The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard University) is contributing more than 95,000 additional images of objects from their permanent collection to Artstor, bringing the total selection to approximately 143,000. The collection and its representation in Artstor, featuring African, Native North American, Pre-Columbian, European, Oceanic, and Asian cultures is virtually encyclopedic. The current contribution further enhances a rich selection.
A sampling of a single artifact — the mask — across time and place illustrates the scope of the collection: from an Aztec stone effigy c. 1500 to its Panamanian ceramic counterpart, a Tlingit copper version of the mid 1800s, and a Mohawk corn husk Spirit image worn in ritual dances. Likewise, the juxtaposition of similar objects underscores the aesthetic and spiritual differences between cultures: a Communication Artifact (a wooden bird) from Rwanda and a Pre-Columbian Gold bird-shaped ornament from Chiriqui, Panama. Nonetheless, form, function, and even materials appear to be all but replicated in two versions of a beaded collar, objects that are geographically and culturally disparate, one from the Masai in Kenya and the other from the Mojave of California.