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THE MURALS OF DATONG

This interests me for purely archaeological, cultural, and historical reasons, but it also goes to show that in gaming and in writing fiction, authors and creators (and modern people in general) often overlook the near ubiquitous artwork and coloring that often existed in many Medieval and certainly a great many Ancient urban centers.

The answer seems self-evident to me if you think on it awhile. Lacking things like cinema and film and television, etc. then what would be your source of visual and imaginary stimulation in a world devoid of such things? Indeed, what would be your method of advertising your skill and craft and wealth compared to that of a neighbor or competitor? How would you communicate with foreigners? How would you establish yourself even after death?

Art work.

Impressed everywhere you could impress it as strikingly colorful and vibrant as you could make it.

I don’t think our ancestors were less impressed with visual imagery than we are, I think they were likely more conscious of it because they had less of an opportunity to render it in motion and in a way that was seemingly active and alive. They had to do so not “in the air” (images transmitted by carrier waves) but by time and by place as “solid images,” fixed by time and place. Art then was not shifting energy, but actual craft, and anything that called attention to that craft would have been a vital element of that craft. Color, skill, literary allusion or merit, design, complexity of composition, etc.

So they looked for every opportunity to do so that leisure or condition allowed.

This is why the Ancient world (especially) and any sufficiently advanced corner of the Medieval world looked as it did.

Writers, poets, game developers (even historians and non-fiction writers) would do well to note that in their own works. It would add real depth to their efforts…

Ancient Tomb Decorated with Vibrant Murals Found in China

Ancient Tomb Decorated with Vibrant Murals Found in China

The tomb’s entranceway is located on the south wall of the tomb. It was blocked off with bricks 1,000 years ago. Images of two servants can be seen flanking the entrance.

Credit: Courtesy of Chinese Cultural Relics

A 1,000-year-old circular tomb, whose walls are decorated with colorful murals, has been discovered in Datong City, in northern China.

Because the tomb’s entranceway is sealed off with bricks, archaeologists had to enter through a hole in the deteriorating arch-shaped roof.

The team, from the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology, found cremated human remains in an urn in the middle of the tomb. No texts were found in the tomb, but the archaeologists believe that the tomb likely belonged to a husband and wife. [See Photos of the Circular Tomb and Colorful Murals]

The murals on the walls show servants, cranes and numerous articles of clothing that hang on several stands, their colors still vibrant despite the passage of a millennia.

Colorful clothing abounds on the tomb’s murals. One clothes stand, painted on a mural on the west wall, has “sky blue, beige, bluish-gray, yellowish-brown and pink clothes,” wrote the archaeological team in a paper published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics. “The garment to the far right has a green-diamond grid pattern, each diamond of which has a small red decorative flower in it,” wrote the archaeologists, noting that another article of clothing has what appears to be a jade ring that “hangs at the waist.”

 

The murals on the west wall of the 1,000-year-old tomb depict articles of clothing as well as two servants.
The murals on the west wall of the 1,000-year-old tomb depict articles of clothing as well as two servants.

Credit: Courtesy of Chinese Cultural Relics

Additionally, the mural shows that “in front of the clothes stand there is a long rectangular table, on which are placed four round plates, black on the outside and red inside, holding, respectively, a headdress, bracelets, hairpins and combs,” the archaeologists wrote.

 

On the east wall of the tomb the mural shows another clothes stand. “On the stand hang beige, light green, bluish-gray, pink and brown clothes,” the archaeologists wrote. “On one of the garments hangs a ring-shaped pei pendant accompanied by a string of black beads.” Pei is a word that can mean “matching” or “accompanying” in English.

The team believes that the tomb likely dates to the Liao Dynasty (A.D. 907–1125). Historical records indicate that this dynasty, controlled by the Khitan, flourished in northern China, Mongolia and parts of Russia.

At that time, people in northern China were sometimes buried in tombs decorated with murals. In 2014, Live Science reportedon the discovery of another tomb containing murals, which was found decorated with images of stars as well as numerous animals, including a crane, deer, yellow turtle and even a cat playingwith a silk ball. That tomb was also excavated by a team from the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology.

Archaeologists believe that both mural-decorated tombs will help shed light on  those who lived during the Liao Dynasty.

The tomb with the murals showing colorful clothing was excavated by the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology team in 2007. The team published a report on the tomb in 2015, in Chinese, in the journal Wenwu. That report was translated into English for publication in Chinese Cultural Relics.

Original article on Live Science.

