Abbey Museum Jewellery

How Ornaments Make us Human

On Saturday 4th August Dr Michelle Langley entertained thirty Museum Friends and their guests with her fascinating presentation on jewellery – “bling” – over the millennia. Dr Langley is the DECRA (Discovery Early Career Researcher Award) Research Fellow at Griffith University; her special area of study is Sulawesi, Timor-Leste and Australia.

Dr Langley’s illustrated presentation described how humans have used personal ornamentation as far back as Neanderthal times and how this could be shown as a manner of differentiating humans from animals. She explained how cave paintings depicted people with various types of ornamentation and how this archaeological evidence provides insights into how some of these ornaments were made.

In addition to the pictorial evidence there is a wealth of recently discovered archaeological evidence of ornamentation found in burials and sites of early human occupation, especially in Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Australia. Analysis of these recent discoveries is showing that the belief in the capacity of our ancestors for language, art, complex technologies and social behaviour only developed after they reached Europe approximately 40,000 years ago is incorrect. …

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Union Jack flag

The Origin of the Union Jack Flag

The origin of the Union Jack flag

Whilst researching the March saints for a Tabula story, I was diverted into a story about the flag known as the Union Jack. The Union Jack consists of the flag devices of three of the four patron saints of the countries which comprise Great Britain. The feast days of two of these patron saints occur during the month of March and there is another in April. Not only is the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it also appears included on 31 other flags around the world, including Australia, New Zealand and six flags of the Australian States.

The central feature of the flag is the cross of St George, patron saint of England; behind it is the cross of St Andrew representing Scotland and the cross of St Patrick representing Northern Ireland.  Unluckily for the Welsh, the fourth patron saint, St David of Wales, is not depicted on the Union Jack at all!

St David’s feast day is celebrated on 1st March.  This is considered to be …

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April Fools Day at the Abbey Museum

The Story Behind April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s History

Everyone enjoys a good joke, (whether practical or otherwise) and April 1st or April Fool’s Day is recognised almost universally as the day on which pranks are played. They may be close to home such as sending your brother to find a can of elbow grease so you can shine your shoes or as widely reported as the BBC Panorama report on 1 April 1957 about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland which had many people asking where they could obtain spaghetti plants themselves.

There are a number of theories about the origin of April 1 being celebrated as April Fool’s Day. The most widely accepted is that it goes back to when the western world adopted the Gregorian calendar in place of the Julian calendar during the 1500s. Under the Julian calendar the year began on March 25; festivals marking the start of the New Year were celebrated on the first day of April as March 25th fell during Holy Week. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, New Year moved to 1 January. The theory goes …

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Our Biggest Year Yet!

Our 2013 strategic goal for attendance was a 5% increase on the 2012 attendance (which was 10,843). My personal goal has always been to crack the 12,000 mark, but alas in the past we got close but never went past that pinnacle. To the end of October there has already been a 17% increase on last year’s total visitors (as of 29th October 12,670 visitors)… we should top 13,000 this year the way we are going… Very excited!! Should we aim for 14,000 next year??       This increase is primarily due to the change in the national school curriculum and the introduction of the study of ancient history in year 7. Our previous archaeological school programs needed to be modified to accommodate larger numbers of students and it is thanks to the education staff and volunteers that this has been incredibly successful. Our archaeological dig program is now accompanied by either a presentation on the Ancient Roman soldier or instructions in …

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