In ancient hands (part I)

During my recent visits to museums in Berlin and Paris, I was struck by the variety of hand gestures displayed on ancient reliefs and sculptures – particularly from Mesopotamia. I thought of making a compilation of some of the reliefs that struck me the most. Here is the first part featuring some reliefs that I…

Livia’s Garden: One of the world’s earliest nature art masterpieces?

In 1863 archaeologists unearthed magnificent finds from what was called the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta (slightly north of Rome). Livia was the wife of Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. Notably one of the finds from the house was the imposing statue of Augustus that is mostly associated with the emperor. However, another…

Winter Suns Rushing to the Sea

My apologies for not having posted in a while. I came in here wanting to post a photograph of the River Tiber at sunset. But somehow in the midst of editing that photo I landed up with the above. Given that most of the Northern Hemisphere is freezing through a bitter winter, I guess the…

Melee

One of the podcasts I really enjoy listening to is Hardcore History. Often when describing scenes of battle in the episodes (especially ones in ancient times), the host Dan Carlin wonders how ancient battles would have looked when they were taking place. I mean yes, we do have contemporary (or near contemporary) accounts in writing…

The Boxer at Rest

If you have seen the recent BBC series ‘Civilisations’, then chances are that you are familiar with the statue of the boxer introduced by Mary Beard. If you didn’t catch it you can watch a 4 minute segment on the BBC website. The Boxer at Rest is an undated Greek statue that was discovered buried…

Mausoleum of Galla Placida, Ravenna

Ravenna in Italy is a hotbed of early Christian art and architecture- especially mosaics. And one of the buildings that impresses visitors with its carpet like mosaic walls and ceilings is the Mausoleum of Galla Placida. It is said that the building was built by Galla Placida, the daughter of Emperor Theodosius (the last single…

When you make a spectacularly awful joke…

The person on the extreme left of this panel looks like he made a spectacularly awful joke but nobody is having it.  There is not even a trace of a smile on anybody’s face. Joke maker’s reaction: “I’ll just get my coat then!” Everybody else’s reaction: “K” Hope that made you laugh! Have a good…

My audience with an imperial couple in Ravenna, Italy

It must have been 2004 or 2005 when I first read the Sarantine Mosaic series of books by Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay. Set in ‘Sarantium’- a loose parallel fantasy world of Byzantium, the books follow the journey of a mosaicist Caius Crispus from Varenna (Ravenna in real life) as he travels to the imperial…

Moon and the Arch

The Roman Arch and the waxing moon sighted at El Djem Amphitheatre in Tunisia