Friday, April 20, 2012

A visit to Hamburg - the Helmsmuseum in Harburg

Sorry, there will be some archaeology in this entry, too :(

No sooner did I come back from Heilbronn than I left again for Hamburg. There was a lot on my to-do list, from museums to talks to vegan food. So I started the very evening after I settled in small hotel in the suburb of Hamburg, called Harburg where the archaeological museum is situated. The hotel is called 'Hotel zur Altstadt' which means something like 'Historic Town Hotel'.

and it was true, Harburg had a nice historic flair. Some of the houses near the hotel were built of clinker-brick and half-timber :

They also have a nice town hall from the 19th century:

And since I was lucky with the weather I could enjoy some early spring crocuses:

and some art in the town hall area (don't ask me about it's meaning):

But what I really wanted was to visit the museum and hear a talk by Lutz Kindler about Neanderthals in the cave of Balver which lies in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Being an archaeozoologist, he studied the faunal material from this cave and I think the most impressive part was that he demonstrated that a large part of the animals were not used for meat but had rather cut marks similar to bones of animals used by North American Indians to get the skin for clothing etc.

The next day I had a closer look at the museum and since some readers think archaeology is boring (!) I will rather show you something about the quite unusual manner of exhibiting those artefacts. The first thing was that the museum didn't have a chronological order but rather arranged things topological or thematically if you so want. Something I never quite liked. My introductionary seminar in archaeology was handled this way and at the time being I just had no idea about a more detailed chronology; so I thought it quite hard to compare mammoth huts and Iron Age houses. But well, each to his own.

The first floor was a very dark room with objects thrown between rocks on the floor. If you wanted to read the labels you had to crawl on the floor, preferably use your reading glasses and try to decode the numbers on the objects with the help of a booklet they gave you at the entrance. With the help of your glasses you could then read in the booklet about the object. I wish I had brought a torch!

The second floor had a modern concrete-and-wasted-space atmosphere:

In the midst of plastic ... 

... and pigs made from spam cans ...

... you could actually find some archaeological objects ... for example in the fridge ...

... together with spam cans of course. Neither the dry bones nor the spam can, however, have to be in the fridge stringently. Both can be safely kept at room temperature. Just in case you want to put a mandible in the fridge and there is no room left for your salad anymore.

The way to present the objects is, to say, at least unique:

Did I like it? No. Maybe I'm to old for this sh** (that was a movie quote, I'm never too old for a nice coprolite).

The special exhibition about the Hamburgian Ice Age was hosted in the near theatre and a bit more conventional. I'm not gonna show you Federmesser tools or burins, just some furry animals:

I especially loved this cave bear because it looked more like a wookie than a bear :)

Please join me again when I will explore Hamburg in more detail (without any archaeology that is).

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