An insight into 36 years of archaeology history at Johnson

Video news report: Abbey Whitaker

KNOXVILLE – Old Main contains the Museum of Archaeology featuring a variety of exhibits for Johnson students to observe archaeological artifacts and gain insight into the ancient world.

Archaeology helps students view the geographical, historical, and cultural contexts of  Biblical narratives.

The museum includes displays on food, pottery, writing, clothing and textiles, jewelry, ossuaries, human and animal figurines, and coins. Dr. Mattingly, professor of Intercultural Studies, mentioned the broader purpose of having the museum here on campus.

“The purpose of a collection is to not only just display it, but it is actually to preserve it,” he said. “This is only a fraction.. there are five collections and we have a real good chance at getting another one.”

Over the last 36 years, Johnson University pursued its interest in Near Eastern archaeology by offering courses on the history and archaeology of the biblical world and conducting fieldwork in central Jordan and stateside research of the Karak Project. Related books and journals are also available in the Glass Memorial Library.

A portion of the items displayed in the museum were purchased by the university in 1980, from Dr. Joseph A. Callaway, director of the archaeology museum at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 2008, the Callaway family gave a collection of artifacts to the Mattinglys that includes photographs and written records from Callaway’s excavation, artifacts from his work in Palestine, and artifacts from other archaeological sites such as Jericho and Jerusalem.

In 2010, major exhibits were installed in the first-floor gallery of Old Main. Dr. Mattingly mentioned the importance of temperature control in the museum to insure the artifacts are well taken care of.

“We try to keep the temperature and the humidity the same,” he said.”There is bone, stone, glass, and medal; nearly everything survives well at 70 degrees.”

In 2014, the Mattinglys acquired another collection of artifacts from Dr. Joe D. Seger, and Mr. & Mrs. William A. Kidwell also donated a collection of artifacts to Johnson University in 2015.

Future exhibits in the museum will focus on ancient weapons, tools, art, glass, and metallurgy. In the next few weeks, the museum will display a portion of artifacts that illustrate the era of King Hezekiah of Judah, ca. 700 B.C. The new exhibit will include ancient oil lamps from the museum collections.

Written story: Chastedy Johnson

Audio slideshow: Regan McSherry


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