Tarver Library unveils student-curated exhibit, “Setting the Ancient Table: Dining and Drinking in Antiquity”

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Ancient jug with handle
Carthaginian jug from the Holmes Collection dating from circa 400 BC.

MACON – Mercer’s Jack Tarver Library will unveil the latest installment of ancient artifacts from the Holmes Collection, titled “Setting the Ancient Table: Dining and Drinking in Antiquity,” on Oct. 19. The exhibit, the first-ever to be curated by students, will offer a unique glimpse into how people in the ancient world ate and drank. 

“The new exhibit from the Holmes Collection, curated by Mercer students Emily Bacallao and Sydney Logan, showcases the kind of archaeological research that is possible at Mercer University because of the generosity and loyalty of Mercer alumnus Dr. Yulssus Lynn Homes and his wife Elizabeth,” said Dr. R. Scott Nash, Columbus Roberts Professor of New Testament in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and curator of the exhibit, who will serve as master of ceremonies for next Thursday’s event.

The Holmes Holy Land Ancient Artifact Collection comprises more than 1000 pieces. The latest exhibit features a diverse array of artifacts, including jars, jugs, plates, bowls, cups, lamps and even a spoon, offering valuable insights into the dining customs of the ancient Holy Land.

“Mercer University continues to benefit from the Holmes Holy Land Ancient Artifact Collection, a timeless and generous gift from Dr. and
Mrs. Y. Lynn Holmes,” said Jeffrey Waldrop, vice provost for University Libraries. “The University Libraries are honored to once again host the unveiling of this valuable exhibit, and are excited about this year’s chosen theme, ‘Setting the Ancient Table: Dining and Drinking in Antiquity.’”

Dr. Charlotte Thomas, professor of philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the Great Books program, will be the speaker for the evening. Her lecture is titled “Xenophon’s Symposium as a Feast for All Senses.”

The event begins at 6 p.m. on the library’s second floor and is free and open to the public. There will be light refreshments available after the lecture. For more information on the exhibit or the events, contact Daniel W. Williams, University archivist, head of archives, special collections and digital initiatives at 478-301-2493, williams_dw@mercer.edu.

About the Holmes Collection

Dr. Holmes, born in Vidalia, graduated from Mercer in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. His interest in ancient artifacts developed during his time at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He began collecting artifacts during his graduate work at Brandeis University while earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in ancient history and ancient linguistics. Multiple trips to the Hebrew University as well as leading a group of students from the University of West Georgia to Israel for an archaeological excavation deepened his passion for collecting artifacts. Professionally, he has served as a teacher, scholar and administrator, holding posts ranging from research fellow to professor to college president. He has published numerous scholarly papers on ancient history and the modern Middle East.

Mrs. Holmes was born to Christian parents in Palestine. She studied in a French Catholic school in Jerusalem and became fluent in four languages. She also studied at the University of West Georgia and Brewton-Parker College. She is a community speaker on the cultures, customs and people of the Middle East.

About the Holmes Collection

The Holmes Collection resides at Mercer to serve as a resource on the ancient world for students, faculty and staff, as well as for the residents of Central and South Georgia. The first installment of artifacts from the collection was displayed in the spring of 2009.