Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Kore

This is in many ways the female version of the Kouros posted yesterday. Both differences and similarities surface as you see; it isn't nude, but the pose is still strictly frontal and the face is similar. I have unfortunately no exact date fot this piece but it should be from around 540 BC.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Kouros

This is the first real statue that I post from Greece under this theme but it'll surely be a common sight soon enough. The type posted here is called a Kouros and notice the style, this is what all Greek male statues once came from. It is also a very characteristic type from the period. Some easily recognizable traits can be listed; they are nude nude, frontal, with big eyes and one foot in front of the other. The hairstyle is also normally the same as here.

This piece should be from ca 600 BC.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Archaic Greece (600-480 BC)

It's time to enter a period in Greek history that is better known to us - the archaic period. And I intend to move away from the pottery for a while to let you rest that.

The picture today is taken at Paestum (gr. Poseidoni) and this is the so called temple of Athena (ca 500 BC). The curious fact of the day is that this was the first temple to use both the Doric and Ionian style, a architectural innovation that was followed by athens only 30 years later.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

An ancient monster

A last vessel for some time, I promise! I present this as the last post on the orientalizing period. As you understand by now, there's not very much else left. Tomorrow we'll move into the archaic period where finds are much more common.

Friday, June 26, 2009

An orientalizing vessel

Here's a great example of an orientalizing vessel, called the Nessos amphora. In the decoration we see the winged gorgons in the centre. Notice the leg posture, interpreted as a sign of rapid movement. In the upper scene we find Hercules killing the Centaur Nessos.

The piece is dated to between 625 and 600 BC.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In between two periods

This piece is interesting as it can be placed between the geometric and the orientalizing period (700-600 BC), even as I have no firm date for the piece. No mater the exact dating, this kind of changes in decoration was to be common and Greek art would soon change into a more eastern influenced style.

Anyway my argument is based on the decoration, notice the creature on the upper part of the vessel, yet there are geometric traits on the other part of the decoration.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recommended bloggs

Erik Hultgrens bloggs:

- JustAnE.blogspot.com
- MasterGnu.blogspot.com

The mysterious latinbloggers many contribution on Latin and the life of a Phd student in Sweden.

- latinblogg.blogspot.com


The most impressive finds we have from the geometric age, as you may suspect by now, are ceramic vessels. Here's another one, I've got no firm dating but somewhere between 900 and 700 BC should make it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


This is a pyxis, a funerary gift, from the 9th century BC. The 5 beehive-shaped objects have sometimes been interpreted as granaries and it may be of interest to know that this artefact was found in the Athenian Agora with several other funerary gifts.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Dark Ages and the Geometrical period (1100-700 BC)

It's traditional that the Dying Bronze Age civilizations in Greece faded away, leaving a vacuum that started a period called the Dark Ages. There are unfortunately very few remains from this period and I have no good shots of any remain. I will there for haste on to the Geometrical period.

On a completely different subject - I have been invited to blogg at latinbloggen
for one week and if you enjoy the pictures here I recommend that you take a look there too! The subject is ancient water technology but it is (possibly unfortunately for some readers) presented in Swedish.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Plain of Argolis

I want to present this shot as the last piece of my Bronze Age exhibition. Enjoy the view from the Mycenae citadel over the plans of Agolis!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Marine style vessel

I couldn't resist posting another marine style vessel. Isn't the squid absolutely adorable?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ancient animals

I wonder if any of these ever lived at There, but we at lest know that they had heard of them and knew how to depict them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An ancient landscape

I feel that I must present a few more frescoes from Thera, for two reasons:

1. Finishing the theme of the Aegean bronze age properly.
2. They are worth a few more days, no doubt.

Anyway, from Monday and for the rest of next week I'll change theme temporarily to Roman water technology. This is because I have the honour of guest blogging that week,I'll let you know exactly how this will work soon. After that we're back in Greece!

Then, to today's picture. This is, as I said above, another fresco from There. This one is however interpreted as a depiction of the harsh landscape of the island.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A 3500 years old fresco

Most people have heard of Pompeii. Many know that it has another famous neighbour, Herculaneum. Then there's the unknown volcano victims in the Campanian region that the absolute majority haven't even heard about, as Stabia and Oplontis.

There are, of course, even more cities that have been destroyed and buried by extreme eruptions. I'm told that they have found such a city in South America.

Then, there is Thera. We do not know what the inhabitants themselves called this city,situated on the island that we now call Santorini.

This city was buried somewhere in the end of the 17th century - beginning of the 16th century BC (The exact date is difficult to tell) when the island literary exploded in a violent (and that is not a understatement) volcanic eruption. Take a look at a modern map and you will surely notice the result.

The city can by all means be compared to Pompeii and frescoes have been found here as well. This one depicts a bull jumper, a Minoan sport where it seems like you were jumping over bulls by catching their horns. The "hovering" is interpreted as that the bull is running.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Mycenae wasn't the only fortified citadel in the area during the bronze age. This is Tiryns, situated on the other side of the Argolidian plain and the remains seen here are from the 13th century BC. I mentioned Cyclopean walls yesterday and this is perhaps an even better example of that technique.

