8.30.2011

The Museum in Tripoli

Letter from Tripoli / Luke Harding | Comment is free | The Guardian

Contrary to silly Russian claims yesterday, it's safe and has been guarded by the rebels - and no NATO bombs have been dropped anywhere near it

8.27.2011

AFP: Zeus and Hera leave Acropolis for safe-keeping: official

AFP: Zeus and Hera leave Acropolis for safe-keeping: official

This is one of a few original metopes which had been left on the Parthenon - the remaining ones will be removed soon.

The 1810 Cookbook

I wrote a foreword, so obviously I recommend The 1810 Cookbook:
"a cookbook of 155 recipes and remedies compiled by Jane Winnington-Ingram from 1810 onwards and published, 201 years later, by her great-great-great-grand-daughter Verity Walker"
It's fascinating mixture of recipes from curries to face-creams to cholera cures - and whilst most old cook books are just lists of ingredients, this one gives measurements and instructions, which was very unusual. I love the way it was handed down from mother to daughter.

Opinionated About ... ?

If you're opinionated about food, please think about taking part in the dining survery ..

Opinionated About

Caerleon Dig

"#findoftheday Really nice Intaglio from Trench 3 - showing a ... on Twitpic: Really nice Intaglio from Trench 3 - showing a Capricorn, and we think an eagle and a fish!!"

8.26.2011

Gaddafi villa pool statues ...

Apparently there were a dozen of these around a pool in the Gaddafi compound, which the rebels smashed once they'd taken it. The various Ben Ali relatives in Tunisia had Roman garden statuary, but this piece ... The head is not ancient for sure, nor are the hands, but the body might be (I can't tell from the photo on my tiny Blackberry screen).
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2030233/Gaddafi-playboy-luxury-Seafront-villas-booze-jet-skis-hot-tubs-steel-doors.html

8.22.2011

Poachers and Gamekeepers ...

I get slightly fed up sometimes of the obsessive propaganda of a couple of so-called archaeologists / cultural property bloggers.

They flipped when I pointed out that their hero Donny George had a mixed history as a 'saviour' of cultural property. He did a great job trying to get looted Iraqi items returned, but let's not forget that was it under his watch that Baghdad Museum was looted on three separate occasions both before and after the American forces arrived in the city. He was also the man in charge of looting the museums and collections of Kuwait under Saddam Hussein.

I also mentioned that Michel van Rijn might be adored by those same bloggers because van Rijn claims to be a crusader against looting - but ... actually has a rather murky past, and his web site had some outlandish claims. Attempts by courts to force it to close because of libel failed, as he simply moved it to another server. He was arrested in January 2005 in Switzerland "for alleged blackmail". Although van Rijn no longer has a web site, he is still dipping his fingers in looting issues. A few journalists and law enforcement personnel have said he claims to have proof X or Y looted the Sevso Treasure / Baghdad Museum / insert other ... and that one academic or another gave him the proof.

So it's nice to see that
Illicit Cultural Property: Did Marion True Ever Catch a Looter or Dealer?

Michel van Rijn was convicted of forgery (he was responsible for the 'Avar Treasure') and very much involved in smuggling Byzantine mosaics out of Cyprus - see the court case here. To top it all, points out that Marion True, the bête noire of those opposed to collecting, helped get the Kanakaria mosaics returned to Cyprus ...

8.21.2011

The sanctuary of Hecate at Lagina

Lagina is an interesting Carian site. It had a Hellenistic temple with a 'short' plan like the ones at Labraunda and Priene, which shows it was an old Carian religious site probably with a Hecatomnid temple. The altar of Hecate in front of her temple was found a long time ago, and now archaeologists have announced they've found the monumental house of her priests, which at some point according to inscriptions on the walls, was inhabited by the high priest named Menestes:

A house unearthed in ancient city of Turkey's Mugla | General | World Bulletin
(the date is a typo in the English story, they mean 2,200 years old)


Archaeologists also found this little bronze depiction of Hecate at Lagina, the first found at the site. Although we tend to associate the many "breasts" with Artemis at Ephesus, it was also a feature of many Carian deities such as Zeus of Labraunda - and clearly Hecate of Lagina.

