Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl

Inscribed on the base of this extraordinary Funerary Stele, we read… To dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set (me) up as a monument. The ancient Greek marble Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York city, is worth exploring…

What is a Stele (for the Ancient Greeks)? A Stele (from ancient Greek στήλη-arrange/stand) is a set upright stone slab used in the ancient world primarily as a grave marker but also for dedication, commemoration, and demarcation. Stelae could be inscribed, carved in relief, or painted. During Greek Antiquity, Grave Stelae (επιτύμβιες στήλες) were usually inscribed and decorated with scenes depicting the deceased, usually alone, but sometimes with a servant or relative. The Early Archaic period Grave Stele in the area of Attica, were often inscribed, decorated in relief, crowned by a capital, which extended upwards and supported a sphinx, a demonic being that protected the tomb, and finally painted! https://www.britannica.com/topic/stela

Is the MET Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl special? Yes, it is a very special and unique piece. According to the MET experts… This is the most complete grave monument of its type to have survived from the Archaic period. It is also of high artistic quality and a great source of information on how ancient Greek sculptural pieces were painted. In addition, if the name of the youth in the Stele’s inscription is Megakles, as some scholars believe, then the Stele was erected by the Athenian family of the Alkmeonidai, and it is an archaeological discovery of historical importance. The Alcmaeonidai were a wealthy and powerful noble family of ancient Athens. Cleisthenes, Pericles, and Alkeviades were prominent members of the family. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500

Where was the Marble Stele found, and how did it reach the MET? According to the MET, the Stele is… said to have come from Kataphygi, Attica. The Museum acquired fragments of the Stele in 1911, 1922, 1936, 1938, and 1951. Two parts of the MET Stele are plaster copies. For example, the Girl’s head is in Berlin, and the youth’s right forearm is in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Interestingly, the capital and crowning sphinx, as exhibited in its entirety, are casts of the originals, displayed in a case nearby. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500

In 1911 the MET acquired a fragmentary shaft, the base, and the acroterion of the Stele from John Marshall in England. A fragment of the youth’s shoulder and arm was acquired in 1922 from M.L. Kambanis in Athens or Paris. The Stele’s marble capital and finial in the form of a sphinx were purchased in 1936 and 1938 through Martin Birnbaum. Fragments of the Stele’s inscription were gifted to the MET in 1951 by Walter C. Baker. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500 and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501

First thoughts and impressions… A few ancient Attic Grave Stelae of the Archaic period survived in their entirety. The three-part Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl is probably the best example. Exhibited restored, with the help of plaster casts, the MET Stele, shows how imposing and impressive such a monument could be. With considerable height, 4,23 meters, brilliantly painted, the Stele, seen even from afar,  dominated the Athenian landscape where it originally stood. https://www.greek-language.gr/digitalResources/ancient_greek/history/art/page_063.html

Description… The MET Stele consists of three parts. The lowest part is the Stele’s rectangular base. Inscribed on the base, the unknown artist of the Stele wrote… to dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set [me] up as a monument. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500

Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl (detail of the youth), ca. 530 BC, Marble, H. 423.4cm, the MET, NY, USA https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Marble_stele_%28grave_marker%29_of_a_youth_and_a_little_girl_MET_GR46.jpg

The middle part of the Stele has a lot to narrate. The front part of the shaft depicts the full-length representation of the deceased, a young man, an athlete, and thee, a παλαιστρίτη (a wrestler or an athlete trained in a παλαίστρα). In heroic nudity, he holds with his left hand a pomegranate, the mythological fruit of death and fertility. Hanging from the left wrist, an aryballos (a small oil flask) reminds us that Megakles, if that was his name, was an active athlete. Little is known of the little, fully clothed, girl, standing before Megakles, holding, with her left hand, an unidentified flower in front of her face. It has been suggested that the girl in the composition might be a younger sister. http://met-guide.blogspot.com/2011/01/grave-stele-of-youth-and-little-girl_28.html

Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl (Finial and detail of the Sphinx), ca. 530 BC, Marble, H. 423.4cm, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501 and https://blog.myheritage.com/2022/08/marble-greek-and-roman-statues-were-actually-painted-in-brilliant-colors/

The third, and uppermost part of the Stele, the finial, consists of two members, the lower and the upper. The lower member, in the form of a double capital, was decorated wholly in color, its surface being entirely flat. It is fortunate that enough of the painted decoration survived time, so as to trace the original design… scrolls, making two pairs of volutes, and ‘palmettes’ placed between them. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3252802?seq=3#metadata_info_tab_contents and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501

The upper member of the finial is a formidable,  three-dimensional Sphinx, a mythological creature with a lion’s body and a human head, known in various forms throughout the eastern Mediterranean region from the Bronze Age onward. The Greeks, as in the case of the MET Stele, represented it as a winged female and often placed its image on grave monuments as guardian of the dead. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501

Reconstruction (2022) of a marble finial in the form of a Sphinx by Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann
https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/exhibition-objects

How is the MET Stele related to the Met Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color Exhibition? For the decoration of the MET Stele, the unknown artist employed sculpture and painting as well. The original colour on the marble MET Stele is unusually well-preserved, especially the colours of the Sphinx. According to Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann and Vinzenz Brinkmann, scientific analyses, photographs with ultraviolet and infrared light, false-color photographs, and archaeological comparisons allowed an almost complete reconstruction of the elegant designs in luminous and precious natural colors. The new, painted reconstruction of the MET Sphinx is a key display in Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (Through March 26, 2023) Exhibition. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/exhibition-objects

For a Student Activity inspired by the Marble stele of a youth and a little girl in the MET, please… Check HERE!