Lions gate

I was planning on not staying for too long in the Bronze Age as it's rather far from my own field (Even though I constantly try to re-read "Greek art and archaeology" and never get any further than the archaic age). But before leaving this field I need to share some pictures.

This is the very famous lions gate in Mycenae, constructed about 1250 BC, which was the principal entrance to the citadel. It's a very advanced defensive system where the wall on the right side is build not to incorporate any part of the city but to allow the defenders to attack any invader from a third side. The gate would surely be all but impenetrable.

A fun fact is that the style of masonry used here is called cyclopean. This is an ancient (read: classical) term as the ancient Greeks themselves considered it impossible for humans to build walls out of the massive stones used. The only explanation they had then was that it must have been Cyclops that constructed these walls.

Bulls head rhyton

I intended to stay away from any more funerary gifts for a while – I could have a theme where I only posted stuff from the Mycenae grave circles. There is “unfortunately” another piece that I simply couldn’t resist to post here.

What you see here is a Rhyton in the shape of a bulls head. You may remember that I mentioned this special shape only yesterday.

Marine style vessel

Today we move out to the Greek island. This is a vessel of so called marine style, made somewhere soon after 1500 BC (based on LM IB which mean Late Minoan 1 B, a specified period in a relative dating system). The type is easily recognized by the motif and pale background and if you ever visit the national museum in Athens you’ll see a lot of these! The one here, being a three handled amphora, is however not a standard shape. The two most common shapes are called pilgrim flask (a small round vessel) and rhyton (a sort of wine shin shaped vessel with one large opening and one much smaller on the other end for pouring).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I have seen the face of Agamemnons cousin?

This is one of the other golden masks that was found in the grave circles in Mycenae and I believe that is is important to notice that the so called mask of Agamemnon isn't the only one.

It is also important to remember that Schliemann didn't "identified" this mask as his hero and it's a perfect example of how archaeologists from time to time have created truth out of their personal wishes.

"I have seen the face of Agamemnon!" - Heinrich Schliemann

This seems like a fitting picture as I posted a tomb yesterday. You may remember that I commented on that no grave goods were found in it, but here’s an example of what a funeral gift from that time may look like. It was found by the great (at least in some aspects) archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in the 19th century in the so called grave circle B at Mycenae and he immediately identified it as the death mask of Agamemnon (He is said to have cried out "I have seen the face of Agamemnon!" but he simply ignored the other 9,less decorative, masks). Nowadays we know that this is wrong, the mask dates to around the 16the century BC which is 500 years before the traditional (and rather accepted) date of the Iliad.

This mask is however far from the only item found in the grave circle (and in the other one, called circle B). The huge amount of gold, silver and other items in the tombs suggest a sudden increase in the prosperity of Mycenae. Exactly what did happen is unfortunately unknown.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Greece - Treasury of Atreus

I will try to post this theme in a somewhat chronological order - from the Bronze Age and onwards.

The so called Treasury of Atreus, built ca 1250 BC, is situated only a short distance from the Mycenaean citadel. It's a large beehive formed structure with one big chamber (beehive shaped)and a second smaller. The picture shows the main entrance to the tomb, which once was decorate and it might be difficult to see in this picture but the stones are huge: the lower one are almost 2 meters high. The structure itself is about 14 meter high in total.

It is not known who was buried here and no finds were made as it had been plundered long before any excavations were made. Yet, it is outstanding in it's size and form and the date corresponds with the time when the Mycenaeans were coming into a very prosperous phase. The conclusion has therefore been that a very rich ruler was buried here.

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Greece - The cradle of Europe

So, what is this new plan? As I left Rome yesterday no more days in Rome can be presented here, at least not in the form that I have done it this far.

The blogg will therefore, from this point forward until my next trip abroad, use a thematic form. I will for a few weeks, even months, present a subject. This will be done by posting one picture every day with a little more in depth information than what you may be used to by now.

Then, what theme will I start with. I have though of a number of possibilities as Pompeii, The Roman Forum, foreign cults, Roman art and so on. I feel though, in the end, that a break from Rome is needed and my attention will there for be on Greece for some time. All pictures will, of course, still have been taken by me.

Let me therefore introduce you to my new theme. Greece - The cradle of Europe.

Posting a picture of Parthenon would be far to easy. This is the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, which was begun by Peisistratus during the mid 6th century BC and was finished by the Roman emperor Hadrianus in the early 2nd century AD. It is therefore a good start on this theme as it represent both original Greek architecture and the Roman period.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 75.

So here I am. 75 days later.

La buona forchetta has left the building. For this time. Arrivederci!

The column at the institute gate. My last sight of what's been my home for the last three moths.

Now, you may wonder what is going to happen with this blog, fear not! I have a plan that will be executed tomorrow!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 74.

My last day in Rome. At least the last whole day. And my choice fell on Ostia, a site that I wanted to see again. I find new stuff every time, but I think that I've seen most of it now.

