Detail Field photograph of Igbo Ogbodo Enyi masker dancing before audience in Enyigba Izzi, 1983. Courtesy of Herbert Cole.x1200

How did the cuneiform objects get here?

As with our pieces from the Bolles-Rogers family and John Davis Hatch,  the story behind how objects came into the museum’s collection or life events of the donors can be very interesting. Dr. John Henry Haynes donated to the museum thirty-six Mesopotamian clay objects with cuneiform inscriptions. You can view them yourself if you search our collection database using “John Henry Haynes” under the Quick Search. Here is one such clay object, a cone with cuneiform from c. 2100 BCE Mesopatamia (20.1.32) .

Dr. Haynes graduated from Williams College in 1876 and was best known for his archeological work in the Meditteranean and Mesopotamia near Nippur and Assos. He can be regarded as the father of American archaeological photography. A new book about him came out at the end of 2011 entitled John Henry Haynes: A Photographer and Archaeologist in the Ottoman Empire 1881-1900 by Robert Ousterhout. Here is his obituary that appeared in the New York Times.

An obituary about him also appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript.

His grave, at nearby Hillside Cemetery in North Adams, is a replica of the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III with a carving of Nippur’s ziggurat on the front. Here is the obelisk featured on the British Museum’s site. I visited the cemetery and took some photos of Haynes’s gravesite.

When we use these objects for teaching and enjoy these objects in galleries, we can think of the life of the man who made their existence at this museum possible in addition to studying what these objects have to say about ancient civilizations.



2 Responses to How did the cuneiform objects get here?

  1. Scott says:

    A fascinating post, thanks!

  2. Pingback:The Concept of a Teaching Museum › Williams College Museum of Art