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2019–2020 Jackier Prize Display

Over the past 30 years, Eleanor and Lawrence (U-M class of ’64) Jackier have followed their passion for the artifacts of the ethnically diverse populations of ancient Israel/Palestine. With interests that span a period of 2,500 years, from the Bronze Age to late antiquity, the Jackiers have focused on items that exemplify almost every aspect of life in the ancient world — commerce, war, beauty, politics, agriculture, domestic life, death, and religion.  

In 2015 the Jackiers, wanting to share their passion for the ancient world, endowed the Eleanor and Lawrence Jackier Prize in Archaeology. The prize, which recognizes excellence in archaeology, is open to all undergraduates, from every college and department and from all three campuses of the University of Michigan. Interested students are asked to write an essay or create a project or a work of art that has a connection to the Kelsey Museum or to the archaeology of the Mediterranean region.  

This year, students from a wide range of departments and programs entered the competition. Some wrote essays about an object or group of objects from the Kelsey Museum and the University of Michigan Papyrology Collections. Others were inspired to create works of art based on ancient artifacts. Five projects were chosen for the current exhibition.

Objects on Display

"Rethink Plastic." Ceramic and underglaze. 70 x 38 cm.

Rethink Plastic

"Amphoras have been called the plastic bags of ancient times. These large, ceramic vessels were produced abundantly, used to transport goods, and then discarded. Such wastefulness continues today and has become particularly problematic because of the accumulation of single-use products, which accumulate in our landfills, oceans, and everywhere in between. The intent of my piece is to allow viewers to contemplate the connection between plastic bags and ancient amphoras, and to begin to see their contributions to the accumulation of waste on our planet."

— Rachel Heibel

Bronze cosmetic spoon. Length: 13.6 cm. Roman period, 1st c. BCE–4th c. CE. Italy. De Criscio purchase, 1909. KM 1497.

Cosmetic Spoon

"Elite Roman women used cosmetics to communicate power, style, and influence in a society that offered few opportunities for female growth. In the hands of a cosmeta, or skilled female slave beautician, cosmetic spoons glided over bathed, oiled skin to apply layers of pale, creamy foundation, a marker of ideal womanhood and civilizing elegance."

— Estrella Salgado

Private letter. Ink on papyrus, 15.5 x 22 cm. Roman period, 2nd c. CE. Karanis, Egypt. University of Michigan Papyrology Collection, P.Mich.inv. 4528.

Papyrus Letter

"The climate disasters of the past echo the climate disasters we face today. This letter from a soldier in Rome to his mother in Karanis, Egypt, shows the importance of the parent-child relationship and familial concern in an area prone to repeated drought. I wanted to see how concern about disaster played out in personal correspondence, and while it is hard to date this papyrus in regards to the abandonment of the town (due to varying dates debated by archaeologists), it uniquely shows a relationship between two people which other objects don’t often reveal."

— Anna Southon

Ceramic incantation bowl with inked inscription. Diameter: 16.2 cm. Sassanian period, 6th–7th c. CE. Seleucia on the Tigris, Iraq. U-M excavation, 1927–1937. KM 2018.1.502.

Incantation Bowl

"Babylonian Jews were among the diverse practitioners of incantation bowls in Sassanian Iraq. Many Jews faulted demons for the persecution they suffered at the whims of distant emperors; using incantation bowls as demon traps in their homes gave Jews a semblance of control over their fates after centuries of expulsions. The cross-cultural exchange of incantation bowls demonstrates that these dislocations, while disruptive, did foster novel religious interaction. A newfound belief in the sacredness of writing, as exemplified by this  bowl’s inscription, further facilitated such communication in this religious melting pot."

— Victoria Thede

"Trans Goddess." Stoneware with red and white slip. 55 x 26 x 25 cm.

Trans Goddess

"I applied the visual and symbolic ideas of fertility seen in the Kelsey Museum’s prehistoric Mesopotamian ‘goddess’ sculptures and applied them in a modern context, making the goddess a transgender woman. Trans women struggle with literal fertility issues as well as with other aspects of fertility that these statues represent: freedom of sexuality and prosperity. Trans women in our society are shunned and I wanted to give trans bodies a space to be celebrated and feel beautiful.”

— Jaymes Walker