Activity accelerates at Corbanís archaeological museum
December 28, 2009
Dr. Adrian Jeffers, Curator of the Prewitt–Allen Archaeological Museum, has seen more activity in 2009 compared to previous years.
The donation of a Torah scroll valued at $90,000 came last December (2008), while a 2-year project involving a collection of Holy Lands Slides reached a landmark this November. Other efforts have also increased the visibility of the museum this year.
The archaeological collection, now located on the second floor of Corban’s library in Southeast Salem, had its origin on the college’s California campus in 1953. It was conceived by Robert S. Allen to augment classroom studies. Namesakes Allen and colleague Dr. J. Franklin Prewitt established the depository, which today showcases over 900 items from the Middle East and Greece.
The recently donated Torah scroll was a gift from Alan and Cynthia Boyce of Roy, Washington. Originally produced in a Jewish Scriptorium in ancient Babylon (modern-day Iraq) in the mid-19th century, the scroll consists of more than 200 columns and 61 sections of tanned leather. It stands 17 inches tall and 93½ feet long. Jeffers said, “Since such a scroll is meticulously written by hand it would take considerable time to make; around a year according to some sources.”
The museum has set the tanned leather scroll in a new case with Corban’s original scroll — which is made of lighter-colored sheep-skin parchment — on a specially built rack to hold it safely open.
Jeffers noted, “I like this scroll in that we know about where and when it was produced, whereas with our old one this is unknown. Also it is nice to have another scroll written on a different material and with a different look. These scrolls are valuable for the museum to illustrate the form sacred Scripture took.”
Several groups have benefitted from viewing the archaeological texts this year. Last May the Corban library staff hosted an assembly of library professionals from the Portland-area, a tour being part of their agenda. Another opportunity came when Salem Heights Church sponsored their summer series on the authenticity of the Bible. The church invited Jeffers to display a sampling of Bible texts for the 300+ interested participants.
Jeffers described the museum’s most typical visitors: “Often they are groups of senior citizens on activity outings, and we also see groups of children. Most of the tours I give are to fifth- and sixth-graders, who are studying a unit on Egypt in their classes,” he said.
Visibility has also improved this year through the launch of the museum’s redesigned website.
Museum projects for 2010 include finishing the transfer of Prewitt’s six-projector, three-screen slide presentation of the Holy Lands to Power Point. The original was reel-to-reel and choreographed to cassette recordings of Prewitt’s mellifluous narration. Jeffers assistant, Howard Games, has spent 2 years scanning the total 11,116 slides.
Now Jeffers is searching for a PowerPoint expert to help replicate the slide lecture. Jeffers said, “I can put pictures into PowerPoint, but I can’t make them dance.”
Another endeavor of the new year is to secure an artifact in honor of the late Richard Muntz, former Museum Curator. In lieu of flowers last summer, his memorial-service gifts were directed to the Prewitt–Allen Archaeological Museum. A total of $1,000 has already been donated or pledged, and Jeffers estimates another $1,000 would allow him to acquire an old English Bible, such as a Geneva or Tyndale, on behalf of Muntz and his keen interest in Bible.
To donate to the Muntz memorial fund, please designate gifts for the Prewitt–Allen Archaeological Museum, Muntz Memorial; mail or deliver to the President’s Office at Corban College & Graduate School/5000 Deer Park Dr. SE/Salem, OR 97317.
By Jenny Hirschfelder, Staff Writer, Office of Marketing & Communications
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