Peeking into the past: Library hosts speaker series and rare artifacts

(PHOTOS/ Emma Daniel)

The artifacts will be in the library until Nov. 6. Many of the lectures are associated with one item.


Emma Daniel

News Editor

Rare historical documents and artifacts are currently on display in the Troy University Library, which also features a corresponding lecture series.

The Wisdom of the Ages of Athenaeum display comes from the Remnant Trust Collection at Texas Tech University, where the organization collects historically relevant items and loans them to institutions, giving people a “one-on-one” with history, according to Chris Shaffer, the dean of library services. 

The exhibit will display rare items and texts in the library for all to see until Nov. 3.

The oldest item is a 4,500-year-old Cuneiform Akkadian clay tablet, etched in an extinct Mesopotamian language. 

The exhibit features works from philosophers and writers of antiquity like Aristotle, Plato and Confucius.

A late 18th or 19th-century Qur’an and a 16th or 17th-century Torah are displayed, along with one of Martin Luther’s printed speeches.

“In many cases, you’re holding something that people maybe in England have never gotten to read before, not in their vernacular language,” Shaffer said.

One of the premier pieces is a copy of the Magna Carta from 1350.

“There are a lot of people who might never have the chance to see something like this,” Shaffer said. “I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve never seen a copy the Magna Carta.”

American works are also featured, with writing from Benjamin Franklin, a copy of the Federalist Papers and a New York Times print of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Writings from John Locke and Adam Smith also feature their handwritten signatures.

“I think it can stimulate students’ creativity to come and touch with the actual physical documents,” Shaffer said. “It can inspire interest when you didn’t know you had any.”

Eliza Thomas, a sophomore psychology major from Cullman, said she’s excited to see the artifacts and attend a few lectures.

“I think it’s awesome that Troy brought in such a unique display of artifacts,” she said. “It’s really incredible that the university brings in opportunities to educate students outside of the classroom and gives a taste of a variety of cultures and histories.”

Shaffer said these artifacts offer a peek into the past and illustrate the differences in culture.

“You’re looking at the power of time, as things become more scarce,” he said. “As they become scarce and rare, then they become more valuable, and they can also offer you insight into the culture that artifact represents.”

It took Shaffer two years to organize the speaker series and display, and there are more speakers set to be added to the list. 


  • Sept. 10, noon, “Plato’s The Republic,” Dr. Hal Fulmer, Wallace Hall Library;
  • Sept. 17, noon, “The Business of Babylon: Making and Keeping Clay Tablets from the Sumerians to the Assyrians,” Dr. Martin Olliff, Wallace Hall Library;
  • Sept. 24, 4 p.m., “Adam Smith,” Dr. James Otteson, 129 Bibb Graves Hall;
  • Oct. 3, noon, “Machiavelli,” Tom Horton, Wallace Hall Library;
  • Oct. 10, noon, “Magna Carta: Then and Now,” Dr. Joseph Kicklighter, Wallace Hall Library;
  • Oct. 23, noon, “The Quest for Truth in a Technological Age: The Evolving Dialogue Between Science and Religion,” John Cressler, Wallace Hall Library;
  • Oct. 30, 9 a.m., “The Emancipation Proclamation,” Dr. David Carlson, Wallace Hall Library;
  • Nov. 12, 4 p.m., “John Stuart Mill,” Professor Daniel Jacobson, 129 Bibb Graves Hall; and,
  • Nov. 19, noon, “The Gettysburg Address,” Dr. Hal Fulmer, Wallace Hall Library.


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