British Museum discovers vase is actually a mace


Originally published at:


Then they picked up a vise, … Eek, mice!


Its just a case of Digging the Weans


Pronounced “MAR-s” or “MAY-ss”?


I once saw an object in a case in the Victoria & Albert Museum, that was labeled as being unknown what it was or what it had been used for. I had an idea what it could be, and I intended to make a suggestion…but it was before the internet, and would have required an airmail letter once I got home to the States, and I didn’t know who to send it to, and I got busy with things and I never did. Haven’t been back there since. I must have written down the acquisition info…I wonder if I still have a note about it somewhere in some box…

I wonder how many things get identified by random people who visit museums and happen to recognize something based on what they know from their own lives?


Might be time to think about getting a new curator.



The curator, in the museum, with a vase mace.


You say the vase is actually a mace?


Huh - was it hollow? I mean it looks like it was hollow and pieced together which doesn’t seem like it would make a great club/mace. Any one know more?


While derived from the weapon, many are ceremonial:


Their difficulty in determining the use of the artifact was probably due to that they could not translate the cuneiform, because it was lettered backwards. (That way the message could be easily read from the marks it left on some poor bastard’s face.)


Also, a while back I was at the Minnesota State Fair and there was an exhibit of things from Pioneer/White-settler period. (I don’t know if they still have that exhibit or not, it’s been a while since I’ve gone to the Fair.)

A big thing at the Fair in the food concessions is all kinds of food “on a stick”—any kind of food you can think of that can possibly be served on a stick is offered on a stick, because It’s at The Fair! (Is that true at most fairs? Probably is.)

So there was a display of household items at this Pioneer/settler exhibit, and a docent of some sort was there in period costume. I joked to her that one of the items looked like chainmail-on-a-stick, and she laughed and said something like Yeah, we don’t know what that thing is. I was surprised that she didn’t know it was a pot-scrubber that was made with a handle!


David Macaulay’s Motel of the Mysteries should be required reading for students of archaeology.


AH - ceremonial. That makes sense. Though what is the difference between that and a scepter?


Here it is so you don’t have to go around clicking.


My goto oath is “Christ on a Stick.”


“Teddy said it was a hat, So I put it on. Now dad is saying, "where the heck’s the toilet plunger gone?”

― Shel Silverstein


I did that once, at the Oriental Museum in Chicago. The notation said they didn’t know why there was a clean cut through a particular spot in the neckline of a child’s shirt/tunic. I pointed out that it’s a known fix if the child’s head is too big for the opening. It wouldn’t have been worth the cost and effort to make a new tunic every time a young child had a growth spurt.


Irving Finkel, the guy from the British Museum is pretty ace. His youtube vids are great.