The BSA Museum houses a study collection of artefacts donated to the BSA and collected by its members up to the 1960s. The collection provides a valuable resource for teaching and research, enabling scholars to gain first-hand familiarity with objects from a range of material types (including ceramics, metals, stone, terracotta) and ranging from the Neolithic through to the Late Byzantine period.
The collection began in 1892 when Director Ernest Gardner acquired from William Flinders Petrie a set of ‘Mycenaean’ pottery sherds from Tel-el-Amarna in Egypt. To these he added sherds from his own explorations at Naukratis, with the intention of curating in the BSA a modest collection, ‘to collect and classify for the purpose of study fragments of pottery and other articles that throw light on the history and technique of ancient art’. The collection quickly grew through the generosity of donations and bequests, many of which are recorded in the Minutes of the Managing Committee and in the Annual Reports of the British School at Athens.
One of the largest donations to the Museum comes from the private collection of the philhellene George Finlay (1799–1875). Finlay bought a wide variety of objects around Greece and Europe in the nineteenth century, including prehistoric stone tools, fossils, coins, and impressed wax seals. The BSA’s early excavations from the Athenian cemetery at Kynosarges (1896) are also represented in the collection, in particular a series of Geometric vases.
A sherd collection of surface pottery contains several thousand ceramic fragments retrieved from informal visits conducted by BSA members throughout Greece, Turkey, and further afield. The collection is especially rich in the areas of Northern Greece, the Cyclades, and Euboea. In addition, the Museum contains an Archive of papers relating to the cataloguing and study of its collection, also available for consultation.
A fully interactive and illustrated catalogue of the entire collection is available on ‘Digital Collections’, accessible both internally within the BSA and upon-request (via secure password access).
A brief history of the BSA Museum Study Collection will be published in Archaeological Reports vol. 68 (late 2022).
For further information about the Museum, please contact the Assistant Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply for permission to study material held in the BSA museum (including its paper archive), please fill out the online request form on the Digital Collections website.