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Archaeologies of Childhood

The exhibition poster. Illustration.
The exhibition poster

In 2003, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology opened an exhibition called "Archaeologies of Childhood: The First Years of Life in Roman Egypt," to explore the lives of the youngest inhabitants of Egypt in the Roman period through the rich archaeological and textual remains from the Michigan excavations at the site of Karanis. This project grew, in part, from my own ongoing research on the Karanis material, but also involved the work of students Karen Johnson (on the "dolls" from Karanis) and Grant Martin (on CT-scanning a mummy of a child in the Kelsey collections). This exhibition was my first collaboration with the Kelsey Museum's now-longtime exhibition preparator Scott Meier, whose designs were particularly bold and colorful, very different from the usual Kelsey exhibition. Read more about the exhibition in the Kelsey Museum Newsletter.

This website represents an attempt to reconstruct the original 2003 exhibition from archival images and original text, and does not attempt to update or revise anything. The images reproduce select artifacts as well as installation views (which will give some idea of Scott Meier's talent!), while the text reproduces exhibition panels and labels. Some information seems to have been lost across the years—in particular, the original exhibition acknowledgments can't be found. This is unfortunate, as Kelsey Museum exhibitions are true collaborative endeavors, and it would have been good to include the names of all of those involved in the exhibition, in addition to those mentioned above. One name I must mention: Traianos Gagos, my late colleague and friend for help in his official capacity as Archivist of the University of Michigan Library Papyrology Collection (in getting loans of papyri and information about them), as well as for his support and encouragement. And I must thank Julia Falkovitch-Khain for her work on the website and her infinite patience.

Terry G. Wilfong Curator for Graeco-Roman Egypt, Kelsey Museum

Gallery views

Exhibition title.
Remains of children.
Protection of children.
Toys and games.
Entrance to the exhibition.
Children as gods.