Art of the Ancient World

  • The period between 8th–6th centuries B.C. in Anatolia was marked by the emergence of the Phrygian and Lydian kingdoms. Their material culture included not only items produced in local traditions (furniture, textiles) but also artifacts showing exotic tastes of the elites, following “oriental” examples (such as bronzes and ivories). In this paper, I examine some artistic tendencies of Phrygia and Lydia in the framework of today’s debates about the phenomenon of “orientalization”.

    The term “orientalization” was initially introduced to describe the style of objects with “oriental” motifs created according to the prototypes imported into the art of Greece. Subsequently, however, many other Hellenic phenomena of artistry, culture and social life became to be considered as “orientalization.” During the last decades, the term has been often discussed and reviewed. The scope of analysis was extended to the entire Mediterranean region throughout the 8th–7th centuries B.C., focusing on long-range elite interactions: a horizon of “orientalizing” material culture, stretching “from Assyria to Iberia.”

    However, the place and role of the cultures of Anatolia (mainly Phrygia and Lydia) in this system need to be defined in more detail. The Anatolian royals and elites maintained their own channels of connections with the core sources of “orientalizing” objects (North Syrian artistic centers and the Assyrian Empire). The tastes of Phrygian and Lydian elites were selective, so local artisans not only reproduced but also reinterpreted the prototypes they had had access to. In this paper, I aim to show how, on the one hand, the kingdoms of Anatolia were integrated into the elite networks of the 1st millennium B.C., while, on the other hand, displaying their own version of the “orientalizing” phenomenon.

  • This article discusses the architecture of the Royal Necropolis at Iron Age Salamis (Cyprus). In search of possible prototypes and parallels to the Salamis tombs, the authors analyze a wide range of funerary monuments including those discovered in Cyprus in recent decades. The specific features of funeral architecture are considered in the context of the formation, existence, and interaction of the Cypriot city-kingdoms. The complicated political and ethno-cultural situation in the region is taken into account as well. It seems probable that creating a kind of universal aristocratic tomb-type, Salaminian elite and builders involved in the process took as a starting point the elements of Mycenaean culture adopted throughout the long history of contacts with the Aegean. The local traditions, contacts with Asia Minor and Levant also played their role. Nevertheless, the rite itself, which has if not the origin then parallels in the Aegean world, seems to be crucial. It determines the parameters, forms and principles of planning decisions.

  • This article discusses the impact of the Achaemenid official style on the local architecture and applied arts of Cyprus during the archaic and classical periods (6th–4th centuries B.C.). Among the Persian possessions in the Aegean, Cyprus occupies a special place because of its significance as one of the main sources of the Persian military fleet. Having an important strategic position for the Achaemenids, Cyprus retained relative autonomy within the Empire. Moreover, Cyprus remained almost untouched by the processes of “Iranisation” — the integration of local elites into the official Achaemenid culture. In this regard, the rare finds of the monuments of Persianizing art in Cyprus are of particular importance for studying the interaction of the local artistic tradition with Achaemenid official art. А few works of architecture and prestigious art (toreutics and jewelry) of the Persian circle from Cyprus make it possible to touch upon this issue. In addition, the Cypriot monuments reflect another important artistic phenomenon — namely, the “Greco-Persian” style that came to the island from Anatolian satrapies. Generally, the Persianizing art from Cyprus provides an opportunity to explore the boundaries of Persian influences on local monuments, as well as the processes of synthesis of these two cultures.

  • This contribution aims to explore the concept of universal rule in Assyrian and Persian imperial art. The notion of world empire began in the Ancient Near East; the Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid empires can be considered as the first real political powers which laid claims to universal hegemony through complex systems of political propaganda, based on writings, and monumental art and architecture.

    Assyrian political propaganda was a deliberate broadcast of violence displayed by a combination of visual art and royal inscriptions. The core idea was the invulnerability of the Assyrian king, his army and their will to overcome both natural and human obstacles. Emphasis was on the strong relationship between Assyria and its gods as opposed to the futile resistance of its enemies.

