Revealing the Past: The Museum of Classical Archaeology

Archaelogists at a dig site.


“Archaeology is like a puzzle; it is not so much about finding the pieces, but using them to understand the past,” said Timothy Gregory, professor of history, director of the OSU Excavations at Isthmia, and Museum of Classical Archaeology (MoCA) director.

It takes many disciplines to reconstruct and interpret the pieces. MoCA is operated by three departments: Greek and Latin, History, and History of Art. Artifacts from Greek and Latin’s collection and the OSU Excavations at Isthmia sit side by side. 


THIS YEAR WE ARE BEGINNING A NEW PROGRAM, ON THE GREEK ISLAND OF KYTHERA, FOCUSING ON ARCHAEOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY. WE HOPE TO INVOLVE STUDENTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AS WELL AS ARTS AND HUMANITIES." {Timothy Gregory}


PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER: INSIDE MOCA

The Museum of Classical Archaeology, a small, jewel box-like enclosure, hints of hidden treasure, buried secrets and lives lived long ago.

Glassed-in shelves exhibit: pottery from all periods including prehistoric Cypriot and Neolithic (4000 BC); iron tools and weapons; examples of ancient writing — Egyptian papyrus, Mesopotamian cuneiforms (400 BC); religious objects; and, artifacts used to construct lavish Roman-period buildings.

“Archaeology is a hands-on discipline; before this museum, there was no way to give students access to the actual artifacts,” said Gregory. Now, we can provide whole classes, or individual students, the opportunity to see and work with the objects, learning the stories that only they can tell.”


DIG DEEPER

Ohio State is a leader in classical archaeology, one of only a handful of American universities with fieldwork projects in Greece and Italy. 

Timothy Gregory and students.

Gregory spends several months each year in Greece, where he oversees site maintenance, coordinates projects of scholars from various institutions, and works on his own research.

“We are responsible for two million objects. This site amounts to an enormous research facility, an archive, with so much data and so many objects that can be studied in so many different ways; it is an incredibly rich resource.”

Many of Gregory’s students, both graduate and undergraduate, join him for an unparalleled learning experience.


THE ISTHMIA COLLECTION

The museum literally connects onsite work at the OSU Excavations at Isthmia with campus studies.

“When students and researchers can’t go to Greece digital technology brings Greece to them via OSU Excavations in Greece, where our students and faculty carry out research each year,” Gregory said.

“Our vision for the future is to create a virtual museum. We can’t expand by taking in new material, but we can become more interactive and expand via other media.”

“The museum also provides access and learning opportunities for the public,” Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory said. “A significant number of K-12 students each year take part in activities that focus on archaeological methods and techniques and the art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome.”

This year we are beginning a new program, on the Greek island of Kythera, focusing on archaeology and environmental history. We hope to involve students in environmental studies as well as arts and humanities.


NOTE: This is the second in a three-part series on the Museums of the Arts and Sciences. MoCA was established by a grant from the University’s Office of Research in 2005.

The objects in the Museum are gifts from private donors. All were legally acquired through authorized channels.

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