Navigate / search

Context in Archaeology

Context in Archaeology or where did it come from? is one of the most important questions archaeologists ask.  One of the primary philosophies in archaeology is reconstructing daily life of human history and prehistory through material remains. Although one artifact can outline the potential age of a site and its trade relations between communities, it cannot tell you the bigger picture of how the object is understood and what it means to the daily life of the people unless you look at its association with the environment and material remains that surround it.

So how do we look at context in archaeology? The stratigraphy (the layering of soils and remains) of a site and the objects within each layer are examined in order to understand the meaning of the object and its association to the site. Soils layer over time therefore objects found in one layer are considered to be related and date to a similar time of use while objects found in another layer, either above or below, are deposited at an alternate time and indicate a different period of use. Read more

Meerschaum Pipes

Meerschaum Pipes

The Origin of Meerschaum

Meerschaum, also known by its technical name sepiolite, is a hydrous magnesium silicate formed from the shells and bones of prehistoric sea creatures. Meerschaum originates from Turkey and can vary in colour from white to light grey or even yellow. It is very porous and light, ranked as a 2 in hardness on the Mohs scale.  Meerschaum is mainly found in veins mined as deep as 400 feet below the surface but it can also naturally occur as lumps that look similar to sea foam floating atop the surface of the Black Sea.

Mainly used to create pipes, the first pipe recorded using meerschaum was created in 1723 by a shoemaker in Budapest. He discovered meerschaum is highly absorbent and he repeatedly dosed it in water to make it more pliable while carving. The experiment proved successful and the first meerschaum pipe was created. Currently, it housed at the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. Read more

Caring for Family Heirlooms

Like the family heirlooms you have at home, museums are responsible for protecting a community’s cultural heritage for future generations. Caring for these unique and meaningful objects until they can be shared with children and grandchildren is not difficult, and we’d like to share some simple things you can do to ensure your heirlooms are protected.

Museums care for and preserve many different types of artifacts.  One area critical to long term preservation is how they are stored. Proper artifact storage is not as hard as it seems and is one of the easiest ways to prevent physical and environmental damage. Read more

Tin Type Photographs

Although not exactly like pictures we encounter today, tintype photographs set the stage for photography in our era. Tintypes began in 1856 when an Ohio chemistry professor Hamilton Smith patented the tintype image. While not a new concept, the tintype was a combination of earlier experiments in imaging and existing commercial processes. Even though these photographs are known as a ‘tintype’, they are not actually made from tin. During their production in the 1800’s these pictures were were called ferrotype, in reference to the material they were created on; ferrous (AKA iron).

Jury Collection Tintype
Jury Collection Tintype

 

Before tintypes existed, the two main types of photographic images, the daguerreotype and the ambrotype, were created by treating glass with light sensitive collodin. Read more