    Persian state propaganda, on the contrary, reflects the idea of a large multi-cultural empire based on voluntary submission and integration. Although its artistic perspective was mainly based on a typical Mesopotamian background, Persian royal art mostly did not employ narrative schemes, either in texts or images. Violence was not represented, and wars avoided. Achaemenid art shows a universal peaceful order based on the king’s tutelage.

  •  It is necessary to highlight how the recent analyses on the casting materials of the two Riace statues have demonstrated that the two Bronzes were made in Argos, in the Peloponnese, in the same period and in the same workshop. These results must be included in any discussion of the Riace Bronzes.

    In our paper, we identify the Bronzes with the famous Fratricides group by Pythagoras of Rhegion. To support this case, we can now rely on another element of clarification: the “Lille Papyrus”. A fragment of Stesichorus survives, with an extraordinary stroke of luck. This passage offers us the speech that the mother of Eteocles and Polynices addresses to her sons who are about to confront each other in a mortal duel. The scene can be correlated very closely with the stance and characteristics of the Riace Bronzes. We can even see these statues as actors on a stage! A concept of art that seems highly modern, but still dates back to the Severe Style, the first period in which the Greeks created an art of perfect mimesis, imitation of reality.

  • In this article, the surviving fragment of Scopas’ statue of Apollo Smintheus in Troad is considered.The sacred landscape in which the statue was set up, the history of this sanctuary and its possible political patronage are analyzed. The colossal masterpiece may have been promoted by Artabazos, the satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia of the middle of the 4th century B.C. This satrap may have promoted also the Eros by Praxiteles at Parion, the Paris by Euphranor at Parion and the Apollo Sauroktonos by Praxiteles at Apollonia ad Rhyndacum. He may have been introduced to important workshops of sculptors based in Athens thanks to his alliance with the Athenian general Chares. The philosopher Eudoxos settled in Cyzikos may have provided the philosophical background of this art of pleasure.

  • In the Hellenistic-Roman period the Jews faced the urgent problem of determining the permissible and impermissible in contact with other cultures of the ancient world. One of its aspects was the question of statues of pagan deities, kings and emperors. They were not only in temples, but also in public spaces — streets, markets, courthouses, etc. The Jews were faced with these sculptures both in the Diaspora and in Palestine. The prescriptions contained in the Pentateuch were, in practice, hard to follow in their totality. The Second Commandment forbids the Jews from creating idols (Ex 20, 4, Deut. 5, 8), and it was perfectly possible to observe, but other instructions were obviously impossible (Ex 23, 24; Ex 34, 13). Philo of Alexandria and Josephus Flavius informed us about the first problems connected with sacred images, and later the discussion about them would become the main theme of the third chapter of the treatise “Avodah Zarah”, which is part of the Babylonian Talmud.

    In our paper we consider three issues discussed in “Avodah Zarah”: the definition of a cult statue; the definition of a place that served the worship of gods; and the “desacralization” of the cult statues. Rabbis of the 2nd–4th centuries CE created a list of formal attributes that made it possible to distinguish a sacred sculpture from a decorative statue (the presence of a scepter, a bird, a ball, a snake, etc.), but in addition, the attitude of the Gentiles themselves to these statues played an important role. The fundamental role here is played by Gamaliel’s words about the permissibility of using the thermae, if it’s decorated with the statue of Aphrodite. In addition, Y. Furstenberg directly points to the parallels between the destructive actions produced by the Romans in the rituals of damnatio memoriae, the curse of the memory of the “bad” emperor, and the principles by which the rabbis are guided in establishing the permissible and unauthorized.

  • As a result of a detailed comparative analysis of individual figurative elements (images of fish) in antique mosaic pavements discovered around the settlements of Huqoq and Wadi Hamam in Lower Galilee,and taking the mode of their execution into account, we can state with certainty that the mosaic panels unearthed in this region are characterized by an unusual stylistic manner, which brings them closer to the pavements from Lod, but makes them starkly different from the ones found in any other area of the late Empire. The evident dissimilarity of these pavements allows us to consider them an isolated group and assume that they were all produced at a single highly creative mosaic center active in Galilee during the 3rd–5th centuries A.D. Such a conclusion seems logical, no matter which method of scientific analysis is employed. In the article we detail the technical and technological aspects of making the foundation under the mosaic pavement, and specify the sequence of steps in setting up the layers to secure the durability of the pavement.Of particular importance has been the issue of the underpainting on the nucleus, viewed as a counterpart of today’s cartoon, and also to the analysis of the technological process of how the painted ground hidden under the layer of tesserae over it revealed itself in the Lod mosaic pavement.