If you are interested in visiting or browsing through the Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibition Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (Through March 26, 2023), please Check… https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/visiting-guide and https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/exhibition-objects For an Exhibition Video prepared by Art Trip (19:37 min), check… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LFGtqslZAU

Byzantine Silver Bucket

Vrap (it means ‘running’ in Albanian) is a town located in Albania about 20 km south of Tirana, the country’s capital town. In 1901, in the Vrap area, near the ancient city of Durazzo and Via Egnatia, an exceptional hoard of silver and gold was discovered within a buried copper cauldron. This amazing treasure, known today as the Vrap Treasure is over twelve pounds of gold and three pounds of silver, including ten silver or gold vessels; thirty gold belt fittings; parts of a golden candlestick; and several gold bars and strips! My favourite amongst them is a Byzantine Silver Bucket! https://books.google.gr/books?id=6M7WCQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false p. 36

The Byzantine Silver Bucket from Albania is a deep, footed Bowl with geometric, beaded, diamond patterns around the exterior. Set within the diamonds are birds, flowers, and various other objects, like palmettes, baskets, urns, and edifices(?). The design executed in the repoussé technique is simple but well-finished by an accomplished Byzantine provincial silversmith. Was the Vrap Silver Bucket an incense censer or was it used for drawing water? There is no definite answer.

The Vrap Treasure: Silver Bucket (Detail of the Byzantine Seal), 600s, Silver, 18.4×14.1 cm, 481g, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464115 and https://archive.org/details/byzantin00dodd/page/246/mode/2up

Scholars have been debating for years over the owner of the Vrap Treasure, and the identity of the silversmiths who created its artifacts. One thing is certain, the Vrap Treasure includes only two objects that most scholars today would describe as Byzantine: the discussed Silver Bucket, and a silver pitcher, both with what appear to be imperial control stamps. The stamp on the Bucket looks hexagonal (?), possibly containing a monogram, but no inscription can be traced. It is also difficult to say whether the stamp was applied before or after the vessel was decorated. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464115?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=Byzantine+art&offset=0&rpp=40&pos=15 and https://archive.org/details/byzantin00dodd/page/246/mode/2up

The ”archaeology” of the Treasure’s discovery is best described by J. Strzygowski in 1917… An Albanian farmer near Vrap . . . uncovered in a field a copper kettle which he appropriated, and concerning himself little with the contents, he sold it, for a pair of medschidjes, to three Albanians, who brought it to their residence tower in the vicinity of Arbõna, a place to the north of Vrap . . . The subsequent attainment of individual pieces dragged on for about five years, in part under romantic circumstances. There would be no scholarly interest in going into more detail. The Vrap Treasure, including the Byzantine Silver Bucket, was bought by J. Pierpont Morgan on April 4, 1912. In 1917 the Vrap Treasure was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Why these varied objects were brought together remains a mystery. Some scholars have suggested that the objects were part of a treasure belonging to an Avar chief; others have speculated that they were the property of an Avar craftsman. It will be interesting to know… https://www.academia.edu/7674370/Ugly_but_important_the_Albanian_Hoard_and_the_making_of_the_archaeological_treasure_in_the_early_twentieth_century_The_making_of_the_archaeological_treasure and file:///C:/Users/aspil/Downloads/The_Arts_of_Byzantium_The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art_Bulletin_v_58_no_4_Sp ring_2001.pdf page 32

For a Student Activity, please… Check, HERE!

The Vrap Treasure, 600s (bucket)–700s, Gold and Silver, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/700984

Breck, Joseph, and Meyric R. Rogers, The Pierpont Morgan Wing: A Handbook. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1925. p. 35, fig. 15, ill. p. 36. https://books.google.gr/books?id=6M7WCQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

Melanie Holcomb, Ugly but . . . important’: the Albanian Hoard and the making of the archaeological treasure in the early twentieth century: The making of the archaeological treasure, page 11 https://www.academia.edu/7674370/Ugly_but_important_the_Albanian_Hoard_and_the_making_of_the_archaeological_treasure_in_the_early_twentieth_century_The_making_of_the_archaeological_treasure

Dodd, Erica Cruikshank. Byzantine Silver Stamps. Washington: J. J. Augustin, 1961. no. 88, pp. 246–247 https://archive.org/details/byzantin00dodd/page/246/mode/2up

Brown, Katharine R., Dafydd Kidd, and Charles T. Little, ed. From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. p. 185, 343, fig. 18,16.7.https://books.google.gr/books?id=FYI8xsBHeSMC&printsec=frontcover&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

Simon Bening’s November

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 28v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colours richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. From a knowledge of those limitations and its richness of experience emerges a symphony of colours, richer than all, its green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking of golden content and its purple of resignation and death… writes Lin Yutang (1895-1976) in  My Country and My People. Do we see sorrow and a premonition in Simon Bening’s November page? https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/123171-i-like-spring-but-it-is-too-young-i-like

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 28v and f. 29r), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

Simon Bening, combining autumnal tones of cool, greys and blues, and warm ochre and reds, organized a “busy” three parts composition. The background sets the tone! Outside a well-tended, fenced farm, the Flemish countryside turns to winter. The land has been harvested, and the tall (poplar?) trees are thinning out, dropping their leaves. The sky is clear, but the birds fly low, suggesting a change in the weather. The middle ground of folio 28verso is my favourite. The depicted Flemish farm is bustling with activity! Peasants, male and female, can be seen feeding their chickens and pigs, while laborers are busy preparing the farm’s buildings for winter!

