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Exhibitions Interviews

The Art of Ancient Dion

Enjoying a privileged and bucolic position on the eastern slopes of Mount Olympus, the ancient Greek city of Dion prospered for thousands of years as a sacred center for the cult of Zeus and as the gateway to Macedonia. Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus, now on show at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York, N.Y., examines the development and trajectory of Dion, from a small rural settlement to a thriving Roman colony, through the presentation of remarkable archaeological artifacts not seen outside of Greece.

ZeusHypsistos_7815
Cult Statue of Zeus Hypsistos 2nd century AD. Marble. H. 33.7 in; W. 18.1 in; D. 25 in (H. 85.5 cm; W. 46 cm; D. 63.5 cm). From Dion. Sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos, Cella. Archaeological Museum of Dion. Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria, and the Dion Excavations. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Dimitrios Pandermalis about this exhibition and Dion’s importance in the wider Greco-Roman world.

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Photos

Mesopotamian Reliefs

This post is part of a series of image posts Ancient History et cetera will be putting together each month. Today’s post is all about ancient Mesopotamian Relief!

Mesopotamia (from the Greek, meaning ‘between two rivers’) was an ancient region in the eastern Mediterranean. Surrounded in the northeast by the Zagros Mountains and in the southeast by the Arabian Plateau. Ancient Mesopotamia  corresponds to today’s Iraq and parts of modern-day Iran, Syria and Turkey. Mesopotamia was a collection of varied cultures whose only real bonds were their script, gods and attitude toward women.

A relief is a sculptural technique. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background material. Like many ancient cultures Mesopotamians also produced artistic relief’s featuring events, places and people of importance.

This bas-relief is part of a series of reliefs which depict the formation and transport of a colossal winged-bull (Lamassu) for the palace of the Assyrian king Sennacherib. In this relief, the king stands in a rickshaw (a royal chariot which pulled by two servants) and he watches the progress of the work. A servant fans the king and another one holds a sunshade over the king's head. From court VI, probably panel 60 of the South-West palace at Nineveh (modern Mosul Governorate, Iraq), northern Mesopotamia. Neo-Assyrian period, 700-692 BCE. (The British Museum, London).
This bas-relief is part of a series of reliefs which depict the formation and transport of a colossal winged-bull (Lamassu) for the palace of the Assyrian king Sennacherib. In this relief, the king stands in a rickshaw (a royal chariot which pulled by two servants) and he watches the progress of the work. A servant fans the king and another one holds a sunshade over the king’s head. From court VI, probably panel 60 of the South-West palace at Nineveh (modern Mosul Governorate, Iraq), northern Mesopotamia. Neo-Assyrian period, 700-692 BCE. (The British Museum, London). Photo © Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP (Glasg)
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Culture Photos

Ancient Mediterranean Funerary Art

This post is part of a series of image posts Ancient History et cetera will post each month. Today’, it is all about ancient funerary art!

All ancient cultures had varying and extensive beliefs about life and death. They also had elaborate burial rituals performed at death. These rituals ensured safe travel to the afterlife, so that the dead are remembered forever.

By the sixth century CE, ancient Greek concepts of the afterlife and ceremonies associated with burial were well established. They believed that when one died they went to the realm of Hades and his wife, Persephone. Greek burial rituals were usually performed by the women of the family and involved a prothesis (laying out of the body) and the ekphora (funeral procession). The most common forms of Greek funerary art are relief sculpture, statues, and tall stelai crowned by capitals, and finials.

Similarly, the Romans performed a funeral procession for their dead which would end in a columbarium. These columbarium, depending on the person’s station in life, could be quite elaborate. Roman Sarcophagi also tend to be quite beautiful and visually tell us Roman values. (Whereas, epitaphs provide literary insight into Roman values.) Roman funerary art also includes death masks, tombstones and sculptural reliefs.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the Etruscans were identified as a culture of their own. Etruscans burial practices resulted in many items of funerary art such as: sculpture, sarcophagi, decorative cinerary or burial urns and tombs.

The various Egyptian burial rites, I am sure most have heard about! Rather than go into detail about Egyptian beliefs, I think everyone can agree that their practices resulted in a mass of items which could be classified as funerary art.

Funerary urn lid of an Etruscan woman

Painted terracotta funerary urn lid of an Etruscan woman, from Chiusi, ca. 150-120 BCE (Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, Germany). Photographer: Carole Raddato