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Travel

A Quick Guide to the History of Salisbury, England

The moment I sunk into the warm mismatched chairs at The Haunch of Venison, I knew that Salisbury was a special place. Sitting down for a hearty meal of soup, bread, and beer in a city so old makes modern problems seem trivial. My thoughts were not on myself, but rather on who was there before me.

Did a 14th-century traveller once warm himself by the same fire? Who knows, but my imagination was ignited. Welcome to a tour of the quintessentially English city of Salisbury.

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Travel

Malta’s Neolithic Underground

Allow me to share with you my experience of descending into Malta’s Neolithic underground. It is by far of one of the most amazing places that I have ever had the privilege to visit. Malta was discussed in one of my previous posts, 7 Strange Artifacts From Malta, but I didn’t tell you about the Hal Safleni Hypogeum. The phrase “must see” is really an understatement. It’s an amazing adventure to an underground archaeological site that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Inside the Hal Safleni Hypogeum, Malta. Image © Heritage Malta.
Image © Heritage Malta.
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Travel

Travelling in Greece: Why it’s time to go back

I’ll be honest, every time I look at the photo above I long to visit Greece again. It’s not just the awe-inspiring scenery, amazing food, or ancient history. It’s the way of life. Slow, calm, relaxed, and beautiful. Yes, Greece is going through some tough economic times right now, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from visiting. The USD goes a long way in Greece.

Categories
Culture Education

Four Gold Hats: A Bronze Age Mystery

Berlin Gold Hat Detail. Image from Wikipedia

After viewing thousands of artifacts in multiple museums, sometimes it can be tempting to just keep walking. But then there are times when something just grabs you, stopping you in your tracks.That’s what happened to me when I was in the Speyer, Germany State Museum a few days after visiting Museum Island in Berlin. I saw something I had seen in Berlin: a gold hat. It’s not just any gold hat, but a near perfectly preserved hat with such intricate designs that they warranted advanced mathematical study. I was not looking for these gold hats, and I had never heard of them before. I didn’t find them as much as they found me.

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Travel

Curse Scrolls, Mystery Cults, and the Secret Roman History of Mainz

I want to tell you about Mainz, Germany. Not just Mainz, but the secret Roman history of Mainz. Like most cities I’ve traveled to in Europe, Mainz has many well-hidden secrets.  Although Mainz has a lot to offer for a day-trip, I wouldn’t consider it a touristy area. Most people go to see the Cathedral or the first Gutenberg Bible at the Gutenberg Museum. I have seen those things in 2008, when I first visited Mainz for a few hours. This time I spent the entire day exploring the city and found a few things that I missed the last time. This trip I found lead curse scrolls in the underground Sanctuary of Isis and Mater Magna, a house with four roofs, a Roman theater bisected by the railway, and a monument to a long-dead Roman General.

Theodor Heuss Bridge Mainz
Categories
Culture Travel

Trier: The Rome of the North

After so many years of travel, it is difficult to choose one single place as a favorite, but there is one place stands out in my mind more than the others. Trier, Germany’s oldest city, and nicknamed, “the Rome of the North,” calls me back again and again. Every visit to Trier is like the first visit. If you wander around long enough you’ll find something new every time. Trier is situated along the Moselle Valley in Germany, near Luxembourg. Trier boasts not one or two, but eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. If you’re looking to check a few UNSECO sites off your travel bucket list, Trier is an excellent place to begin.

Trier Black Gate

Although the history of Trier spans more than two millennia, it’s the Roman history that keeps bringing me back. I’ve been to Rome once, Trier at least five times, and there is no question that Trier wins out for me. Rome has more, and the ruins are bigger, but in Trier you get a sense of being back in time that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s not crowded so you can wander this beautiful city as slowly or as quickly as you like. Everything is within walking distance so there is no metro, and there is no need to jostle and bustle for a spot in line to see the ruins.There are no crowds, no matter the time of year, and there is a sense of relaxation and history everywhere. Coffee shops are everywhere and many offer a spectacular view of Trier’s famous monuments. Everything in Trier, with the exception the badly deteriorated ruins of the Barbara Baths are within walking distance of the central square.

Categories
Culture Travel

7 Strange Artifacts from Malta

We know many things about history, but what we don’t know outweighs what we think we know. Throughout my travels, I have come not only to embrace, but to seek out history’s mysteries. If your eyes and your mind are open you can find mysteries whenever and wherever you travel. Malta is one of those places where the mysteries are too numerous to count, and the culture is too rich to understand in just a few days. Out of the hundreds of unique sites and artifacts found throughout Malta, seven are highlighted below that pose more questions than answers.

The Sleeping Lady of Malta
The Sleeping Lady of Malta was discovered on the lower floor of the Hypogeum of Hal-Safleni.
Categories
Culture

Conjecture or Fact? The Two Faces of Alexander the Great

Two Faces of Alexander the Great
Two Faces of Alexander the Great. Image on the left: wikimediacommons. Image on the right: Jim Haberman

The headline “Mosaic of Alexander the Great Meeting a Jewish priest,” recently caught my attention. I have been to Greece twice, once on an archaeological excavation, and I teach ninth grade world history. This is just the kind of headline to get my students excited about ancient Greece. It reminds me of the excitement surrounding the discovery of a second Mona Lisa back in 2012. Is this an open and shut case? Could this really be another image of Alexander? So far the circumstantial evidence indicates that this newly discovered mosaic is the famous general, king and warrior. The Daily Mail describes a legend in which Alexander meets with a Jewish priest, and the new mosaic discovered in Israel could be the long-awaited confirmation of that myth.