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 28v and f. 29r, Details), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

While the farmers are shown busy with various activities, the scene in the foreground of folio 28verso, the return of the group of hunters, presents the aristocratic activity of hunting. The portrayed nobleman, in the center of the foreground area, dominates the composition. Riding his auburn mount, wearing gloves and carrying a fine javelin or thin whip in his left hand, he gallops next to a white horse, that carries the trophy of the day, a magnificently antlered stag. The two horses and their “riders” are flanked by the servants who must have hounded and attacked the “trophy” animal. The servant in front, the master of the hunt, with a spear leaning on his left shoulder and a large, sheathed knife hanging from one side of his belt and a hunting horn hanging from the other, holds the leashes of two whippets. The only visible part of the servant at the back of the group is the lance leaning on his right shoulder. They are followed by two pairs of dogs. The full-page miniature scene for November is dedicated to Hunting which takes center stage! https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/166

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, November (Detail, f. 28v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_24098_fs001r

The 16th-century Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, is a very unique and special manuscript in the Collection of the British Library. Unfortunately, the Golf Book is not, in its present state, a complete manuscript as most of the text is now missing. Thirty parchment leaves, however, remain, twenty one pages of which, are full-page miniatures, in colours and gold, surrounded by a historiated border (12 pages are part of the Calendar section). The remaining forty pages feature historiated borders as well, that incorporate medallions, architectonic decoration, and cameos in grisaille and semi-grisaille. The text pages present large and small initials and line-fillers, in colours and gold. Simon Bening (d. 1561), with the assistance of his workshop, was the artist from Bruges responsible for this amazing manuscript. Bening’s accomplishments will feature in the Month of February Presentation.  http://searcharchives.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?docId=IAMS032-002031376&fn=permalink&vid=IAMS_VU2

For a PowerPoint on the  Golf Book, please… Check HERE!

For a Student Activity on Simon Bening’s November page, please… Check HERE!

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 29r)c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/
Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 29r, Detail)c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

Miniature Mosaic Icon of Saint Demetrios in Sassoferrato

Mosaic Icon of Saint Demetrios at Sassoferrato, Mosaic Icon: 14th or 15th century, Ampulla: 13th or 14th century, Silver Frame: mid-15th century, Mosaic set into wax on a poplar board, paint, silver-gilt (frame), lead (ampulla), 24.3 X 16 cm, Museo Civico, Sassoferrato, Italy https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2015/11/a-14th-century-byzantine-icon-of-st.html

One of the inscriptions in the Miniature Mosaic Icon of Saint Demetrios in Sassoferratoinforms us that… This ampulla (at the top of the Icon), bears holy oil drawn from the well in which the body of the divine Demetrios reposes, which gushes here and accomplishes miracles for the entire universe and for the faithful… What a remarkable way to remember Saint Demetrios and celebrate his feast day!

In 1472, Niccolò Perotti (1430-1480), secretary to Cardinal Bessarion and archbishop of Siponto, donated to Sassoferrato, the city of his birth, a collection of reliquaries, including the Mosaic Icon of Saint Demetrios. That was a notable donation considering Niccolò Perotti’s position. As Cardinal Bessarion’s secretary, he was able to travel as far as Trebizond in the East, and acquire a collection of valuable reliquaries, manuscripts, and icons. It has been suggested that the Mosaic Icon of Saint Demetrios was gifted to Perotti by no other than Bessarion himself, known to be the owner of a collection of Late Byzantine Mosaic Icons… but there is no proof for this.  https://www.academia.edu/39903340/Displaying_an_Icon_The_Mosaic_Icon_of_Saint_Demetrios_at_Sassoferrato_and_its_Frame

The Museu Civico in Sassoferrato is fortunate to hold such an important and rare relic of the Palaiologan Renaissance, the final period in the development of Byzantine art. On a poplar board, slightly excavated at its center, rendered in micromosaic, stands Saint Demetrios, patron Saint of Thessaloniki. He is placed against a gold background and a tiled ground. He is in military garb, holds a lance with his righthand, and, with the left, a blue shield decorated with a heraldic white lion against a ground strewn with gold stylized flowers. Based on stylistic analysis, according to Martin Donnert,  the mosaic icon at Sassoferrato was executed in the 14th century as a typical work of Palaiologan art. This date is further confirmed by the radiocarbon analysis dating of the wooden support of the icon to 1279 ± 26 years, which gives a terminus post quem. Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261–1557), Evans, Helen C., ed., with essays by… https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Byzantium_Faith_and_Power_1261_1557 pp. 231-233 and https://www.academia.edu/39903340/Displaying_an_Icon_The_Mosaic_Icon_of_Saint_Demetrios_at_Sassoferrato_and_its_Frame

Mosaic Icon of Saint Demetrios at Sassoferrato (details), Mosaic Icon: 14th or 15th century, Ampulla: 13th or 14th century, Silver Frame: mid-15th century, Mosaic set into wax on a poplar board, paint, silver-gilt (frame), lead (ampulla), 24.3 X 16 cm, Museo Civico, Sassoferrato, Italy https://twitter.com/byzanzfreiburg/status/1151222386190180352

