From Trash to Treasure: How Archaeological Finds Become Museum Pieces

Presented by: Rebecca Martin, Department of Art.
Wednesday, Feb. 17 12:30 p.m. In Sadie’s Place at Kent Library

Have you ever wondered about the story of a work of art? About the origins of ancient objects collected in the world’s museums? As an ancient art historian and Mediterranean archaeologist, I have uncovered many objects of everyday use, more intriguing for their historical than aesthetic value. Most of my work involves long hours in old storerooms studying and reconstructing ubiquitous Greek pots and Phoenician clay figurines.

I have had the rare pleasure of unearthing one museum-quality piece from my home excavation at Tel Dor, Israel: a fragmentary but lush floor mosaic of the highest quality from ca. 100 BCE. I will take you through the process of its discovery, from the dusty day-to-day work at the excavation to that singular incidence of unearthing a fine work of art. We’ll pass through the meticulous restoration and cleaning process before the story culminates in publication and museum presentation — the point at which ancient “trash” may finally become the public’s “treasure.”


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