Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ancient Color

Remember how I kept going on and on and on (and on) about how Greek architecture and sculpture were originally painted? Remember that whole discussion about how our viewing experience of Greek art is completely different than that of the ancient Greeks?

Well, look what I found! A German museum has painted interpretations of several Greek statues (this is just one of their many projects) using UV analysis of traces of paint still clinging to the surface of the marble.

Please read more about this project here.

I realize this is in German, but here you can find more images of several of their projects.

And, go here to see some amazing color! (you really MUST go here)

Click around, see what you can find!

And, if you ever get to Philadelphia, check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These sculptures were installed in the pediment in 1932, and relflect the 'theory' that buildings and sculpture in ancient Greece were brightly and lavishly painted.

Comments for this post are due by Monday 10/8.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Just do it.

"Nike continues to serve as a symbol of victory, although in a more subtle and generally unrecognized sense. The shoe company Nike chose that name in order to associate themselves with the idea of victory in athletics and the famous swoosh of their logo is supposed to represent Nike's wings. In many ways Nike also celebrates the victory of beauty and perfection because of the high quality of some of the statues of Nike which have been found." source

My ad!

Comments for this post are due by Monday October 1st.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Greek myths

Artemis (aka Diana) and Actaeon

Artemis (my cat): goddess of the hunt and protector of children; a very free-spirited goddess. source

The story goes that one day, as Artemis bathed in a stream, a young hunter named Actaeon saw her and stared at her in awe. She was quite beautiful...possibly the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. This voyeurism got Actaeon in trouble, however. Artemis spotted Actaeon and turned him into a stag so that he would never tell anyone what he had just seen. Poor Actaeon...upon being turned into a stag, his 50 hunting hounds attacked and killed him.

Who is your favorite character in Greek mythology? Do you have a favorite myth? Tell me about who or what that would be and why.

Comments for the post are due by Monday 10/1.

Friday, September 21, 2007

It is my birthday...

So this guy has to wear a party hat:

Finial of a Grave stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl. In the form of a sphinx, ca. 530 B.C. (click here for hatless image)

NOTE: We have been given a new classroom! Starting Monday we will meet in GH 195. This will be posted by our classroom door as well.

Comments for this post are due by Monday 9/24.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Akhenaten, the “heretic” king

In class today we began discussing Akhenaten and his family, his religion, and the artwork that depicts him (many of you noted the “alien-like” features of the pharaoh and his family).
King Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti ("The Wilbour Plaque"). Egypt, purchased near Amarna by Charles Edwin Wilbour in 1890. New Kingdom, late Dynasty 18, latter part of the reign of Akhenaten (circa 1352–1336 b.c.) or slightly later. Limestone

Many modern day viewers of these images are quite fascinated with the way Akhenaten is portrayed, which has led to the pharaoh being referred to as the 'first individual in human history'.

At the time, the way that Akhenaten and his family were depicted was strikingly different than anything created in Egypt. Even today we are shocked by the bodies of these individuals, at how the pharaoh and his family are shown participating in everyday activities, and at how they are often shown displaying affection towards one another. In addition, Nefertiti appears next to Akhenaten in a large number of the surviving works, hinting at her role in both the family and the government. These new conventions in art were scandalous. Gone were the rigid forms and stylization, perfect bodies, and strict organization of space. Instead, we see overlapping, crowded spaces, and interaction between forms.

Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their children

“Early in his reign Akhenaten used art as a way of emphasising his intention of doing things very differently. Colossi and wall-reliefs from the Karnak Aten Temple are highly exaggerated and almost grotesque when viewed in the context of the formality and restraint which had characterised Egyptian royal and elite art for the millennium preceding Akhenaten's birth. Although these seem striking and strangely beautiful today, it is hard for us to appreciate the profoundly shocking effect that such representations must have had on the senses of those who first viewed them and who would never have been exposed to anything other than traditional Egyptian art.” Source

In addition to the changes in art and religion, Akhenaten also changed the way in which temples and buildings were constructed (use of smaller blocks and mortar) and the use of old fashioned inscriptions often used inside temples (now more modern).
Akhenaten himself is often described as a “philosopher” of sorts. He left behind vast amounts of written documents outlining his beliefs and his reasoning for the move to a new capital called Akhetaten (el-Armarna). Importantly, because this city was occupied for such a short time, archeologists have been able to find vast amounts of information concerning how ancient Egyptians actually lived.

