The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (I)

The Ashmolean Museum Photography by Carlos Dorce

The Ashmolean Museum
Photography by Carlos Dorce

The Ashmolean Museum is the World’s first university museum. Its first building was built in 1678–1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities Elias Ashmole gave Oxford University in 1677. The collection includes that of Elias Ashmole which he had collected himself, including objects he had acquired from the gardeners, travellers and collectors John Tradescant the elder and his son of the same name. The collection included antique coins, books, engravings, geological specimens, and zoological specimens—one of which was the stuffed body of the last dodo ever seen in Europe; but by 1755 the stuffed dodo was so moth-eaten that it was destroyed, except for its head and one claw. The museum opened on 24 May 1683, with naturalist Robert Plot as the first keeper. The first building, which became known as theOld Ashmolean, is sometimes attributed to Sir Christopher Wren or Thomas Wood.

One of the first room that you visit after the main entrance is the one dedicated to the Minoic and the Ancient Greek period and we can find the Minoic figures there.

Linear B is one of the Minoic scriptures. The script has about 90 signs ans a number of pictorial signs. Some of these old tablets have survived and they are the tablets that were baked in fires that destroyed the Minoic buildings. Linear B tablets as number 21 reconstruct the various stages of the textile production supervised in Knossos. This in a record of 58 castrated male sheep, 2 female sheep and a shortfall of 50 sheep, about 1375 BC, burnt clay. Can you guess the minoican figures for numbers 58, 2 and 50?

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Of course! Each vertical line represents number “one” and each horizontal line represents number “ten”. Another example is the tablet number 20 which records women workers along with girls and boys (probably their children) from about 1375 BC:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Finally, other examples of the Linear B escripture:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Number 11 is a record of raw materials including wild goat horns probably needed for chariot building (c.1375 BC) and number 14 records issues of wool to women for the production of a particular type of cloth (c. 1375 BC).

From the Ancient Greece we also find two mazes carved in two respectively coins:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

The  first one is an Ancient Greek silver drachma found Kossos (300-270 BC) and the second is also a silver Knossos coin (300-200 BC) with a minotaur inside.

Location: The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (map)

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