Posted by: thedirtybaker | May 30, 2011

Ancient Jewelry and Database

Yesterday I finished listing all of the object numbers for the jewelry and briefly looking at each piece.

All the jewelry laid out by numbers, though some of it got blown out of order by a brisk wind.

There are about 500 numbers – some contain one bead or other piece, others contain thousands.  I’m really glad that I wasn’t the one who had to count out thousands of tiny beads!  I do, however, have to organize this body of jewelry as a whole, both in terms of the information about it (what was originally together, how was it worn, what were it’s salient characteristics, that the owners had that piece, not another one…) and in terms of the physical objects themselves.  In case you were wondering, this is what 500-or so boxes and baggies of ancient jewelry look like, when organized on the balcony.

Out of the entire collection, there were only 3 numbers that I couldn’t find, and another 5 or so that don’t have numbers (probably found after the fact in other collections of objects).  That’s an amazingly low level of inconsistencies!

Example of an Egyptian-style pectoral

The biggest object was made up of almost 6000 very-small-to-tiny beads in different colors, and was probably Egyptian in style. We aren’t sure if it was a pectoral (those massive multi-row necklaces that covered a person’s entire chest), a net dress, a girdle, or a headdress.  It was a lot of work to make, though!  I think I’m going to need to do some “experimental archaeology” at home, by which I mean that I’m feeling inspired to try my “How to Make Egyptian Jewelry” kit from the Met.  Anyone want to make beaded jewelry with me?

Beaded Net Dress

Ancient Egyptian Girdle (more of a decorative belt, really)

There is also some gold, silver, electrum, and bronze jewelry and scrap. That was fun to look at, but I

Most of these had gold or electrum. The stone is a mold, probably for making jewelry.

suspect that I shouldn’t show it to you, since I haven’t published it yet for real.  So I’ll just show you how much of it there is!  If you see me in person when I have my computer on me, I’ll be happy to show it to you then – I just don’t want it all over the internet.

While some of the ancient jewelry is fantastic, the ancient database that the excavations use is not so great.  It’s better than not having a database, but I hear that it dates back about 11 years, and it is certainly slow, cumbersome, and finicky. On the other hand, if I can make it work properly, it can save me a lot of data entry, which would be awesome!  My dissertation included more than 300 pages of excel charts, all the information in which I added by hand.  While this wouldn’t be as tedious as that was, it still wouldn’t be fun to enter it all by hand, so I’m still hopeful.  I still have to measure a lot of pieces, and standardize all of the terminology for shapes and colors, but I can live with doing less work!


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