Mysteries of the Female Figure, Part 2 Ancient World II

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This large mosaic is entitled “Amazonmachie”, which in French means massacre of the Amazons, (the same suffix is used to describe bull fighting). The violence of this piece caught my attention.

The story of the Amazons is quite sad, strong, independent women, ultimately subdued by men. The details and colors of this piece made it all the more memorable. (Turkey, 400 ce)

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I wanted to include as many different mediums as I could also, just to show the diversity of the female figure in different Art forms. Here is a bas-relief, showing a Greek hero, Heracles welcoming the personifications of Charity, Hospitality and Generosity. The details of the women’s attire caught my attention with this piece. Sadly, empty studs in the stone showed tantalizing signs of more elaborate ornamentations (jewelry and embellishments) that we can only guess at today. (Island of Thasos, 480 bce)

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Here we have another glimpse at  funerary steles. This time in the Egyptian culture. What struck me here was the way both figures, man and wife, are placed on the same level as equals, gently embracing for eternity. There is no superiority of one over the other, regardless of what the situation was in life, in death, they are equals. This was a surprisingly reoccurring theme.

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Scribe Ounsou and his wife, Imenhetep, 1450 bce

Ancient Rome

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The beauty of this sculpture struck me. It’s a two tone marble and bronze statue of Artemis, the Huntress. I loved how they incorporated the marbling of the stone into the folds of her clothes and the striking black and white contrasting materials.

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This marble sculpture of one of Apollo’s muses is a Roman copy of a Greek piece, created in the second century c.e. However, in the 18th century, a fanciful restoration, added the comedy mask and caused an ongoing commotion about the true subject matter of this piece.

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Here is another roman re-creation of an original Greek statue, reconstructed from fragments. The Romans took the pose and features of this character but adapted her to suit their needs, placing her in a different tale of mythology altogether. In Greece, she was Diane, and in Rome, she became Atalante, one of Ovid’s metamorphoses. But her dynamic posture caught my eyes, she seems ready to come to life at any second and run right past us.

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200 c.e. restored in the 18th century.

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This was the most impressive marble statue I saw in the Louvre. The presentation and location are the perfect backdrop for this monumental 10 foot tall statue of Athena (Pallas of Velletri). Her face is stern and her features almost masculine, shown as a figure of strength and victory. This is a Roman reconstruction from the 2nd century. The original Greek statue was a ten foot bronze of the goddess, this piece was apparently recreated from plaster molds of the Greek original, a piece that was never found.

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Facing the Pallas Athena, is a long hall, filled with statues and busts of the goddess Athena/Minerva, showing her in different poses and dress.

DSCN1599You guessed it, more funerary steles. I was rather surprised to find one more example of this reoccurring theme in Roman culture. It was a surprise to see the similarities in each of these Mediterranean civilizations. Once more, we have the couple, man and wife, side by side, seated as equals, together, facing the afterlife. I think it is an important reminder of the position of the woman in the family structure, not as inferior, but as a partner.  And it would seem that each culture added their own touch to this idea.

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Stele of Zabdibol and Haggai, Syria 240 c.e.

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Ancient Egypt in the LOUVRE, Part 3

What Egyptians Ate

DSCN1432This display shows some of the typical fruits, grains and seeds the Egyptians cultivated and used daily. There are quite a few nuts, barley and flax.

Tepemankh’s Banquet Menu

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I saw this fascinating bas-releif describing the menu for an actual banquet held by the noble man, Tepemankh. It was such a memorable feast that it was engraved onto the wall of his tomb Unfortunately a lot of the names are local delicacies, pastries and cakes that have no modern equivalent. So we will never know half of the wonderful foods on this elaborate menu.

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Producing the Food

DSCN1433Beer was an essential staple in the Egyptian diet. Some scientists speculate that drinking beer daily might have helped prevent disease in the ancient land. The beer making process requires all water to be boiled. Making it safer for general consumption that regular pond or well water. Here we have a clay sculpture of the beer making process.

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Bread was another major staple in most of the ancient Mediterranean world. And still is, to this day. On the left here we have a bas relief depicting two men making bread. One is preparing the dough in a big mixing bowl and the other is watching the bread baking in molds, ready to remove it from the ovens.

Agriculture

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Here we can see the kinds of tools ancient Egyptians used to plow their fields.

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We can see a clay and wood model of the techniques they used. This also shows that the Egyptians had domesticated animals as well.

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Here is another example of the domestication of animals. On this painted wall fragment we can see a heard of Ibex like goats, and their herders, probably leading them to the slaughter actually.

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On this bas-releif we can see a succession of workers carrying the the fruits of the harvest, palms and fruits, as well as some fowl, geese or ducks of some kind.

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Here is a bas-releif of a group of women harvesting either reeds, the main component of papyrus or cotton to later be woven into linen. Not all Egyptian crops were food based.

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On this fragment of painted wall we can see how the men harvested wheat. Also on the bottom register, they are replanting and plowing the field once more. I’m not entirely sure just what is happening in the top register. There’s a cow, and men carrying some kind of reed cages. It’s a bit of a mystery.

Hunting

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Hunting also contributed to the Egyptian menu. On the left we can see a wall painting with three registers, on the top a cow is being butchered, on bottom two we can see a cortege of Egyptians carrying all kinds of different foods, grains fish and fowl birds.

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Just like the photo here, representing a ceremonial parade of women carrying food from the harvests and hunts to the temples. They are carrying fowl and grain.

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We can see ancient quivers and arrows. It’s not visible on the photo but the metal quiver is engraved with a hunting scene of an Egyptian on a chariot letting arrows loose on some kind of gazelle or antelope. The wooden shafts of the arrows actually survived as well. I love how the Egyptians decorated their everyday items. They had a developed sense and love for the aesthetic.

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Here are some daggers and axes. Some or the more elaborate ones were probably reserved for ceremonial uses but we can imagine very similar tools being used during hunting excursions.