There are an extensive network of tunnels below the baths of Neptunus - yes I went down into them!

A Mithradeum, one of many in Ostia. I've seen at least 15 of these the last weeks and you'll find a shot of another one here (from day 56)

Day 73.

Last night was success no doubt. I can tell by how I felt this morning - slightly hungover. But everything is finished now and I can do what even I want to for a few days. That would be studying Latin and going to another museum, the last one on my list, the Centrale Montemartini. I also used some time to discuss Vitruvius and the castellum that he's describing.

I could post hundreds of pictures from this museum (Centrale Montemartini
) but four will have to do for now. Enjoy!

A mosaic depicting fishes. Notice the resemblance to this fresco at the Palazzo Massimo (Day 24 and 51).

A beautiful statue, notice how the colour contrast to the background.

Another one, this time a Venus.

And at last, a shot of the general environment. Stunning!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 72.

Time is running out quickly here. Only 3 days left in Rome now and we're to host a party tonight - the snacks are being prepared and I've got a power point presentation coming up with some good memories from the time here.

A small grave relief simply stating, "the freedman Antiochus, painter."

Day 71.

The last day in Ravenna has passed by and I found, to my great joy, an exhibition on Stabia which is one of the towns from 79 AD (Together with Oplontis, Pompeii and Herculaneum).

A lararium from Stabia. A lararium is a household altar where the domestic divinities are celebrated.

A fresco depicting a boar hunt.

A stucco from a bath in Stabia. It's lovely to see it close up for once.

Another stucco, I couldn't resist to post another one.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 70.

The second day in Ravenna was much longer than the first, the place is full of churches. Anyway I'm still a few days behind with the pictures after the excursion but as we're having a party tonight youäll have to wait for the rest until tomorrow. Til' then, enjoy.

The San Apollinare in Classe basilica.

King and princeps Theodrics (454-526 AD)mausoleum.

A mosaic from the S. Apollinare Nuovo depicting Theodrics palace (Palativm). Notice that most of the central part is remade during the 19th century,

Another mosaic from S. Apollinare Nuovo, this one depicting the port city Classe.

Classe today. Not to much left.

We visited a mosaic school. Very interesting.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 69.

Ravenna. A beautiful city in the northern Italy, a jewel from the medieval Italy. I've now spent three days there and returned to Rome and I will post the pictures as soon as possible. Other than that, I'm dead tired, but eager to return to my explorations of the past, and some rest is going to be needed before tomorrow.

A mosaic from the San Vitale in Ravenna, depicting the emperor Justinianus who reigned the (eastern) empire 527-565 AD.

An on the other side was his empresses.

The bishop seat in the same basilica. Kinda looks like a throne, doesn't it? It's probably very intentionally.

The paintings in the dome, redone during the baroque.

One of the many round campaniles in the city which makes for an excellent shot.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 68.

We are, as the time in Rome is coming to and end, making a last attempt to be good students and we are therefore heading for Ravenna tomorrow. That will unfortunately mean that there won't be any new pictures until Thursday.

Anyway today have been filled with fun stuff! An introduction to late antiquity, a seminar on "Rome in films" and a Latin lecture. Right now I'm working on a power point presentation for the party at Friday. Oh yeah you heard right. Party at Friday!

A bust of Medusa. What a masterpiece!

Day 67.

Well this has been an interesting day. I started off by walking to the “local” market, a claustrophobic place filled with people. Needless to say, I left very quickly. And why shouldn’t I? The Capitoline museum was way more fun. I also snuck down to the mithradeum at San Clemente – the labyrinth of rooms down there is amazing! Too see another mithradeum look here.
Things have been interesting back at the institute as well, I was called to a spontaneous Latin lecture in the middle of my very hasty dinner. However the power went down after about an hour, something that wasn’t very much to worry about back then – my food is slowly melting now however, six hours later. It’s also been very interesting to see how people get paralyzed by the loss of electricity. We always spend a few hours at the balcony drinking wine eating but now nobody knew what to talk about since we had no power…

Anyway that is why these pictures are a little bit late. I hope that you enjoy then none the less.

The dying Gaul is a classical motif. It is connected to the Guals being defeated by Pergamun in the 3rd century BC.

Didn’t anyone tell baby Hercules not to play with snakes?

Thanks God this is from late antiquity. The technique is called Opus sectilum and you find further examples of this here from day 24.

A mosaic from the villa of Hadrianus (now in the Capitoline museum).

A statue. I cannot quite remember how the museum interpreted it unfortunately. It could be an Amazon as one breast is left uncovered, but they normally have short dresses. Artemis would be a good guess, but she also wear a short dress and there are normally animals in the composition. Venus should be all naked so it's probably not her and it can't be either Athena nor Hera. Hygienia is possible, but it doesn't look like her and her attributes are missing (snake and a vessel). The nine muses are normally all covered up and carry the instruments of the arts. It could of course be a minor goddess or simply a mortal female, something that always make those interpretations very difficult.