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MEDIEVALLICA – NOTHING ELSE MATTERS

HARD EARTH – DESIGN OF THINGS TO COME

This week, for the Design of Things to Come we go back to the old ways.

My old man was a tool and die maker. So I was around metalworking and metalworkers most of my youth. Both at his shop and at home. I also met more than one blacksmith.

I’m going to watch this entire with no little fascination.

Thanks to Jake Powning Swords. Who also does superb and beautiful work.

 

THE MANUSCRIPTS – THE FORGE

THIS WEEK IN MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPTS

 

 

 

YEAH I WOULD and THE VIKINGS

Yes I would. Scandinavia was a hotbed of technological innovation and experimentation at that general time. Metallurgy, ship-building, social organization, navigation and exploration.

I consider it the early Northern Technological Renaissance.

Which reminds me, the premier of The Vikings is on tonight.

This is superb work by the way.

 

Norwegian Artisan Creates 3D Printed Replica of 6th-Century Sword

You probably wouldn’t consider 6th century Scandinavia a hotbed of anything, much less technological and artistic innovation, but that’s precisely what was happening in that region of the world as a result of increased migration in an era that’s actually called “the Migration Period.” From around 400 to 550 CE (Common Era), the northern migration of Germanic tribes, following earlier encroachment by the Romans, brought a great deal of change to Scandinavia–now Denmark, Norway, and Sweden–a region that was predominantly tribal and populated with small farms and settlements. This is the epoch that gave birth to the Vikings and it began with an influx of ideas from the south.

The hilt of the original, 6th-century sword.

One modern-day Norwegian paid homage to that long-ago period of awakening in his home country by replicating an artifact from that era of burgeoning technology and artistic mastery: Teacher, game developer, and 3D design- and printing enthusiast, Nils Anderssen used his expertise to produce a stunningly accurate reproduction of a 6th-century, double-edged, iron sword with a bronze hilt, which was originally crafted in Snartemo in Southern Norway. Anderssen used the cutting-edge technology of today to recreate a symbol of his country’s ancient, expert craftsmanship.

It has certainly been possible before 3D printing to undertake a project like Anderssen’s, but it has been more expensive and far more time-consuming. Also, Anderssen, who has many talents, is not a professional goldsmith, so he was willingly heading into uncharted territory when he began his Snartemo Sword project. What he did possess was an enthusiasm for history and historical artifacts and, of course, a maker’s curiosity and ingenuity, so he began his project, spending a couple of years figuring out how to go about using 3D printing to create a believable replica.

Eventually, Anderssen uploaded the results of his ongoing project on his website, which prompted the National Museum of Art in Oslo, Norway to approach him about creating a replica of the sword as a companion display to the real sword (which, as we understand it, is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo). The museum insisted, quite reasonably, that the copy should resemble the original as closely as possible. Visitors would be able to handle the replica, so it needed to feel like the original sword as well.

Equipped with photos and measurements of the sword, Anderssen used 3D Studio Max to create his 3D design. “In Studio Max,” he explained, “I have good control over the thickness and size of the patterns and therefore avoided problems in printing.” The sword’s sharp edges were easily modeled in 3D Studio Max. His secret was to use “almost exclusively…the basic features of the polygon modeling tools…”

3D printed hilt

Without the capacity to 3D print in bronze himself, Anderssen needed to find a 3D printing service to help him undertake this major part of the sword project. He did his research and opted to enlist i.materialize, whom, he found, could print larger sizes than most other companies. Not unlike the original process of crafting the sword, Anderssen’s replica was created in parts. After he received the 3D-printed bronze pieces from i.materialize, he smoothed them and then had them gilded. He did make one important change: With his design, the hilt was hollow and later filled with wood to make the finished piece more stable and to facilitate easier assembly.

It isn’t clear how and where the blade was produced, but the various pieces of the sword were assembled by Anderssen and the results were spectacular. He had the pleasure after completing the project of seeing his replica placed next to the original sword, by far the greatest test of his success. As the photo emphasizes, the similarities between the reproduction and the original really are remarkable. What a brilliant means of both preserving history without compromising the physical state of an ancient artifact and allowing those of us who want to appreciate such objects to do so in a more interactive way! We hope that this becomes a trend with museums and archives; 3D printing certainly makes it plausible and far more budget-friendly.

both swords

 

Let’s hear your thoughts on Anderssen’s work in the 3D Printed Replica Sword forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3D Print (Left), Original (Right)

THE UNNOTICED MAJESTY

In his book, Gothic Wonder, Professor Paul Binski explores a period in which English art and architecture pushed the boundaries to produce some of Europe’s most spectacular buildings and illuminated manuscripts. Binski’s research sets into context the whole gamut of human endeavour: from awesome cathedrals to playfully irreverent grotesques.