  • Roman conquest in the 1st century, upon which tribal communities were organized into administrative units. The fact that the boundaries of pre-Romantribal territories didn’t correspond in total with the areas of the newly formed Roman provinces, led to frequent influences from neighbouring provinces and the blending of Roman art with local traits in the artistic sphere. Although in the 1st century different types of sculpture (cult, monumental and honorary) were present, throughout the whole period of the Roman reign cult sculptures and statues were the most numerous. Tracing the development of the art in the territory of Central Balkans’ Roman provinces, it is clear that the northern parts were more under the Roman influence as the consequence of indigenous population more readily adapting to the process of Romanisation, while the southern parts of the Central Balkans area were more influenced by the Greek culture with which they were in contact from as early as the middle of the 7th century B.C. Sculptures, statues and reliefs were modelled upon Roman art canons, copying classical Greek and Hellenistic art, in bigger centres like Ratiaria, Singidunum, Viminacium, Naissus, Scupi etc. and localities along the Danube limes. At the same time, in the interior of the Central Balkans’ provinces, works of art were manufactured upon Roman canons but with local traits. These were mainly recognized in the simplicity, frontality and linearity of the art works. This is particularly visible in the western and south-western parts of the aforementioned territory, as in some of the localities in eastern parts of the area. During the 2nd and the 3rd centuries, beside skilful artisans from Greece, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean, who came and worked in bigger centres, local workshops also produced different kinds of artworks, copying Roman types in a more or less successful way. During the 3rd century particularly, different cultural and artistic influences met and blended, often transcending the administrative borders of the provinces, thus the forthcoming iconographic syncretism was present in the 4th century as well. From the end of the 3rd and during the 4th century, rich aristocrats,local elite and emperors ordered high quality works for decorating their estates and villas, following aesthetic criteria established in other eastern and western provinces. In the art works from that period, beside certain schematism and linearity in the modelling, a blending of similar iconographic details is emphasizedas the presence of local artistic traits. Therefore, the continuance of manufacturing of the sculpture by copying classical Greek works of art and of the locally produced works of art with traits of indigenous material cultures is present until the end of the Roman reign.

  • This paper proposes that the highly innovative panoramic cross-axial architectural compositions in Roman monumental and villa architecture come about very rapidly in stages from mid-3rd to late 1st centuries B.C. in a world in which a very mobile and cosmopolitan Roman senatorial elite and a Hellenisticroyal elite, with their professional staffs, formed a unitary, multi-polar international culture. The developmentof axial compositions, vs. mid-space compositional volumes of classical Greece, began in the 280s in Ptolemaic Egypt with Greek forms modified by influence of New Kingdom axial sanctuaries. From the mid-3rd to mid-2nd centuries enclosed agorai and sanctuaries develop cross-axial, often outward-facing panoramic designs (Lindos, Kos, Pergamon). From mid-2nd century, the innovative energy, the resources, and sometimes the architects, pass to the intensely competitive political environment of the Late Roman Republic (after the architects, pass to the intensely competitive political environment of the Late Roman Republic (after Pydna in 168 and the sieges of Corinth and Carthage in 146 B.C.). Axial, and soon cross-axial sanctuary and forum designs proliferate (Porticus Metelli, Gabii, Tivoli, Praenest, Forum of Caesar), usually in part inward facing,sometimes outward facing and panoramic (Praeneste, Tivoli). Such large compositions begin to affect large villa design by mid-1st century (Villa of the Papyri) and only after c. 50–30 B.C. panoramic outwardfacing colonnaded designs begin to be seen in architectural vignettes in wall painting (Villa San Marco, Stabiae), and actual villas (later additions to Oplontis, modifications and new villas at Stabiae, at the same time that there is an intense interest in elegiac landscape painting (Odyssey landscapes) and bucolic nature (Virgil,Georgics, c. 29 B.C.). The phenomenon seems to be a unified Mediterranean wide feature of elite culture since the same begins to be seen at Masada and Caesarea Maritima after Actium (31 B.C.).

