I’ve always been interested in making models, but things like railways and wargaming never really did it for me. Astonishingly, it’s taken me 25 years to realise that model-making and archaeology could be brought together!
Over the past few weeks I’ve been building – and have just installed – a model of an Amerindian settlement for the Grenada National Museum. The model is based on all the things the Carriacou Archaeology Project has excavated at the site of Grand Bay on Carriacou since 2007. The model includes a cutaway house, complete with cassava griddle, pots and even a duho; a midden area, a boat, a pile of conch shells and a conch-shell working area, a slice of the coastline, a stream, and even a stone carved with petroglyphs. There’s no petroglyph stone at Grand Bay, and we never found the remains of a wooden duho or boat, but everything else is taken from our excavations. The model will be placed in more or less the centre of the Museum’s new Amerindian gallery, and will be joined by a few smaller, detail models of things like burials and so on which I’ll make between now and returning this time next year.
It’s curious to be working in three dimensions. There’s a sense of “virtual reality” about a museum model that I’ve never been aware of before. Certainly it was interesting showing the model to both adults and children at the museum, and realising that – rather as with the comics – the model was making them look at and think about archaeology somewhat differently than they would with a standard reconstruction image.
I’d like to do more museum models – and I’d like to think more about what it is they bring to archaeological visualisation that other media and formats don’t.