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Exhibitions Interviews

The Grandeur of Roman Mosaics

Roman mosaics decorated luxurious domestic and public buildings across the empire. Intricate patterns and figural compositions were created by setting tesserae — small pieces of stone or glass — into floors and walls. Scenes from mythology, daily life, nature, and spectacles in the arena enlivened interior spaces and reflected the cultural ambitions of wealthy patrons. Introduced by itinerant craftsmen, mosaic techniques and designs spread widely throughout Rome’s provinces, leading to the establishment of local workshops and a variety of regional styles.

Drawn primarily from the Getty Museum’s collection, Roman Mosaics across the Empire  at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, California, presents the artistry of mosaics as well as the contexts of their discovery across Rome’s ever growing empire — from its center in Italy to provinces in North Africa, southern France, and ancient Syria. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Alexis Belis, assistant curator in the Department of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, about the various kinds of mosaics found within the former Roman Empire.

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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.

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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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Interviews

Sumer: A Digital Board Game with an Ancient Twist

Sumer is a digital board game inspired by M.U.L.E. and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Race across the Ziggurat in ancient Sumer to harvest barley, herd goats, and sacrifice to the great goddess Inanna. Sumer draws on modern Eurogame design elements like worker placement, territory control, and auctions. Its unique innovation is to place these into an action video game.

In this exclusive interview, Jan van der Crabben, CEO and Founder of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), sat down with developers of Sumer at Game Developer’s Conference 2016 in San Francisco as they walk us through their accomplishments.

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Inanna being worshiped. Photo © Sumergame.com
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Culture Interviews Travel

Visiting The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Español: Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino) in Santiago, Chile is a jewel among the world’s museums and a highlight of any trip to the country. Widely regarded as one of the best museums in Latin America, this unique establishment houses an impressive collection of artifacts from ancient Central and South America, which underscores the rich cultural and artistic diversity of the Pre-Columbian Americas.

In this exclusive English language interview, James Blake Wiener, Communications Director at Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), takes a tour of the museum with Dr. José Berenguer Rodríguez, Curator at the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, who explains the finer points of the museum’s history, organization, and vast collection.

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Interviews

Virtual Rome: Interview with Dr. Matthew Nicholls

Dr. Matthew Nicholls, University of Reading, sat down with James Lloyd, AHE’s Video Editor, to discuss his Virtual Rome project.

I first met Dr. Nicholls attending one of his ‘Digital Silchester’ classes. This module teaches students how to understand the history and archaeology of the Roman town of Silchester through digital reconstruction. Matthew’s digital reconstructions have been featured on BBC and Discovery documentaries and he has co-taught the British School at Rome’s undergraduate summer school.

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Interviews

Women Writers in Ancient Japan

The immense cultural achievements of women writers in ancient Japan — Murasaki Shikibu (c. 973 or 978-c. 1014 or 1031 CE), Sei Shonagon (c. 966-c. 1017 or 1025 CE), and Izumi Shikibu (c. 976-c. 1040 CE) — facilitated the first flowering of classical Japanese literature. Women wrote Japan’s and perhaps Asia’s first autobiographical narratives in diaries and memoirs, as well as miscellaneous writings composed of poems, lists, observations, and personal essays during the Heian era (794-1185 CE). For this reason, the Japanese can uniquely claim to have a literary golden age dominated by women.

In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Professor Lynne K. Miyake of Pomona College about the importance of these women writers and what enabled their literary brilliance.

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Interviews

Novelist Dr Roger Kenworthy on the ‘Memoirs of Nathanial Kenworthy’

Secrets of the Nile, prelude for the Memoirs of Nathanial Kenworthy series. Photo © Roger Kenworthy.
Secrets of the Nile, prelude for the Memoirs of Nathanial Kenworthy series. Photo © Roger Kenworthy.

Jade Koekoe, Blog Editor of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), recently spoke with novelist Dr. Roger Kenworthy, to discuss his series Memoirs of Nathanial Kenworthy. Roger writes historical fiction covering topics such as ancient history, adventure, reincarnation, time travel that is based on a variety of ancient cultures.