The ampulla at the top of the Icon’s frame is a wonderful rarity! It turns the Mosaic Icon into a precious reliquary of Saint Demetrios’s cult. The text, on the right side of the Icon’s frame, explains the reasons why the ampulla was added to the Icon’s composition. Prof. Martin Donnert clarifies that …Since the 12th century, the existence of miraculous oil (the Myron) connected with the cult of St Demetrios is well attested in the sources. He also adds that lead ampullae from the late 12th to the 14th centuries that contained the holy Myron for pilgrims to the saint’s tomb, called koutrouvia… were found at various places in northern Greece and the Balkans. One of these ampullae, a cherished relic in itself, is the one incorporated at the top of the icon frame… showing St Demetrios holding a cross on one side, and, on the opposite side, St Theodora, the second myron-giving saint of Thessaloniki. https://www.academia.edu/39903340/Displaying_an_Icon_The_Mosaic_Icon_of_Saint_Demetrios_at_Sassoferrato_and_its_Frame

The silver-gilt frame, dated during the mid-15th century is rich in information. A number of inscriptions within star-shaped cartouches, along with the imperial symbol of the double-headed eagle and the tetrabasileion, may indicate a distinguished member of the Palaiologan family, to be the original commissioner of the Icon. Furthermore, Prof Martin Donnert suggests Demetrios Palaiologos and the Palaiologoi of Montferrat! https://www.academia.edu/39903340/Displaying_an_Icon_The_Mosaic_Icon_of_Saint_Demetrios_at_Sassoferrato_and_its_Frame

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Interesting to read: The Historical Significance of the Mosaic of Saint Demetrius at Sassoferrato byA. A. Vasiliev, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 5 (1950), pp. 29+31-39 (10 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291074

House of the Deer in Herculaneum

Still Life with Peaches and Water Jar, detail of a Fourth Style wall painting from the House of the Deer in Herculaneum, c. 62-69 C.E., fresco, 35.56 x 34.29 cm, Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/roman/wall-painting/a/still-life-with-peaches

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, a sustainable world is one where everyone counts. Governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society and individuals need to work together in solidarity to prioritize the right of all people to food, nutrition, peace and equality. Indeed, every one of us, including youth, can work towards an inclusive and sustainable future, showing greater empathy and kindness in our actions. On World Food Day, October 16, we need to build a sustainable world where everyone, everywhere has regular access to enough nutritious food. I would like to commemorate this important day by presenting a Still Life painting from the House of Deer in Herculaneum. https://www.fao.org/world-food-day/en

Panoramic View of the House of the Deer in Herculaneum, Italy https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/herculaneum-1/insula-iv/house-of-the-deer

The House of the Deer, built during the reign of Emperor Claudius, is one of the most opulent houses in ancient Herculaneum. Its name comes from a set of statues depicting deer attacked by hounds. The marble sculptural decoration of the Villa, discovered in 1930, was part of its landscaped garden. Apart from the two statues of deer attacked by hounds, archaeologists discovered the statue of a Satyr carrying a Wineskin on his back, and a Drunken Hercules. https://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/giardinoantico/egar.asp?c=24027&k=24013&rif=24021            

Discovered in 1930, in the House of the Deer, this loaf of sourdough bread was baked on the morning of the 24th of August, 79 CE. It carries the stamp of Celer, a former slave of Quintus Granius Verus. https://bitesizedancienthistory1.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/the-bread-loaf-from-herculaneum/

Interestingly, we know the name of the owner of this house. This was done after the discovery of a bread cake with the seal of a certain Seler, a former slave of Granius Veria. Shortly before the death of Herculaneum, Celer was released by his master with all the rights of a free citizen. https://ermakvagus.com/Europe/Italy/herculaneum/deer_house_herculaneum.html

House of the Deer in Herculaneum Plan
Garden area (32), looking north to the central doorway into Cryptoporticus (28)
Garden area (32), detail of the mosaic decoration of the Great Portal.
Photo courtesy of Robert Hanson
Statue of a deer attacked by four hounds, 1st century AD, white Luna marble. The original statues are exhibited in Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei, in Italy https://herculaneum.uk/Ins%204/Herculaneum%204%2021%20p9.htm and https://twitter.com/planetpompeii/status/1113189803204411399 and https://herculaneum.uk/Ins%204/Herculaneum%204%2021%20plan.htm

The House of the Deer, one of the most luxurious waterfront dwellings so far discovered in Herculaneum, has an interesting layout. It focuses on the axis that runs from the triclinium (5) through the peristyle/garden area (32), and the tablinum (15) to the gazebo (18) set in the center of the panoramic terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples to the south. https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/herculaneum-1/insula-iv/house-of-the-deer

An important part of the House of the Deer was the Cryptoporticus (28-31), a corridor that enclosed the central peristyle/garden (32) area, and opened onto the atrium (24), the triclinium (5), and the tablinum (15). The Cryptoporticus was decorated in the 4th Pompeian Style, featuring more than sixty individual panels. These panels (partly removed in the 18th century) represent scenes with tiny cupids, still-lifes, and various architectural landscapes. https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/herculaneum-1/insula-iv/house-of-the-deer

Still Life with Peaches and Water Jar (left), Still Life with a Silver Tray with Prunes, Dried figs, Dates, and Glass of Wine (center), and Still Life with Branch of Peaches (right)
Still Life with Hen (left), Still Life with Two Cuttlefish, a Silver Jug, Bird, Shells, Snails, and Lobster (center), and Still-life with a Hare and Grapes (right)
Still-Life with Chicken and Hare (left), Still Life with Partridge, Pomegranate, and Apple (second from left), Still Life with Thrushes and Mushrooms (third from left), Still-Life with Partridges and Eels (far right)
Fourth Style wall paintings from the House of Deer in Herculaneum, Italy, c. 62-69 C.E., fresco, 35.56 x 34.29 cm, Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy
https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/roman/wall-painting/a/still-life-with-peaches

