Fun Link for Fridays – The Lascaux Caves Animation

The Lascaux Caves Animation

Click the title above for a fascinating viewpoint regarding the Lascaux Cave paintings (c. 15,000 BCE), which were found in the Dordogne region, southwestern France, in 1940. Many of the paintings seem to represent the animals in various stages of movement, the video linked above demonstrates how they may have been intended to be shown in a state of animation.

Aurochs from the so-called 'Hall of Bulls'
Aurochs from the so-called ‘Hall of Bulls.’
(Click photo for source)

This past summer I was lucky enough to visit the travelling exhibit “Lascaux III” at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. This travelling exhibit features the incredibly realistic replica of portions of the caves. The Lascaux caves themselves have been off-limits to tourists since the 1980s (to ensure their preservation) and these replicas are the closest most of us are going to come to seeing the caves for ourselves. They are certainly a pretty good substitute, and the exhibit itself is wonderfully interactive and engaging.

Lascaux III is currently at The Houston Museum of Natural Science until March 23, 2014. It will then be hosted by Le Centre des Sciences in Montréal, Québec from April 19 to September 15, 2014. Lascaux II, the permanent exhibit near the original caves, features similar replicas and can still be visited as well. If you are in any of these areas, I highly recommend visiting.

Fun Link for Fridays – The Gertrude Bell Archive

The Gertrude Bell Archive – Newcastle University

Gertrude Bell set up the Baghdad Museum in Iraq (then Mesopotamia) and was single-handedly responsible for drafting legislation that would keep Mesopotamian artefacts in the country – at a time when artefacts were whisked away to the West faster than the soil they came from could settle.

If you don’t know who Gertrude Bell is, please read more about this incredible female archaeologist from the early 20th century. She became known as the Queen of the Desert, and was immensely influential in the development of not only archaeology in the Middle East (she was fundamental in the opening of the Baghdad Museum), but also the development of the modern borders; she served as a spy during WWI and spoke many languages. She was a kick-ass woman in a time when that was pretty abnormal.

The Gertrude Bell Archive is a fully accessible online collection of her photographs, diaries and letters.

The photos are a bit difficult to search through, and the search function didn’t seem to be working when I was looking through, but they are absolutely worth perusing. Beautiful photos from the middle east c. 1900 – 1918.

Some of Gertrude Bell’s photos of places I have been to!

Jerash (April 1900)

– Jarash (April 1900)
Jerash – the large theatre (from left of cavea looking towards stage) Oval Piazza behind theatre (Forum – ringed by colonnade of Ionic columns) and Jerash in background]

I visited Jerash in 2004 when I was in Jordan participating in my undergraduate archaeological field school. It is a fantastic Roman era city. 

Petra (March 1900) The Deir
Petra (March 1900)
The Deir

Petra (March 1900)
The Deir [Ed – Deir, ‘monastery’, has the largest facade in Petra – 50 metres wide, 45 metres high. Urn rests on free-standing Nabataean capital]

Same trip as Jerash, the Monastery (al-Deir) is at the top of a 45 minute climb the original Nabataean steps. 

Petra (March 1900) The Khaznet Faraoun
Petra (March 1900)
The Khaznet Faraoun

Petra (March 1900)
The Khaznet Faraoun [Khazneh Phar’oun – “Pharoah’s Treasury, the tomb of Nabataean king.

The Khaznet Faraoun at Petra, also known as the treasury, might be a bit familiar. It acted as the location of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I can’t say I found any Grails while I was there. 

Fun link for Friday – Babylonian Poems you can HEAR!

As an archaeologist one of the things we can’t recover are the sounds of the past. Languages, accents and music are very difficult to reconstruct. Being able to understand a language is very different from hearing and appreciating all the nuances of pronunciation and tone.

So, it is really cool when we can! The Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East at the University of London have painstakingly reconstructed the language of the ancient Babylonians of Mesopotamia. This language was spoken between   c. 1900 BCE and 1BCE.

You can here them here: The Recordings

And read more about how University of London deciphered the language here.

Ur III Cuneiform Cone – From the Museum of Ontario Archaeology Collection

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