The British are modest about their achievements in art. My aim is to show to readers here and abroad just how inventive and versatile our arts really were at this time.

Paul Binski

“I greatly disdain piddling little buildings (plerumque indignor pusillis edificiis),” wrote a forthright Flemish monk called Goscelin of Saint-Bertin in a book dated around 1080. He went on to declare that: “I would not allow any buildings, however much they were valued, to stand unless they were, in my view, glorious, magnificent, tall, vast, filled with light and thoroughly beautiful.”

Goscelin, who dedicated his life to documenting the lives of saints, could have been describing the great Gothic cathedrals built to proclaim Christianity in the 12th and 13th centuries, when they played a pivotal role in medieval life.  These masterpieces of structure and style remain extraordinary examples of human ingenuity in moulding materials into places that still inspire awe and wonder.

Piddling is not a word you would choose to describe the cathedrals of Ely, Norwich or Canterbury. These magnificent stone buildings dwarf the ancient streets that cluster around them and even today dominate the skyline. Size (magnitude in Latin) mattered to the architects, builders and patrons of these Gothic masterpieces: the bigger and taller the building, the greater its political and spiritual punch.

A league table of lengths of European cathedrals appears in the first few pages of Gothic Wonder: Art, Artifice and the Decorated Style 1290-1350, a book by Paul Binski, Professor of Medieval Art at Cambridge University, that looks afresh at a remarkable flowering of English creativity.

Top of the list in the size stakes is Cluny Abbey in Burgundy, begun in 1088, at approximately 172 metres, setting a standard that challenged the English to think big and bold. Winchester Cathedral ranks second, measuring 157 metres from its great west door to its east end, with London’s St Paul’s Cathedral (155 metres) close behind.

In early medieval England, most people lived in dwellings constructed from local materials. Amid the humdrum and struggle of daily existence, something extraordinary happened: teams of workers overseen by highly skilled craftspeople challenged ideas of what could be accomplished in art and architecture and told compelling stories about all manner of earthly and heavenly matters.

Size is just one measure of the majesty of a building. Another measure, equally important to the makers of Gothic buildings in the race for maximum visual and sensual impact, was variety (varietas). The interiors of Salisbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey gleam and dazzle with semi-translucent alabaster obtained from Nottingham, white marble quarried in Purbeck (Dorset) and richly-veined marble imported from southern Europe.

Marble was the ‘must-have’ material of the world of Gothic architecture. The word itself comes from the Greek marmairo, to shine. In a world where natural light was augmented only by candles, the sparkle and gleam of marble, and its similarity to skin tones, appealed to the senses. The allure of this exotic material contributed to what Binski calls the ‘soft’ power of the building, its subtlety, whereas sheer scale is a form of ‘hard’ power.

The transportation of stone across land and sea was costly, dangerous and difficult. The efforts of man pitted against nature, and emerging as winner, were heroic in the same way as literary epics which spoke of the human capacity to conquer difficulties in war or peace.  Similarly, craftsmanship sought to create objects of supreme beauty, imitating and surpassing the complexity found in the natural world.

While Norman and Romanesque buildings were ponderous with their rounded arches, relatively small windows and wooden roofs, the architects of Gothic buildings sought to create what Binski calls a “wondrous heightening” in their playful treatment of light and shade and exploitation of the plasticity of materials to create decorative effects, such as wall arcading, that enriched the interiors of these buildings.

In many instances, Gothic was a process of ‘improvement’ that saw earlier buildings dismantled, adapted and enlarged to make room for expanding pilgrimage and religious activities. In the 14th century old buildings underwent makeovers which gave architects in the Gothic style an opportunity to study and emulate the achievements of their forebears.

To non-specialists, ‘Gothic’ is shorthand for pointed arches, elaborate window tracery and daringly vaulted roofs – though, curiously, the word itself emerged during the Renaissance as a term of abuse for northern European art.  But Binski’s latest book is much more than a generously illustrated exploration of style. In his introduction, he explains that his emphasis is on human agency – why we do things and how we do them – expressed in all manner of arts and crafts.

His motivation, he says, stems from the question of “why aesthetic decisions were made in the light of beliefs about how and to what ends art creates experience”. In other words, Binski is interested in the power of things to manipulate thoughts and feelings – “art as the rational education of desire” is how he puts it – and how Gothic works of art were wrought through supreme human effort in order to convey unshakable statements about belief, control and sovereignty with God, the Church, royalty and man enmeshed in an entire social and artistic network.