My favorite panel presents Peaches and a transparent glass Water Jar. It was meant to be seen as a group of three Still Life paintings.  According to Dr. Lea Cline, all ten Still Life panels discovered in the Villa belong to a category of still life paintings known as xenia, that is as hospitality gifts. It is interesting to know that the ancient Greek and Roman hosts were expected to gift their guests with xenia, tokens of their hospitality, instead of receiving gifts as the tradition is today. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/roman/wall-painting/a/still-life-with-peaches

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

The Red School House by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer, American Artist, 1836 – 1910
The Red School House, 1873, oil on canvas, 55.5 x 39.5 cm, NGA, Washington DC, USA https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.66419.html

On the 5th of October, we celebrate World Teachers’ Day, acknowledging the critical role teachers play in achieving inclusive, quality education for all… and recognizing that during the pandemic …teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops, that no learner is left behind. Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue… I would like to celebrate World Teachers’ Day by remembering Homer’s words (Iliad 9.437-443)…  The old man and horse-trainer Peleus… sent me (Phoinix) for this reason: to teach you (Achilles) all these things, / how to be a speaker of words and a doer of deeds, and by looking deeper into a Painting… The Red School House by Winslow Homer. https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldteachersday

Winslow Homer is one of the finest 19th-century American Artists. His career started as a graphic reporter during the American Civil War with paintings like Home, Sweet Home, and Sharpshooter on Picket Duty, of 1863, or Prisoners from the Front, of 1866 defining his early career. The late 1860s and the 1870s were, however, the artist’s finest years of artistic experimentation and prolific and varied output. Living and working in New York, but traveling to Paris, in late 1867, for the exhibition of two of his Civil War Paintings at the Exposition Universelle, Homer came face to face with the French avant-garde, and although there is little likelihood of influence, the artist shared their subject interests, their fascination with serial imagery, and their desire to incorporate into their works outdoor light, flat and simple forms (reinforced by their appreciation of Japanese design principles), and free brushwork. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/homr/hd_homr.htm

Winslow Homer, American Artist, 1836 – 1910
The Red School House (details teacher), 1873, oil on canvas, 55.5 x 39.5 cm, NGA, Washington DC, USA https://twitter.com/ngadc/status/1468980569300258821/photo/1 and https://twitter.com/ngadc/status/1468980569300258821/photo/2

The Red School House is one of several paintings Winslow Homer created from 1871 to 1874. They all shared the same theme… scenes of school life, with three consistent elements: a small red schoolhouse, its young female teacher, and a luminous mountain setting. The NGA experts believe that Homer working after the American Civil War was expressing a popular wave of nostalgia in late 19th-century America for small country schools and the simpler lifestyle and the country’s sense of optimism for future generations. https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.66419.html

Winslow Homer, American Artist, 1836 – 1910
The Red School House (detail students), 1873, oil on canvas, 55.5 x 39.5 cm, NGA, Washington DC, USA https://twitter.com/ngadc/status/1468980569300258821/photo/3

Although titled The Red School House the painting is in fact a portrait, NGA experts explain, in which the schoolhouse and its attendant figures are secondary and very abbreviated parts. The name of the person depicted is not known, but her high cheek bones and down-turned mouth are similar to the features of the person in such other works as The School Girl, c. 1871, who represents a school teacher, and Young Girl at the Window of 1875 (fi&- 4)5 who wears a black fichu at her neck. More information on The Red School House can be found in the NGA publication American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I, pages 305-309, which is available as a free PDF at… https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/research/publications/pdfs/american-paintings-19th-century-part-1.pdf

For a Student Activity on the Little Red School House, please… Check HERE!

Winslow Homer, American Artist, 1836 – 1910
The School Girl, 1871, oil on canvas, 47.6×39.7 cm, Worcester Art Museum, MA, USA https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Winslow_Homer_-_The_School_Mistress_%28c.1870%29.jpg
Young Girl at Window, 1875, watercolor, the New Britain Museum of American Art, CT, USA https://www.globalgallery.com/detail/373299/homer-young-girl-at-window

Simon Bening’s October

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book October (f. 27v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

Reading Thomas Parker’sarticle on Rabelais’s Table and the Poets of the Pléiade, I came across Autumn by Jacques Peletier du Mans, one of the early members of the Pléiade… Winey Bacchus readies his hoops, / Prepares wine presses, and repairs vessels. / The harvester has his feet completely soiled / From stamping and squashing the grapes. / And this first run (mère goutte) taste / That the pressed grape gives, / In an undulating torrent / Flows into the vat, / And the large barrel works hard, and groans / In a torturous embracing of the must…I thought, once more, of the Golf Book and of Simon Bening’s October miniature page depicting the harvest of wine grapes and the process of wine-making. https://content.ucpress.edu/chapters/12622.ch01.pdf

Wine-making, and the more agreeable labour of wine-tasting, write the British Library experts, is the focus of the main calendar page for the month of October. Simon Bening provides us with visual representations of the Flemish wine “industry,” sommelier aesthetics, and regional identity in the Renaissance. https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

