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Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University

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Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University
571 South Kilgo Circle
Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Voice: 404-727-4282

The collections of the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University span the globe and the centuries. The Carlos maintains the largest collection of ancient art in the Southeast with objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Near East, and the ancient Americas. The Museum is also home to collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century sub-Saharan African art and European and American works on paper from the Renaissance to the present day.

The Carlos Museum works with Emory faculty members to develop unique special exhibitions that draw on collections from around the world to engage the public and contribute to current scholarship. The Museum also mounts exciting traveling exhibitions developed by other institutions and makes them available to its community.

Coffin boards were a feature unique to the Twenty-First Dynasty. They evolved out of the mummy masks and elaborate body covers of the New Kingdom. The coffin board looked like, and served as, a secondary lid and was covered with depictions of gods and amuletic devices to protect the mummy.

Cuneiform ("wedge-shaped") writing is Mesopotamia's most important contribution to the rest of the ancient Near East. Its invention revolutionized the way business and trade were conducted and offered the first opportunity for mankind to record written history. Cuneiform and its principal writing medium, the clay tablet, remained in use for over 3,000 years. Scribes adapted cuneiform script for writing many Near Eastern languages and used it to record business transactions, legal codes, and literary, commemorative, and dedicatory texts.

View a barrel-shaped cylinder of clay inscribed with a commemorative text that records the repair of the city wall of Babylon by Nabopolassar. In the text, Nabopolassar invokes his own name as king of Babylon, describes the weakening and settling of the Great Wall of Babylon on its original base, and his repair and rebuilding of the foundation wall which "like a mountain its summit I verily raised... Oh, Wall! Remind Marduk, my lord [patron god of Babylon] of the favor." Kings and officials commonly deposited inscribed tablets of this shape into recesses built below or within new or repaired constructions in Mesopotamia. Their deposit sanctified and protected the construction as well as allowing the king or official to record his name and deeds for the gods and posterity.

The oldest known glass core-formed vessels date to about 1500 B.C. and were found in Western Asia and in Egypt. These vessels were made around a disposable core of material (clay or sand mixed with an organic binder) which was covered with hot glass (a mixture of silica, lime, and alkali). It was then decorated by trailing threads of glass of various colors around it. The shapes imitated those of metal and stone vessels of the same period. Glass vessels were considered very precious, not only because of the cost of manufacturing them but also because they were used as containers for expensive scented oils or powders. They were exported widely, and one of the centers of production for these white glass vessels was the island of Rhodes.

Functional bath-tubs, the earliest known in the West, have been found at Bronze Age palaces such as Knossos (portable) and Pylos (built in). The Linear B tablets from Pylos also give us the ancient name: re-wo-te-re-jo. The decoration outside is probably a stylised version of octopus tentacles, which, together with the fish inside (bream) are obvious choices for aquatic contexts. The wavy double line on the floor represents water draining out through the plug; the semi-circles below the rim perhaps sea-urchins or anemones. Water in Greece is precious. Even for the elite, a bath would have been a great and occasional luxury.

To the Greeks, the Underworld was entered by water. As with many other Minoan bath-tubs, this one was probably later used as a coffin to convey the deceased across the sea, where marine imagery would be equally appropriate. The two functions of bath-tubs, bathing and burial, combine in the story of Agamemnon who, on return from Troy, was murdered by his wife and her lover in a silver bath.



Pictures and information were provided by Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University

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