In tackling these fundamental and often trickily complex themes, Binski explores not just architecture but also the decorative arts and especially manuscript illumination and painting, in the great age of ‘marginalia’ when English devices amused those who encountered them all over Europe. Among the weirdest are the grotesques found in the famous Luttrell Psalter of around 1340. Human and animal body parts are mixed in bizarre combinations: a human head pops out of a pair of goatish legs; an archer has a horse’s body and long swishing tail; a man is swallowed by a fish that has sprouted legs.

These hybrids and monsters, with their saucy sense of humour, fed into the literature of the time, providing a rich fodder of witty and disturbing imagery. The writer Geoffrey Chaucer called them ‘japes’. “Amusement was part of the point,” says Binski. “The tendency to see ‘marginal’ art as always subversive or political has obscured the pleasures that marginal art, often apolitical and nonsensical, created for viewers.” 

The impact of Gothic buildings, whether in their scale or the intricate detail of their decoration, cannot be overemphasised. Impressive to us today, 650 years ago they were powerful embodiments of the greatness of their patrons – whether bishops, abbots or kings – with greatness being a virtue measured in terms of magnificent conduct and charitable largesse.  And English Gothic architecture surpassed European in the sophistication and complexity of its designs for window tracery and the patterning of stone vaults.

The silhouette of Ely Cathedral broods over miles of Cambridgeshire fenland. One of the most striking of the 300-plus plates in Gothic Wonder is a photograph taken from the cathedral’s nave crossing looking up into the Octagon tower that was built after the collapse of the earlier campanile tower which came crashing down one February night in 1322, just after the singing of Matins.

Ely was a desolate place, surrounded much of the year by water, but the crafting of its cathedral’s Octagon Tower and Lady Chapel suggest that this tiny city was locked into a network of trading and cultural connections that extended far and wide – right to southern France. The inside height of the Octagon Tower is 43 metres, making it almost the same height as the Pantheon in Rome, and its lantern-shaped top directs beams of light in much the same way as the circular opening in the Pantheon’s vast dome.

Whether religious or secular in purpose, buildings are about the assertion of political power. In the wake of the Norman Conquest, tensions ran high between the incoming Normans and the subjugated English. In 1097-1099 William Rufus (son of William 1) ordered the construction of the palace hall at Westminster. By far the largest hall in England, measuring 73 metres by 21 metres, it was designed for events such as banquets, court meetings and other displays of consumption and control.

Reactions to the lavish scale and splendour of the hall were divided. In his Historia anglorum, Henry of Huntington described that, on entering the hall, some people said “that it was a good size and others that it was too large. The king said it was only half large enough. This saying was that of a great king, but it was little to his credit”.William of Malmesbury, on the other hand, regarded the new hall as an example of William Rufus’s liberality rather than his pride. The king, Malmesbury wrote “provided some examples of real greatness (magnanimitas)”.

The Gothic buildings that rose above the English landscape are the outcome of a flow of cultural traffic not just from Christian Europe but also from the Islamic world where similar values about magnanimity held sway. It was a cultural flow that went both ways. Artists identified as English or working in the English style can be traced to Trondheim in Norway, to  Santes Creus in Catalonia, where the architect of a cloister is described as an ‘English mason’, to Papal Avignon, and even as far away as Cyprus.

“I think that to understand the true achievement of English Gothic art, we need to travel far afield, as far as Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, to follow the activities of English architects and artists and their ideas. Even Popes took an interest, whether in English carving or embroidery,” says Binski.

Binski’s particular focus is the half century from 1300 to 1348, the date that marked the onset of the Black Death (bubonic plague) in England. This period saw the first flowering of Gothic art and architecture, sowing the seeds of a style that has endured for centuries. Many of England’s most splendid and most visited buildings incorporate in their fabric and spirit strong elements of Gothic style.

“Gothic as a style has proved the most successful of all ways of building since classical times, shaping our cities and our ideas of what impressive public buildings should look like,” says Binski. “The much-admired Gothic Revival architecture of St Pancras station and the Midland Grand Hotel is just one of many examples.”

Great buildings are a result of the work of great people. Among them is Alan of Walsingham, who became sacrist (church official) of Ely in 1321, just months before the cathedral’s original tower collapsed into a pitiful pile of rubble. A passage in the Ely chronicon (chronicle) describes how, immediately after the disaster, Alan set about the task of removing the debris and, “with architectural art”, made meticulous plans for a replacement tower even more splendid than the one that had fallen.