Looking at folio 28v is like reading a specialized wine “vocabulary” book, where a representation of vineyards, a fancy screw wine press, barrels, and grape must, is complete… almost with the sounds of groaning…

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, October (Details, f. 27v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_24098_fs001r

The entire scene is filled with different tasks related to the grape harvest on a lord’s estate, writes Dr. Carlos Miranda García-Tejedor. One nobleman next to his residence offers another a bowl of the wine obtained from his harvest whilst a woman, a lady and a servant holding a pitcher in his hand look on. Beside them are servants carrying out different tasks: filling a barrel with the grape juice flowing from the screw press turned by two peasants; sealing the casks, well-decorated with vine leaves, with a hammer or hatchet; collecting juice for tasting and wine in a barrel, as shown by one of the servants, with a dog beside him, kneeling with a small pitcher in his hand; and, as can be seen in the mid-ground, grape picking, as shown by a man with a large basket or qualus on his back coming through the entrance arch of the stately house crowned by a peacock. The harvest is set in the mountainous landscape in the background, shown in a fine aerial perspective. https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/165

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, October (Detail, f. 27v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_24098_fs001r
Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, October (Detail, f. 27v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_24098_fs001r

Simon Bening’s October page depicting scenes of grape-harvesting and grape-tasting gives me the perfect opportunity to introduce my students to viticulture and viniculture! The scientific term “viticulture” refers to the science, study, and production of grapes. The term “viniculture” also refers to the science, study, and production of grapes, but, specifically to grapes for wine. https://www.pacificrimandco.com/blog/viniculture-vs-viticulture

My goal is to focus on Viticulture and plan a variety of Student Activities… HERE!

For a PowerPoint on the  Golf Book, please… Check HERE!

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book October (f. 27v and f. 28r), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife

Jan Van Eyck, b. before 1395 – d. 1441
Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, 1434, Oil on oak, 82 x 60 cm, National Gallery, London https://www.thehistoryofart.org/jan-van-eyck/arnolfini-wedding/

When the time comes for me to introduce my students to Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife,  I start with his flamboyant signature, Johannes de Eyck fuit hic. 1434 – Jan van Eyck was here. 1434, inscribed immediately above the mirror on the portrait’s background wall. Unpretentious words… but how artfully do they draw attention to his extraordinary skills as a painter and a storyteller! https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-van-eyck-portrait-of-a-man-self-portrait

Jan Van Eyck, b. before 1395 – d. 1441
Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (detail of inscription), 1434, Oil on oak, 82 x 60 cm, National Gallery, London
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Arnolfini_Portrait,_d%C3%A9tail_(6).jpg

Then, I am in trouble… I look at my students and I am flooded with questions, I do not have the precise answers. Is this exactly the reason why the Arnolfini Portrait is so attractive? How do I proceed?

“Jan van Eyck is credited with originating a style of painting characterized by minutely realistic depictions of surface effects and natural light. This was made possible by using an oil medium, which allowed the building up of paint in translucent layers, or glazes.” These two sentences by the National Gallery in London embody the essence of van Eyck’s painting style and technique. I like to read them to my students emphasizing his contribution to Western European Art. Information about his training and his life is scarce, we do know, however, that he was a member of the gentry class and that by 1425 he lived at Bruges and Lille as a court painter to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. We also know that in 1428 he traveled to Portugal to paint Philip the Good’s future wife, Isabella of Portugal.     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/jan-van-eyck

I still hesitate… and start with the background, the decorative details, the room itself! Easier to say than do…

Jan Van Eyck, b. before 1395 – d. 1441
Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (upper half), 1434, Oil on oak, 82 x 60 cm, National Gallery, London https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/the-arnolfini-portrait/

First impressions… This seems to be a luxurious room in a house of brick, lit up by a window that opens onto a garden with a cherry tree, glimpsed through the open shutters. Colourful light comes in through the glass window at the top, with clear bulls-eye pieces set in blue, red, and green stained glass. What an amazing display of wealth and “hidden symbolisms”…  

Let’s start with the impressive, bronze chandelier, that has one lit candle, which represents the seeing eye of God. Consider the mirror, decorated with scenes from the Passion of Christ, unblemished so as to symbolize the piety of Mary, the Mother of God. The wooden sandals… could they imply a “sacred” ground, or are they another evidence of incredible wealth? Could the small dog between the couple symbolize marital fidelity? Last but not least… the figure of St. Margaret carved on the finial of the big chair by the bed is the patron saint of pregnancy and childbirth, while the cherry tree painted outside the window is a symbol of love! https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-van-eyck-the-arnolfini-portrait and https://www.artstor.org/2017/06/06/the-many-questions-surrounding-jan-van-eycks-arnolfini-portrait/

Jan Van Eyck, b. before 1395 – d. 1441
Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (details of the dog and St. Margaret), 1434, Oil on oak, 82 x 60 cm, National Gallery, London
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnolfini_Portrait#/media/File:Jan_van_Eyck_009.jpg
https://oeuvremagazinecom.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/the-symbolic-meaning-of-the-arnolfini-wedding/

The Arnolfini room is full of smaller or bigger luxuries. The bed, for example, covered with expensive red woolen cloth dominates the scene along with ornately carved furniture, covered with red cushions and fabric. An intricately woven Oriental rug on the floor, oranges by the window, and beautiful rosary beads hanging next to the mirror… are all signifiers of great wealth in 15th century Belgium. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-van-eyck-the-arnolfini-portrait and https://www.artstor.org/2017/06/06/the-many-questions-surrounding-jan-van-eycks-arnolfini-portrait/

The difficult questions must be addressed… Who are the people in this luxurious, very personal setting? So many questions… and so many diverse answers!

