In light of our recent discussion on digital archives, we each created a digital collection of our own using a site called Omeka. This is a free website where users can make collections and exhibits. I created Pondering Public History: An Ancient Egypt Collection. I used this space to gather together examples of glass and glass-look-a-likes from ancient Egypt. Like I explained in my About page, I wanted to showcase the diverse skill of Ancient Egyptian glass craftsmen. Because this physical objects are shown through photographs, it is easy to mistake glass for other material, such as lapis lazuli and Egyptian faience. I selected examples showing all three types of these materials so that in a future Omeka exhibit and can use these collection items to make comparisons. Not only is Egyptian glass, faience, and lapis lazuli beautiful, it also has scholarly significance. The study of Egyptian glass, because of its rarity and connection to items of high-status, is of interest to scholars who look at the trade relations between Egypt and its neighbors. Glass found outside of Egypt, but of Egyptian composition, would indicate that Egypt traded this luxury item. So far as I know, this has not yet been found.
Omeka is user-friendly and it offers many different field options to accommodate different types of collections. All of my items are physical objects housed in a handful of different museums, but the Omeka platform can be used for archival or media items, as well. Like WordPress, Omeka is customize-able with plug-ins and other pages.
Public historians and digital historians are concerned about accessibility and they spend a great deal of time discussing ways to make history more available. This platform is an excellent solution to this issue, one that is even a viable option for museums with small budgets. Museums can use Omeka to put their collections online and searchable. With the addition of a free plug-in, Omeka can be compliant with Zotero, a useful program for researchers. Between Omeka’s search-ability and Zotero-accessibility, this platform is an effective and useful tool for researchers looking for primary sources.
Like I mentioned earlier Omeka is also used to create exhibits, so stay tuned!