Tuesday, March 30, 2010

OI Staff Profiles in Facebook

The OI has begun a series of staff profiles on Facebook
[First posted 1/27/10; updated 3/30/10]

To start off a new series of posts highlighting the faculty and staff of the Oriental Institute, we asked Membership Coordinator Maeve Reed to tell us a little bit about herself. Maeve started at the OI in July of 2009. This text is adapted from the fall issue of News & Notes

Continuing with our Faculty and Staff biographical series, today we're featuring the Director of the Oriental Institute, Gil Stein.

Gil J. Stein is Director of the Oriental Institute and Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He received his BA (Phi Beta Kappa, Summa cum Laude, honors in archaeology) from Yale University in 1978 and his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988. He has excavated and surveyed in the American Southwest, Turkey, and Syria, He has been a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey (1982-3), a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution (1988-9), and a Resident Scholar at the School of American Research (1994-5)...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

News: Raised from the ruins

Raised from the ruins: After looting in Iraq damaged invaluable antiquities, archaeologists work to restore the cradle of civilization’s cultural heritage.
By Ruth E. Kott, AM’07
The University of Chicago Magazine
March-April 2010

Ext. 720

See the chronicle of news about the Oriental Institute.

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Oriental Institute Museum Photo Archives Database

Oriental Institute Museum Photo Archives Database [Enter as "guest"]
[Updated 3/28/2010]

The Oriental Institute photographic archive contains more than 100,000 images dating from prior to the founding of the Oriental Institute up to the present day. The collection includes site photography, ethnographic images, object photos, event and vacation shots, and images of documents. Until recently, searching for these images was difficult at best. Beginning in the mid-1990s, we began to enter our card catalog of images into a Filemaker database. More recently, additional information was added to the database including a field for a thumbnail image. The database is now online, though not widely published.

As of February 2010, there are more than 70,000 entries from our photo catalogue in the database, 35,000 of which have an image scanned and attached.

We invite you to take a look at the database in its current beta form.

Click on the link that says 'Oriental Institute Museum Photographic Database.' At the login page, click the 'Guest Account' radio button and then click 'Login.' Use the left and right hand buttons on the screen to scroll through the database, or use the magnifying glass to search.

Photographs in our records are catalogued in several different ways. A P number refers to the photograph of an object, while an N number was given to a negative. Most images have both a P and N number. There are also S Numbers for lantern slides, SM numbers for 35mm slides, a wide variety of field number sequences, and a newer D number series for native digital images.

The current project is to complete data entry for the P. Number series. Currently we have entered 32,700 cards (out of 68,500) from the P. series. Finishing the data entry for the P number sequence will substantially complete the N and S sequences as well.

The database is a work in progress. If you find typos or other mistakes, or if you'd just like to send comments or suggestions for improvement please e-mail them to oi-museum@uchicago.edu

Many of the entries in the database have images attached in a resolution that is appropriate for use in PowerPoint or other presentations. Full resolution images for study and publication are available as well. If you would like to order images, please visit https://oi.uchicago.edu/order/photographs/

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Monday, March 15, 2010

OI Blogs

To the best of my knowledge there are only two blogs about the Oriental Institute or by members of the staff or faculty of the Oriental Institute. This one:

The Oriental Institute: Fragments for a History of an Institution


James Henry Breasted's Letters, which is one of the social media manifestations of Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East 1919–20

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oriental Institute Museum and Social Media

[First posted 1/12/10. Updated 4/2/10]

In the ramp-up to the opening on the evening of 12 January 2010 of Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East 1919–20 the Oriental Institute has been doing some interesting and imaginative experimenting with outreach via a variety of social media.

The Museum has a twitter feed: oimusem. At the moment I write they have 138 followers (of which I am one).

A persona of James Henry Breasted is blogging the 1919-1920 trip to the Near East which is the subject of the exhibit. One presumes the blogging Breasted is an avatar of the same person who is on facebook as James Henry Breasted. At the moment I write he has 822 "friends" there (of which I am one)

The Oriental Institute has a fan page on facebook as well (1,433 fans today including me), as does the Research Archives (334 fans today, including me). Both of these pages are giving access to interesting materials including sets of photographs such as
The Institute has published the catalogue of the exhibition OIMP 30. Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East, 1919-1920. Edited by Geoff Emberling. Published in 2010. It is available for purchase, and is also available for download without charge under the terms of the Electronic Publications Initiative of the Oriental Institute.

Just republished, in a new edition, supplemented with additional photographs is the venerable Breasted biography Pioneer to the Past: The Story of James Henry Breasted, Archaeologist, Told by His Son Charles Breasted. By Charles Breasted. Reprint of the Charles Scribner's Sons 1943 Edition with New Foreword and Photographs. Published in 2009. It is also available for purchase, and for download without charge.

The University of Chicago News office produced a video to promote the exhibition: Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East 1919-20, featuring OI faculty member Donald Whitcomb as the voice of James Henry Breasted reading his letters.

I look forward to seeing more of this kind of thing emerging over the next few days as world of the exhibit spreads.

The OI began using these tools last year in association with the Meresamun show. One can still befriend the mummy Meresamun on facebook (1,355 friends, including me). You can view an extraordinary set of scans of the Meresamun's mummy on Youtube. And, of course, you can still purchase or download the exhibition catalogue, OIMP 29. The Life of Meresamun: A Temple Singer in Ancient Egypt. Edited by Emily Teeter and Janet H. Johnson. 2009.

The Oriental Institute also had a travel blog, OI Splendors of the Nile, organized by Foy Scalf as a photographic and textual complement to the Oriental Institute's Splendors of the Nile tour program escorted by Nadine Moeller.

In July 2009, the Oriental Institute released a set of audio tours of the collections on display in the Museum. The direct link to the audio tour of this exhibit is: Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East, 1919-1920.

The others are:

Other tours are under development.

A visitor can download the tours ahead of time and play them on her own iPod as she walks through the Museum, or she can check out iPods at the Suq at no charge to members, and for a fee of $5.00 for non-members.

I would be interested to learn about other museums using new media, and I wonder if it would be possible to document the effect such media have on attendance at exhibits or museums.

The Courtyard of the Oriental Institute

Beatrix Farrand was an early 20th century landscape architect.


She is known particularly for her design of the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks for Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss. She also worked on a number of projects with John D. Rockefeller.

Images of her drawings for the garden in the Oriental Institute Courtyard are published in:
Beatrix Jones Farrand (1872-1959) : fifty years of American landscape architecture
Author: Diane Kostial McGuire; Lois Fern

Publisher: Washington, D.C. : Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University, 1982.
available online here.

The garden was restored in 2006
[Photos from Tom James's photostream at flickr]