The breasted Artemis may have evolved out of the goddess assimilating local cults with this feature, as a syncretism, and there was certainly a cult of Hecate within the sanctuary of Artemis of Ephesus (Strabo Geographia 14.1.23). The heavy rope around the neck of the Artemis Ephesia, mentioned in ancient sources (see Eustathius etc JSTOR) and depicted on her statues, is also visible on this miniature Hecate. According to several ancient accounts Ephesus was founded by Carians (Pausanias 7.2.7;)

For new statue see: Ay Tanrı�ası bulundu - Arkeoloji- ntvmsnbc.com

Ancient theatre discovered in Turkey's Bodrum | General | World Bulletin

Ancient theatre discovered in Turkey's Bodrum | General | World Bulletin:
Archeologists in Bodrum town of south-western province of Mugla have discovered an ancient theatre that was constructed in 400 B.C.

Myndos is a few miles outside Halicarnassus

8.20.2011

The Artemisia Orans Type

Although I could not see an example of it in the images I have of the Tomb of Hecatomnus at Mylasa, on other Hecatomnid monuments the women are often depicted in the orans or orant  pose, at prayer. I've been trying to gather some of the later copies in an attempt to reconstruct the figures of Hecatomnid women that stood between the columns on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

The most famous example is the colossal figure which stood between the columns on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and which is identified as its builder Artemisia II of Caria:


The Mourning Women Sarcophagus from Sidon copied, in my opinion, the figures of women which stood between the columns on the Mausoleum. So it's not surprising that there is a figure on it which copied the Artemisia:


The type was also used for statues of Ada, as seen on this relief from Tegea which represents a statue of her:


We have a signed base from Delphi, showing that Satyros created portraits of the Hecatomnids, and the original should be assigned to him.

The term Mausoleum was used at first exclusively to describe the Heroon of Mausolus in Halicarnassus. The first time it was used in general to describe a large tomb was for the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome. It's interesting that Augustus' wife Livia was depicted praying as the Artemisia Orans type:


The statue, now in the Vatican, was the victim of some over-enthusiastic modern restorations after its discovery in 1778-9 in the so-called Basilica di Otricoli. The head type is the same as the Fayum Livia in Copenhagen from Arsinoe, and Livia as Ceres from Lepcis Magna, and believed by scholars to be the latest official portrait type of Livia from Augustus' lifetime. The Vatican statue would thus show Livia as priestess of the deified Augustus, honouring her husband just as Artemisia honoured hers by building the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus as his tomb. Just as Artemisia served her deified husband, so did Livia, taking her as the model for portraits - for example, this portrait from a Julio-Claudian group in Parma:




A statue with the same body but a modern head of Ulpia Marciana and restored arms is now in Berlin:


A body from Cherchel is identical, showing that this became a standard type for Livia, since it was found with a togatus believe to Augustus:



The orans pose, although not in the Artemisia type, is also seen on a statue of Octavia in Naples (source):


It may have been found on this statue of a priestess from the Macellum at Pompeii, now in Naples, which again was heavily restored but imitates the Artemisia type. She is variously identified as Agrippina or Alleia Nigidia Maia, a priestess of the Imperial cult (JSTOR):


Another statue, sometimes called 'Octavia' formerly in the Lateran. The statue, now in the Gregoriano, has a head unrelated to the body, and a slightly higher girdling:


The same Artemisia Orans is the prototype for a basalt Agrippina now in the Centrale Montemartini found on the Celian in Rome, in a cache with other sculptures of members of the imperial family that had been subject to damnatio memoriae. The head, now in Copenhagen (detail), ironically was re-cut from one of Messalina, who had earlier suffered damnatio memoriae. The image is believed to date from late in Nero's reign, and depict Agrippina as a priestess of the Divus Claudius, whose temple was on the hill. The body is broken into some 41 pieces, but the large number of surviving statues of Agrippina suggests that most images of her were removed and stored hidden away rather than destroyed:


A heavily restored porphyry staute in the Louvre seems to have once been a Hadrianic or Antonine empress. She is recored in 1638 as in the Villa Borghese in Rome:



A variant on the type was used to represent Vestal Virgins,


Although the Herculaneum Women as portrait types was more popular - with hundreds of surviving copies as opposed to mere dozens for the Artemisia Orans type - there is evidence that the Orans type was used in the Hellenistic period, for example this small terracotta from Pergamon:

