Artifact Spotlight: Roman Funerary Stele

This original funerary stele is a marble monument to memorialize a deceased 17-year-old young man.  It is written in Greek, although the young man’s first name is Latin and dates back to the 2nd century and is from Turkey.

Funerary Steles:

Like today’s tombstones, funerary steles were a memorial for the deceased, although cemeteries did not exist in the ancient world.  Memorials were placed along roads on the way into the city.  This was an ideal location for family as well as travelers to remember the deceased.  Visits seemed to mean more than just preserving memory, however: often, steles were “anointed with oil, decorated with ribbons and garlands, and given food offerings (Funerary Sculpture).”

In the Roman period, it became popular to depict individuals.  The Greek tradition often depicted the deceased surrounded by living family members.  This preserved and described their role in society, much like how we write things like ‘beloved wife, mother, grandmother’ on our tombstones.  The Romans also brought a greater emphasis on realism–rather than idealizing the deceased, they were portrayed at the age in which they died.  The frontal gaze invites viewers into their presence, but seems to disregard the outside, living world.

Our Stele:

Special Collections’ Roman Funerary Stele reads:


“Julianos, (son) of Eidaios, aged 17”

Traditionally, Julianos is a Latin name and Eidaios is a Greek name. This name, combined with the early style of himation and hairstyle, suggest the young man lived in the 2nd century.


“Funerary Sculpture in Athens.” Athenian Agora 35. (2013): 9-64. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 9 Nov. 2016.


Artifact Spotlight: Cuneiform Envelope

This original clay tablet is from ~2150 BC and is made of fired clay.  The writing is in Sumerian.


Clay tablets like this were once considered ‘recyclable’ and weren’t meant to be kept.  Occasionally accidental fires would take place and the clay would be fired, preserving them for centuries.  Like our paper envelopes today, an outer layer of clay would cover the letter and have the sender’s seal on it.  This protected the message on the clay on the inside.

Our Tablet:

Our tablet’s exterior envelope has a seal that depicts two people facing each other with a round disk separating them.   The figure on the left is holding her hand behind her back and the figure on the right is seated, wearing a funnel-shaped hat.  The inner tablet is well preserved, but the outer envelope has broken into three pieces.


Remembering Ricks

As high schools around the area have recently celebrated their graduations (congratulations!), we at BYU-I are still in the middle of our semester.  Seeing all the graduates has reminded us of our own high school graduations.  In celebration of the recent and soon-to-be graduates, we’ve looked through a few of our yearbooks and want to share some of our favorite quotes and pictures.

Rixida 1978

“…the confusion and frolicking of rush teas, pledge parties, ‘goating,’ and formal initiation…”–Rixida 1943

Does anyone know what ‘goating’ is?

“Viking Hall: a men’s dormitory with enthusiasm!”–Rixida 1960

Rixida 1972

“He is the very pineapple of politeness.”

“She never flunked and she never lied; I reckon she never knowed how.”

“We grant, although he had much wit, He was very shy of using it.”

–Rixida 1930

Rixida 1972

The 1938 Ricks College Bachelor Club’s initiation included “shoe-blacking, singing ‘Abdulla Bul Bul Ameer,’ growing whiskers, and, well, suffice it to say that this initiation seemed to conform remarkably well to previous ones.”–Rixida 1938

I guess the honor code didn’t involve ‘whiskers’ back then!

Rixida 1967

“The faculty are not this old,
Their cars are much more up to date
But you’re only as old as you feel when
You’ve helped a senior graduate”–Rixida 1954

Rixida 1967

Jokes from the 1917 Rixida:

“If everyone does his best he can’t do any better.”

“Von E. got hurt, but it didn’t seem to affect me very much.”

Girl: “What is the form of a kiss?”
Boy: “Give me one and we will call it square”

Girl 1: “Oh, it’s so hot in here.  Open the window.”
Girl 2: “No, don’t; we are not up high like she is; she gets all of the hot air.”

Teacher: “When do the leaves begin to turn?”
Student: “The night before exams”

HOW TO GET THIN: “Fooled you, didn’t we, Verla; I knew you and Miss Smith would bite.”

Dora: “All the old bachelors in our town have lots of money.”
Miss C: “Well, I believe I will move to your town.”

To view more jokes from the 1917 Rixida, go here!

Oh, Beautiful

“The last line of ‘America the Beautiful’ perfectly describes how I feel about my country:  ‘And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.’  No matter who we are, what we believe, or where we are from, we can all come together as people for the good of our homes, our country, and most importantly each other.”–Sam

“I am proud to be an American because I grew up seeing my dad and others protecting the country.  I understand the price of freedom and am forever grateful for the sacrifices made to protect it.”–Ailee

“President Ezra Taft Benson said, ‘Patriotism is more than flag-waving and brave words.  It is how we respond to public issues.  Let us rededicate ourselves as patriots in the truest sense.'”–Rachelle

There are many reasons we are grateful for our countries, and these are only a few.  We are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and for the people who have died to ensure that right for all of us.  We are also grateful for all the courageous men and women working to protect, defend, and create liberty for all the people in the world.  For the next month we commemorate those who work to protect our freedom with our new display located outside of McKay 220.  Come tell us what makes you proud of your country!

