Thursday, 13 June 2013

A call for consistency

Two thoughts - firstly acceptable terminology for those red Herzfeld numbers. For those of you who have not handled any Samarra finds from the 1911-1913 excavations these are the red digits written on objects by Herzfeld and indicate their findspot, effectively a locus number, thus in many instances there are several objects with the same number. Many of these objects have a thumbnail sketch in Herzfeld's Finds Journal and a reference to Sketchbooks for more detailed drawings (these are all housed in the Freer Sackler collection). The 'red numbers' have a prefix, sometimes written 'I-N', at other times 'IN'. 

So, the question is should we continue with Herzfeld's system and retain the prefix (with or without the hyphen), or call them 'Herzfeld numbers'? The main thing is to have continuity and an easily recognisable nomenclature throughout the now-divided collection. If every institution has a different system this will lead to confusion with the digitisation, and with the process of matching up the dispersed finds, so it is something we need to agree on now. Of course each institution has its own accession numbers too, and it would be great to have every object easily cross-referenced with the Samarra publications as well - although I should add that Die Malereien does not appear to refer to them! If we all agree on one system now it will save a lot of time and confusion in the future. Thoughts?

A sketch in the Finds Journal with IN 32, now in V&A collection A.63-1922. Unfortunately its red digits have been rubbed off, so cannot give an example but those on the stucco engaged column below should suffice.

A.72-1922 with large red numerals

On a lighter note - and just to show you how immersed I am becoming in Samarran influences - look at the design on London's City Hall! On a visit to the Tower of London a few days ago I was struck by this stepped merlon image and went on line immediately to see if the architect's (Norman Foster) website would throw any light on its influences. Sadly not, but I did learn that it has an internal helicoidal staircase - visible on this image - internalising the iconic minaret spiral-staircases?! So I have emailed Foster's partnership to see if they could throw more light on the influences, and as yet have not received a reply.... If anyone has any ideas please submit them. You can download a pdf of the project with many more photographs from their website.

City Hall, London, by night
Rosalind Wade Haddon

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