The Jacquetta Hawkes Collection, Portugal, 1949.

Remember this box discovered during recent building works?

Today’s posting comes from undergraduate Dalva Gerberon, who has been investigating. Over to you, Dalva…

I undertook the study of the Jacquetta Hawkes collection for the Archives of the Oxford Institute of Archaeology in December 2016 as a part of my fieldwork as a second year undergraduate in Archaeology and Anthropology. It was particularly exciting to be given the responsibility of these items – the arrowheads are particularly impressive, both in their aspect and in their quality. Studying the collection required spending a lot of time observing the items one by one and analysing them, which forced me to see more about them that what I could them from just one glance; eventually it led me to note important and interesting details, such as fractures, retouches, or decorations. I definitely enjoyed getting to know these objets and working out their functions and roles in the life of the inhabitants of the site.

This collection of objects was given to Jacquetta Hawkes, during a visit to Portugal in 1949. It was presented to us in three different boxes, which we ordered from 1 to 3, starting counter-clockwise from the top. Box number 1 was a long box that contained 66 flints – flakes, blades, and arrowheads – ranging from medium-sized to very small. Box number 2 was a smaller, closed card box – item n°87 of this list. It contained 20 items, 15 of them arrowheads, while the other 5 were bone tools involved in the processing of fabric. Box number 3 was a long box that contained 4 cylindrical stone items and 9 roughly rectangular fired clay items, all of unknown purpose. In addition, in also contained a plastic bag and its 10 ceramic fragments of varying size and shape. In total, the collection has 110 items, plus one extra fragment that probably comes from another item of the collection.

The collection when I started studying it

Some of the objects of the first box, especially the few arrowheads, were roughly, if not poorly, executed, and display marks of imprecise knapping. More importantly, they appear to have been made from poor-quality stone; some items were made from the outer stone (cortex), and not from the core, which would be more solid, and better to work or knap. This leads to the possibility that these were practice pieces, given to children or learners as an exercise, not to produce items for use. On the other hand, the second box contained very fine arrowheads, most of them quite small and fine, which indicates that the site was also occupied by individuals who mastered stone toolmaking techniques and could produce high-quality tools and weapons, and retouch them to enhance them. The broader range of stones used indicates that they also knew which raw material to select to optimise the quality of their tool.

Box n°2 contained an exquisite set of arrowheads

The last box posed more of a problem in terms of interpreting and analysing its objects. The nature of the cylindrical objects was uncertain as we did not know what material they were made of. We concluded that they are fossilised plant stems, broken in several pieces. Their purpose is still unsure, but the traces of use-wear that can be seen on some of them would suggest that they could have been used for grinding. The fired clay items clearly appear to be loom-weights. They were held in place by strings that went through the holes that we can see at each of their corners – some of them were elongated by the pulling action. Most interestingly, the weights are decorated with engraved lines in varying patterns.

Some of the loom-weights were decorated

The last part of the collection was the 10 pottery fragments contained in the plastic bag found in box n°3. 5 of them were glazed ceramics that we identified as the typically Roman Samian ware. Four of them were shards of fired clay pottery, and the remaining one was a bit of plaster. All of these can be identified as belonging to the Roman period, while the rest of the collection belongs to the Chalcolithic period.

This information could be particularly helpful in identifying the site of origin of these items, as both the site and precise age of these items are still unknown to us. The presence of both Samian ware and Chalcolithic tools on the site strongly suggest that it was occupied from the Copper Age until the Roman occupation, at least. In that case, it means that we are probably looking for a relatively important site. We are still working on identifying the site and time periods, as well as confirming the function of some objects of box n°3, and should soon reach satisfying conclusions.

Many thanks for all your hard work recording, photographing, and researching this material, Dalva!

 

 

 

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Photographing Old Books

When The Pitt Rivers Museum acquired “Our Ancient Monuments” written by the man (Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers) himself, the School of Archaeology’s Ian Cartwright photographed the book for them to add to their ‘Documenting Pitt-Rivers‘ project.

