Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Fossils at the Speed Art Museum

I visited the Speed Art Museum in downtown Louisville next to the campus of the University of Louisville. The museum opened on January 15, 1927 as the J.B. Speed Memorial Museum. It features artworks by Rembrandt, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Rockwell. My visit I was interested in the Ancient Art area. After visiting the MET in New York City, I thought looking at Egyptian limestone might yield more fossil finds. This hunch proved right.

The museum has a limestone relief of Thoth, Egyptian god of wisdom, writing, magic, and the moon. This image was probably depicting a burial ceremony where Thoth is listing the vices and virtues of the deceased as they move to the afterlife. Near the back of the head in the stone is a dark area. This appears to me to be a cross-section of a brachiopod fossil. The inner part might be filled with calcite crystals.

The artwork is from the Late Period (about 1000 B.C.). The museum acquired the piece in the 1970s.