Last week I broke the news that in October I’ll be taking on the role of curator at the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL. Many thanks to everyone for their congratulations and kind comments – it’s wonderful to have so much support!
I’m excited to get started in my new role, but I will be sad to no longer be the go-to person for identifying materials used in the Horniman’s Anthropology collections. This gave me the chance to see some lovely objects, like this little statue:
I asked if you had any thoughts on what it might be, and you gave some great answers, mostly involving an ungulate canon bone or metacarpal / metatarsal. However, palaeosam and palfreyman1414 spotted that this isn’t made of bone, while Chris went one better by making a nice reference to ‘Horsing around near the river’ – a reference to the meaning of the name Hippopotamus.
The key to identifying this is to look at the curve of the statue and the view from underneath. That cavity shape (plus the gentle curve) is exactly what you’d expect from the upper canine of Hippopotamus amphibius Linnaeus, 1758 – so well done Chris!
There’s a helpful guide to identification of ivories by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, which is well worth a look to help with this sort of thing. Hopefully that’ll be a helpful resource for my colleagues at the Horniman in my absence… although they know where to find me if they need help in future!
I will of course be very sad to leave the Horniman, which has been a fantastic place to work, filled with wonderful people who I’ll miss. I’ll also miss helping out with identification of materials in the Horniman’s Anthropology and Musical Instrument collections, which is the inspiration of this mystery object:
Any idea what this object is made from?
As usual you can leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments box below.
Soon there will be a new collection for me to explore and I hope to be able to share the excitement of that process with you!
I usually offer up a mystery object on Friday, but here’ a bonus object that landed on my desk this morning.
Apparently it was found in a horsefield in Kent, I have narrowed down the likely species of the animal that ‘donated’ the bone to a couple of options, but thought you might like to have a go as well, before the specimen is handed over to our Anthropologists to inspect the engraved designs.
As usual can can leave your comments below. Have fun!
The mystery object has been a bit boring recently, mainly because I’ve been tied up with other projects (like the After Life exhibition I’ve been curating with the excellent fine art photographer Sean Dooley) and haven’t been in the stores much. So this Friday I thought I’d give you a bit of a fun object that my brilliant colleagues at the Horniman (check out their Tumblr) came across when reviewing the Anthropology collections:
Any idea what this weird piece of art (a Vicar, or perhaps Nicholas Cage?) has been painted on to? I’ve added a few more images below to help you work it out.
As usual you can put your suggestions in the comments section below – I can’t wait to hear what you think!
On Friday I gave you this anthropological mystery object to identify:
I asked you what the teeth might have belonged to and where in the world might this necklace be from.
It’s always a bit tricky to identify worked material as it will often be different from what you’d see or expect in the wild state and you lose the context of the rest of the specimen. Nonetheless, these teeth are quite distinctive to a particular group of animals.
Barbara Powell, 23thorns and Robin got the right general area with suggestions of Islands in the South Pacific, in particular New Guinea. 23thorns also nailed the animal group with his suggestion of Continue reading →
This Friday I have a bit of a change for you – an anthropological mystery object made from animal bits. This specimen was being looked at as part of a review project that we have going on at the Horniman Museum. Any idea what these teeth might belong to and where in the world this necklace might come from?
As usual you can put your suggestions, observations and questions below and I’ll do my best to respond. Good luck!