Museum of Archaeology debuts new exhibit

KNOXVILLE – On Monday afternoon the Museum of Archaeology kicked off their new exhibit in the Old Main first floor gallery.

The exhibit entitled “Hezekiah Did What Was Right in the Eyes of the LORD: History and Culture in Judah’s Final Century,” features 35 items.

Of the 35, 15 items are on loan from four other museums: The Horn Archaeological Museum (Berrien Springs, MI), Reuben G. Bullard Collection (Cincinnati, OH), Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), and the Tandy Institute of Archaeology (Fort Worth, TX).

The exhibit focuses on the history and culture of Judah during the Iron Age IIC – roughly 700-586 BC.

Pottery display in the Museum of Archaeology.
Pottery display in the Museum of Archaeology.

The Museum of Archaeology was officially set up in 2010 in the Old Main gallery, but Dr. and Mrs. Mattingly began receiving artifacts in 1980. With various contributions from Dr. Joseph A. Callaway, Dr. Joe D. Seger, and Mr. William A. Kidwell, the museum has had more than enough material to keep their exhibits fresh and exciting over the years.

In his introduction to the new exhibit, Dr. Gerald Mattingly explained the importance and purpose of the museum to Johnson’s community.

“To understand what the Bible means in our day we must first understand its original meaning,” he said. “Archaeology helps students of the Bible understand its geographical, historical, and cultural context.”

Babylonian stamped brick from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II.
Babylonian stamped brick from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II.

One of the featured pieces in the new exhibit include a stamped brick taken from the ruins of ancient Babylon in 1918. Bricks like these were used to provide records of which king sponsored what buildings.

Other featured items include a replica of an ancient sling to provide visitors with a better idea of the weapon mentioned several times in the Bible (1 Samuel 17, 2 Kings 3:25, 2 Chronicles 26:14).

Also on display is a small jug found in Dhibon, Central Jordan – formerly Dibon, the capitol of ancient Moab. The “juglet” probably contained perfume or incense, and is an example of the craftsmanship that had already developed at that time.

Ancient Moabite jug.
Ancient Moabite jug.

In addition to the new exhibit, the Museum has an array of long-term items including food, pottery, writing, clothing, jewelry, ossuaries, coins, and human and animal figurines.

Students are encouraged to visit the museum, especially those of Owens, Prinston, and Reece, who have incorporated the new exhibit into class assignments this semester.

Alumni who are on campus for Homecoming are also encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to see the new and loaned pieces while they are here.

The exhibit will be on display through June 9th.

Museum hours for the week of Homecoming are noon until 3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and noon until 4 p.m. Wednesday. Hours will vary for the rest of the semester.

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