Want to see how it was done?

Many thanks to Ian for sharing this photograph with us!

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New Book! ‘Ark of Civilization: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University 1930-1945’

We’re delighted that our edited volume Ark of Civilization: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University 1930-1945 which took up much of our time and energy last year is now OUT.

When we started researching the Jacobsthal archive at the Institute of Archaeology, we had the great pleasure of meeting a number of researchers who were also working on the histories and archives of other refugee scholars at Oxford. Coinciding with an exhibition on Jacobsthal at the Town Hall in Oxford in 2012, we held a workshop, hosted by Jas Elsner at Corpus Christi College in the (highly appropriate) Fraenkel room, named after refugee scholar Prof. Eduard Fraenkel (we later discovered Jacobsthal had been instrumental in arranging his move from Germany to Oxford).

As it turned out, the workshop was just the tip of the iceberg of uncovering history of the myriad of refugee scholars in the arts and humanities who passed through, engaged with, or eventually found refuge in Oxford.

The resulting volume is a step towards acknowledging the importance of Oxford’s role in rescuing, helping along, and sheltering refugees in the art and humanities, and the immense value they brought to Oxford in return. We were not aiming for an encyclopaedic tome on every scholar who passed through the city, though there is no doubt such a book needs to be written. Equally, there is a lack of knowledge on the history of women scholars, which will need addressing in future research. What we wanted to do through Ark of Civilization was to explore Oxford as an ‘ark of knowledge’ – a refuge, a meeting point, and a centre of thought in the arts and humanities. The contributors to the volume take up this theme, sometimes through individual refugee stories and sometimes looking at the University’s institutions, drawing on archives, oral histories and private collections.

There are important lessons to be learned by looking at the way in which a university and city – which had been, pre-war, essentially provincial, insular and self-contained (even by 1937 83% of Oxford Fellows had been undergraduates at the University) – adapted and transformed in the process of welcoming hundreds of refugee scholars and their families.

One strand that emerges is the importance of individuals on the British side, who worked incredibly hard to do the right thing against often overwhelming odds. These same individuals appear time and time again in the refugee stories, arranging money, papers, and even welcoming refugees to live with them. Their story is only alluded to, and will need looking at in much more detail.

Similarly, it was only by beginning to tell the refugee academic’s stories that we became aware of how much the university and city collectively owed and still owes them. This extraordinary group of Continental classicists, historians, artists, archaeologists, lawyers, philosophers, musicians, and philologists changed the university as transformative new ideas, courses, and institutions flooded in. This legacy still continues today.

A huge ‘thank you’ to all our contributors: Anthony Grenville, Laurence Brockliss, Philip Davies, Harold Mytum, Katharina Lorenz, David Gill, Christopher Stray, Oswyn Murray, Charmian Brinson, Marian Malet, Kate Lowe, Conrad Leyser, Fran Lloyd, Ann Rau Dawes, Rachel Dickson, Alexander Cullen, Bojan Bujic, Anna Teicher, Graham Whitaker, Anna Nyburg, and Rahel Feilchenfeldt.

 

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Jacobsthal’s Dissertation

by Francesca Anthony

Over the last few weeks of volunteering in the Institute of Archaeology’s Archive, I have been attempting to sort the 1908 dissertation of the scholar Paul Jacobsthal. Jacobsthal came to Oxford in the mid 1930s after the Nazi regime legislated to bar Jewish people from public offices, which included university professorships. He is well known for his comprehensive work Early Celtic Art, one of only four books published by Oxford University Press in 1944. His fascinating story has been disentangled from his archive, which was found in the Institute in 2009, by Sally Crawford and Katrina Ulmschneider and is featured in their forthcoming book Ark of Civilisation: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University, 1930-1945. Before Jacobsthal became a prestigious Celtic specialist he started his academic career as a Classical Archaeologist. His dissertation, completed at the University of Bonn under the supervision of Georg Loeschcke, is entitled ‘Archaeological Studies in the Pediments of Grave Monuments’.