All is Well!

In the summer of 1856, two pioneer companies set out to move west.  These companies set out from Iowa City in mid to late July on foot, pulling handcarts.  In late August, they left Nebraska to continue their trek in the unpopulated west.  They hoped to make a journey of 900 miles before winter came.  Unfortunately, winter came early that year, hitting the handcart companies hard in the middle of October, around the same time that they ran out of food.  More than 200 people died between the two companies.

These courageous pioneers relied on their faith in God to get them through.

On October 4, 1856, LDS President Brigham Young heard about the pioneers still on the plains and began to formulate a plan to help get them to Salt Lake City safely.   Rescuers arrived and saved many lives as they helped the handcart companies make it to Salt Lake.

One story, depicted in two of the paintings on display, is the story of James (11 years old) and Joseph (4 years old) Kirkwood.  The Kirkwoods were from Glasgow, Scotland, and were with their family in the company.  James was given the task to care for his younger brother as the family pulled the handcart.  The company came to a stretch of land called Rocky Ridge.  The 15-mile long trek over Rocky Ridge took the company 27 hours to complete.  As they walked, Joseph became tired and unable to continue.  James picked up his brother and fell behind the rest of the company, carrying his brother the whole way.  When they caught up to the group at the campsite, James collapsed and died from exhaustion, having literally given his life for his brother.

The story behind each of the paintings here is just as touching as the story of James Kirkwood.   In 2006, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commissioned artists to paint portions of the pioneers’ journey.  These paintings bring their struggling and their faith to life.  We invite everyone to come in and see these paintings and read the stories of the pioneers who sacrificed everything to ‘come to Zion.’

…And should we die before our journey’s through, happy day!  All is well!  We then are free from toil and sorrow, too; With the just we shall dwell!  But if our lives are spared again to see the Saints their rest obtain, Oh, how we’ll make this chorus swell–All is well!  All is well!

“Come, Come Ye Saints” by the pioneer William Clayton


Artifact Spotlight: Ushabti Figurines

Ushabti Figurines

These Ushabti Figurines, two of which are originals (from about 700-200 BC), belonged to various museums in Britain before BYU-Idaho purchased them.  They are from Ancient Egypt and the inscriptions on them are written in Egyptian.

This Ushabti is a replica.



Ushabti figurines, which are also spelled ‘shabti,’ ‘uhabti,’ or ‘shawabty,’ are any of the small figurines that are made of wood, stone, or faience (like ours).  They were often found in ancient Egyptian tombs in large numbers.  Their height ranges from approximately 4 to 20 inches (ours are on the smaller side, about 4-6 inches tall).  The statuettes often hold hoes in their arms.  The purpose of the Ushabti was to act as a magical substitute for the deceased in any menial tasks the gods might request in the afterlife.  Ushabti translates to “answerer.”  The earliest figures, from about 1539-1075 BC, were often made to represent the tomb owner, looking like a mummy and inscripted with the owner’s name (The Editors).

In The Book of the Dead, spell 6 is dedicated to calling the ushabti to action:

O shabti, allotted to me, if I be summoned or if I be detailed to do any work which has to be done in the realm of the dead: if indeed obstacles are implanted for you therewith as a man at his duties, you shall detail yourself for me on every occasion of making arable the fields, of flooding the banks or of conveying sand from east to west; ‘Here am I,’ you shall say (Artifacts).

Ptolemaic Period, ca. 200 BC

Our newer ushabti is carefully rendered with almond-eyes, ears, wig, and false beard. He is depicted with traditional Egyptian agricultural implements. In his right hand he holds the ancient A-shaped hoe and a rope running over shoulder that connects to a seed-sack. In his left hand he grasps a “sulk,” a tool similar to a mattock or pick-axe, and an odd tool consisting of several balls tied on strings, shown by five incised circles.

The single column of incised hieroglyphs in front give the name of the owner:

General Pa-di-Her-em-heb to whom Aset-her ti gave birth

Late Period, c. 747-332 BC

The older ushabti has brown colors are mineral encrustations resulting from having been buried for more than two thousand years.

The hieroglyphic inscription names the ushabti’s owner as Nes-Min. It reads:

May he be illuminated, the Osiris, Nes-Min, the true of voice.


“Artifacts: Shabtis.” Spurlock Museum of World Cultures at Illinois. Spurlock Museum, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

The Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica. “Ushabti Figure (Statuette).”Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.