By Terry Wilfong, Andrew Ferrara
Jul 14, 2011
"Karanis Revealed: Discovering the Past and Present of a Michigan Excavation in Egypt," opening September 16, 2011, at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, illuminates the historical records of a single village community in the Egyptian countryside during the Graeco-Roman period. The exhibition also explores the story of the site’s excavation, initiated by the University of Michigan in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as subsequent and upcoming research on the recovered material and its context.
"Karanis Revealed" will be presented in two phases, with all but a few displays changing in the second portion. Part I (September 16 to December 8, 2011) looks at aspects of village life during the early centuries of the community under the Ptolemaic dynasty. These include the site’s agricultural cultivation, the role of pagan religions and evidence of more esoteric magical practices. Part II (January 27 to May 6, 2012) follows the changes that took place in Karanis with the beginning of the Roman occupation of Egypt and then later with the advent of Christianity. The displays include collections of Roman glass, tax rolls on papyrus, and the leather breastplate of a Roman soldier.
The main artifact cases are supplemented by a mockup of a field table on which are presented some of the original sketches and architectural drawings made by the Michigan excavation team in the early twentieth century. This central table illustrates the process through which archaeologists move from preliminary notes and diagrams to completed cross-sections of entire communities. The table display will be further enhanced by interactive elements, allowing visitors to explore the exhibition on their own.
Everyday life in ancient communities is often obscured from modern eyes due to the erosion of evidence over the centuries. The archaeological process, however, allows scholars to reconstruct an understanding of past societies from what artifactual material has survived. Through "Karanis Revealed" museum visitors will have the opportunity to unearth the daily life of a rural village over 2,000 years old and retrace the steps of the scholars who discovered it.