The Museum of Classical Archaeology is filled with sculptural expressions of the human form, including many heads. In one corner of the gallery, nestled among a display of busts, are two heads with ragged, broken edges around the neck. These came from bronze sculptures of Roman emperors Augustus and Claudius; the sculptures having been decapitated as a symbol of resistance during local uprisings by the Kushite and Iceni, respectively. Nearby in the gallery is another instance of decapitation, this time carried out by the Roman Empire.
The Museum of Classical Archaeology is filled with sculptural expressions of the human form, including many heads. In a small case near the entrance are four broken terracotta figurines from Naukratis, a Greek trading post in Egypt. These figurines have been suggested as having features which might indicate individuals of African heritage – features which are not often seen in other sculptures from the classical period. Who were they? The figurines were made from a mould so presumably lots of these figures were made. By whom? For what purpose? Sadly, we don’t know much more.
Once upon a time, 200 million years ago, dolphin-like marine reptiles, or ichthyosaurs, like this one roamed the Jurassic Sea. About 200 years ago, Mary Anning, mother of paleontology, found this ichthyosaur fossil along the craggy cliffs of England's southern coast.
"For us this was a really important story to tell, as it highlights how the university has benefited, and continues to benefit, from slavery and colonialism, in a way that is usually hidden. One can appreciate the object itself, marvel at its great size, thinking how amazing it is that something like this ever existed, and be excited about all it has taught us about dinosaur biomechanics and movement, but we believe it is necessary to recognise its history, as well as past wrongdoing by the university and others.
‘This Globe is Broken’. A poem about how the globe as an object is not neutral. A response to the colonial 1875 Jigsaw Globe on display in the Museum’s Globe Gallery.
The Whipple Museum of the History of Science as an institution is not neutral. A response to the colonial 1875 Jigsaw Globe on display in the Museum’s Globe Gallery.