University of Southern Indiana

Ancient manuscripts, artifacts on display in Lawrence Library

Ancient manuscripts, artifacts on display in Lawrence Library

8/25/2014 | University Communications

As the recipient of the University of Southern Indiana’s first John M. Lawrence ‘73 Fellowship, Paul Foley has the opportunity to handle the artifacts of ancient civilizations and curated an exhibit currently on display in USI’s Lawrence Library. The exhibit, “Selections from the Lawrence Medieval Collection,” opens Tuesday, August 26, and continues through the fall semester.

The Lawrence Library is home to USI’s collection of medieval manuscripts and other artifacts, many donated by John M. Lawrence ’73 for use as a study collection to benefit USI students.

Lawrence, who holds an accounting degree from USI, was strongly impacted by his Liberal Arts professors at USI and went on to become an international expert and collector of ancient manuscripts. He has given generously to the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Nursing and Health Professions over the years.

Foley is a senior history major minoring in classical studies. "It's been an awesome opportunity getting to work with John Lawrence's collection,” he said. “Even some graduate students never have the chance to work hands-on with manuscripts like this.” 

In order to interpret, identify and translate the materials, Foley recruited faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and searched online image databases. The pieces on exhibit – primarily manuscripts – are united in that they all originated in the medieval period. A variety of languages are represented, including Coptic, German, Greek, Latin, Persian and Sanskrit.

View manuscripts from the current exhibition on the Lawrence Library website.

The exhibit also includes a Greek bell krater – a vessel used to mix water with wine – from 350 BC. Lawrence donated the krater to USI in honor of Dr. Daniel Scavone, professor emeritus of history. Michael Aakhus, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the krater is in “amazing condition” for such an object. Rob Millard Mendez, associate professor of art, built a special pedestal for its display.

Although it is not part of the current display, Foley is working with Lawrence to restore a Spanish monastic manuscript from the 16th century. “It really fits the vision of the library for students like me to be able to hold and even do research on pieces of history like this that might have just been thrown into a vault at another university," he said.   

The Lawrence Library is located in the lower level of the Liberal Arts Center, Room 0118, and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday or by appointment. Call 812-464-1855.

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