On the 19th November 1921, the Palestine scholar Gustaf Dalman (1855–1941) filled a glass bottle with salt water from the Dead Sea. He noted the date and location on the label of the 16.5 cm-tall, brown apothecary bottle. Dalman’s water bottle was now prepared for travel in its own climate-controlled environment. The bottle can now be transported safely to Chemnitz, where it will be on display together with two historical photographs in the exhibition “Life on the Shores of the Dead Sea” at the State Museum of Archaeology (smac) from 27 September 2019 to 29 March 2020.
The exhibits will then be displayed in the LWL-Museum in der Kaiserpfalz Paderborn from May to October 2020. They will return to Greifswald in autumn 2020.
The bottle and its contents are witnesses of Dalman’s aim to document an overall picture of Palestine’s cultural landscape as experienced and researched by him at the beginning of the 20th Century. He even brought a little bit of the Dead Sea back to Greifswald. “Dalman’s water bottle and its contents have now been preserved in their original state for almost 100 years. As far as we are aware, this is the only example of its kind in Germany,” reports Dr. Karin Berkemann, curator of the Dalman Collection in Greifswald. “We know from literature that several water samples were taken from the Dead Sea around this time, but these were then mainly used by scientists to analyse their composition.
Dalman sealed the 16.5 cm-tall water bottle with a cork. Later on, a small cloth was wrapped around the seal for protection. Nevertheless, over the years small amounts of the sample have leaked. This is shown by salt marks on the top of the bottle. Following expert consultation with smac and the University of Greifswald’s Kustodie (University Collections), the bottle has now been preserved in a bell jar, providing a climate-controlled environment. On its journey to Chemnitz and later to Paderborn, the bottle will be transported in a specially designed climate-controlled box. The head of the Restoration Workshop at the State Office of Archaeology Sachsen, Franziska Frenzel-Leitermann, carefully packed the exhibit on 6 August 2019 before travelling with it to Chemnitz. It will be on display there until March 2020 together with two historical photographs from the collection held by the Gustaf Dalman Institute.
The University of Greifswald’s Faculty of Theology houses a collection that is unique to Europe. The Dalman Collection contains rock and plant samples, household utensils and agricultural tools, ceramics, small archaeological finds, maps, contour maps, around 20,000 historical photographs and a library with around 5,000 volumes – including some rare 16th Century prints. The theologian Dalman assembled all kinds of objects that are of interest to ethnologists, archaeologists, geographers, theologians, botanists and mineralogists to create a comprehensive overview. Scientists from all over the world now profit from his collection.
Gustaf Dalman Institute in Greifswald https://theologie.uni-greifswald.de/en/institutes/gustaf-dalman-institute/gdi/
smac – State Museum of Archaeology Chemnitz https://www.smac.sachsen.de/en/index.html#1
Landesverband Westfalen-Lippe/LWL-Museum in der Kaiserpfalz [de] (Paderborn) https://www.kaiserpfalz-paderborn.de/de/
Dalman’s sample of water from the Dead Sea is carefully placed in a climate-controlled transportation box. – Photo: Magnus Schult
Gustaf Dalman on 19 November 1921 – the day on which Greifswald’s water bottle was filled – on the shores of the Dead Sea. – Photo: Dr. Franz Stoedtner Publishing House, Berlin, Copyright: Gustaf Dalman Institute
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Contact at the University of Greifswald
Curator Dr. Karin Berkemann
Gustaf Dalman Institute | Faculty of Theology
Am Rubenowplatz 2/3, 17489 Greifswald, Germany
Tel.: +49 3834 420 2517
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