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. 

After two years, what I have come to call “The Lost Collections,” have finally come together into an online exhibit. Many many thanks go out to my friend Krista Carson, who has helped me put all of this together.

Lost Collections of the Ancient World

The story started in January of 2011, when my friend Paige Glenen and I made an incredible discovery in storage at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, in London, Ontario. We had found boxes and boxes of artefacts labeled as “Old World Roman.” The idea that we had a collection of Roman artefacts that we could handle and explore was exciting enough for two Classical archaeologists.

DSC_0006

Roman Terra Sigillata c. 200 CE

However, it soon became very apparent that there was more to the story than we had originally thought. Most of the boxes contained artefacts that were most definitely not of Roman origin, but what were they?

There were some large complete, or almost complete, pots stuffed with old yellowed newsprint. We thought it would be best to remove this acidic product to protect the artefacts (that and we wanted to look inside).  We found many more small artefacts, small pots, human figurines and two Cuneiform cones (cone-shaped baked clay pieces covered with writing known as cuneiform).

This is when we knew we really had something special.

a
Cuneiform Foundation Cone                               c. 2144 – 2124 B.C.E
“For Ningirsu, Enlil’s mighty warrior,
Gudea, ruler of Lagas, made things function as they should (and) he built and restored for him his Eninnu, the Whit Thunderbird.”

Our first thought upon stumbling accross these ancient records, – ‘Are they real?’

The cones are real and the presence of cuneiform text identified the part of our collection as Mesopotamian (the region around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Modern day Iraq and Syria).

Armed with this information we were able to determine that the majority of the artefacts are of Mesopotamian origin and were found at the archaeological site of Ur (in modern southern Iraq).  The majority of the collection dates to c. 5900 – 2000 B.C.E.

The story behind the Lost Collections has proven to be unique and fascinating. I hope you take the time to explore the online exhibit and learn more about the story of the Lost Collections of the Ancient World.

Enjoy!

Two really excellent online museum exhibits

The Secret annex Online (Anne Frank Museum – Amsterdam)

This online tour through the 3D hiding place of Anne Frank, her family, and the others she was in hiding with during Hitler’s invasion of the Netherlands, uses video and sound to tell the story as you travel through the space. There are excerpts from Anne’s diary, radio broadcasts they were listening to, and interviews with those who survived the war.

Click here to visit.

This is brilliant, but very heavy – You Will Cry.

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Digital Monet: Galeries Nationales, Grand Palais, Paris

On a much lighter note, the Grand Palais, Paris’ online exhibition of Monet’s Impressionism collection is like a stroll through the park on a warm spring day.

There are two main sections to this online exhibit; the first is a more traditional slide show through the paintings in the onsite exhibit – although with an excellent level of zoom, allowing you to get much closer to the paintings then you ever would in the gallery setting. The second, which they call the ‘Journey’ is my favourite; It takes you through a series of the paintings, allowing the viewer to interact with the paintings as you travel. Works best with a webcam and microphone.

Visit Digital Monet by clicking here.

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