Young Woman with a Stylus

Wax Tablets Roman Style

Wax Tablets….. the Roman Way!

What was your favourite excuse for not handing in your homework? Did the dog ever eat it?  Perhaps your kids have come up with some creative reasons as to why assignments were overdue! I seem to recall ‘the wind blew it away’ or ‘a glass of juice spilled on it’.  We have all heard a few good ones but in ancient Rome,  students had an even better excuse! Their homework had melted by the sun! (Sometimes assisted by holding their wax tablets close to their body).  Now that’s a good one!

Wax tablets and stylus was the means of writing at that time. Paper did not become readily and cheaply available in Europe until the Middle Ages. So, it was necessary to have an effective means for keeping lists, general correspondence and legal documents.  The wax tablet was used as the everyday notebook for thousands of years, although there is increasing evidence that ink was used on thin sheets of wood also.  A number of these have been found at Vindolanda, a Roman Army …

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Abbey Museum Collection Team

These are a few of my favourite things!

Some of our favourite things!

Ever walked through the Museum and a special object has caught your eye?  It happens with us too! The Collection Management Team meets regularly to research and catalogue the Museum’s artefacts. Each member of the team has particular favourites. Having so many incredible artefacts in the collection we are spoilt for choice, however, here are a few of our favourite things…

Museum Director, Edith Cuffe, likes the Chinese snuff bottle with an ‘inside painting’ of a crane in a landscape scene. It is in Museum Case 26. How did the artist manage to paint all that on the inside of such a small bottle?!

Also in Museum Case 26 is one of Michael Strong’s favourites, a Tang tomb model of a female flute player. Michael isn’t the only one for whom this is a favourite. Denise Crawley, who coordinates the shop, is also a fan of the lady with the flute.

Our team’s favourites!

Anne Bradley has spent countless hours investigating our collection of 43 jetons. When she needs a break from them she …

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Teaching the Value of Archaeology

To many people archaeology embodies adventure, excitement, very old things and, of course, thanks to the Indiana Jones franchise, unfortunately Nazis. The image of Indiana Jones, Hollywood’s archetypal archaeologist, has been burned into the minds of the “baby boomer” generation. These days, finding anyone under the age of 20 who has seen these films is an adventure in itself. Archaeology is so much more than “digging up old stuff” and putting it into a museum; it plays an important role in society, more than most people realise. Instilling that idea into a student’s mind is a definite challenge.

Curiosity plays an important role in the public perception of archaeology and history. Why are people so fascinated by King Tut and the Pyramids? It has to be more than, “they look pretty cool” right? Well, that’s because it is. Human beings have a natural desire to know more about where they have come from, especially if it relates to themselves. There is no doubt that there is economic value associated with archaeology as well. Museums all over the world are …

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Antique, Vintage or Just Plain Old?

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure!

Indeed this statement is so true! Have you ever heard the stories of the families that had a special item at home that they were absolutely SURE would make them an overnight millionaire because it belonged to great-grandmother Betty who said it was a special antique family heirloom?

Well great-grandmother Betty told Grandy Bruce, who told his daughter Alice, who then told her niece Bertha it was special and had been in the family for generations. The item was taken to be appraised only to revel that it had indeed been in the family for generations, but was worth absolutely nothing apart from the knowledge it was special.

So how do you know that your old family antiques are actually antiques and not just… old?

What is an Antique?

Today everything seems to be called an antique!

Generally speaking, an antique is any work of art, piece of …

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Viking Beard

How to Spot a Viking!

Even Vikings had hair issues!

By Damien Fegan

DNA analysis of Viking remains suggest a mix of European hair colours. However the Irish described Vikings as being either Dubgaill or Finngaill (dark foreigners or fair foreigners) which may actually be a way of distinguishing the Danes, who had darker hair from the Norwegians who tended to be  more blonde. The popular association of Vikings with blond hair however does have some evidence to back it as the soap they used had a bleaching effect on hair. An Arab writer who met with Viking traders in Russia during the early 900’s, Ibn Fadlan, thought that Viking men coloured their beards with saffron!