The Armana Letters, 382 known tablets found at the site of the official records office of the pharaoh.

When he died, a co-regent named Smenkhkare (who was possibly Nefertiti) ruled for a short time with a child who went by the name Tutankhamun (originally Tutankhaten). It is during this time that Akhetaten was abandoned and the old gods were restored. Akhenaten’s name was erased from the temples and statues, as the Egyptians tried to forget about this period in their recent history.

One of many questions that could be asked: Is Akhenaten a “hero” or a “villain”? (He is often referred to as one or the other)

Be sure to back up your answer with research.

Comments due by Monday 9-24.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Who is Horus?

The God Horus Protecting King Nectanebo II, 360–343 B.C.E.; Dynasty 30, reign of Nectanebo II; late periodEgyptianGreywacke; H. 28 in. (71.1 cm), W. 8 in. (20.3 cm), D. 18 in. (45.7 cm)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Robbing the cradle (of civilization).

Today in class you saw a few images of important sites in Mesopotamia, particularly examples of architecture in present day Iraq. This entire area is of extreme archeological and historical importance; it has more than 10,000 archeological sites to date. There are estimates by archeologists that another half million sites are still there waiting to be found.

The ziggurats I showed in class today are examples that barely scratch the surface of the important sites found in Iraq. For example, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and possible Garden of Eden), Nimrud, the Arch of Ctesiphon (the largest arch in the ancient world), Tall Harmal, and Nippur to name just a few. Drawing of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Cuneiform tablets are still being found around the region, with many of the tablets previously discovered still not translated. These tablets offer incredible insight into the daily lives of ancient people; they cover everything from various types of transactions to food growing and preparation tips.

Iraq is sometimes referred to as the “cradle of civilization” because urbanization, organized religion, imperialism, the first written language, the first major work of literature (The Epic of Gilgamesh), and many inventions such as the wheel and the plow were developed in this area.

History in peril?

“As a famous general once said, 'war is hell' and if it's staged in Iraq — the land where advanced cultures first flourished — archaeologists fear it could also wreak havoc on history.” Source

There have been many stories in the news about the consequences of the war in Iraq, including Halliburton “destroying” Babylon and the looting of various sites in the area. While there is plenty of blame to go around—such as American troops destroying part of a the ziggurat at Ur (and possibly looting it), Iraqi’s looting sites and selling artifacts on the black market, the almost total destruction of Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad by looters, and the collateral damage being done to architecture by the many explosion in the region—steps are now being taken by both sides to prevent further destruction.

I do not want anyone playing the blame game with this post, but I would ask you the following:

Has the area had a history of war/looting or is this a new problem?

Why are these sites important to us today?

What can be done to save or at least fully document these sites before they are desecrated?

What has already been damaged or lost in this region?

Is it important to YOU that these places get the protection archeologists think they need?

There is a ton of information online about this topic, show me what you can find!

Comments for this post are due Monday 9/17/07.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Personal Ornaments

Series of deer teeth incised with geometric signs from the burial discovered in Saint Germain-la-Riviere (Gironde), France.

Double strand of basally incised wallaby teeth on the cranium of a 4,000 year old male burial Roonka, South Australia.

Monday, September 3, 2007

(innate) Creativity in Humans

Remember a few days ago when I asked all of you what you thought creativity was and why it was important? Well, I'd like all of you to watch this short (20 is worth it)video of a presentation by Sir Ken Robinson all about the importance of creativity.
Then, think about your own experiences with "creativity", and tell me what you think about this topic.