Παρασκευή, 27 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Antiquity Devoured

The following video documents footage from a two-day celebration during the Greek Military Junta of 1967-1974. It plainly illustrates the dictators' need to present their "revolution" as a legitimate episode, the most recent one, in the Greek historical timeline, starting as far back as the Minoans and coming through the Classical and Byzantine era to the Greek War of Independence in 1821. 

The celebration begins with an impressive Minoan procession with all kinds of interesting details directly derived from representations of the Minoan lifestyle: notice the giant horns of consecration, the "Princes of Lilies" in a row (one obviously wasn't enough) or the plastic pairs of snakes in the hands of the seated goddess and the curious vases carried by the male participants. The Classical era is represented through snapshots of both Greek and Persian soldiers from the Persian Wars and groups of dancers and musicians - no reference to the Greek mental achievements. The Byzantine era is presented through a procession with cavalry and footmen escorting Justinian and Theodora as they are depicted in the Ravenna mosaics (though the modern Justinian's beard is strikingly thicker). 
The reference to the Greek War of Independence works -as the speaker explicitly states- as a connecting link between the ancient and byzantine past and "the revival of contemporary Greece". The procession ends with references to the Junta's symbols. Number "21" refers to the 21st of April 1967 the date of the military coup -and evidently works well with "1821", the date of the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence. 
The final frame is the junta's iconic image of a phoenix resurrecting in flames against which the figure of a soldier in arms is placed.






This is an interesting example of archaeological kitsch filled with a wealth of messages well worth presenting in detail some time - if such a study already exists I'd love to know about it. 


If I may add a final note: I find the connection with the Greek timeline presented in the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 somehow disturbing. 
And interestingly enough: the Mycenaeans are absent in both timelines.*


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UPDATE*
Kostas Paschalidis in a facebook discussion correctly recalled that the Mycenaeans are present in the Athens Olympics timeline (known as "Clepsydra") with a float presenting a group of Dendra armours and a golden Agamemnon mask over them. 
Here's a photo to document this instance.







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I am immensely indebted to archaeologist Kostas Paschalidis for bringing this wonderful film-clip to my attention. 





Σάββατο, 7 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Let's play: Ancient Greek Punishment

Dr Pippin Barr of Copenhagen University devised this old-fashioned game that fully lives up to its name. 

The good thing is you have an excellent selection of punishments and I can assure you it certainly feels like an ancient Greek punishment to play any one of them. 

Want to try your luck -or rather your patience?

Click HERE





(located the link thanks to P2 in Buzz and Cory Doctorow's original upload)



Παρασκευή, 6 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Sasek's Greece

Though as a rule I am not much interested in the way Greek antiquity is consumed by individual artists, I consider book illustration a different story. I believe many illustrators played a major role in forming the picture one bears in one's mind on what life in ancient Greece in its different periods looked like. When examining an illustrator's work one often answers many questions on established convictions, especially those which have been proven wrong but still hold strong in popular imagination. This is particularly evident in the way people (archaeologists and non-specialists alike) perceive the Minoan and Mycenaean world -in which I am personally more interested in. One cannot think of a Minoan palace without evoking Gillierons' images or think of a Mycenaean megaron without recalling Piet de Jong's colourful reconstructions. 


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Miroslav Sasek is a well known children's travel books illustrator, most famous for his "This is" series of books on several countries and cities of the world. In 1966 he published a "This is Greece" book with interesting iconography replicating several cliches related to Greece. The following photographs present this point colourfully. 








(all photographs reproduced here are via this SITE)


What is more interesting though is another Sasek book, published in 1961, called "Stone is not Cold" in which he used collages to incorporate photographs of ancient sculpture in his own humorous sketch settings. These sketches illustrate Greek and Roman sculpture photographs from the museums of London and Rome, which were obviously taken when Sasek travelled there to work on his "This is London" and "This is Rome" books. 

Given the fact that people often tend to refer to ancient Greek works of art as "sacred", Sasek's ingenious appropriations would easily be called "sacrilegious". 













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Want to know more about Miroslav Sasek and his books? Click HERE





Πέμπτη, 5 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Do I really need to comment?

Happy New Year everyone!


This is the first post for 2012. 
No basic theme really, just a cartoon strip on the incurably vivid imagination of archaeologists - or really what we often ask visitors to archaeological sites to do.