These images, made in the century after the Hecatomnids are the best evidence for the Mausoleum, including an Attic grave relief of the 330s BC. The ca 300 BC Themis of Rhamnous signed by Chairestratos, below, has some similarities to the Artemisia type, the statue behind it is another variant on the draped female:


Much closer is a bronze empress from Sparta, who might be a Severan empress that suffered damnation memoriae:


Although there are degrees of variation in the statues that imitated the Artemisia type, several have a feature seen on the Mausoleum and in copies of the works of Mausoleum sculptors (for example the Serapis of Bryaxis): this is a fold in the drapery of the chiton below the clavicles. The variations in the Roman copies, like the variations on the Mourning Women Sarcophagus (below), perhaps indicate the variety of Hecatomnid women depicted between the columns of the Mausolem.



The Artemisia Type seems to have been used for priestesses, for example this one from the north of the temple of Apollo at Cyrene in the British Museum, formerly called Berenice II because of her corkscrew curls. The satue dates to AD 120-140 (source):

Another priestess, from Atrapaldo (Julio-Claudian after AD 20), shows how regularly the Artemisia-Livia Orans type was used for these women (source):

Recently a fragmentary statue from a Julio-Claudian imperial group at Cosa was published, of the Orans type (JSTOR):




Yet another Agrippina was found at Olympia, which like the Atrapaldo priestess covers her left breast with her palla. The statue was found in a later wall near the Heraion, and may have come from a group in the Metroon. It was signed: "Dionysios / (son of) Apollonios / an Athenian / made (this)" (inv. 133). What makes this statue particularly interesting is that the head is closest to the archaising snail-curls and the sacchos normally seen on Hecatomnid portraits:

This statue of "Livilla" from a Julio-Claudian group at Grosseto (now Museo Nazionale Archeologico delle Marche; source) shows yet another Orante figure, with a lowered palla over the left arm ... Whilst a statue in the Jamahiriya Museum in Tripoli shows clinging drapery and the palla raised over the shoulder ... This Poppea Sabina at Olympia is another variant with the raised palla ... And this "Julia" in the Vatican ...

Although one can divide the figures into those that imitate Artemisia closely, and into Orans A and Orans B ... the bottom line is that this was a very popular statue type, used for Julio-Claudian women, for priestess (particularly of the Imperial cult), and then again for second century empresses. So academic articles that claim only a couple of dozen replicas of the type are nonsense -  the type was more popular for depicitons of empresses than the Herculaeneum Women type. And I think the type originated with portraits of Hecatomnid women on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

Early Images of the Crucifixion

Early depictions of the Passion of Christ tended to omit the crucifixion, and there are very few representations of it in the Early Christian and Early Byzantine period. The Basque Crucifixion was shown to be a modern fake created by Basque separatists; who's represented in the Alexamenos Graffito will never be certain, nor can it be dated with much certainty; and the fresco in a tomb on the Esquiline pre-dates the Christian period by several centuries. Several graffiti from Pompeii mention crucifixion but as a Roman insult or punishment (source). Although the Romans used crucifixion regularly, again in pre-Christian art it was very rarely depicted. There are very few images of crucifixion, and not all can be linked to Jesus' crucifixion.

In Early Christian art they went out of their way not to depict it. So for example in the circa AD 400 century mosaic in the apse of Santa Pudenziana (here), a jewelled cross is shown at Golgotha, not the crucifixion. In fact, there is rather little evidence for the use of a cross as a symbol by Christians before the time of Constantine. On early Christian sarcophagi, such as the sarcophagus of Junius Bassus (dated by inscription to AD 359) or the Dogmatic Sarcophagus, scenes from The Passion were represented - just not the episode of the crucifixion.

The solution fond by the designer of the mid-4th century Passion Sarcophagus (Vatican, image) was to replace the crucifixion with the Chi-Rho:


This ivory plaque is one of four made to decorate a reliquary around AD 420 (The Maskell Ivories, British Museum). It's the earliest depiction of the crucifixion which depicts Jesus for certain, as indicated by the inscription on the titulus crucis: REX IUD[AEORUM]

This box was a probably a private commission, and not necessarily shown in public. It is interesting as it shows also the suicide of Judas and the centurion Longinus. Jesus is shown neither dead nor in pain, and this seems to be a key point of early iconography - Judas is dead, but Jesus is not.

