There are always objects in a museum’s collection that stand out to visitors – maybe because they are especially shiny, or unusually small or big, or because they are associated with a famous place or person. One of the most popular items in RAMM’s Greek collection is this Corinthian helmet, a type of armour worn by a hoplite soldier. Ours is particularly well-preserved, and is a very powerful, evocative item that draws visitors to it.
But museums hold much more in their collections beyond the ‘star’ items – there are so many artefacts that are worth spending a bit of time getting to know; the more you find out, the more intriguing they become. Two such objects in RAMM’s collection were revealed to me during my time at the British Museum. They are both ceramic objects, a type of Cypriot pottery called Red Polished ware.
The first is this bird-shaped vessel. I’ve always liked it – the way it stands stubbornly on its little legs, and the look on its face. But it seems it is rather a special bird – we’ve not been able to find anything comparable. Does anyone know of anything similar?
The second item is more enigmatic – essentially a ‘bar’ of pottery, decorated on both sides with three holes pierced through it. Our records suggested it was a balance beam used for weighing, but this just did not seem correct. Luckily it isn’t only me who doesn’t know what it was used for! Staff at the British Museum say it’s a type of object whose original function is unknown, but may have been worn around the chest or waist to hold bands of jewellery across the body.
As the RAMM Leventis project progresses we are finding out much more about our collections, but there is still so much to discover!