Jan Van Eyck, b. before 1395 – d. 1441
Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (portraits), 1434, Oil on oak, 82 x 60 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.artble.com/imgs/b/9/e/222687/249875.jpg and https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/the-arnolfini-portrait/

They are clearly, according to the National Gallery in London, husband, and wife, and for many years the painting was understood as representing a marriage ceremony, though not anymore. From early on the painting was identified as showing one ‘Hernoul le Fin’ or ‘Arnoult Fin’. The most likely candidate is Giovanni di Nicolao di Arnolfini, known as Giannino or Jehannin, who would have been in his late thirties in 1434. The lady is probably his second wife, whose identity is unknown. The large round mirror that hangs right in the centre of the composition is stunning! Its convex glass shows not just the compressed and contorted room but also two men coming in through a door behind us. Immediately above the mirror is the flamboyant signature: Johannes de Eyck fuit hic. 1434 (‘Jan van Eyck was here. 1434’). Are the two men in the mirror Jan van Eyck, in a red turban, and his servant, arriving on a visit? https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-van-eyck-the-arnolfini-portrait

Jan Van Eyck, b. before 1395 – d. 1441
Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (detail of mirror), 1434, Oil on oak, 82 x 60 cm, National Gallery, London
https://el.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%91%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BF:The_Arnolfini_Portrait,_d%C3%A9tail_%282%29.jpg

So many questions…

For a Student WRAP Activity on the Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, please… Check HERE!

An informative Video (3:59 min) presentation of the Arnolfini Portrait prepared by the National Gallery in London… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM6d9BOj4Ww

If you want to explore the Bibliography on the Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife… start with: Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, by Erwin Panofsky, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 64, No. 372 (Mar. 1934), pp. 117-119+122-127 (9 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/865802

The Enthroned Christ and Emperor Leo VI the Wise

The Enthroned Christ and Emperor Leo VI the Wise, around the year 920, mosaic decorating the lunette over the Imperial Door in the Narthex of Hagia Sophia, the Great Church of the Byzantine Empire, Istanbul, Turkey https://www.pallasweb.com/deesis/inner-outer-narthex-hagia-sophia.html

I like what the late Professor Nicolas Oikonomides wrote about the Byzantine mosaics in the vestibule and the narthex of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia… The imperial mosaics of Saint Sophia, beyond their artistic value, are of considerable historical importance… and… mosaics were made in the hope that they would survive ad saecula saeculorurn. Consequently, although representing a particular scene, or event, or idea that prevailed at the time of their composition, they were also supposed to bequeath their presumably understandable message to future generations. I am reading his article, Leo VI and the Narthex Mosaic of Saint Sophia, follow his steps, and learn interesting facts about the Enthroned Christ and Emperor Leo VI the Wise, the mosaic decorating the lunette over the Imperial Door of the Great Church. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 30 (1976), pp. 151+153-172 (26 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291393 and http://archive.eclass.uth.gr/eclass/modules/document/file.php/SEAD336/Oikonomides-Leo%20VI.pdf

In 1930 Thomas Whittemore, an American scholar, archaeologist, and restoration expert founded the Byzantine Institute of America and in 1931 took over the responsibility of recovering the mosaics of Hagia Sophia after receiving the approval of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk, who turned Hagia Sophia into a museum four years later. 1n 1933 Whittemore uncovered and restored the mosaic decorating the lunette over the Imperial Door of Hagia Sophia. This mosaic, featuring the enthroned Christ in the center, a Byzantine Emperor in a prostrate position to his right, Whittemore identified him as Leo VI the Wise, and two medallions presenting the Mother of God and the Archangel Gabriel, is most unusual-a hapax in Byzantine art, according to Nicolas Oikonomides.  https://greekreporter.com/2020/07/14/the-american-who-restored-hagia-sophias-ancient-mosaics-to-their-former-glory/ and The Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul by Thomas Whittemore, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Apr. – Jun. 1938), p 220 https://www.jstor.org/stable/499667?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3A6760f2942e2ab709e12081a284c41584&seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents and file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Byzantium%20Mosaics/Leo%20the%20Wise%20Oikonomides.pdf

Byzantinologists agree that the Hagia Sophia Mosaic over the Imperial Door (Christ and Emperor Leo VI, the Wise) is to be dated to the second half of the ninth century or the beginning of the tenth. There is a disagreement, however, over the meaning of the whole composition, on which Oikononides gives an explanation I find interesting. file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Byzantium%20Mosaics/Leo%20the%20Wise%20Oikonomides.pdf page 154

The Enthroned Christ and Emperor Leo VI the Wise (detail), around the year 920, mosaic decorating the lunette over the Imperial Door in the Narthex of Hagia Sophia, the Great Church of the Byzantine Empire, Istanbul, Turkey https://el.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%91%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BF:Detail_of_the_Imperial_Gate_mosaic_in_Hagia_Sophia_showing_Leo_VI_the_Wise.jpg

