Plaster copies of Greek and Roman sculpture


This is a BBC video from Britain, about ancient Greek sculpture.

The antiquities museum says about one of its present non permanent exhibitions, Models of beauty. Masterpieces in plaster:

13 June through 16 November 2008

This exhibition shows beautiful 17th, 18th and 19th century plaster casts of the finest sculptures of Antiquity. The timeless beauty of classical sculpture is the focal point of this exhibition. Further attention is paid to the role played by plaster casts in science, art criticism and art education in the past four hundred years.

Today Dr Ruurd Halbertsma of the museum showed us around this exhibition.

He started with talking about Rome, as in that city, in the sixteenth century, were the origins of copying sculptures from antiquity. When, early in that century, visitors came to Rome, they might know from writings that during antiquity, there had been many sculptures in public places. However, when they visited the city, they saw only a few sculptures said to have survived from the Roman empire or earlier: the she-wolf of Capitol hill; the Marcus Aurelius statue; Trajan’s Column.

When, while building churches or other buildings in medieval Rome, sculptures or parts of them from antiquity had been found, they had been recycled as building material. After 1500, however, people found out that discoveries like these might add to knowledge about antique art. In this way, new sculptures which became famous, were found, like the Laocoön group and the Apollo of the Belvedere. They attracted many artists and other visitors from many European countries to Rome.

The popes and other élite people from the papal state sometimes, as a favour, started giving plaster copies of antique sculptures to princes in other countries. One example was Trajan’s column, a copy of which was given to King Louis XIV of France. In 1824, these plaster copies were found in a windmill in Leiden. the Netherlands. It is not known how they had ended up there. As, since the seventeenth century, in the open air of Rome, the original Trajan’s column has suffered much from pollution, these plaster copies are today valuable, as they show details which are no longer clear in the original.

In the exhibition are also cork models of ancient Roman buildings, which used to be sold to tourists. And reproductions of idealized paintings of ancient Roman remains, by the neo-classicist Giovanni Paolo Panini (1692 – 1765).

During the eighteenth century, drawing academies, based on neo-classicist views, arose in many countries. First, the students had to learn to draw skeletons and muscles for human anatomy. Then, they had to make drawings of Greek and Roman sculptures, considered as models of perfect human bodies. Only after that did they draw nude human models, with bodies not as perfect as antique sculptures.

Among the plaster copies often found in drawing academies were the Venus of Arles. And the “Borghese gladiator” which does not really depicts a gladiator, as gladiators did not fight while naked. The nude statue probably depicts a hero.

The Venus of Arles was considered the ideal female form, until 1820, when the Venus de Milo was discovered in Greece.

One of the drawings, depicting a statue of the Greek god Apollo, at the exhibition, is by nineteenth century drawing academy student, later famous painter, George Hendrik Breitner.

When female students had to draw plaster copies of statues, fig leaves were attached to prevent the women from seeing male genitalia.

Certainly since the 1960s in the Netherlands, neo-classicist ideas in art education became weaker. For the plaster copies, that often meant they were hidden away or even destroyed.

In the sixteenth century, mainly Roman sculpture and Roman copies of Greek sculpture had become known in western Europe. In the early nineteenth century, for the first time, classical Greek sculpture became widely known. Eg, after the Parthenon marbles arrived in London. People had difficulty in getting used to them. The poet John Keats was one of not very many people admiring the Marbles right from the start. While fellow poet Lord Byron attacked Lord Elgin for taking the sculpture from Athens. More about Byron: here.

When sculpture from the Aegina temple, still older than the Parthenon, became first known in Germany, famous author Goethe did not like it, as it did not conform to his preconceived ideas of what Greek art should be.

Bronze Horse Head Hints at Roman Ambitions in Germany: here.

MSU art professor’s theory about ancient decorating choices casts new light on Roman paintings: here.

US soldiers kill Iraqi Prime Minister’s relative


This video is called US tank crushes Iraqi civilian’s car.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Reported U.S. Raid Triggers Outrage

By Ernesto Londoño and Saad Sarhan
Washington Post Foreign Service

Sunday, June 29, 2008; Page A13

BAGHDAD, June 28 — Iraqi officials in the home town of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are calling for an investigation into a reported raid by the U.S. military early Friday that resulted in the death of a man identified by some Iraqi officials as a relative of the prime minister.

The raid was carried out shortly after midnight in the town of Hindiyah, 50 miles southwest of Baghdad in Karbala province. According to Iraqi officials in Karbala, a team of about 60 U.S. soldiers traveling in four helicopters descended on a sparsely populated area a few miles from the town, where the prime minister owns a villa.

“We are shocked by the news of the raid,” Karbala Gov. Aqeel al-Khazaly said at a news conference Friday afternoon. “The aerial landing and subsequent operations led to the death of an innocent civilian and the arrest of another.”

Karbala is one of nine Iraqi provinces where the U.S. military has handed over responsibility for security to local officials. Khazaly, who has been a U.S. ally, said Iraqi officials were not notified about the operation and called it a violation of the handover agreement.