The dissertation was discovered in the depths of the Institute as a disordered brown box of original drawings with annotations, pages of rough notes, large photo boards and the bound handwritten dissertation. My first job was to clean the material, which was unfortunately covered in a thick black dust reminiscent of Victorian London smog. I had never previously attempted to clean paper or photographic records. This was done by gently using an archival dry cleaner, rather like soft putty, to pick up the dust, avoiding removing any of Jacobsthal’s pencil annotations. As the dust was lifted, the quality of some of the photos became evident, with the inscriptions clear. These photos are important as it is not known if the grave monuments have been eroded over time, or are even still extant.

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The battered box housing Jacobsthal’s dissertation in its cleaned state

It quickly became apparent that there was sense to the chaos in the box. Annotations reveal that the hand-drawn inscriptions and stelae were from Thebes and Tanagra, perhaps made by eye from the ancient sites themselves. Many of these drawings had codes that referred directly to the figure list within the dissertation, and the photographs on the large boards. The folder pages and boards show architectural elements, predominantly focusing on the pediments and inscriptions of these grave monuments. Many were ornately carved and Jacobsthal seems especially interested in those with floral and vegetation motifs, such as lotus flowers and vines. Only two of the images had the addition of colour, in red and blue, perhaps as an experiment for the drawings used in the dissertation figure list.

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One of the photo boards showing Jacobsthal’s figures. These beautiful photographs show grave monuments in situ in Tanagra.

p1080134p1080135Details of Jacobsthal’s photographs

I was especially interested in the limited pieces of correspondence with Jacobsthal, as an insight into the scholarly community at that time, and the transmission of academic information across countries; Jacobsthal was communicating with a director of a French museum, for example.

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A page of correspondence between Jacobsthal and F. Hiller von Gaertringen.

Most striking of all in the box was a number of pages of mathematical proofs. These extremely complicated calculations were likely made by Jacobsthal’s brother, Ernst Jacobsthal. This is quite extraordinary. Ernst was a famous German mathematician credited with inventing the ‘Jacobsthal numbers’, a specific integer sequence, which like the Fibonnaci numbers was a type of Lucas sequence.

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Although the foundation of Ernst’s work had been laid by his own dissertation in 1906, these pages might represent some of his earliest thinking, perhaps unpublished. I think this really exemplifies the joy of archives: you can never be sure what sort of material will emerge, and how significant it may be for understanding the developments of any number of academic disciplines and the lives of remarkable people.

Jacobsthal’s writing is difficult to decipher (and in German), so my engagement with the dissertation was limited to an organizational and visual capacity. I managed to work out thematic patterns from the material, but was sadly unable to read all of Jacobsthal’s annotations, which must surely provide an interesting insight into how the man thought and developed his own work. Some of the rough sketches are beautiful and indicate real artistic talent. It was also interesting to consider the process of writing a dissertation in the early 20th century, which must be vastly different to my experience using computer technology.

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One of the annotated sketches found in the box of Jacobsthal’s dissertation

I urge anyone who has an interest in Greek epigraphy, or Jacobsthal himself, to come look at the dissertation!

Francesca Anthony
Mst in Classical Archaeology
Brasenose College, Oxford

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News from a volunteer

 

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Several years ago, when we were just beginning work on the archives at the Institute of Archaeology, we were lucky enough to have the volunteer help of Marissa Kings. Marissa was invaluable, working tirelessly to put some of the more chaotic papers into some kind of order. Many researchers who have spent time in the archives have benefitted from her work.

Since moving on from Oxford, Marissa has trained as an archivist and recently got in touch to say she has taken up a post working on a project with the Biodiversity Heritage Library in California. Given that it is cold, dank, and trying to snow here in Oxford, this seems like an enviable move in so many ways. She writes:

I’ll be at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles for the next year researching digital library best practices and possibly how to introduce a crowdsourcing component to the museum’s library and archives.

We look forward to updates from Marissa about her work and will be keeping an eye on the BHL blog!

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