  • The article is devoted to the problem of Amaltheum, known by Cicero’s mention at thecorrespondence and De legibus. N. V. Bugaeva doesn’t deny existence of such a component of Arpinum, but deals only with Atticus’ Amaltheum. There is a wide-spread opinion that Cicero’s friend created the memorial complex in Buthrotum, embodying the “ideal Rome”. Its characteristic feature was the chain of great Romans busts accompanied by short poetic inscriptions. But the evidence of Cornelius Nepos is not complete and concerns the later period of Atticus’s life; it is connected with Amaltheum very indirectly and the hypothesis of prominent compatriots lineal selection is under discussion. The most fruitful part of G. Sauron’s conceptionis the idea of safe refuge. Though the image of Zeus’ nurse or her attribute (grotto?) was the characteristic feature of Amaltheum, there is no evidence of the path fringed with great men sculptures or busts. According to N. V. Bugaeva, Amaltheum was the platane trees grove close to river without any structures (like pavilions).

  • The present paper is focused on the study of two lesser-known mosaic floors from rooms 27 and 46 of Villa Arianna at Stabia. The two mosaics were completely removed during the excavations of the 18th century and today are preserved at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN). The 2010 RAS/Hermitage excavation campaign provided the opportunity to launch a series of investigations that have identified the technique used to detach the two mosaics and transfer them from Castellammare di Stabia to the Royal Palace of Portici, and has recently led to the identification of the mosaics in their present location at the MANN.The first of the two was found inside the room identified in Weber’s plan by the number 34 (no. 27 ofthe current plan), a large rectangular space of about 10,50×5,45 m, most likely an oecus or triclinium, which opened directly onto the square peristyle at the SE of the atrium. Except for the few tesserae, nothing remains of the mosaic in situ, as it was almost completely stripped away during the 18th-century excavations. Four years later, on 15 September 1761, during excavation operations in the atrium (24) of the same villa, the threshold in opus tessellatum was identified inside the vestibule (46) on which the word SALVE was clearly legible. Once detached, the threshold was transported to the Herculanense Museum in the Palazzo Caramanico in Portici where it was assembled with a large mosaic depicting a thiasos with sea monsters and dolphins found during the excavation at the Praedia of Iulia Felix in Pompeii in 1775. The greeting inscription is made with black made with black tesserae on a white monochrome background and is enclosed by a trapezoidal black band.

  • The entire Vesuvian region was hit by a seismic event of considerable intensity in 62 A.D. The news was reported by Tacitus and in more detail by Seneca. From the writings of Seneca it is clear that the urban centers most affected by the earthquake were Pompeii, Herculaneum, Nuceria and Neapolis.

    It may seem strange that Stabiae is not mentioned on the list made by Seneca. The absence of explicit references should not be read as evidence of the absence of seismic activity in the Stabian area but should rather be understood as proof of the scarce attention paid by the ancient historiographers in the 1st century A.D. to a modestly sized town like Stabiae.

    Furthermore, despite the absence of explicit references in the written sources, other minor earthquakes may have continued to afflict Stabiae as well as the entire region after 62 A.D.

    The excavation campaigns conducted at Villa Arianna in the last decade have provided the starting pointand useful evidence for the discussion on the presence of reconstruction work within the housing complex, presumably resulting from the damage caused by seismic events preceding the eruption of 79 A.D.

    Surprisingly, the 18th-century excavation reports are a good starting point. From a careful rereading of the excavation accounts, one can find valuable information about the discovery of objects, such as work tools typically used by masons and painters. Apparently, these objects seemed to the original excavators to be devoid of any value and were therefore destroyed or lost. Today, however, adopting a completely different methodological approach,these are of considerable importance for a more accurate understanding of Villa Arianna and of the reconstruction work in process. The archaeological evidence in situ and the data emerging during the excavation campaignsof recent years are even more abundant than those findings recorded in the 18th-century excavation reports.

