Tell All – Tell Halaf

What do Agatha Christie, Lawrence of Arabia, Max von Oppenheim and donors to the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology have in common? The packed audience at Vera Windau-Heath’s talk on Saturday 18th March heard the answers to these and many other fascinating facts about archaeological digs in Syria.

Archaeology in Syria

Vera and her husband Ken were part of teams undertaking digs at Tell Halaf in Syria. Vera’s passion for the country and the local inhabitants (they came to befriend) was obvious from the tenor of her description of the numerous cultural issues they confronted. Tell Halaf was a major settlement in the fertile valley of the Khabur River from the Halafian period 6000- 5000 BC through Summerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Aramean and Persian periods. Max von Oppenheim first undertook excavation at the site during 1911 – 1913 where settlements dating back to the Chalcolithic period were revealed. Vera explained how von Oppenheim had to transport all his tools and equipment from Aleppo to the dig site at Tell Halaf by camel – a journey that took 20 days!

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An Impressive Achievement

The Abbey Church is a very special place, not least because its beautiful stained glass windows. The windows are a large and significant collection dating from the 14th to the 20th century. Some of the most famous are those consisting of fragments originally from Winchester Cathedral’s Lady Chapel.

One of the problems associated with items of such a venerable age is the need for conservation and repair. In 2004 leading glass conservators Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn of Eumundi examined the stained glass collection and compiled an inventory of the conservation requirements and the cost involved. This amounted to a substantial sum and Museum staff set about finding means of raising the necessary funds.

Fundraising for stained glass conservation

Conservation of individual windows was undertaken as funds become available; through donations and various fundraising efforts. The Abbey Museum Friends undertook the task of raising the funds required specifically for the Winchester Windows. From 2009 to 2012 we held “Walk for Winchester” where participants were sponsored to complete a ‘pilgrimage’ from Sylvan Beach on Bribie Island to the …

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