Prof. Nicolas Oikonomides presents, I believe, a very persuasive argument over the meaning of the composition. He stresses the idea of how unique and unusual the theme of an emperor prostrating himself in front of Christ is in Byzantine imperial iconography and questions… Is the depicted Emperor exhibiting extreme humiliation or repentance? Oikonomides is in favor of repentance over humiliation. To support his case, he recalls that the initial meaning of the Greek word μετάνοια is repentance. He also recalls that since early Byzantine times, the same term, μετάνοια. is used by Orthodox Greeks to mean prostration, because prostration was-and still is, an act of penance, a normal way for the Orthodox Greeks to show repentance. He then compares the Emperor depicted in the Hagia Sophia mosaic to famous manuscript illuminations depicting the Repentance of David, the Biblical King, and he concludes that the Hagia Sophia mosaic of an Emperor in a prostrate position shows a repentant emperor. file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Byzantium%20Mosaics/Leo%20the%20Wise%20Oikonomides.pdf Pages 154-158

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Babylonian Panel with a Striding Lion

Panel with a Striding Lion, Neo-Babylonian period, 605–562 BC, glazed ceramic, 97.2 × 227.3 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2021-04-21/getty-villa-mesopotamia-louvre

The Inscription of the Ishtar Gate reads… Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, the faithful prince appointed by the will of Marduk, the highest of princely princes, beloved of Nabu, of prudent counsel, who has learned to embrace wisdom, who fathomed their divine being and reveres their majesty, the untiring governor, who always takes to heart the care of the cult of Esagila and Ezida and is constantly concerned with the well-being of Babylon and Borsippa, the wise, the humble, the caretaker of Esagila and Ezida, the firstborn son of Nabopolassar, the King of Babylon. Both gate entrances of Imgur-Ellil and Nemetti-Ellil —following the filling of the street from Babylon—had become increasingly lower. Therefore, I pulled down these gates and laid their foundations at the water-table with asphalt and bricks and had them made of bricks with blue stone on which wonderful bulls and dragons were depicted. I covered their roofs by laying majestic cedars length-wise over them. I hung doors of cedar adorned with bronze at all the gate openings. I placed wild bulls and ferocious dragons in the gateways and thus adorned them with luxurious splendor so that people might gaze on them in wonder. The Babylonian Panel with a Striding Lion exhibited in the MET, in New York City… was part of Babylon’s amazing Processional Way that connected the Ishtar Gate to the Temple of Bit Akitu, or “House of the New Year’s Festival.” http://www.kchanson.com/ANCDOCS/meso/ishtarins.html and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/322585

City model of the main Procession Street (Aj-ibur-shapu) towards Ishtar Gate in Babylon, Model at the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishtar_Gate

The Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way in ancient Babylon may not be among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but they were spectacular to view and memorable to walk by them. They were both commissioned by the longest-reigning king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled for forty-three years, from August 605 BC to October 561 BC. The Procession Way, ran through the Ishtar Gate, connecting the inner city with the Temple of Bit Akitu, or House of the New Year’s Festival.

The Ishtar Gate walls were constructed with coloured glazed bricks, decorated with figures of Bulls and Dragons, symbols of the weather god Adad and of Marduk. The walls flanking the Processional Way were lined with figures of Striding Lions made of coloured glazed bricks as well. The depicted lions, the animal associated with Ishtar, goddess of love and war, served to protect the street; their repeated design served as a guide for the ritual processions from the city to the temple. Archaeologists believe there were friezes of flowers and sixty fierce-looking Babylonian lions on either side of the Procession Way. Glazed bricks of blue, turquoise, and golden-ochre colours, created a “magical” effect of grandeur and splendor, suitable for a city enveloped in the lore of majesty and luxury! https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/322585

Babylon Processional Stay with Striding Lions, Neo-Babylonian period, 605–562 BC, glazed ceramics, Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Babylon_processional_way.jpg

The Babylon Processional Way is a marvelous achievement of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II. Monumental in size, vibrantly colourful, and highly ornate, the Processional Way was meant to dazzle the passer-by, citizen of the city of Babylon, or traveler from afar. The entire structure served as a monument rather than having practical uses, and the religious devotion is clear cut in the representation of the gods in their animal form. https://history2701.fandom.com/wiki/Processional_Way

Hundreds of thousands of glazed brick fragments being sorted in the colonnades of the Neues Museum, Berlin, 1927–1928 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum/photographer unknown https://www.smb.museum/en/exhibitions/detail/from-fragment-to-monument/

Excavations in Babylon started in 1899 by the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft (German Oriental Society) and continued to 1917. From the very beginning the objective of the excavations included not only scientific research but also the acquisition of exhibits for the Berlin museums. Shipments of excavated Babylonian glazed bricks were used to create a life-size construction of the Ishtar Gate, and the Processional Way, widely regarded as one of the most spectacular reconstructions in the history of archaeology. The reconstruction was completed in 1930 for the Pergamon Museum, on MuseumInsel in Berlin. A number of pieces from the Processional Way were sold to other museums, and these can be seen in 11 museums, the MET Museum in New York is one of them, around the world. https://archaeology-travel.com/photo-album/ishtar-gate-in-the-pergamon-museum/ and https://www.smb.museum/en/exhibitions/detail/from-fragment-to-monument/

For a Student Activity on the Babylonian Striding Lion, please… Check HERE!

An Educational Video, by Khan Academy… Reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way, Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany, created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker… https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/ancient-near-east1/babylonian/v/ishtar-gate-and-processional-way-reconstruction-babylon-c-575-b-c-e

A Google Arts & Culture short Video (2:23min) of the Ishtar Gate and the Procession Way in 3D reconstruction… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew88Z1h6jzg

For a YouTube Clip on Alexander’s grand entry into Babylon from Oliver Stone’s  2004 movie, Alexander (1.46min)… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRK_X5NbIXs