Gregorian Peace at the Abbey Museum

Gregorian Chanting – take a breather this Advent

Close your eyes and be transported back to the Middle Ages where monks in hooded robes chant their divine offices in the candle lit sanctuary of a Church.  This is not a scene from centuries past, but instead the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology in Caboolture, brings the past to you in the form of Gregorian Chanting!

Traditionally, Gregorian chants were sung by choirs of in churches or by religious orders in their chapels.  Named for Pope Gregory I (Pope 590 – 604), chanting has been part of Christian religious services since the very early days of the Catholic Church. The ambiance is magically re-created in the candlelit Abbey Church with ‘Schola Cantorum’ of Brisbane each Christams. The Gregorian Christmas chanting which signifies the beginning of Advent and the onset of what some might call the ‘silly season’ instead brings a piece of peace to your heart and soul, a much sought after reprieve from our busy lives.

A Christmas Tradition

The Medieval Christmas event has been a well-loved event …

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Cuneiform Experts from Jerusalem visit Abbey Museum

Cuneiform Expert Visits Abbey Museum

A standing room only audience accepted the invitation to hear Professor Wayne Horowitz speak on the lost Jewish communities in ancient Babylonia on Tuesday 19 September . Professor Horowitz is a Professor of Assyriology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was here working on the Cuneiform Project Australia and New Zealand. This project aims to identify and publish all the cuneiform artefacts in Australian and New Zealand collections. Dr Horowitz has been examining 10 such objects in the Abbey Museum’s Middle East collection.

In his presentation Professor Horowitz spoke of the commencement of the Jewish Diaspora when the population was transported to Babylonia following the sacking of Jerusalem. The Jewish people spent 2500 years in exile in Babylonia. His colleague and research assistant, Peter Zilberg, completed the evening with his talk titled “Ezekiel and the Grand Canal of Babylon”. Mr Zilberg explained how information gleaned from cuneiform tablets have added to our knowledge of the Jewish nation in captivity. In an enthusiastic and energetic presentation he showed how seemingly mundane items recorded on cuneiform tablets tied in to biblical …

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New badge received by Abbey Museum

Medieval Artefacts Donated to the Abbey Museum

There was great excitement in the Abbey Museum office last week; in fact, it felt a little like Christmas, as the Director unwrapped a group of medieval artefacts that had been donated to the Museum. We are trying to grow the medieval collections because of the association with the very popular Abbey Medieval Festival.

The first object to be revealed was a small but deadly collection of nine iron medieval arrow heads. They possibly come from Scandinavia as most are tanged, a form which was more common in northern Europe than Britain, and date to the 9th to 11th centuries.

The second object to be unwrapped was a very small but delightful pilgrim’s badge of a fighting cock. The bronze badge is in the shape of a running cockerel with textures detail to the body, wings and comb, spurs to the rear of the feet and dates to the 13 – 14th century. It is said that cockfighting was originally introduced into Britain by the Romans. It was popular with all classes of society and …

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Cuneiform text

From Clay Tablets to Digital Tablets

The Reed Stylus and Clay Tablet

From clay tablets to digital tablets.  Today texting, typing, writing, memes, … there are so  many ways in which we communicate with others;  technology has opened a veritable Pandora’s box of possibilities. Communications have become shorter and more frequent, full of the expectation of an immediate response.  The result is our modern world seems to travel at break-neck speed.  It is hard to imagine what it was like at the beginning of recorded time when humankind first put pen to paper… well, actually not paper — or pen for that matter — but a reed stylus to clay tablet.

Clay Tablet with Cuneiform

As you may be aware, one of the earliest forms of writing is called Cuneiform. Cuneiform is thought to have been first developed by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia c 3500 – 3000 BC. Mesopotamian scribes recorded everything from daily events such as trade records and sales dockets to astronomical happenings and political events. I was surprised to learn that some tablets inscribed with cuneiform were written in several different languages …

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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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Abbey Museum Medieval Manuscript

Medieval Manuscript Gallery Reopens

Medieval Manuscript Gallery

After more than 18 months, the Abbey Museum’s fabulous Medieval Manuscript Gallery has reopened!

You may recall that in late 2015, termites were discovered in the gallery – almost the worst possible scenario!  Fortunately, the little chompers had stuck to the timber and left the priceless manuscripts alone.  Our beloved manuscript gallery had to close and all the manuscripts and cases were removed before treatment could commence. It has been a long slow process but with funding assistance from the Federal Government through the Stronger Communities Programme and the Moreton Bay Regional Council we have been able to achieve our goal and reopen the gallery. And now we are so pleased to be able to announce the re-opening!

History never ceases to amaze!

During the closure of the Manuscript Gallery the Museum’s Senior Curator, Michael Strong, took the opportunity to photograph all the manuscripts. The timing was perfect as there has been a sudden increase in interest in the manuscripts from international researchers and we have now been able to send them quality colour photos. One thrilling …

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Abbey Museum Stained Glass

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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Tell Halaf and the Cradle Of Civilization Floor Talk + Special Artefact Display

Tell Halaf and the Cradle Of Civilization

It was while travelling through Syria trying to find the best route for the proposed Baghdad railways that a bizarre tale of stone statues in the form of human-animal hybrids came to the ears of Max von Oppenheim, attaché to the German embassy in Cairo and scholar in his own right. Oppenheim, a keen amateur archaeologist was intrigued by these rumours and started to investigate the site which would become famous as Tell Halaf.

In this talk, retired archaeologist, Vera Windau Heath, will take us on a journey back to the cradle of civilization and the remarkable story of the people who built this intriguing city. Vera will also share her personal experience of visiting and excavating this historic site and the secrets it continues to reveal to archaeologists.

Join us for afternoon tea following the talk as well!

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Pilgrim Badge Abbey Museum

Medieval Pilgrim Badge Donation Excitement

The Abbey Museum recently received a generous donation of a 14th century Pilgrim Badge of St Thomas Becket. A pilgrim badge, like the suit of armour also acquired this year, has been on the Museum’s wish list for a number of years as they represent an aspect of medieval life not previously represented in the collection.

Pilgrim Badge – Tourist Souvenir of the Middle Ages?

Pilgrimages were an important part of life in medieval England, and individuals were expected to make at least one major journey in their lifetime. Market stalls often lined the entrances to shrines, and here pilgrims could buy a variety of souvenirs such as badges and small vessels known as ampulae. This badge is in the form of St Thomas Becket and is one of a well-known series of badges that are miniature copies of the 14th century, life-sized, mitre-bust reliquary of St Thomas in Canterbury Cathedral. The badge would have been worn on the hat or outer clothing and would have been used as an amulet. The supposed miracle-working powers of the reliquaries that …

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Schist panel depicting 20 Buddhas, Afghanistan

Collection Donations : Gifts of Ancient Treasures

With the advent of on-line sale websites such as Ebay and Gum Tree, and difficult financial times in general, collection donations of antiquities to the Abbey Museum had all but dried up.

However, excitingly, 2016 seemed to buck the trend and over the last few months the Museum has received donations of three amazing collections.

The First of the Collection Donations

The first included a beautiful slate plaque from Afghanistan depicting twenty Buddhas, a number of alabaster statues and a beautiful carved onyx plate of kissing birds and a kufic script.

The Second of unexpected Collection Donations

Then can you imagine the excitement of being invited into a house and being taken down into a cellar where almost hidden under the dust on a shelf on the back wall was a collection of ancient Roman lamps (one with a decorated image to make you blush, definitely R rated). Beautiful Roman glass and three “stone cannon” balls from Tunisia. This was part of the private collection of a Dutch consul who during his career travelled to many parts of the world.

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