The doors of Santa Sabina on the Aventine in Rome show one of the few public depictions of the crucifixion. The doors seem to be original to the church, which was constructed by Celestine I (AD 422-433) according to its inscription.


Like many early crucifixions, Jesus and the thieves are shown in the orans pose, their arms outstretched and palms up, a pose associated with prayer - the orans pose was not new to Christian iconography, but seems to originate in popularity with images of Artemisia II of Halicarnassus, which were in turn used as a type for depictions of Roman empresses. The figures are all shown 'standing' on the base of the panel, and the crosses are barely visible, so the fact that they were being crucified was not emphasised. This orans or orant pose is also described in sources as having been used in prayers, such as a letter describing the martyrdom of Blandina, as being a deliberate emulation of Jesus' pose on the cross.

There were no earlier images of the crucifixion to serves as examples, but Sheckler and Leith in their study of the Santa Sabina doors suggested as a prototype depictions of the Three Boys in the Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3). They give the example from the Catacombs of Priscilla, where several popes were buried, including Celestine who constructed Santa Sabina:


And it is also depicted on the Passion Sarcophagus mentioned above:


Although scholars like to create Darwinian evolutions of iconography, it's interesting to note that in the contemporary ivory and doors Jesus is shown with and without a beard. I also wanted to show that the orans pose was used to show deification, for example on this coin Domitian issued on the death of his infant son:


The next images of the crucifixion that survive are not until almost two centuries later. The inside of the lid of a 6th century box from the Sancta Sanctorum of St John Lateran that held relics from the Holy Land (now in the Museo Cristiano, Vatican):


Also from the Holy Land are a whole series of ampullae from the altar at Monza Cathedral and S. Colombano in Bobbio, given by Queen Theodelina of the Lombards in AD 603 and AD 613 respectively (Monza below):


On the vast majority of these Jesus is shown in a bust above a naked cross. There is a similar depiction for example in the 520s mosaic in S Stefano Rotondo in Rome, where two saints flank a cross symbolising the crucifixion, but the actual crucifixion is not depicted. The ampullae can be dated by the gift of Theodelina and by the fact that the Holy Sepulcher they depict was destroyed by Chosroes II in AD 614. The most common ampullae, such as this one of c AD 600 in Dumbarton Oaks, show the two thieves in the orans pose, flanking a cross above which is a bust of Jesus:


The inscription in Greek tells us what the little flask originally held: "Oil from the Wood of Life from the Holy Place of Christ" - the Wood of Life was the True Cross re-discovered by Helena, the mother of Constantine. A later ampulla found at Sant Pere de Casserres, Catalonia, shows the full crucifixion, but dates not before the 8th century (here).

The first preserved manuscript with a depiction of the crucifixion is in the Rabula Gospels, created in Syria in the 6th century - the Syriac text is signed by Rabula and dated AD 586 at the Monastery of St. John of Zagba.


What's interesting is that some scholars, such as Massimo Bernabo, now believe that the illustrations are earlier, and were taken from another Greek Gospel and inserted into the Rabula Gospels.

Egyptian monophysites tended to avoid depicting the crucifixion, but there is a Coptic magic papyrus of the 6th century with a sketch of the Crucifixion (British Library Oriental Manuscript 6796, image):


There are some other possible depictions of the crucifixion on small gems, but these are difficult to date, and seem to have been linked to the Nestorians - and so were seen as heretical by mainstream Christians. I'm going to start with the "Orpheos Bakkikos" seal which was lost during the war, but used to be in the Bode Museum in Berlin:


This shows a man crucified on a sort of anchor and is sometimes cited as 'proof' that Jesus was based on Orpheus - whether you believe Jesus was the son of God or not, he sprang from the Jewish religious milieu, and as I've pointed out repeatedly Orphism was a modern 19th century creation by scholars opposed to the power of the Vatican (here). Although conspiracy theorist like to show images of this hematite seal as proof of assorted theories, I don't know any serious scholar who does not believe it's a fake.

There are a number of magical amulets which, like the Coptic papyrus, show a crucified man, such as this bloodstone seal in the British Museum (inv MME 1986.05-01.1) allegedly found in Gaza, and possible made in the 2nd or 3rd century:



The problem with this amulet is that although the inscription says "Son, Father, Jesus Christ" it also has quite a few pagan terms on it and it seems to be a pagan exorcism object which happened to invoke anyone and everyone available, including Jesus ... rather like the Coptic Magic papyrus above, and the Jewish exorcist in Acts 19:13-17 ...

