During the summer of 2013, Benjamin Settlemyre ('15) and I conducted research on a subset of archaeological artifacts in the Joseph A. Callaway Collection which is housed at Johnson University Tennessee. We pursued this study under the auspices of the Lee B. Ledford Student Research Endowment, a program of the Appalachian College Association. Mr. Settlemyre received a stipend of $5,000 for his time and efforts, and I had the privilege to serve as his “faculty mentor.” The Ledford Scholarship gave him the opportunity to study and catalog the human and animal figurines in our Museum’s inventory. Among the various categories of artifacts in this collection, the “thundering herd” (our special term for these 20 objects) captured Benjamin’s imagination! During the 2012-2013 academic year, he also completed research on ancient weapons and carried out more mundane duties in the Museum.
These figurines arrived in Kimberlin Heights, along with the rest of the Callaway Collection, in 2008. Since then, we have displayed many artifacts in Old Main, and nearly a thousand people have seen them. Benjamin will make a presentation of his research at the Appalachian College Association’s Annual Summit in Knoxville on October 26. We also plan to put “the thundering herd” on display this semester.
Most of our figurines are zoomorphic (i.e., they represent animals, primarily horses and cattle), but some depict human beings or deities. They date from the Old Testament era down to the Byzantine period and served a variety of functions (e.g., images of deities, votive offerings, toys, good luck charms). Benjamin’s study required a detailed comparison of our figurines with similar items found in the same countries of the Mediterranean world (Egypt, Greece, Israel, North Africa). We also made a special trip to see the archaeology collection at Mississippi State University.