“Iraqi forces in Karbala had reached a level that qualified them to pursue criminal gangs and outlaw groups” on their own, he said.

The governor called for an investigation and said U.S. soldiers involved in the reported raid should “face the Iraqi courts.”

Haider al-Ebaidi, a senior member of parliament from Dawa, the prime minister’s party, described Maliki as upset over the incident.

“The prime minister was very angry,” Ebaidi said in a phone interview Saturday night. “The Americans are saying that they informed the Iraqis beforehand, but that is not true.”

Ebaidi said Maliki had asked an Iraqi judge to investigate the raid and submit his findings directly to the prime minister.

U.S. soldiers in Iraq are exempt from prosecution under Iraqi law. The reported raid occurred as U.S. and Iraqi officials are negotiating the terms under which U.S. troops would be allowed to operate in Iraq after the U.N. mandate that regulates their presence expires in December. Ebaidi said the incident was likely to hinder the negotiations.

Egyptian animals depicted


This video is about Egyptian animal mummies.

Today, to the museum of antiquities, where there is an animal mummies exhibition.

In ancient Egypt, various animals played a role in people’s lives, including in religion.

Just after leaving for the museum, I see a non mummified, still very much alive animal: a holly blue butterfly.

The museum has not only the animal mummy special exhibition, but also animals depicted in paint, sculpture, amulets, etc. in its permanent collection. I decide to look at these today and to come back for the mummy exhibition on some later day.

The first room in the permanent Egyptian exhibition is about prehistoric and early dynastic times.

One of the objects there is a Neolithic pot, with ostriches painted on it. That is special, according to the museum, as ostriches disappeared from Egypt about 5,000 years ago.

In the next room, about the Old Kingdom, many animals are depicted in the mastaba of Hetepherachet there.

Also from Old Kingdom times, a coiled snake, as a board for the mehen game.

After the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom, the Asian Hyksos invaders ruled Egypt. From their epoch, fish-shaped and goose-shaped vases.

The Hyksos brought horses to Egypt for the first time. These were depicted in the tomb for General Horemheb. The Egyptian sculptors still were not really used to depicting these new animals then.

From the times of Pharaoh Tutankhamen, animal pictures from the tomb of Paatenemheb.

From a bit earlier New Kingdom times, the grave of the offiicial Merymery, also with many animal pictures.

Lecture on animals in ancient Egypt: here.

Duikers in ancient Egypt: here.

Mummified Puppy Found in Egyptian Tomb: here.

Racial discrimination in British police


This video from Britain is on racism in the police.

From British weekly The Observer:

Minister is dragged into police race row

· Forces accused over Muslim audit
· Home Secretary urged to intervene

* Mark Townsend, crime correspondent

* Sunday June 29, 2008

The home Secretary is at the centre of the worst race row to engulf the police service for almost a decade as chief constables stand accused of blocking an inquiry into discrimination against Muslim officers.

Jacqui Smith will be asked to intervene tomorrow after the damning revelation that at least 20 police forces refused to co-operate with the first audit into the treatment of Muslim and black officers. Information from those forces that did take part suggested there was routine racial discrimination against them.

Accusations that police forces refused to co-operate with the audit, which was conducted jointly by the National Association of Muslim Police and the think-tank Demos, is bound to cause consternation in government. Initially, only 11 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales replied to the questionnaire on the promotional prospects, rank and number of Muslim and black officers employed. As a result of this ‘poor rate of return’, the deadline was extended by another month. Even then barely half – only 23 – co-operated.

See also here. And here.

British police face discrimination lawsuit from top Muslim officer: here.

USA: how Rightist suspect Hatfill was treated vs. how Muslim suspects are treated: here.

The Phaistos disk, phony or real?


Phaistos disc

From Kris’s Archaeology Blog in the USA:

Is the Phaistos Disk a Hoax?

Friday June 27, 2008

In July of 1908, Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier was excavating at the Minoan site of Phaistos when he stumbled upon one of the great enigmas of archaeology: The Phaistos Disk.

The Phaistos Disk is a flat circular disk of about 15 centimeters (six inches) in diameter and made of fired clay. Both sides of this disk have been stamped with a series of mysterious symbols that have been compared to various languages over the last century, including at least ten symbols from Linear A, but also other languages from other times and places including Linear B, Proto-Ionian, Anatolian, Semitic, and Indo-European, among many others.

Jerome M. Eisenberg, writing in the July/August issue of the magazine Minerva, provides a compilation of the scholarly (and non-scholarly) ideas about and attempted translations of the disk, and concludes that the disk is a forgery. …

Eisenberg, Jerome M. 2008. The Phaistos Disk: One Hundred Year Old Hoax? Minerva July/August, pp. 9-24.

Linear A and Linear B are scripts; while “Proto-Ionian, Anatolian, Semitic, and Indo-European” are languages, or families of languages.

Minoan style art in ancient Canaan: here.