The Legacy of Antiquity at the Dawn of the Renaissance

“Of all the art forms, sculpture was the first to give a comprehensive and coherent voice to the new formal Renaissance idiom, the roots of which went back to the classical world. But it was the coherence of the Renaissance visual language that made the difference… These were major works of art, yet when they were cited, it was as fragments, without a comprehensive and coherent vision.”

610Renaissance Florence was the center of a pulsating creativity, which would redefine the spectrum of Western aesthetics over the course of two centuries. At the dawn of the Quattrocento, Florentine artists found inspiration in the sculptures of their Greco-Roman predecessors. The Springtime of the Renaissance: Sculpture and the Arts in Florence, 1400-1460, now on show at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, highlights how ancient sculptures–in stone or bronze–provided the catalyst for far-reaching and revolutionary innovations in art and design. Through the presentation of 140 sculptures and paintings from major international collections, the exhibition carefully traces the classical inspiration behind the Renaissance.

In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. James Bradburne, Director General of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, about this remarkable exhibition, and of how artists like Ghiberti, Filippo Lippi, and Donatello recycled and augmented ancient forms and styles.


Roman Riches in Iron Age Denmark

otherartifacsDanish archaeologists made an unprecedented discovery in the municipality of Ishøj, located just 18 km (11 mi) outside of Copenhagen, in October 2007: an intact grave of a high-ranking man or “prince” from the Roman Iron Age (c. 1-400 CE). Hailed as one of the most important discoveries in recent memory, the grave provided a unique glimpse into the material wealth and aesthetic tastes of the ancient Danish elite. Sensational objects like gaming pieces cast in glass, gold jewelry, and an exquisite Roman wine set in bronze were among the items uncovered. All of these and more are now presented in a new exhibition, The Ishøj Prince (Danish: “Ishøjfyrstens”), at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Jan Kindberg Jacobsen, Curator of Ancient Art at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, about the importance of this discovery, and of how a Danish prince amassed the trappings of a Mediterranean magnate.

“Although richly furnished burials from the late Roman Iron Age are not an unknown phenomenon in Denmark, the one belonging to the ‘Ishøj Prince’ stands out. The grave was excavated, restored, and analyzed in accordance with today’s scientific standards. This has allowed for a very detailed reconstruction of the violent events that resulted in the death of the Ishøj Prince, providing a broad insight into the funeral rites and dedication patterns of the period.”
Behind the Scenes

AHE Collaborates with Kunstpedia

kunstpediaThe Ancient History Encyclopedia is pleased to announce that it has joined forces with the Kunstpedia Foundation to bring increased public attention to the fine and applied arts.

Kunstpedia is a Dutch non-profit organization established by enthusiasts of art history and the visual arts in 2008. Today, it is recognized by the Dutch Tax Office as an Institution for General Benefit (Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling or “ANBI”). From its inception, Kunstpedia has offered a broad exposure to the fine and decorative arts prior to c. 1960. The foundation manages a homepage, which provides rich and accessible content in the form of articles, e-books, and blogs, supplied by a variety of contributors including art historians, collectors, dealers, gallery owners, and museum professionals. Among its varied activities, Kunstpedia publishes news reports, reviews of exhibitions, an e-newsletter, and sources with link directories.

Kunstpedia facilitates the creation of a community of enthusiasts who hope to increase awareness, knowledge, and passion for a pillar of civilization and human history: the fine and applied arts. AHE and Kunstpedia share a similar, fundamental aim: to stimulate interest in the past through increased electronic exchanges between the scholarly and general public.

As part of AHE’s strategic exchange agreement with Kunstpedia, select articles and reviews will be generously republished between our two organizations, reaching and enriching a larger audience.

[AHE Press Release: 21/04/2013. London, UK Headquarters]


AHE Joins PELAGIOS Project

pelagios-logo-1It gives us great pleasure to announce that the Ancient History Encyclopedia is joining the PELAGIOS Project.

PELAGIOS stands for “Pelagios: Enable Linked Ancient Geodata In Open Systems,” and its aim is to help introduce Linked Open Data into online resources that refer to places in the ancient world. This approach permits new modes of discovery and visualization for scholars and the general public. Pelagios also means “of the sea,” referring to the superhighway of the ancient world. It’s a metaphor most appropriate for a digital resource that connects references to ancient places.

The Pelagios are a collective of projects connected by a shared vision of a world–most eloquently described in Tom Elliott’s article, “Digital Geography and Classics“– in which the geography of the past is every bit as interconnected, interactive, and interesting as the present. Each project represents a different perspective on Antiquity through maps, texts, and archaeological records. Like AHE, PELAGIOS is committed to open access and a pragmatic lightweight approach that encourages and enables institutions to digitalize quality, virtual materials related to ancient history.

History is not linear (as it is usually taught), but rather a very parallel type of story, where everything is interlinked. At AHE, pieces of information are tagged and shared across different but related subjects, and each page is built automatically, taking information that is relevant to a subject from our database of definitions, articles, events, and maps.

Joining PELAGIOS is a logical step for AHE: the more history we manage to link together, the more our readers can “dig deeper” and experience the wonder and scope of ancient times. The easier it is for students and scholars to access the vast amount of material that PELAGIOS contributors have assembled, the better. This is the first step in a longer journey, which will require many such initiatives, but AHE is excited to become part of a global network of data emanating from high-quality websites and established institutions.

[AHE Press Release: 08/04/2013. London, UK Headquarters]


Deciphering Ancient Cham Art

PoKlongGaraiThe Cham people of central and south Vietnam have impressive artistic and architectural traditions, dating back more than 1700 years. Migrating from the island of Borneo to present-day Vietnam in second century CE, the Cham maintained a series of coastal kingdoms from c. 192-1832 CE. Champa–located at the crossroads of India, Java, and China–was the grand emporium of Southeast Asia and the chief rival of the powerful Khmer Empire. While primarily remembered in history as merchants, sailors, and warriors, the Cham were also skilled artisans and talented architects. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Dr. Ky Phuong Tran–a specialist on Cham cultural history–with regard to the unique characteristics of Cham art and architecture.

The arts of Champa adapted various artistic tendencies from Southeast Asia, India, and even China as well.