About Abaset Collections

How Abaset Collections came to be
The evolution of Abaset Collections was a very natural one. Director Sam Powell, as an Egyptology student researching objects, and as a volunteer at the Egypt Centre, Swansea University, working with their physical collection, was frustrated at the limitations of the online catalogues used by museums. Most notably, when researching ancient Egyptian wooden funerary figures (the subject of both her MA and PhD), she found inconsistencies in terminology and spellings which made a comprehensive search for a specific object type impossible. In addition, this particular object type was rarely photographed, and often overlooked entirely by online catalogues due to their fragmentary nature. Sam was inspired by this experience to create a software solution with an ‘object-first’ approach, which would meet the needs of end users like herself.

Using her experience of working with the collection and in close collaboration with museum staff at the Egypt Centre, Swansea University, Sam designed a bespoke new platform that would allow the collection to be appreciated virtually, and include every single object, down to the last bead! Given the additional capabilities of the software, the term ‘online collection’ is used rather than ‘online catalogue’.

Through an understanding of the material providing the dataset, the software is fine-tuned in order to meet the evolving needs of the institutions and research projects that Abaset collaborates with, such as the inclusion of Unicode to allow transliterations of ancient texts to be included, audio and video content for ease of accessibility, and an intuitive search bar to anticipate the data that the user may be looking for. The inclusion of as many “drop down” options rather than free-text for data entry ensure continuity and cohesion when searching.

As a result of this experience, Sam realised that this approach to software, and the involvement of a developer with an understanding of the dataset really makes a difference to the accessibility of an online collection… and so Abaset Collections was born!

And why is it called Abaset?
Abaset is a little-known ancient Egyptian goddess, who is depicted with a hedgehog on her head. In the chaotic hunting scenes shown on Predynastic ceremonial palettes, a hedgehog is often including trotting along, determined to catch an insect despite the melee surrounding it; that is the aim for the Abaset Collections software – to carry on and function as required in spite of the chaos surrounding it!