Tag Archives: archeology

Book of Kells.

7 Mar

book-of-kells-chi-rho-iota-resized-600

The Book of Kells is a manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. It symbolizes the power of learning, the impact of Christianity on the life of the country, and the spirit of artistic imagination. The decoration combines traditional Christian iconography with the swirling motifs typical for insular art, the art of the islands. Figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, together with Celtic knots and interlacing patterns in vibrant colours, enliven the pages. As many as ten different colors were used in the illuminations. Today, the manuscript, made with high-quality calfskin, comprises 680 individual pages and, since 1953, has been bound in four volumes and is kept in Dublin.

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Germanic wonder at Sutton Hoo.

5 Mar
The Cloisonné Shoulder Clasps

The Cloisonné Shoulder Clasps

Different from the Roman Culture, only few relics from the Germanic Culture were found. The accent of Germanic Culture laid mainly on ornamental arts and jewellery design. In Sutton Hoo, in the English county of Suffolk, 6th- and early 7th-century cemeteries were discovered. One of the cemeteries contained an undisturbed ship burial, excavated in 1939. It is one of the most magnificent archaeological finds in England for its completeness, the quality and beauty of its contents, and the profound interest of the burial ritual itself. The burial chamber included a suite of metalwork dress fittings in gold and gems, a ceremonial helmet, shield and sword and many pieces of silver plate from the Eastern Roman Empire. The gold and garnet ensemble found in the upper body space are among the true wonders of Sutton Hoo. Their artistic and technical quality is exceptional. The most significant artefacts from the ship-burial are displayed in the British Museum in London. They sheds light on a period of English history that is on the margin between myth, legend and historical documentation.

Roman Underground.

3 Mar

Bird and Fruit fresco

Frescos in Rome’s catacombs witness to a strong devotion to religion. These underground cemeteries, solely reserved for Christians, were decorated with paintings of great importance to understand the history of early Christianity. Still-lives and portraits at that time, inspired by Roman and Greek imagery, gained strongly in symbolism. For Christians the fruit symbolized abundance, the gift of God, while the bird could represent the Holy Spirit, the soul of the believer. The fish, Ictus, is the symbol of Christ. Ictus means fish but is also an acronym for Jesus, the Christ, Son of God, Savior. The Good Shepherd holding a lamb is another symbol of Christ carrying his faithful disciples. In 313, with emperor Constantine, Christianity was officially recognized. The citizens of Rome converted in mass crowds and the catacombs expanded greatly.

Pompeian Red.

1 Mar

Pompeian Fresco

This magnificent and well-preserved ancient Roman fresco from the villa of P. Fannio Sinistore in Boscoreale (Pompeii) makes remarkable use of perspective and colour. There are visual ambiguities to tease the eye and create illusion, including architectural details painted to resemble real ones, such as masonry, pillars and columns that cast shadows into the viewer’s space. Objects of daily life were presented in such a way as to seem real, with metal and glass vases on shelves or tables appearing to project out from the wall. These teasers reveal the owner’s pleasure in impressing guests at his comfortable summer retreat.

Fallen warrior.

27 Feb

Dying Gaul Hellenistic Greece

This statue shows a fallen warrior straining to support himself on one arm as blood gushes from a wound in his side. He represents a Gallic warrior with a typically Gallic hairstyle and moustache. He lies on his fallen shield while his sword and other objects lie beside him. Hellenistic sculptures, situated around 330 – 146 BC, where an absolute highlight because of their vividness and individuality. There is a clear appearance of anatomy and movement: the musculature is accentuated and the artists showed a great preference for complicated compositions. In essence we can talk about an extreme realism. The human being is no longer placed forward as an ideal image, but as a reality. Expressions of feelings and passions are no longer hidden. People are shown just as they are.

Aphrodite, nude for the first time.

26 Feb

Aphrodite Knidos Praxiteles Greece

Aphrodite is a goddess of great meaning in Greek mythology. She is the goddess of love, beauty, sexuality and fertility. Back in 390-330 BC the ‘Aphrodite of Cnidus’ by Praxiteles claims its position in ancient Greek art as the first monumental cult statue of a goddess to be represented completely nude. The popularity was expressed through an endless stream of imitations and replicas. It can be seen as the starting point of a new history in art, as this introduction of the monumental female nude occurred at least three centuries after the introduction of the monumental male nude statue. It is a history that sexually defines the represented woman by her complete nudity and, on that account, keeps her in a perpetual state of vulnerability.

Temple of colours.

25 Feb

paintings on Greek temple

For many of us, ancient Greece equals gleaming white marble temples and palaces. But in fact, temples and public buildings of the time exploded with colour. The finest of white marbles were whitewashed and painted. Three basic colours were used: white, blue and red, occasionally also black. Only the details or decorative elements were painted, while the columns were mostly kept white. Archaeologists and historians know about this tradition in ancient Greek architecture, yet little of this information makes its way to the public. One of the reasons is the public refusal to accept Greece (and Rome later on), as being abundantly colourful. The ‘pure white marble temple’ concept is so deeply ingrained in our minds, that when we hear about the colours, we soon tend to forget it.

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