Rediscovering the Lost Empire of the ancient Hittites

Rediscovering the Lost Empire of the Ancient Hittites

This presentation on April 21st 2018, presented by The University of Queensland’s Hittitologist Prof. Trevor Bryce, will investigate how, through archaeological evidence and language dicipherment, historians are beginning to understand this lost civilisation.  The ancient Hittites Empire once spanned from Turkey’s western coast to the Euphrates river and south through Syria onto the Damscus borders.  However, we have known little about this civilisation until the last 140 years.  The purpose of the event is to engage with Friends’ members and visitors through an educative presentation.  The presentation begins at 2.00pm and is followed with questions and afternoon tea, concluding around 4.00pm.

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Stained Glass presentation in Abbey Church

Celebrating a Stained Glass Milestone

Invited guests – donors who had supported the program – gathered in the Abbey Church in early December to help celebrate the conclusion of a ten year project of conservation of the stained glass windows in the Church.

Stained Glass Thank You

Director of the Abbey Museum, Edith Cuffe OAM, explained the obstacles which had to be overcome in order for the conservation project to be undertaken, not least of which was the substantial fundraising effort required. The presentation was a ‘thank-you’ and acknowledgement of those who donated or assisted in other ways to raise the funds necessary for the conservation work to take place. Edith introduced guests to Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn, the conservators who undertook this mammoth task.

Conservator’s stained glass presentation

Gerry’s presentation included a power-point showing before and after photographs of each window as it was subject to the conservator’s attention. He told how the removal of some windows was made very difficult because of the age of the glass and fragility of the …

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Abbey Museum Stained Glass Tours - medieval shield

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 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 Friends Bunyip trip

The Great Bunyip Hunt of 2017

Are you familiar with ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night – like maybe a bunyip?

The bunyip is a large mythical creature from Australian Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. The origin of the word bunyip has been traced to the Wemba-Wemba or Wergaia language of Aboriginal people of South-Eastern Australia.

On 2nd-3rd October the Abbey Museum Friends are organising a two day coach trip, Finding the Bunyip, which will take us to many places around the Scenic Rim where bunyips may well lurk. Along the way the Museum’s Senior Curator, Michael Strong, will explain the historical significance of the various sites and their importance to the Aboriginal people of the area.

We will be staying overnight at Beaudesert  and taking the opportunity to visit the Beaudesert Historical Museum. We will visit many places of significance – bora rings, lagoons, caves and natural features – hearing the dreaming stories along the way.

Cost will be $180 per person which covers bed …

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Tell Halaf Talk

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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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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QATNA: Dining with the Dead – excavation of an ancient kingdom city.

Afternoon Floor Talk hosted by the Abbey Museum Friends

Qatna is an important archaeological site in the Wadi il-Aswad, Syria. In the Middle Bronze Age, Qatna was one of the most important centers on the coastlands of the east Mediterranean. It lay on a tributary to the river Orontes, 90km from the Mediterranean, and on an important crossroads: east to west from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean, and south to north – from Egypt, into Palestine and up to Anatolia (modern Turkey) home of the Hittites.

It reached its height in the middle Bronze Age, in the 18th to 17th centuries BC, when Qatna, together with Aleppo, were the two most important kingdoms in Western Syria.

It is now an important archaeological site which in 2006 was excavated by three teams, a Syrian team from Damascus, an Italian team from Udine, and a German team from Tübingen led by Peter Pfälzner.

Part of that German team was our guest speaker, Mrs Vera Windau-Heath who with her husband Len, has worked on many digs throughout the Middle East.

Vera has an extensive …

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So was it all about love letters?

On Saturday 26 October, 40 members and guests of the Friends of the Abbey Museum sat down in the Abbey Hall to a delicious lunch, beautifully presented by the Museum Catering Team.  The lunch is an annual event in the FOTAM calendar and, in accordance with tradition was followed by a talk given by an invited guest speaker.

This year, our guest speaker was Dr Caillan Davenport, a lecturer in Roman History at the University of Queensland.  His topic, the Letters of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius caught the attention of all his listeners. Dr Davenport used the correspondence between the young Marcus Aurelius and his tutor Cornelius Fronto to illustrate the more intimate details of life in Rome at that time than is found in most history books.

This was no dry old history lesson about the philosophy of a Roman Emperor, but a lively discussion based on private correspondence which was not originally written for publication.  After filling in the background of the finding of the letters and of the two correspondents, Dr Davenport …

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