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Interviews

Luthieros Music Instruments: Creators of the Lyre 2.0 Project

Nikolaos and Anastasios Koumartzis of Luthieros music instruments
Nikolaos and Anastasios Koumartzis of Luthieros music instruments. Photo © Luthieros music instruments.

For the ancient Greeks, music was viewed, quite literally, as a gift from the gods. It was an integral part of life weaving its way into education, athletic and military activities, and events such as weddings and funerals. The term music in ancient Greece also covers dance, lyrics, and the performance of poetry. The ancient Greeks used many instruments to create their music like the panpipes and aulos (flute). However, the most well known would be the lyre a stringed musical instrument. Luthieros Music Instruments is a Greek company and family run business that creates playable lyres based on the structure of those played by the ancient Greeks.

In this interview, Jade Koekoe of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks with Mr. Theodore Koumartzis, global communication supervisor and team member of Luthieros Music Instruments.

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Interviews

Viking Age Food and Cuisine

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A Viking reenactor drinking ale. (Photo by Lovisa Olsson.)

An Early Meal: A Viking Age Cookbook & Culinary Odyssey by Daniel Serra and Hanna Tunberg introduces readers to Viking Age food and cuisine from early medieval Scandinavia. Thoroughly based on archaeological finds, historical cooking methods, and current research, the book is a must-read for those interested in Old Norse culture and food history. Within its pages, the authors dispel many of the prevalent myths that persist about Viking Age food and cookery, share reconstructed recipes, and impart new information drawn from years of experimental research in the field.

In this exclusive 2015 holiday season interview, Daniel Serra discusses Viking Age food and Old Norse culture with James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE).

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Interviews

Ancient Hairstyles of the Greco-Roman World

Tetradrachm with Apollo from Leontini, 435-430 BCE. The American Numismatic Society (1997.9.121). This silver coin together with coin no.19 span part of the ancient Greek-speaking world, from Leontini in Sicily to Alabanda in Asia Minor (modern western Turkey). The head of Apollo in profile on the obverse, or front, of marks the wide popularity of this perpetually youthful Olympian god. Greek adult men would ritually cut their hair and grow a beard, but Apollo, whose long hair is often described as golden, defines the ultimate appearance of an ephebe, a beardless adolescent. Apollo wears a wreath of leaves from a laurel, a tree associated with the god’s oracle and cult at Delphi. According to Greek myth, its origins lie in the story of the beautiful nymph Daphne (the Greek word for laurel), who was transformed by Zeus into a laurel tree in order to avoid Apollo’s ardent and unwanted advances. Her long tresses became the tree’s branches. The story was recounted, among others, by the ancient Roman poet Ovid in the Metamorphoses.
Tetradrachm with Apollo from Leontini, 435-430 BCE. The American Numismatic Society (1997.9.121). Greek adult men would ritually cut their hair and grow a beard, but Apollo, whose long hair is often described as golden, defines the ultimate appearance of an ephebe, a beardless adolescent. Apollo wears a wreath of leaves from a laurel, a tree associated with the god’s oracle at Delphi.

From the dawn of civilization to the present day, human hair has seldom been worn in its natural state. Whether cut, shorn, curled, straightened, braided, beaded, worn in an upsweep or down to the knees, adorned with pins, combs, bows, garlands, extensions, and other accoutrements, hairstyles had the power to reflect societal norms. In antiquity, ancient hairstyles and their depictions did not only delineate wealth and social status, or divine and mythological iconography; they were also tied to rites of passage and religious rituals. Hair in the Classical World, now on view at the Bellarmine Museum of Art (BMA) in Fairfield CT, is the first exhibition of its kind in the United States to present some 33 objects pertaining to hair from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity (1500 BCE-600 CE). The exhibition takes the visitor on a rich cultural journey through ancient Greece, Cyprus, and Rome, in an examination of ancient hairstyles through three thematic lenses: “Arrangement and Adornment”; “Rituals and Rites of Passage”; and “Divine and Royal Iconography.”

In this exclusive 2015 holiday season interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Dr. Katherine Schwab and Dr. Marice Rose, art history professors in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Fairfield University, who teamed up to co-curate this unprecedented exhibition.