The Chatsworth Head, Ancient Greece, 470 BC-460 BC
“The statue was found complete by peasants in 1836 in the bed of the Pediaeos river north of the village of Politiko (ancient Tamassos) in central Cyprus. The findspot was later revealed by excavation to have been a very important sanctuary dedicated to Apollo. According to the account of the finders preserved in Ludwig Ross’s account of his visit to Cyprus in 1845, the statue was naked, with the exception of a wide belt, with the left foot extending forward. The arms, legs and head were cast separately from the body, indicated by the fact thay they broke off as the statue was dragged away from the site.The existence of the belt suggests a more archaic form for the body than the head, whose closest parallels lie in the Severe Style of Greek sculpture in the second quarter of the 5th century BC.
The staue was broken up and sold for scrap bronze for a very low price, with the exception of the head which came into the possession of an English collector and dealer who later sold it on to the Duke of Devonshire. Cornelius Vermeule suggests the statue was a cult image similar to that from the temple of Apollo at Miletos and furnishes the origin with arrows or a phiale in one hand and a bow in the other, though this is not certain as cult statues of this kind are very rare on Cyprus”
The British Museum
12:34 pm • 31 July 2012 • 119 notes
July 15, 1799: The Rosetta Stone is discovered.
The discoverer was a young French officer, a member of Napoleon’s expeditionary army named Pierre-François Bouchard, who had been working on an engineering project near port city of Rashid (or Rosette, as it came to be known by the French). Realizing the significance of the discovery, Bouchard and his commanding officer passed the artifact along to higher-ups. Their instincts paid off: the stone was inscribed with one message, but in three different scripts - hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek (all of which were used in Ptolemaic Egypt).
The stone was an invaluable stepping-stone for scholars; for centuries, they had been befuddled by the seemingly indecipherable hieroglyphic script, the use of which had effectively ended by the fourth century AD. The Greek text was translated within five years of the stone’s discovery, but the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were not fully deciphered until 1822 (achieved largely through the work of two scholars, one French and one English - Jean-François Champollion and Thomas Young). The publication of Description de l’Égypte, a collaborative effort of the savants who accompanied Napoleon’s expedition, along with the discovery and translation of the Rosetta Stone, renewed European interest in Egypt and gave rise to the modern field of Egyptology. Possession of the stone was turned over the the British soon after its discovery, and it has remained on public display at the British Museum since 1802.
4:30 pm • 15 July 2012 • 331 notes
Two ancient sites to get a boost
The organization in charge of an ambitious plan to overhaul the Greek capital’s image as an archaeological destination has offered its expertise to help promote the archaeological site of Knossos on Crete.
The Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens said on Friday that it will be coordinating an international competition for zoning proposals on how best to open up the entire site of the Bronze Age center of the Minoan civilization to visitors, who are currently restricted mainly to the palace complex and are unable to see other antiquities on the site.
“The archaeological site of Knossos is the second most visited site in Greece” with an average of 1 million visitors a year, said UASA president Dora Galani. “It is extremely rich in findings and is spread over a large expanse, characteristics that have not been fully maximized as tourists only visit the palace complex. At a short distance from the palace though, there are a lot of interesting monuments, which most people are ignorant of.” Read more.
3:10 am • 15 July 2012 • 16 notes
Gypsum alabaster relief of a lamassu at the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, guarding the gateway at Kalhu. Nimrud, Iraq.
3:55 pm • 8 June 2012 • 39 notes
In south-west Alberta, the remains of marked trails and an aboriginal camp, and a tumulus where vast quantities of buffalo (American Bison) skeletons can still be found, are evidence of a custom practised by aboriginal peoples of the North American plains for nearly 6,000 years. Using their excellent knowledge of the topography and of buffalo behaviour, they killed their prey by chasing them over a precipice; the carcasses were later carved up in the camp below.
To start the hunt, ‘buffalo runners’, young men trained in animal behaviour, would entice the herd to follow them by imitating the bleating of a lost calf. As the buffalo moved closer to the drive lanes (long lines of stone cairns were built to help the hunters direct the buffalo to the cliff kill site), the hunters would circle behind and upwind of the herd and scare the animals by shouting and waving robes. As the buffalo stampeded towards the edge of the cliff, the animals in front would try to stop but the sheer weight of the herd pressing from behind would force the buffalo over the cliff.
9:26 pm • 4 June 2012 • 18 notes
Located within the deep tropical rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico, the ancient Maya site of Bonampak is home to the most complete and important mural program of the ancient Americas.
These three murals first came to modern attention in 1946, when Lacandon Maya who lived in the region showed photographer Giles Healey (Yale ’24) what they had not previously shown to any outsider: a small temple whose three rooms house paintings that cover all surfaces. Painted around A.D. 800, these three rooms of paintings reveal, in astonishing detail, the ancient Maya at the end of their splendor, engaging in court rituals and human sacrifice, wearing elegant costumes and stripping the clothing from fallen captives, acknowledging foreign nobles and receiving abundant tribute. No other surviving work features so many Maya engaged in the life of the court, whether second-tier warriors presenting captives to the king or the king’s mother pushed to the side by her imperious daughter-in-law. Costumes, musical instruments, and the weapons of war are all rendered with great detail, making Bonampak an unparalleled resource for understanding ancient society.
9:07 pm • 4 June 2012 • 30 notes
Archaeological News: Book of Nehemiah Found Among the Dead Sea Scrolls
The celebrated Dead Sea Scrolls, first discovered in 1948 in the caves adjacent to the ancient site of Khirbet Qumran near the Dead Sea, are known to represent the earliest known texts of almost every book of the Hebrew Bible, except for two — the Book of Esther and the Book of Nehemiah. Now,…
6:20 pm • 25 May 2012 • 61 notes
A Goddess or Deified Queen
1:19 am • 25 May 2012 • 16 notes
Gnawed Roman skeleton that inspired Sylvia Plath poem goes on display
The skeleton of a Roman woman and the bones of the mouse and shrew that gnawed her ankle in her coffin, inspiring one of Sylvia Plath’s most haunting poems, have gone on display.
Plath saw the massive stone sarcophagus and its contents soon after it was excavated in the 1950s, when she was a student at Cambridge.
Staff at the university’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropologymounted the rodent bones on a piece of card – also on display again – and showed them in the coffin alongside the remains of the middle-aged woman, which is grimacing as if in pain.
The viewing prompted Plath’s 1957 poem All the Dead Dears, in which she describes “this antique museum-cased lady” and the “gimcrack” bones of the rodents “that battened for a day on her ankle-bone”, and fears that the “barnacle dead”, strangers or members of her family will drag her down and suck her life away. Six years later, the poet killed herself.
The sarcophagus, with its inner lead coffin, was one of a group of high-status burials discovered by chance by builders clearing land for a housing estate at Arbury, on the outskirts of Cambridge.
10:42 am • 24 May 2012 • 161 notes