RAMM’s research collection allows the museum’s curators to highlight research opportunities from the collections. Putting collections information online also means researchers can discover objects of interest. Recently, an enquiry from an MA researcher led to RAMM gaining new information about an object.

The object

RAMM received an enquiry about the dimensions of a small red figure ware wine jug called an oinochoe or chous. Mr Winslow Jones donated it to RAMM in 1874 but there is no information about where he collected it from.

The researcher

Emma Gooch was carrying out dissertation research as part of her MA in Archaeology at Newcastle University. Her research interests are in the archaeology of the Classical World and especially in iconography. She considered mosaic imagery in her undergraduate dissertation and researched scenes of childhood on red-figure Athenian pottery for her Master’s dissertation. She found RAMM’s oinochoe on Collections Explorer and quickly realised its significance.

New information

Emma identified only 57 of this type of oinochoe in museum collections in the UK. RAMM’s example is also unpublished. It could only be included in her research because of Collections Explorer. The oinochoe is also interesting because it had quite a narrow chronological distribution – it is one of the most popular types of oinochoe in the late 5th and earlier 4th centuries but very uncommon beyond that time frame.

There are other oinochoe in worldwide collections. Not much is known about their function, besides being drinking vessels used in the Anthesteria festival. Her research interpreted the iconography represented on the vessels: on smaller examples such as the one in the RAMM collection this is dominated by depictions of children. Emma’s research explores the possibility that the vessels were used more widely than previously thought, including as grave goods, toys and day-to-day drinking vessels.

The new information has been added to the object’s record on RAMM’s database. This example shows how important it is to make collections information available online so it can be discovered by researchers.