Males commonly wore their hair collar or shoulder length and evidence suggests the women of the household regularly washed and trimmed the hair of the men. However there is no evidence for Viking men wearing their hair in long plats, though we do have evidence for some Viking men  wearing their hair very short at the back and growing their fringe down over their eyes. Beards and mustaches …

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excavating a Viking horn at the Abbey Museums School Holiday Family Fun week

Kids Dig It – Viking School Holiday Family Fun

Even the occasional shower of rain cannot douse the enthusiasm of the many young people who have been visiting the Abbey Museum over the last few days to participate in our Viking School Holiday Family Fun program. The rain is falling gently from the skies, but still the kids are lining up sword and shield in hand waiting eagerly for instructions and more importantly, the whistle that tells them it is time to do battle. The high pitched whistle pierces the grey skies and heralds the drumming sound of sword on shield as these junior Viking warriors advance across the grounds to face yet another group of eager warriors. The Viking warrior training is without doubt one of the most popular activities being offered during the Viking School Holiday Family Fun program at the Abbey Museum.

Archery – a popular Viking School Holiday Activity

Right up there with the Warrior training is the ever popular archery. In the past …

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From the Directors Diaries … A Definite Rout

When not running the Abbey Museum one of my favourite pastimes is baking. Far be for it for me to skite, but the birthday cakes I cook for the Museum staff are legendary. And my pastry, well… it is a recipe passed down through the family, and is sooo delicious that I have often had requests for the recipe… but as we all know there is always one family recipe that “if I told you about it I would have to”… well lock you in a deep dungeon and throw away the keys… just kidding, of course, but it is still very delicious.

One of my favourite times of year at the Abbey Museum is Picnic at Pemberley, our annual Regency themed event because it gives me the opportunity to research and bake recipes from that period for our guests at this special event.

This year I am trying out Rout Cakes. From my research I learnt that “during the Regency evenings were much the rage. The word rout, synonymous with large unruly gatherings, soon came …

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The number 1 way to deliver new history curriculum outcomes

Visit the Abbey Museum for our Indigenous, first contact, medieval, and ancient civiliations education programs, all designed to meet the criteria of the new national curriculum.

We have so many schools come to experience our fantastic education programs, and our Archaeological Digs are all time favourites.

We bet you didn’t realise that students as young as 5, in Prep can also experience the thrill of digging up Ancient Egypt?

Recently some students from St.Michael’s College visited the  Museum to participate in a specially designed hands on experience, they excavated, they learned about mummification (very much enjoying wrapping up a classmate), they dressed up in authentic Egyptian dress and had their faces painted.

Our education programs are specially designed to be fun whilst at the same time teaching historical knowledge and understanding, and historical skills.

We hope you enjoy watching the delight on the faces of the little ones as they carefully excavate replica objects from the dig, the team work is priceless and the commitment to the process …

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Fun things for kids to do in Brisbane

There was a time, not so long ago, when fun things for kids to do in Brisbane did not include museums.  Kids in museums were not a good mix.  Noisy, curious, un-heeding little strangers were seen more of an inconvenience to be ‘Shushed!’ than engaged with.  As in libraries, where the signs of ‘Silence!’ left no more to be said, museums did not wave the ‘Kids Welcome!’ flag.  But thank goodness! …..no longer!  As methods of learning have evolved from theory to hands-on over the years , and as inquiring minds are recognized for the brightness  they reflect and the promise they show, who should be made more welcome to these amazing institutions of learning, than kids? At the Abbey Museum, we think Kids in Museums rock!

A core visions of the Abbey Museum is the provision of quality cultural and educational experiences for children and hence the carefully chosen education programs at the Abbey Museum have embraced the principle of welcoming kids in museums.    We have a myriad of activities that will engage and stimulate your children’s imaginations, a …

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