I find new cool stuff every time I go
"Find new cool stuff every time" should be our new tagline.
Trip to the ROM. (Royal Ontario Museum)
I’m a big fan sketching in the Museum. With so many wonderful specimens and objects to draw, your options are endless.
Sketching at the Museum is so popular, we even have our own series on it! Check out the AMAZING Liz Butler and her series ‘Liz Butler Draws The ROM’! She’s covered bears, non avian and avian dinosaurs, big cats andmummified cats and more!
Liz Butler draws a cat mummy!
- Stools can be found on B1 of the Museum. Feel free to use them (just bring them back when you’re done!) so you’re more comfortable while working.
- Canadian post-secondary students get into the Museum FREE on Tuesdays. This is great for all the OCAD and art majors out there.
- And hey, if you drop by the ROMKids Studio on B1, and we’re in, we’ll even hook you up with an eraser if you run out, and a sharpener if your favourite 9H pencil dulls.
#REgenerationtour: Adventure to Machu Picchu
By Emile Watanabe, 10 years old
We started off leaving Cusco in a hour and a half collectivo (mini van that goes to and from the little towns outside of Cusco) on our way to Ollantaytambo (Ollanta for short), a small town in the middle of the mountains. In Ollanta, we spent one night in a nice homestay with a lovely family. These people were warm and kind and had the most playful dog you’ve ever seen. His name was Tony. We spent hours playing with him. There was Petronilla, her daughter Rene and her nice granddaughter, Cynthia. We also took the Pinkuyllyana hike up to the Incan storehouses, a steep but beautiful hike. The storehouses were quite high up in the mountains surrounding the town. What a view we had from there! Filou and dad went to a mini tower over the ruins. Filou said that the tower looked like bunny ears! After our long hike we took a walk around town. Then we headed home for a freshly cooked meal. There was chicken and soup and rice and pasta and it was all so good! So we chowed down and then went off to bed.
The next day we took a class on how the Quechua (an indigenous group from throughout South America) weave and sew. Filou and I each made a bracelet and learned about how they dye the wool and thread to the right colour using minerals and dried insects! It was very interesting. We even crushed some dried beetles for the red dye!
After that we packed our bags and took a Peru Rail train through the mountains to Aguas Calientes, the small town next to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century by King Pachacuti. We spent the night there in a lovely hostel with a great bed and the next day, we were off to Machu Picchu, the historic city of the Incas.
We took a half hour bus trip up to the ruins at 8:30 and then waited in line to get in. But when we got in, it was nothing like what we had expected. It was so much better than that! It was huge and beautiful and oh so high! There were llamas in the fields and birds in the sky and huge mountains all around us! We spent a whole day exploring and I bet we didn’t even see a quarter of the site. The day was long and the site was cold and misty but what a good time we had! Most of what the Inca had built was held together by mud and sand, but what the Pre-Inca had built was just rocks stacked on top of each other! We also took a hike up the Machu Picchu Mountain to get the best shots and views of the city! When we got down we were all very tired and went to the line for the bus, only the line was HUGE!!! We waited another hour before we got back to town! Then, we all sat down for a coffee, (hot chocolate for us kids) and headed home.
Some cool facts about Machu Picchu
- Machu Picchu is 2,430 metres above sea level.
- Many people call these ruins The Lost City of the Incas, but it is the most known site to all of the Incas, Peruvians, Quechua people and all other mountain groups.
- Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
- People used to run around the site nude, so now they are going to set a new rule. Everybody who enters the site has to be with a tour guide.
- All photos (except where noted): Watanabes, 2014
- Image 2: Machu Picchu as the mist’s rise at dawn: By Rtype909 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Follow the rest of the #REgenerationtour HERE!
- Anthony’s (Dad) blog on the environmental mission: www.the-regeneration.com
- Rose’s (Mom) blog shares the family experience on the road:www.yolomomonthego.wordpress.com
- You can also follow Emile on Instagram @emiwata15!
- Check out the rest of our #ROMKidsGoesWhere series HERE!
