Arizona State Museum Serves as Learning Lab for JUS Students

April 22, 2014

On a large campus like the University of Arizona, it’s important to take every opportunity to personalize one’s learning experience. With the resources available at the Arizona State Museum, students in Professor Beth Alpert Nakhai’s classes get to experience a hands-on dimension, illuminating what they read about in textbooks.Professor Nakhai takes several of her classes, including JUS 382, “Archaeology and the Bible”, to the ASM each semester. Nakhai appreciates the value of the ASM and enjoys sharing it with her students. “I like to get people into the Arizona State Museum just so they can see what an amazing treasure it is. Many students never make it here during their time on campus,” Nakhai said.Mike Jacobs, Archaeological Collections Curator, is instrumental in exposing students to artifacts owned by the University and educating them on museum curation. This semester, Jacobs showed Nakhai’s class a collection of artifacts from the Ancient Near East. Between 1915 and 1940, before the Arizona State Museum decided to focus its collection on the American Southwest, a number of artifacts were acquired, which are now out of the scope of their collections. This gives students studying the Ancient Near East a unique opportunity to view artifacts not even on display to the general public. “To have these artifacts for students of things like Anthropology, Classics, and Judaic Studies to see in person is a rare opportunity. A mold or scan of things like this just isn’t the same,” Jacobs said.On March 9, 2014, the students of JUS 382 were escorted into a small upstairs room in the Arizona State Museum to view a collection of artifacts that Jacobs had carefully displayed. Bronze pins from as early as the 19th century BCE, 2,000 year old glass vials for perfume and olive oil, cuneiform tablets, and a limestone carving are among the artifacts the students viewed. After a brief lecture by Jacobs, students were encouraged to mill about, looking at everything up close, and asking all kinds of questions. Jacobs even offered to handle any artifact that a student wanted to look at close-up.“In a huge state university like this, it’s incredible to have people like Mike (Jacobs), who will take hours out of his day to talk with a small group of students, allowing them to see these artifacts up close. It really makes for a special experience,” Professor Nakhai said.The Arizona State Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM-5 PM, and admission is free for students. For more information, visit