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The Orphaned Archaeological Collections and its Place in the Modern Museum: A Case Study from Tell Hadidi, Syria

Author(s): Jamie Henry

Year: 2016

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Summary

Destruction of ancient sites along the Euphrates River in Northern Syria due to the construction of the Tabqa Dam and the formation of Lake Assad led to salvage excavations conducted between 1974 and 1978 by the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) at the site of Tell Hadidi, Syria, under the direction of Dr. Rudolph Dornemann. The 300,000 artifacts collected by the project are now housed at the MPM but this material has never been completely published. In 1991, with the retirement of Dr. Dornemann, the collection began a gradual fall into obscurity often experienced by material not intended for extensive use in programs or exhibits. Such collections present particular problems for new museum staff members who have no expertise in the geographic area from which the material was excavated. For over 35 years the collection languished in storage while institutional memory of its significance gradually faded. More recently, through collections management and programming, as well as graduate thesis projects, it has become a valuable resource for a new generation of museum professionals. This paper will present both the biography of this collection, from exciting new project to orphan collection, and will suggest strategies for rehabilitation of similar material in the process.


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The Orphaned Archaeological Collections and its Place in the Modern Museum: A Case Study from Tell Hadidi, Syria. Jamie Henry. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403683)


Keywords


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America