portrayal of an elite woman incorporating elements of both Egyptian and Roman identity. Despite these objects being part of the same process — that of Romanization — they also contrast religious views held by the Messianic Jews and Egyptians.