The Long History of an Irish Bronze Age Sword
A bronze sword in the ROM’s collection (ROM no.909.68.1) has an interesting history. It is of a type named after Ewart Park, a site in Northumberland in Northern England. The type seems to have developed in what is now Northern England, and became the main sword type of the Late Bronze Age of Britain and Ireland (circa 1000 to 700 BC). In his great work on the Bronze Age Swords of Ireland, George Eogan classified this as his Class 4 of Bronze Age Swords, associated with the Dowris Phase, named after a hoard of objects found at the site of Dowris in County Offaly. These swords are designed for slashing at an opponent, with the edges meant to be sharp for cutting through flesh, not for hacking at armour. Studies of the edge damage tend to not provide evidence of Hollywood-style sword clashing, but a capable use of the sword to deflect blows as is known from Mediaeval sword-fighting treatises, showing that these warriors had a form of martial arts as well-developed as the skills of the manufacturers of the swords themselves.
Chemical analysis of the ROM sword shows that it is made of 91.3% copper, 7.5% tin, 1% lead, and other elements making up the remainder, like silver, arsenic and antimony. Copper would have been available in Ireland, and tin could have been available from Cornwall. Studies of swords of this period in Britain and Ireland show that there was a lot of contact, and swords could be melted down and the materials re-used anywhere in the region. Earlier in the European Bronze Age swords were often made by pouring molten bronze into a mould made of stone, but in the Late Bronze Age it was typical to make the form of the sword in wood, and make two halves of the mould by laying slabs of clay along the wooden form. Impressions of wood grain have been found on the moulds that have been preserved. Fragments of a number of these moulds have been found in Ireland, probably or certainly made for this type of sword. At times there were problems with the casting of the sword, and molten bronze would be poured onto the object; or repairs would be made by “fixing” the blade with wax, making another mould, melting the wax, and pouring molten bronze into the void. This sword seems to have a couple of these problems. What appears to be a blow-holes or voids in the blade itself were filled with bronze, and then ground down to be flush with the blade. The hilt seems to have had a poor cast, or perhaps became cracked, and molten bronze seems to have been poured over the hilt, but was left as it was at it was to be covered by the grip.
After spurs from the casting had been removed, the sword would have been annealed (heated to a high temperature to soften the metal) and hammered. Unike iron or steel, studies have shown that bronze should not be worked, or forged, when it is hot, as this creates severe problems. Instead, the metal would have been annealed and then cold-hammered, probably repeatedly. Then the grip, made of materials such as wood or bone, would be riveted on and the final grinding and polishing would create the final product. The sword has a patina, the fine surficial oxidization of the bronze surface, that dates to about the time of the sword’s first use. Features included in this original patina are the fine scratches of the blades original polishing and grinding, a couple of impacts on the edge, and what appears to be a massive blow to one side that slightly bent the sword. Former ROM curator Francis Pryor, who wrote a catalogue of the ROM’s British and Irish Prehistoric bronzes, subsequently excavated a Bronze Age site in England calledFlag Fen, and he says that several swords deposited in the marshes there were similarly struck on a rock. Possibly the sword was “sacrificed” to make it useable in the Afterlife. The sword was probably used, and had a life in the Late Bronze Age, wielded by a warrior of that time, and then was very probably “sacrificed” in a body of water like those at Flag Fen. Of the over 600 Bronze Age swords found in Ireland, the majority seem to have been found in contexts that would have been bog or stream in the Late Bronze Age, a practice found across Europe for at least another thousand years. Now and in the recent past the old bogs would have been dry, with just the peatier soil showing archaeologists what would have once been standing water, but to this day these swords are found by deep ploughing of what is now peaty soil.
Apart from the Late Bronze Age patina, the sword shows other signs of use which indicate the object was used relatively recently, and when the ROM acquired it, the sword had been refitted with a handle. The handle seems to be made of rawhide, riveted on with iron, and has a curve. If the curve is meant as a finger-guard, that would give the re-used object a side. The recent signs of use are all around the edge, making the sword now completely blunt, especially on what would be the front or lead side if the curve in the grip was to protect the fingers. There is also a fine but uneven polish that looks as though it was made by the sword being worn thrust into a belt, and the owner’s clothing would have polished the sword for some time. Apparently this was not uncommon, but what is uncommon about this object is that we may know more about the more recent owner of the sword.
