Cool and Creepy Archaeology in October

The month is almost over, but I can’t let it go completely by without tipping my hat to Massachusetts Archaeology Month.

Since life here at PEM has been very focused on the amazing Emperor’s Private Paradise exhibit, I have to admit I’ve been more tuned to archaeology stories from that corner of the world recently, including this incredibly cool discovery which may make people reevaluate historical trade routes: Could a Rusty Coin Re-Write Chinese-African History?

In celebration of which I give you Mint Your Own Coin from the American Museum of Natural History’s OLogy page, which also features fun interviews with archaeologists, make-your-own archaeological stationery, artifact features, and more.

If you’re looking for other online archaeology interactives, check out the extensive list at Fun Archaeology For Kids.  The list includes lots of different cultures and time periods, with a great many of the interactives created by museums and other reputable sources.

And now for the creepy. (It is, after all, the week before Halloween, and I’m not entirely immune to the Salem atmosphere.)

Royal blood may be hidden inside decorated gourd.  (eeurgh!)  An intricately decorated gourd bears traces of blood which may very well have come from a handkerchief soaked in the blood of the beheaded King Louis XVI of France.

Personally, I prefer my blood 100% Pure Fake, as in the book reviewed by exhibit interactive wizard Paul Orselli.  And if that’s not enough gross and gucky exploration for you, check out Wastewater: Sewage in your face! from the San Diego department of public works, which, among other more educationally rewarding activities, has recipes for making soda and cake that look like sludge.

All creeped out?  Build an Egyptian tomb, uncover a prehistoric burial, or just make a pasta skeleton, courtesy of artist Kathy Barbro, directions here (or click the picture).

Pasta skeleton designed and photographed by Kathy Barbro. Click for link.

More ‘Brain Art’

Susan Aldworth (British, b. 1955) Brainscape 18, 2006

Yes, there are more fun and fabulous examples of brain-inspired art coming to a Massachusetts museum! Landscapes of the Mind: Contemporary Artists Contemplate the Brain is running at the Williams College Museum of Art from January 30–May 2, 2010.  (See the full press release here.)  Being who I am, I’m particularly excited about their family day with student-led tours and art making activities in March, as well as intrigued by the fact that this exhibit, which is all about what is literally inside your head and therefore something we never see of ourselves, is tying in with the museum’s ‘year-long focus on art and landscape.’   I think there are a lot of fun parallels people could draw with other ways artists, writers, and scientists have imagined, described, and mapped what goes on in the brainscape.

Historically, for instance, there’s all the wackiness associated with phrenology, (very popular in Victorian times).  Art-historically there are those fabulous surrealists (or insert adjective of choice depending on your own opinion) like Salvador Dali.  Scientifically we have all those brain-mapping studies, and virtual reconstructions through forensic anthropology, and Einstein’s brain in a jar (more than one jar, apparently).

Persistence of Memory by Salvadore Dali

Persistence of Memory by Salvadore Dali

Back to Lunar New Year and other fun multicultural stuff in the next post, I promise!