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Uncategorized

Byzantine Beauty in Berlin

We are happy to welcome back Jaunting Jen to AHEtc!

Surprise! Byzantine at the Bode

church-of-san-michele-in-africisco-mosiac-from-ravenna-in-bode-museum-berlin-detailOne would never guess that the main attraction of the Bode Museum in Berlin is a mosaic from Ravenna, Italy. The Bode Museum, on Museum Island, houses a unique collection of Byzantine art, and I went there specifically for their Byzantine collection. I had no idea that a mosaic from Ravenna was waiting for me at the end of the exhibition hall. Ravenna holds a special place in my heart because it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I have not yet been to Turkey to visit the Byzantine splendors there, but I’ve been to Ravenna and the Torcello Church in Venice, and there is just something special about those places and that time period.

The Ravenna Mosaic at the Bode Museum came from the Church of San Michele in Africisco in Ravenna, was dedicated by church-of-san-michele-in-africisco-mosiac-from-ravenna-in-berlinBishop Vittore in May 545 CE, and was consecrated by Archbishop Maximianus in 547 CE.  The mosaic depicts Christ in the center with the Archangels Gabriel and Michael on either side. The frieze of vine and doves is supposed to represent the twelve apostles. The basilica was paid for by a banker, Giuliano Argentario, and was originally intended as an offering to the Archangel Michael. The church survived until the time of Napoleon, when it was dismantled and sold to fill one of his requisitions. The bronze horses of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice suffered a similar fate, but they were eventually returned to the cathedral. The Ravenna Mosaic would never again return to its place of origin.

The fact that this mosaic survives at all is a miracle. The Church of San Michele in Africisco is not one of Ravenna’s Byzantine beauties or even a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is in ruin today and used as a shopping area. If the mosaic had not been dismantled and sold in the early 19th century CE, it may have crumbled into ruin with the church. Somehow it managed to survive. In 1843 CE the King of Prussia, Frederick William IV, saw something special in the mosaic when he purchased it and had it brought to Germany. 160 years later, it stands as a monument to the Byzantine past at the Bode Museum.

Part of the mystery of the Ravenna Mosaic in Berlin is what happened to the two saints on either side. Saints Damian and Cosmus (physicians) were depicted on either side of the mosaic, but their images have been completely removed. I’d like to think they were saved and sit on the wall of someone’s private collection today.

bode-museum-mosaic-detail1ravenna-gabriel-apse-mosaic-in-berlin

Images: Byzantine mosaics from the Church of San Michele in Africisco in Ravenna, Italy, now in the Bode Museum, Berlin. Photos by Jennifer Brown, licensed under a Creative Commons – Attribution-Non-Commerical-ShareAlike 3.o license.

All images and videos featured in this post have been properly attributed to their respective owners. Unauthorized reproduction of text and images is prohibited. Ms. Karen Barrett-Wilt and Mr. James Blake Wiener were responsible for the editorial process. The views presented here are not necessarily those of the Ancient History Encyclopedia. Original blog post can be found at http://jauntingjen.com/2013/12/30/the-byzantine-beauty-in-berlin/

 

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Uncategorized

The Horses of St. Mark’s

Welcome to the second post on our new blog AHEtc! This time we welcome Ms. Jennifer Brown (Jaunting Jen) of the blog Jaunting Jen. Jen is an Army veteran, archaeologist, photographer, and historian working on her MA in ancient and classical history. We hope you enjoy her post as much as we do!

the-bronze-horses-of-st-mark

Beauty Reigns Eternally

Beauty. The four horses at St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, can only be described with one word: beauty. They are called the bronze horses, but they are actually almost pure copper. If you stare at them long enough, they almost seem real. The two horses pictured above are looking at each other like they are sharing a secret, and we are left in the dark. It’s a miracle of history, time, and circumstance that these horses exist today. We are able to stand and admire their craftsmanship because of a long history of looting, theft, and historic preservation.

The history of the four horses stretches the imagination. They may have been created by a very famous sculptor, Lyssippos, in the fourth century BCE. However, recent studies suggest that the horses have a Roman origin. If the antiquity of the horses is not enough to produce a feeling of awe, then the story of how they made their way from Constantinople to Venice will surely amaze. From at least the ninth century CE, and possibly much earlier, the horses stood on top of the Hippodrome in Constantinople. In 1204 CE, Constantinople was sacked by Crusaders, and many of the treasures, including the four horses, were shipped to western Europe.

From 1204 CE, these four beautiful horses grace the terrace at St. Mark’s Basilica. In 1797 CE, Napoleon decided that he wanted horses and carried them off to Paris. They were returned to Venice a short time later in 1815 CE. There they stood on the terrace until the 1980s, when they were moved inside to save them from pollution. Today on the terrace you can view the replicas, but the real treasure is located inside. The horses stand guard just inside the entrance and look like they are in motion, prancing towards the visitors to greet them. There they will stand for future generations to admire their beauty and realism. Photography is not allowed, but I won’t tell if you won’t!

the-horses-of-st-mark

Both images: Horse sculptures, St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy. Photos by Jennifer Brown, licensed under a Creative Commons – Attribution-Non-Commerical-ShareAlike 3.o license.

All images and videos featured in this post have been properly attributed to their respective owners. Unauthorized reproduction of text and images is prohibited. Ms. Karen Barrett-Wilt and Mr. James Blake Wiener were responsible for the editorial process. The views presented here are not necessarily those of the Ancient History Encyclopedia. Original blog post can be found at http://jauntingjen.com/2013/12/01/the-horses-of-st-mark/.