Cuneiform – Mysteries of Ancient Script

One of the earliest known systems of writing in the world is Cuneiform which developed in Sumer in the Middle East from about 4000 BC. Of the two million cuneiform tablets which have been found, only about 100,000 have been read or published. This is because there are so few people in the world who can read them.

The Abbey Museum has a small collection of artefacts with Sumerian inscriptions. You can see them in Museum Case 21.

In July we were approached by Dr Luis Siddall from Macquarie University who can read cuneiform. He is working on a cross university project to read and publish all the artefacts with cuneiform script in Australia and New Zealand. The result will be a book on cuneiform and information about the field of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Australasia.

The project combines expertise from Monash University, Latrobe University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Who would have thought Australia had a community of cuneiform readers?

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Teotihuacan Figurines – Memories of Ancient Mexico

One of the young members of the Collection Management Team, Rebecca Lush has researched part of our collection of clay Teotihuacan figurines.

The Teotihuacan civilization was in the central highlands of what is now Mexico. Teotihuacan was a large urban settlement of around 20 square kilometres with a population of 180,000 inhabitants. It was built around several large temples which are a popular destination for modern day visitors to Mexico.

No records of life in Teotihuacan remain so the figurines give us the greatest amount of information we have about the life of the people there. Looking at our figurines in Museum Case 28, it’s intriguing to imagine how they were made, who made them and what they were used for.

The figurines were excavated by a Swedish archaeologist, Sigvald Linné between 1932 and 1935. He went on to become a well known museum director in Stockholm.

Recently a book was written about these terracotta figurines. The book contained a catalogue which allowed Rebecca to identify each of our figurines and …

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