    The aim of the present study is to consolidate and summarize the archival data and the data from recent excavations. The picture which emerges from these observations is that of a residential complex, many parts of which were undergoing repair and restoration work in the years preceding the 79 A.D. eruption.

    These repair and restoration works almost never achieved the same level of artistry of the interior decoration of the Julio-Claudian and the early Neronian ages, but were very often carried out using lower quality materials and an inferior technique. Although the villas were being maintained, the standard was lower, possibly because, among other reasons, the owners were uncertain about future seismic activity — since earthquakes were a common occurrence over the entire area in the period between 62 and 79 A.D.

  • The article attempts to supplement and clarify the current classification of late Attic red-figure vase-painting. A comparative stylistic analysis of the work of the Group of Moscow 4302 allowed us to conclude that they were made with the participation of one vase-painter, who should be refered to as the Painter of Moscow 4302, and the list of his works increased from 2 to 4. Some of the attributions made earlier were revised. The similarities with the works of the Master of London F 6, whose list of works has been proposed to be increased from 3 to 27, and the similarity of the latter with the works of the Filottrano Painter are revealed. All three vase-painters cooperated within one workshop.

  • This article focuses on the identification and excavation of important artworks of the ancient city of Tenea, south of Corinth, where the modern villages Chiliomodi and Clenia are located. In the past, three kouroi were found in the broader area, one is now in Munich, and the other two are in the Archaeological Museum of Corinth. In the excavation a large section of the necropolis has been found. In particular an archaic sarcophagus bearing the painting of two lions in heraldic position is particularly impressive, a large mausoleum also found on the site is noteworthy. A relief slab with Hermes, a now lost fragment of another slab with Dionysos and finally a relief panel also lost but copied in a drawing by Stuart in the late 18th century may have been pertinent to a sekos which may have existed in the city in celebration of the victory of Octavianat Actium dating in the middle Augustan times.

  • This paper is dedicated to the virtual reconstruction and the study of architectural ornaments and details of the Late Roman fortress of Babylon. This monument was located in the district now known as Old Cairo. The fortress has been explored and recorded since the end of the 19th century. From the 1990s onwards archaeological investigations have accompanied conservation works and the lowering of groundwater level in the area, and the results of these works were published in 2010.

    Babylon was a typical Diocletianic fortress for the field army, however it also possessed a number of unique features. First, it was constructed over the earlier Trajanic-era stone harbour at Babylon where the Amnis Trajanus joined the Nile. The entrance to the canal was flanked by massive round towers. Second, archaeological and historical evidence indicates that the bridge over the Nile led to the western gate of the fortress. Third, the sizeand strength of the fortifications were much more solid than those of any other Diocletianic fortress in Egypt.

    The recent archaeological work has shown that much of the southern part of fortress survives today under the ground. The southern gatehouse on the ground is largely intact, with the Coptic “Hanging Church” (Al-Mu’allaqa) built over it. The two round towers also survived, one of them within the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George (Mari Girgis).

    The aim of the reconstruction was to show the architectural and constructional features of the southern gatehouse and of the round towers flanking the Amnis Trajanus, and also to present the possible view of the fortress from the Nile. Another special aim was to classify the corpus of the sources of information and to show the connection between each source, as well as to visually present the arguments for the reconstruction.

    The aim of this paper is to examine and to give arguments for the reconstruction of the architectural decoration of the fortress, and to show their stylistic peculiarities. There are some details and decorations of special interest: the partly surviving cornice of the pediment of the southern gate, the capitals and cornices of the inner atriums in the round towers, the lion-headed mooring stones and the items which could be located in the apses of the round towers.

  • The article discusses the meaningful definition of the concept of art for objects of material culture and the possibility of its expansion to other kinds of art. Each subject might be considered as a complex of features, some of them may bear artistic values. It turns out that for art related features deviations from the cultural accepted standard are crucial. The object with a certain number of deviations from anticipated standard would be most likely perceived as an art object. Thus we assume that the field of art is on the one hand limited by the standard, on the other hand, by such degree of deviation that goes beyond the comprehension of an ordinary culture bearer. With some restrictions this principle can be extended to other areas of human activity.