The statue of Hermaphroditos closes my Louvre trip (over 2 years after I actually visited it!). While the exquisitely crafted mattress it rests on was created by Bernini in the 17th century – and is a masterpiece in its own right – the statue itself is a Roman copy of a lost Greek original. The … Continue reading
Votive offerings Little models of homes/temples were offered to Sumerian gods and goddesses as part of worship rituals, asking the deity to protect the supplicant. What struck me immediately I saw these were the similarities with certain Hindu ritual offerings. On Diwali in Northern India, Hindus create a small temple of sorts at home and … Continue reading
A war scene from a fragment of what was probably a palace wall. The scene depicts an assault on a fortified city, interestingly defended by a double-wall system with the inner wall higher than the outer one, allowing the defenders to shoot arrows and pour heated oil, tar etc. from two levels at the attackers. … Continue reading
A statue of Gudea, Prince of Lagash. Having read about him in Sumerian history, it was a “little shiver down my spine” moment to see him face-to-face! The epic of Gilgamesh is probably the oldest epic/fable/legend known to us. It’s unclear if Gilgamesh was an historical figure or not, though the current thought is that … Continue reading
Lamassu from the palace of Sargon II near modern-day Khorsabad. These mythical creatures with the body of a winged bull or lion and the head of a human were considered as guardian deities, and seals depicting these magical creatures were buried under the threshold of Assyrian homes in the 1st millennium BCE. Of course, the … Continue reading
Cuneiform writing has always fascinated me. The first known script, I still wonder at the genius of the humans who came up with it. From simple scribbles for counting to a complex set of symbols for recording their history, literature, mythology, and more, this was one of the most remarkable inventions of all time. More … Continue reading
Some more examples of foundation nails, these made of more perishable materials, pillar bases, and plaques from Sumerian temples. The king in the temple and relaxing at the palace. Visual representation was important even in the first society with a script. The king is depicted markedly bigger than the commoners, whether he is paying homage … Continue reading
Sumerian seals were typically cylindrical, although simple square and cubical seals are also known. All a trader had to do was to run the seal across the clay sealing the merchandise while it was still wet and everyone would know its owner.
Such intricately carved examples of drinking horns, it is hard to believe that these are over a millennium old!
In an era of uncertainty and increasing poverty and hardship, gold got increasingly concentrated in the hands of the church, leading to such extravagant constructs as this reliquary, one of hundreds built during the latter half of the first millennium ACE and well into the second, to house the relics (bones, limbs, blood, ashes what … Continue reading