Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

I’ve been visiting Cambridge again. After visiting a few of the museums on my adventures at the end of last year and being treated to the wonderful exhibition at Two Temple Place earlier this year, I was itching to get back. Also I’ve only been to three of the nine University of Cambridge museums and you know, you gotta catch ’em all..

Luckily, it turns out that Brighton-Cambridge isn’t that bad of a journey.

My first stop on this Adventure was the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (whose name can be easily confused with the wonderful Museum of Classical Archaeology). The MAA, as it is known, really reminded me of both London’s Horniman Museum and Oxford’s Pitt-Rivers Museum, but it had a completely different vibe.

The MAA feels all shiny and new, but the upper galleries retain that cabinet of curiosity feel that all anthropology museums have. It was a nice comniation of shiny-newness and the curious cabinetiness of the place.

Like all anthropological collections, the museum had some brilliantly bonkers stuff on display. This little chappy for instance…

An African carving of a colonial administrator

An African carving of a colonial administrator

Or this guy…

A dragon from the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

A dragon from the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Although the highlight was learning about this remarkable woman:

The skeleton of a 50 year old Roman Woman

The skeleton of a 50 year old Roman Woman

50 is a remarkable age for a woman of this era, it’s practically ancient. If you look closely you can see an abscess on the left hand side of the jar (which probably contributed to her death). This skeleton also has a literary connection: the poet Sylvia Plath studied at Cambridge and her poem All the Dead Dears was inspired by her encountered with the bones, especially this part

“Rigged poker-stiff on her back

With a granite grin

This antique museum-cased lady

Lies, companioned by the gimcrack

Relics of a mouse and shrew.”

What’s that about a mouse and shrew?

Mouse and shrew bones found with the Roman skeleton

Mouse and shrew bones found with the Roman skeleton

Visible Storage

Museum storage is always a really interesting topic. Some places, like the Horniman Museum, offer tours of these oft closed spaces but the MAA has something called Visible Storage – where the storage is, erm,  visible. It is a really interesting touch.

Visible Storage sign

Visible Storage sign

Pottery on display as part of visible storage

Pottery on display as part of visible storage

There’s even  this Baratheon-tastic helmet on show.

A helmet with antlers

A helmet with antlers

Here’s one more picture of the museum, because, why not?

The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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