“And at once in that year, the most artful wooden structure of the new campanile, conceived with the highest and most wonderful ingenuity of mind … was started, and with great and burdensome outlay especially for the huge timbers needed for assembling the said structure, sought far and wide and at length found with great difficulty and purchased at great cost, carried by land and by sea to Ely, and then carved, wrought and assembled for that work by cunning workmen; with God’s help it was brought to an honourable and long-wished-for conclusion.”

“The British are modest about their achievements in art,” says Binski. “My aim is to show to readers here and abroad just how inventive and versatile our arts really were at this time.”

Gothic Wonder: Art, Artifice and the Decorated Style is published by Yale University Press. Paul Binski will talk about the book at the 2015 Heffers Lecture at Heffers Bookshop, 20 Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2  1TY, on Thursday, 29 January, 6.15pm. For details contact Francé Davies fc295@cam.ac.uk

Inset images (all cropped): Lady Chapel wall arcade, Ely cathedral, begun 1321; Ely Octagon, designed 1320s; Pantheon, interior, Rome; Westminster Hall, late 14th century; boss depicting a woman fending off a laundry thief, Norwich Cathedral cloister, east walk (all taken from Gothic Wonder).


– See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/heavenly-matters-earthly-delights#sthash.gJcnrCgF.dpuf

THE LADY OF ELCHE

I personally have no interest in the ancient astronaut or ancient alien theories and with attributing all of mankind’s accomplishments (historical or prehistorical) to some unknown source or to alien entities.

I am however greatly interested in evidence (and I think that there is an ample and rapidly accumulating body of evidence) that many previously little-known or unknown civilizations have existed in this world in the past, both in mostly historical ages and in prehistorical epochs.

I am also becoming ever more convinced that such civilizations were not mere isolated enclaves but probably engaged each other in vigorous trade exchanges via well-traveled oceanic exploration and  shipping routes.

Which in this case would explain the Hellenistic influences.

So this may very well be evidence of one such civilization or culture.


The mysterious Lady of Elche

The stunning yet mysterious Lady of Elche

In 1897, archaeologists uncovered a stunning artifact on a private estate at L’Alcúdia in Valencia, Spain. This find was a statue – a polychrome bust of a woman’s head. Believed to date back to the 4th Century BC, the bust features a woman wearing an elaborate headdress. Now seen as one of Spain’s most famous icons, the bust is known as the Lady of Elche.

It is said that a young boy of fourteen had overturned a stone when he came across the bust. The bust shows the woman’s head, neck and shoulders, and extends down to her chest. However, it is possible that the bust was originally part of a larger, full-body statue.

The complex headdress features two large coils known as “rodetes” on either side of the head and face. It is thought that this was a ceremonial headdress, and that the woman may be a priestess. The headdress runs across the forehead, with a pattern of raised marble-shaped bumps. Tassle-like pieces hang in front of the ears, and elaborate necklaces grace her chest. The woman’s face contains an expressionless gaze, and when it was found, contained traces of red, white, and blue decorative paint. The composition of the stone indicates that it was carved at L’Alcúdia.

The Dama de Elche bust

The Dama de Elche bust. Credit: Luis García (Creative Commons)

The origin of the sculpture is puzzling and has become a matter of heated debate. Some scholars suggest that the sculpture is Iberian, and may be associated with Tanit, the goddess of Carthage, while others have proposed the work reflects an Atlantean Goddess. The unusual features of the sculpture, such as the apparent elongated head and the spools on the side of the head, have also prompted numerous alternative theories to be proposed. For example, according to some independent researchers, the spools are not part of a unique headdress, but are in fact a type of technological headgear that reflects the highly advanced nature of the supposed Atlantis civilization.

Dama de Elche bust

Some independent researchers have argued that the woman’s head is elongated and the spools reflect a type of technological headgear.

 There are others who argue that the statue doesn’t deserve the attention it receives because it is, in fact, a forgery. Art historian John F. Moffitt argues that the shape of the lady’s eyes and nose are “too delicate to have been carved in pre-Christian Spain.” This argument has been dismissed by many other scholars, who view the bust as a great accomplishment of the early Iberian civilization.