The shipping document that came with the sword in 1909 is from a company in London, England, called Fenton and Sons. Although the ROM has few other Prehistoric Irish objects from this source, I am told by Mary Cahill of the National Museum of Ireland that Fentons did a lot of business with their insitution, then called the Science and Art Museum, Dublin. On the document it states that the sword was “taken at New Ross, Co. Wexford, Ireland, in the Rebellion of 1798.” Although dealers are notoriously unreliable in the attributions they give, Francis Pryor has said that he did not think it was the type of story that a dealer would simply fabricate. Indeed Currelly was probably not especially selective anyway, and was largely into acquiring quantity more than objects with intriguing stories. Fentons also do not seem too concerned with “stories,” as is evidenced by documents such as this. So we may probably assume that the sword was indeed last used at New Ross.
- The Late Bronze Age sword and its 18th century grip.
- Detail of the sword. Note the general Bronze Age patina, including the two impacts on the edge, and the later polish from being used in the 18th century.
- Detail of the hilt showing where bronze was poured on to strengthen a poor cast or a crack.
- Detail of the blade with possible in-filled blow-holes, a massive ancient impact on the side (possibly from being hit against a rock?), and scratches and polishing from use in the 18th century.
- The shipping document that came with the sword from Fenton & Sons to “C. T. Currelly, Esq.” The sword is the first entry.
- The grip of the sword, probably rawhide, with iron rivets.
- George Eogan, 1964, “The later Bronze Age in Ireland in the light of recent research,” Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, New Series XXX: 268-351.
- George Eogan, 1965, “Catalogue of Irish Bronze Swords,” National Museum of Ireland.
- Simon Ó Faoláin and J. P. Northover, 1998, “The Technology of Late Bronze Age Sword Production in Ireland,” The Journal of Irish Archaeology, IX: 69-88.
- Barry P.C. Molloy, 2007, “What’s the bloody point: Swordsmanship in Bronze Age Ireland and Britain,” in “The Cutting Edge: Archaeological Studies in Combat and Weaponry" (edited by B.P.C Molloy) The History Press Ltd.
- Francis Pryor, 1980, “A Catalogue of the British and Irish Prehistoric Bronzes in the Royal Ontario Museum,” Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
- Robert Mason is a ROM archaeologist. See his previous posts HERE. Follow him on twitter HERE.
- Original post found HERE.
Post by Robert Mason. Last updated: May 12th, 2014
Preparing for ROM Revealed
(ROM Revealed is a celebration of 100 years of ROM, and runs May 3, 4. For this weekend only, the ROM is FREE! More information HERE.)
As part of the ROM’s celebration of being open for 100 years, we will be having a massive behind-the-scenes open-house called ROM Revealed on the 3rd and 4th of May. Thousands of visitors will have the opportunity to see our storage rooms where we keep the objects not on display. There are a host of reasons why objects are not put on display. Some are fragments from excavations that are important to study for our research, for instance, providing the knowledge that makes the ROM an internationally known research centre in some disciplines. Sometimes we have more of a certain type of artefact than there is room for in a gallery, although the objects themselves are worth seeing. At other times they are not quite good enough for display, but are still worth keeping for research purposes, used to advance the knowledge seen in the gallery labels.
Arms and armour are typically in that second category. Many collectors in the past have acquired weapons and armour, and have donated or bequethed their collection to the ROM. For instance Lord Kitchener left the ROM a large collection of weaponry comprising over 700 objects, acquired during his campaign in the Sudan and while he was Commander-in-Chief of the army of India from 1902-1911. Although arms and armour are popular with collectors, if we put out all of our exhibitable objects of this nature, certain regions, such as South Asia and Japan, would seem overwhelmingly military in nature, entirely due to the interests of Western collectors. So the ROM’s galleries exhibit an appropriate cross-section of the crafts and arts of each region and period.
