Tag Archives: Conservation

“Treasure of Benghazi” Stolen From Tumultuous Libya

After the death of Muammar Gaddafi  has provided a brief respite for Libyans. As the civilization begins to take a catalogue, one of the greatest heists in history has been publicized. The so called “Treasure of Benghazi,” the world’s largest collection of gold and silver coins (many dating to the time of Alexander the Great) have gone missing from a bank vault in Libya.

Antiquities dealers believe this could be the largest archaeological heist in history. Some have speculated the the looted coins are now in Egypt. To learn more about this, see the article in the BBC or the Sydney Morning Herald.

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King Tut Buried Hastily

Some dark, mysterious spots found on the art and remains in King Tut’s tomb indicate that the Boy King was buried hastily. The spots, which were evident in 1922 when the tomb was uncovered, are still one of the mysterious aspects of the burial. Microbiologists at the Getty Conservation Institute have yet to match the melanins in the spots to any living organism.

Dark Spots on Art Inside the Tomb

Egyptologists believe that the young Pharaoh died suddenly which lead to a hasty burial. The dark spots seem to indicate that the painted plaster on the walls was not dry when the tomb was sealed, allowing microbes to grow on the moist regions fed with the accompanying incense and food provided for the Boy King to accompany his journey to the afterlife.

Read more about the mysterious spots in this MSNBC article and here at LiveScience. You can also listen to the Scientific American podcast.

The Best Online & Interactive Museum Exhibits

While going to a museum and viewing artifacts first hand is always the best way to experience exhibits, the new wave of online and interactive museum sites has brought a great deal to your living room (or office, or bedroom) and far more than just ‘reading text and looking at pictures.’ Most of us can’t fork out the money for a world-wide tour of the museums of the world. So take an afternoon and explore some of the best online and interactive museum exhibits:

The Field Museum of Natural History – The Field Museum in Chicago is one of the nation’s best natural history museums. Likewise, its online components are similarly as rich. You can explore ancient cultures, dinosaur bones, DNA models, etc. In addition to high resolution images and informative articles, the online Field Museum includes games, videos, 3D models, interactive maps, and more. There are even exhibits and activities specifically geared to children.

Colonial Williamsburg – Colonial Williamsburg (located in Virginia) is one of the best preserved and most oft visited of American Colonial Sites. The interactive museum provides lessons, high resolution images, directed activities, slide shows, and more.

dip3The Exploratorium – The Exploratorium in San Francisco, Ca was one of my favorite summer time activities. The museum can best be described as one of science, art, and human perception. If you have ever gone in person (which I highly recommend), you are struck by the number of fun, interesting, and creative activities. Likewise, their online components exercise these same values.

JFK Library and Museum – the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts homes records, personal affects, video, and other artifacts of Kennedy’s life and Presidency. Their online components have a 3D model of the President’s oval office desk, an interactive step-by-step interactive exhibit on America’s first moon landing expedition, as well as extensive records on the Civil Rights movement.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has been an innovator in the digital exhibits. Their interactive exhibits include a myriad of topics: women artists, film, conservation, etc.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – The Smithsonian has a number of interactive exhibits across all of their museums. The Natural History Museum as the Smithsonian includes topics on the experiences of human history, slavery, ancient and modern cultures, and so on.

National Portrait Gallery – the Presidency and the Cold War – This interactive online exhibit explores the role and image of the President during the Cold War. It covers decades and several presidents. In addition to portraits, it includes interactive maps, film, news stories, etc.

louvre-imgcarrousel-art-contourThe Louvre – the Louvre in France has developed an online 3D tour of the Museum Grounds as well as their collection – one note, it does require a fast internet connection (no dial-up).

The Vatican Museums – I have been to the Vatican Museums a few times (probably close to half a dozen). It’s my favorite Museum in the world in terms of its content (organization and exhibition – leave a lot to be desired). They have developed an online 3D tour of many of the halls and famous artifacts on display.

The Getty Museum – You can browse the Getty Collection (the largest collection of antiquities in the Americas) online via this interactive website. In addition, access the Getty’s videos and explore its publications.

The Hermitage Museum – The Hermitage Museum now provides a ‘walk-through 3D tour’ of its buildings and exhibits.

The British Museum – The British Museum has many of its artifacts and collections online. A few of them even have 3D models with which you can interact.

The Fate of Libya’s Archaeological Ruins

The recent civil unrest in Libya has brought to the forefront concerns about the safety and conservation of the country’s Archaeological ruins. Northern Africa was home to many powerful, classical civilizations (Carthage, Egypt, Rome, etc). Libya houses magnificent ruins, such as those at Leptis Maga and Cyrene.

The Severan Basilica at Leptis Magna

In the wake of such human tragedy, however, these ruins have come to new light and brought together academics and lay-persons on a new level. Libyan patriots, who identify so strongly with their roots and heritage here, have literally risked life and limb to preserve these sites and to open new investigations into their significance as well as invest heavily in their conservation.

NPR has begun a series highlighting the patriotic and personal significance of Libya’s cultural heritage to a people in crisis.

Click here to view NPR’s “Hope Amid Ruins” series.