Painting based on the Lady of Elche

Painting based on the Lady of Elche, ‘Jepthah’s Daughter’. James Tissot. (Public Domain)

In 1997, the Mayor of Elche fought to have the bust of the Lady of Elche returned from the National Archaeological Museum of Spain in Madrid to the city of Elche, to be on display during celebrations of the city’s 2000th year. It was to be a special exhibit, but the petition to have the bust returned was denied. The government commission that denied the request asserted that the bust was too fragile to survive the 250-mile journey from Madrid to Elche. However, others believe that this denial was based upon political motivations. The director of Elche’s archaeology museum, Rafael Ramos argued that it was “preposterous” to say that the statute could not survive the journey, noting that more delicate pieces are transported around the world regularly. His belief is that those in Madrid worry that Elche would not want to return the statue, and that many other cultural relics would be removed from Madrid if the Lady of Elche bust were allowed to be transported. This has created many issues of pride on both a local and regional level. To those in the area, a cultural relic of Elche belongs in Elche.

The disputes and theories regarding the Lady of Elche illustrate the cultural importance of the bust. As a famous ancient icon of Spain, the bust represents Spain’s cultural past. Every Spanish schoolchild learns about the bust and the stories behind the priestess. While the disputes and theories about the bust may continue indefinitely, it is likely hoped by all that the bust will remain safely preserved as a culturally significant symbol of ancient history.

– See more at: http://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/stunning-yet-mysterious-lady-elche-002305#sthash.lLdmNy7o.dpuf

ALIEN UNKNOWN

Neill Blomkamp’s Secret Alien Movie Looks So Good We’re Furious

Neill Blomkamp's Secret Alien Movie Looks So Good We're Furious12

Guess what? Neill Blomkamp was working on a secret Alien project that included Sigourney Weaver reuniting with Corporal Hicks, and the concept art is gorgeous. But now it’s dead, or was never going to be made in the first place, and I’m just going to scream “PROMETHEUS” into a pillow all day until I pass out from lack of air.

Last night, District 9 and Elysium director Blomkamp fired off a round of concept art on his Instagram account. The first image was of a pissed off Xenomorph Queen and had this caption: “Was working on this. Don’t think I am anymore. Love it though. #alien #xenomorph.” Then he continued to upload a whole lotta beautiful Alien-inspired work onto his account, commenting, “Woulda rocked. Was a mental stroll into the world Ridley Scott created.” The idea looks like it took place inside Weyland-Yutani headquarters, which was currently housing the derelict spaceship, and somehow a mangled Hicks reappears (which is a great idea). Ripley can also be seen donning the Space Jockey helmet, and (of course) there’s a screaming Queen Xenomorph. It looks great.

The art seems more like Blomkamp’s personal pitch for an Alien film, and not something a studio pulled from him. Blomkamp even told one Instagram commenter, “Fox never said no.” What could that mean? Did Blomkamp ever actually pitch this to Fox?

An unverified Blomkamp Twitter account fleshed out the backstory a little stating that “they [presumably Fox] didn’t really even know I was working on it ha”

So perhaps this was just a fun thing that Blomkamp had been tinkering with for awhile. Honestly, this could all just be really fantastic fan art. That being said, I can completely imagine Fox ignoring this pitch in favor of fanning Ridley Scott’s current detour for the Alien franchise into Prometheus world. Because, well, they kind of made that bed and now they have to lay in it.

But how wondrous would it be if a movie that was actually embedded into actual world of this franchise was made? Please make this movie! It’s what the people want!

THE QUEST: PART ONE

The Archaeological Quest for the Earliest Christians

Part one of a two-part examination

maresha-paintings

The race for the next spectacular artifact is on. Ancient bone boxes, lost manuscripts encoded with secret messages about Jesus, even fragments of crumbled papyrus—some no bigger than the receipts we stuff in our pockets—promise hope of a brave new world in Biblical studies. The assumption seems to be that if we just look a little harder, if we just dig a little bit deeper, one day we’ll find the one piece of evidence that will take us back to the earliest age of Jesus and his followers. To many, it’s an urgent archaeological mission with profound implications for the history of faith.Just don’t hold your breath. For almost two hundred years after the crucifixion, Roman cities are entirely devoid of any trace of early Christians; to date, no one has ever found any object that’s been plausibly connected to them. As an archaeologist and a historian, I think it’s time we start taking this silence seriously and stop trying to filling it with any more sensational “discoveries.” Many of Jesus’ followers—men and women who lived in the first, second and even third-century Roman Mediterranean—simply didn’t want to be found.

That’s not exactly the first thing that usually comes to mind when we think about early Christians, but the evidence is insurmountable at this point. For almost four hundred years, there were no manger scenes anywhere in the Roman world. There were no crucifixes displayed in homes or schools. There weren’t even any bound Bibles tucked into church pews. In fact, we actually don’t even know what “churches” looked like, at least, not until the middle of the third century. For a community that would later come to remember its earliest history as a time of vicious persecution, answered with outspoken acts of martyrdom, this archaeological silence poses a slight problem. Where are these people?