The Curatorial Centre was part of the 1978-1984 expansion of the ROM, and this is where most of our collections are stored. The 6th floor of the Curatorial Centre is where I work, with collections from the three Curatorial sections dealing with Western Asia & the Islamic World, Ancient Egypt & Nubia, and East & South Asia. While the ROM focussed on expanding the galleries, at times what was originally temporary storage solutions from the 1978-1984 expansion have never been replaced, some are below current standards, and all of them are overcrowded. One of the problematic storage methods is open metal shelving. For instance we have Chinese ceramics, from Tang dynasty horses to Ming Blue and White, each worth tens of thousands of dollars, sitting on these open shelves. This would have made it impossible for the public to be near them during ROM Revealed: one slip and someone will fall into an object with a value in 6 digits. So with the help of our volunteers and other staff, especially Frankie Nancoo of Facilities, collection managers Bill Pratt, Gwen Adams, and I created a plan to change the arrangement of storage on the 6th floor, at first to make it accessible to the public, but also taking advantage of the move to improve storage, and also make it visually more interesting and accessible where possible.
So this took a lot of planning. As an archaeologist I am familiar with making plans of excavated buildings, so I created a plan of the 6th floor, and we used that to strategize what could be moved where. Without compromising access, we compacted some storage, such as double-stacking some wooden cabinets. This enabled us to open up “focus areas” built around work-height storage, which gives us space and work-surfaces to manage and study objects, but also to provide areas for people to congregate for behind-the-scenes tours.
With all the activity getting ready for ROM Revealed we took the opportunity to improve storage where possible, for instance the Japanese armour is made of lacquered steel and fabric. Lacquer and fabric are sensitive to light, and so the armour had tissue-paper over it to stop the light; while the helmets were put in boxes closed with velcro that required rattling the object every time you wanted to look at it. Even though the armour is still on the open shelving, I have boxed in the open shelves with coroplast, an inert material, including removable “doors” kept on by magnets, which can be lifted off with no impact on the object. This is just a temporary solution and we should get closed steel cabinets for it, but we hope to get funding to re-house the Japanese armour and other parts of the collection.
So do come to our massive open-house, ROM Revealed, on May 3rd and 4th and see all the work we have done! We are hoping to replace the storage with more up-to-date storage eventually, perhaps focussing on one area at a time, for instance it would cost about $10,000 to re-house the Japanese armour properly.
- Middle Eastern helmets
- A drawer filled to overflowing with Persian swords, most of which were acquired in India by Lord Kitchener.
- T’ang period ceramics on sub-standard shelving in our East Asian storage, interesting to see, but dangerous to be near.
- Many objects had to be moved into a “swing-space” so that storage could be moved, then have the objects moved again to their final location.
- Some storage cabinets were double-stacked to take up less room, especially if they were not visually uninteresting! These old plywood cabinets were designed for storing archaeological materials, such as these 14th century AD shards from 0ld Cairo in Egypt. The removable doors actually facilitate access. We are in no hurry to replace these cabinets.
- Compacting storage elsewhere enabled us to open up “focus areas,” giving space and work-surfaces to manage and study objects, but also to provide areas for people to congregate for behind the scenes tours. This particular space is especially ample as it is hoped we will be able to replace the open shelving with more state-of-the-art cabinets that will be deeper but not as tall.
- The “focus areas” are surrounded by storage that contained the more visually interesting objects, such as this set of Persian armour. Previously these would have been divided up and stored separately just to save room (helmets with helmets, etc.), but this makes the objects not only more interesting for the public, but is actually a preferable way to store the objects that belong together in one place.
- On this side of a “focus area” is South Asian arms & armour, and Japanese armour. Note the boxed-in light-sensitive Japanese armour, with one “door” put on for the photo which is kept on with magnets inserted into the corrugated coroplast panel.
- Robert Mason is a ROM archaeologist. See his previous posts HERE. Follow him on twitter HERE.
- Original post found HERE.
- All images Robert Mason.
Post by Robert Mason. Last updated: May 1st, 2014