BY CAROLINE ROBERTS, Conservator, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and JANELLE BATKIN-HALL, Graduate Intern in Conservation
Janelle Batkin-Hall, graduate intern in the Kelsey conservation lab, has been taking a closer look at the Kelsey Museum’s collection of dolls from the Romano-Egyptian city of Karanis. The dolls vary in type, but many consist of fabric bundles, some of which are wrapped around small rocks or shaped bone. Her research is to determine what the dolls are made of and what they were used for. To answer these questions, Janelle has examined the dolls using different forms of imaging, including micro-CT scanning, a technique used by scientists Basma Khoury and Dr. Ken Kozloff in the University of Michigan Orthopaedic Research Laboratories.
Ms. Khoury and Dr. Kozloff visited the Kelsey Museum to take a look at the dolls and determine if they would fit in the micro-CT scanner. The micro-CT is normally used to study small mammals, and luckily the dolls Janelle wanted to examine were roughly the same size. Janelle and the Kelsey’s head of conservation Suzanne Davis transported two of the dolls to the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building, where Ms. Khoury scanned each artifact for over two hours.
Doll 1966.901.0113 is made of what appears to be a polished piece of bone inscribed with eyes and eyebrows and wrapped in linen. Dyed animal fiber is attached to the top of the bone piece. Janelle was interested in visualizing the piece of bone, since most of it is obscured by the linen. Ms. Khoury captured images of the surface of the bone and a number of inscribed lines that are normally obscured by the doll’s linen wrappings. She also observed that the bone piece lacked the microarchitecture of bone, and is rather some other kind of material – possibly wood.
We’d like to thank Basma Khoury and Ken Kozloff in the Orthopaedic Surgery and Research Departments, as well as Suzanne Davis and Terry Wilfong for their help in facilitating this project.