There are two assumptions people usually rely upon to explain the silence. The first is that Scripture, which is to say, the Second Commandment of the Hebrew Bible, prohibited Jesus’ followers from dabbling in anything artistic. The second is that early Christians were too poor and disenfranchised to leave anything noticeable behind. New archaeological and historical research suggests that neither of these traditional explanations are adequate. This post is the first in a two-part series that will explore each of these issues, charting some new directions in the study of early Christianity.


New from BAS: Partings—How Judaism and Christianity Became Two. Never before has this multi-faceted process been documented so engagingly and so authoritatively by so many eminent scholars. Read more >>


So let’s tackle the first question. Did the Mosaic commandment forbidding the creation of graven images (Deuteronomy 5:8) really prohibit Jesus’ earliest followers from pursuing their own artistic talents? Recent work on Jewish material culture during the late Second Temple period has shed new light on this topic. At the center of this picture is a twenty-year-old boy, Alexander the Great, and the legacy he left behind in the eastern Mediterranean in the third, second and first centuries B.C.By the time of Alexander’s successors—the Seleucid family in Asia Minor and the northern Levant, the Ptolemies in Egypt and the southern Levant—sounds of Hellenistic art and craftsmanship were beginning to echo on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean. A visit to two cities makes that clear. At the city of Hellenistic Marisa (today known as Maresha, a site near Bethlehem), archaeologists found tomb chambers with paintings of animals and landscapes that are stylistically similar to those seen at sites like Vergina, Greece, an important site for the Macedonian kings. The animals depicted at Maresha may even have been inspired by a famous Hellenistic zoo, organized by the Ptolemies at Alexandria. The paintings at Maresha have been dated to the third and second centuries B.C. (see image above).

jerusalem-tombs

Evidence in Jerusalem reveals similar examples of cultural exchange during this time. Representations of ships and anchors appear in many Jerusalem tombs during the late Second Temple period. Some monumental tombs built in the Kidron Valley, in the shadow of the Second Temple, incorporate architectural styles that were also widely popular. Both the tomb of the sons of Hezir, dated to the second century B.C, and the so-called Tomb of Absalom, dated to the first century A.D., draw upon Greek columns, capitals, friezes—even Egyptian pyramid forms (see image right).Jewish individuals and groups during the late Second Temple period may have been waging fierce debates amongst themselves about the role of Hellenistic customs in the formation of their Jewish identity—debates we pick up in our textual sources, like 2 Maccabees—but the archaeological evidence is clear: The Second Commandment given to Moses did not prevent Jews from making images. It prevented them from making idols. Appreciating this nuance in the history of Jewish art and archaeology is an important first step to seeing early Christian archaeology in a new light, too.

In sum, how have we ever come to believe that Christians harbored an innate artistic hostility of their own, taught to them in the Second Commandment, when Jews who read their own Scripture came to entirely opposite ideas? To understand why we haven’t been able to find Jesus’ earliest followers means setting aside long-held assumptions like these. In my second post, I’ll tackle another one: Were early Christians so poor that they were never able to afford nice things? The answer to that question, too, is not the one we may think we know.


THE LANDSCAPES WITHIN

Wow! Just freaking wow!

And can you just imagine what you could encode in these puppies?

Also by way of fiction and/or gaming, just imagine a book you could open that would create either magically interactive landscapes such as these or holoconic/holographic ones that you could explore or further encode or explore…

By the way I now highly recommend the blog Colossal.

 

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée sculpture paper books

Artist Guy Laramee (previously) has recently completed a number of new sculptural works where he transforms thick tomes into incredible topographical features including mountains, caves, volcanoes, and even water. Many of the works are part of a new project titled Guan Yin, a series of work dedicated to the forces that enable individuals to endure grief and pain, or in his words “the mysterious forces thanks to which we can traverse ordeals.” If you happen to be near Quebec, a number of Laramee’s works are currently on view at Expression gallery in Saint-Hyacinthe through August 12.

Update: You can also see a number of works by Laramée at Foster/White Gallery in Seattle.

A SUPERB WORK OF ART

 

The Lord of the Rings

£60.00
Pages: 1244
Format: Hardback
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien, Illustrated by Alan Lee
Published Date: 19/06/2014
ISBN: 978-0-00-752554-6
Detailed Edition: Illustrated Slipcased edition
Since it was first published in 1954, The Lord of the Rings has been a book people have treasured. Steeped in unrivalled magic and otherworldliness, its sweeping fantasy has touched the hearts of young and old alike. Well over 100 million copies of its many editions have been sold around the world, and occasional collectors’ editions become prized and valuable items of publishing….