In short, the object was probably not made for or by a Christian. I discussed some evidence for the use of crucifixion nails in Jewish and Christian healing here, and there is also a spell found in the Cairo Geniza (here p. 183) ... and this was nothing new, as can be seen in Apuleius (3.17), Pliny (NH 28.6) and Lucian (Philops. 17). Jesus is invoked not as the Son of God but as a magician, something seem also in the text of a second century gold lamella which mentions assorted other pagan figures (left, Private Collection, London).

Another carnelian in the British Museum (inv MME 1895.11-13.1) is more clearly identified as Jesus by the inscription "Jesus Christ Son of God the Saviour" - it was found at Constantia in Romania, and is Christian, but probably made in Syria:



A second very similar gem from the Nott Collection is preserved in a cast at the DAI in Rome, "Jesus Christ":



Although the 12 figures flanking the crucifixion are generally described as Apostles, these were neither present at the Crucifixion nor numbered 12 after the suicide of Judas. Instead they might represent a procession of clergy, the bishops asserting their claim to temporal power because of the crucifixion and sacrifice of Jesus, which would suggest these seals were made for religious leaders. Some people would like to see these two seals as early, but they are probably 5th to 7th century (Mastrocinque)

A fourth gem seems to be later, but when it was created in the Byzantine period is far from certain, although bent knees are a late feature:



Although from Constantine onwards Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome, Christians for several centuries continued to avoid depicting 'bad' events from their history in their arts, whether it was the Crucifixion or the torture and martyrdom of their saints.

UPDATE - I got some of the images of the intaglios from a web site so wacky I didn't even want to link to it. I hadn't realised that they had in turn been scanned from Jeffrey Spier's brilliant study Late Antique and Early Christian Gems (Spatantike-Fruhes Christentum-Byzanz), or obviously I would have credited it. For those who are interested, and don't want an academic study, see also his contribution in the Kimbell's Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art (Kimbell Art Museum). I just threw this post together from images I'd been gathering for a while, but know little about, so I really recommend looking at Spier's work if you're interested in the subject as he's an excellent scholar and specialises in this area.

8.19.2011

Chinese Silk in the West ...

Since the silk road is named after the fabric, it seemed a good idea to look at textiles that travelled along it and may have survived.

Until the Byzantine period silk was it seems exclusively manufactured into fabric in China and exported to the West. Then the Byzantines and Sassanians became the main source of patterned silk to the West (eg the silks used for relics of saints).

Although there are numerous references to silk - describes as fabric like glass - in Biblical and Roman sources, there are very few pre-Byzantine excavated fragments. The earliest silks were found at Sapalli-Tepe in Bactria (modern Uzbekistan), wrapped around four skeletons in tombs dating circa 1500 - 1200 BC. These are the oldest silks found outside the borders of China.

The first fragment in the West was a small piece of weave found in the 1842 at Kertch (here), and which came from China. The tomb has items similar to ones found in Late Ptolemaic Egypt and into the Julio-Claudian emperors, so the fabric is seen as a first or second century import. Although there was a sea route for trade with China via India, this silk probably came overland to Scythia from the Steppes - and stayed there rather than being traded on further west.



There were some questions about whether or not the Kertch fragments were made in China, since the pattern was unlike anything else known from the country.

Then before the war two small fragments were found at Palmyra, in tombs dated by inscriptions as built in AD 83 and in AD 103. Palmyran tombs were used by families for generations, so the silks are dated to the second century:



Those pieces were thought to possibly have been woven locally, because there is some evidence for silk production in Syria before the Byzantine period. Then a more elaborate fragment was found at Palmyra with a pattern that was clearly Chinese (now in the Musee Guimet, Paris). It may be second or third century, and pre-dates the destruction of the city in AD 272 (minor scraps have also been founf at Dura Europos, which was destroyed in AD 256-7):


What's interesting is that some tombs at Noin-Ula in Mongolia were excavated with Han silk textiles from China, and other textiles with Western patterns. Although the date of the Sampul Tapestry found in NW China is possibly second century but of uncertain date, these tombs are very well dated by an inscription of 2 BC on a piece of laquerware.