I have been preparing for the Classical Association conference this week and so have not had the opportunity to write anything substantial. I look forward to doing a write up of the conference when I get back. However, during this preparation work I have been thinking about where I want to take my studies once I finish my MA. I have always had a fascination with the mythology of the underworld and during a recent visit to the British Museum I saw these two pieces.
Cinerary urn designed in the form of a thatched hut dating from the 8/7th century BC. Discovered in Monte Albano.
Marble cinerary urn from the 1st/2nd century AD. The inscription reads as a dedication to Bovia Procula. It is thought that this originated in southern Italy.
It is interesting that the funerary urn did not change much in design over the duration of 800-1000 years. Though materials differ, as with the ones pictured, the shape and general design remain quite similar. Burials occurred in other parts of Italy but the only funeral rite in early Villanovian culture was incineration. The remains were placed in a container and buried in a cylindrical well. The most common style of funerary urn was a biconical vase with a bowl like lid. The hut urn pictured above was uncommon; at larger burial sites approximately one out of every hundred were of this style (Bartoloni, 2000:59).
Since taking these photos I have often thought about the pieces and what they represent. This is definitely an area that I would like to investigate in greater depth and maybe where my future studies take me.
Just a note that if you are not attending the conference but are on Twitter you can follow #CA14. There are a number of other people you can follow in addition to me on @da11sop. I would also recommend you follow the Classics Collective through their blog http://www.classicscollective.wordpress.com where they will be posting updates on the conference.
Bartoloni, G. The Origin and Diffusion of Villanovan Culture in The Etruscans, Torelli, M. (Ed), London: Thames and Hudson, 2001, pp. 53-71.
This artefact is a model sailing ship with its crew. It was discovered in Kalokhorio and dates to approximately the 7th/6th century BC. This item was a sanctuary offering and suggests that seafaring was important to the people of Cyprus. Given its location and natural resources Cyprus would have been an important trading island for the Mediterranean. With access to an abundant supply of wood the cities of Cyprus would have had the ability to develop a large scale naval fleet. The control of the seas would not have just been important to Cyprus but other nations as well, such as the Minoans and Phoenicians. Nations that had the power to dominate the seas whether by military might or for commercial purposes are referred to by the term Thalassocracy.
Votive offerings of model ships may have been made for many reasons; in order to praise the gods for a victory during a sea battle, for a safe voyage or by merchants to protect trade routes. However, without any epigraphic evidence it is difficult to establish what the intention of this offering was. The crew do not appear to be warriors as there are no weapons and so this might be the offering from a merchant.
It is interesting to note that ship dedications came in all shapes and sizes, the photo below is the display of ship sanctuary offerings at the Cyprus Museum. Carlson (2009:361) observes that sometimes whole ships were set up in a sanctuary as dedications. Though a much older study, Deane (1922:486) also notes the observations of Couchoud and Svoronos who believe that Antigonus Gonatas built a house in which a ship was dedicated as an offering after a naval victory against Ptolemy in 250 BC. I believe that evidence suggest as this suggests that ship offerings were important to the Greeks. This is likely due to their dependency on the sea for travel, trade and military purposes.
Carlson, D. Seeing the Sea: Ships’ Eyes in Classical Greece, Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Vol. 78, No. 3 (2009), pp. 347-365. Available from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25622699 [Accessed: 04 April 2014]
Deane, S. Archaeological Discussions, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Oct. – Dec., 1922), pp. 477-515. Available from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/497957 [Accessed: 04 April 2014]
This is the statue of Zeus Keraunios (Thunderer) dating to approximately 500 BC, excavated at Kition. The statue can be identified as Zeus due to three key attributes; the beard, the arm positioned in a throwing motion and the eagle that used to be in the left hand. Unfortunately only the talons of the eagle are preserved and very little of the thunderbolt. In addition to these attributes inscriptions indicate that a Temple of Zeus Keraunios existed at Kition.
The statue can be compared to the early Greek kouroi that were likely influenced by Egyptian sculpture. The Egyptians represented the figure striding forward, with flat feet and fists by their side. The kouroi have a similar stance but the Greeks developed this style further to create a more natural free standing figure. The Zeus has a similar stance and stylised hair but it differs as kouroi were nude. The Zeus is depicted wearing a chiton and aegis with an archaic smile. Early kouroi had expressionless faces and the archaic smile developed later. The archaic smile is intended to present a naturalistic face and create a more realistic representation of the human form. It can be compared to similar mainland Greek sculpture of the time indicating the influence of Greece during the Ionian revolt. I would suggest that there is a strong local influence on the sculptural representation of Zeus is he represented clothed.
It is a year to the day that I started writing for my blog, and what a year it has been. Since this blog began I have written 152 posts which have been viewed 11,825 times. I would just like to say a big thank you to all those who follow, read and comment on what I put out there. Your support is very much appreciated.
I have learnt a lot over the course of this year about blogging in an entertaining way whilst maintaining academic rigour. Blogging has also enabled me to write about areas of interest, share my experiences and travels and further develop my studies by exploring topics in greater depth. I have re-read some my earlier pieces and feel the urge to re-write them because my style has developed and improved so much.
I am really looking forward to the coming year. There will be a lot for me to write about in July and August following my trip to Greece. I will also be entering the final stages of my MA focusing on Greek and Roman Epic and a yet to be determined dissertation topic.
If you have any areas of interest you would like me to write about then do contact me, my contact details are on the welcome page. I also share a lot of articles by other classicists and bloggers, pictures and other content on twitter (@da11sop) and via Facebook (www.facebook.com/davidallsopclassics). So do follow me and like my page if you use those Social Networks and want to keep up with me between posts.
Thank you again everyone and here is to the year ahead.