AMPHIPOLIS TOMB MOSAIC

Magnificent!

Stunning Mosaic Floor Revealed in Amphipolis Tomb

by Ioanna Zikakou Oct 12, 2014

 1658  78 Google +2  3  4  2347

amfipoli_psifidoto

 

Archaeologists have publicized photos of a stunning mosaic floor recently excavated within the ancient tomb of Amphipolis in northern Greece.

According to the Greek Ministry of Culture, the beautiful mosaic was discovered in the second chamber of the tomb, the site of the Caryatids‘ discovery. The colorful floor was laid with white, black, grey, blue, red and yellow pebbles and depicts a chariot in motion. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, is pictured in front of the chariot.

 

amfipoli_psifidoto_1

 

“The central theme is a chariot in motion, pulled by two white horses and driven by a bearded man, crowned with a laurel wreath,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The mosaic showcases the artist’s ability to portray the figures, horses and colors in exquisite detail.
According to a Culture Ministry announcement, Hermes is depicted here as the conductor of souls to the afterlife.

The stunning artwork, which has yet to be fully uncovered, spans the entire floor of the second chamber. It currently measures 4.5 meters in width and 3 meters in length. The central scene is surrounded by a decorative frame, 0.60 meters in width, featuring a double meander, squares and a wave-curl design.

According to archaeologists, a section of the mosaic floor has been destroyed. The Amphipolis team was able to recover the disturbed pebbles during the excavation process, however, and plans on being able to eventually piece the mosaic back together.

– See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/10/12/stunning-mosaic-floor-revealed-in-amphipolis-tomb/#sthash.YhXFFKgo.dpuf

THE WIZARD’S STAFF

The man is quite skilled. I like his work.

A Gramary of Art

staff14

I’ve been carving staffs since I was eight years old. I’ve spent many happy days hunting for suitable trees. Searching through the hills, rooting through thickets, lying on my back with my cheek against a sapling sighting it’s trunk for straightness.

staff15

It’s not easy to find the right sapling for a staff, it has to be a good hardwood like maple or beech or oak, and it must be straight and have a good root bowl.

When I find a tree that’s just right I begin digging down into its roots with my fingers, often chipping my nails on small stones in the rocky soil. I have a short saw with me, a hand axe, and garden sheers. I snip the smaller roots and saw through the big tap root. I prize the tree from the ground. With my hand axe, I trim the branches and cut the crown. The feeling of having found a good staff is the same as the hunter coming home with supper.

Last week I carved a wizard’s staff to go along with the dagger I’m working on. I carved it from a maple sapling. I was inspired by some of the artifacts I saw at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford UK, and also by my friend Professor Ari Berk‘s amazing study. Professor Berk’s subterranean lair is like the Pitt Rivers if someone tried to fit it into a much smaller space and it had a genuine wizard living in it (but without the mummified babies)…

JUSTICE LEAGUE MACHINIMA

This will be interesting…

Machinima Lands Exclusive Animated ‘Justice League’ Series

 

Justice League Batman vs Superman

September 17, 2014 | 04:26PM PT

Machinima, an online network that mostly targets younger males, has secured the exclusive rights to a three-part animated “Justice League” series from Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.

“Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles” will launch in the spring of 2015.

“Chronicles” is said to revolve around a newly conceived reality in the DC universe where Justice League members Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are much darker versions of the superheroes that people know…

SPEAKING OF MONSTERS

Monster Manual Gallery

 

BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES TAPESTRY

Well, I’ll say one thing about it. It sure looks cool.

You can also magnify sections.

 

Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ Tapestry Revealed

THE MILL…

FASCINATING NEW FILM

SNEAK PEEK

The illustration of the Wood Elf City alone is incredibly good, but some of the other artwork is also superb. Definitely worth a look.

 

An exclusive look at the new D&D Player’s Handbook—and The Warlock

Ethan Gilsdorf gets a first-look at some incredible high-res art from the latest edition of the classic pen-and-paper role-playing game.

Will Wizards of the Coast get D&D right this time?

That’s the question on the minds of adventurers young and old ever since the announcement that new rules for Dungeons & Dragons would finally be revealed this year. (At various times, this rebooted D&D has been called “D&D Next,” “5th Edition D&D” and “5.0.” Wizards of the Coast, D&D’s publisher, is now simply calling the game “Dungeons & Dragons.”)

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