ISIS Militants Destroying Antiquities in Iraq

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We learned last week that ISIS militants were destroying ancient historical artifacts on display at the Mosul Museum in Iraq. With so much murder and war going on in the area, this is just one more horror to add to the long list.

As modern human beings, we understand the ancient past through the images, sculptures, architecture, jewelry, pottery and other art objects that were left behind. There is really nothing else we have to understand ancient people. And what was destroyed were among the most ancient of known relics. What was destroyed was not just regional history, but also our shared human history, and we’ve already lost too much of our history. Its been rewritten, slaughtered, burned, and swept under the dirty rug. We can’t afford to lose any more.

You can watch the destruction here: youtube.com

Democracy Now! ran an interesting story as well, and you can listen to that here: democracynow.org

The image shown above was not the actual piece destroyed but, from what I understand, there was a similar gigantic sculpture that was destroyed. I’ve written about other similar sculptures before, and you can read that blog post here. I just can’t believe anyone would topple and take a hammer to these.

Sickening!

Ancient Venus Figures

Venus of Willendorf

Venus of Willendorf

Venus of Dolní Věstonice

Venus of Dolní Věstonice

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while… or at least start collecting images of these Venus clay figurines.

I love Stone Age artwork, and these Venus figures are among the oldest, created between 33,000 and 9,000 BCE. There are examples of these figures found all over Europe and Asia, but especially in France, Russia, and Germany.

There are many many of these sculptures, but I wanted to at least start my image collection here on ArtDuh.

Probably the most famous Venus is the Venus of Willendorf (image above). At least that is the first figurine I remember seeing way way back when. Then there is the Venus of Dolní Věstonice (top right image), which is especially interesting because it has a child’s fingerprint embedded in the clay. There are so many beautiful examples I guess I won’t try to write about each individual one.

Most of these are sized to about 4″ tall. Its not really known why they were made, but they probably had some sort of religious/spiritual function.

That reminds me, although they were created much more recently, I was so surprised to see so many goddess figures at the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit I went to about a year ago. Walls and walls of these little goddess, and all from Isreal. I was happy to see that the ancient Jewish faith incorporated the goddess into their faith, but also bummed that today she isn’t represented at all in Judeo/Christian religions. So very strange how that all changed…

Venus of Lespugue

Venus of Lespugue

Venus of Laussel

Venus of Laussel

Venus of Hohle Fels

Venus of Hohle Fels

Uncovered in Zaraysk, Russia

Uncovered in Zaraysk, Russia

Venus of Moravany

Venus of Moravany

Venus of Parzadzik

Venus of Parzadzik

Venus of Savignano

Venus of Savignano

Venus de Brassempouy

Venus de Brassempouy

Venus of Kostenki

Venus of Kostenki

Yeliseevichi Venus

Yeliseevichi Venus

Mercury Inventing the Caduceus

"Mercury Inventing the Caduceus" 1878 - Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

“Mercury Inventing the Caduceus” 1878 – Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

"Mercury Inventing the Caduceus" 1878 - Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

“Mercury Inventing the Caduceus” 1878 – Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

"Mercury Inventing the Caduceus" 1878 - Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

“Mercury Inventing the Caduceus” 1878 – Jean Antoine Marie Idrac

I’ve had the Caduceus on my mind lately. Maybe I’ll explain why soon, but in the mean time I thought I’d post pictures of a couple of sculpture showing Mercury (Hermes) inventing the Caduceus. Both are exceptional. I especially like the sculpture by Antonin Idrac (images above), but I also love Henri Chapu‘s interpretation (below) too!

"Mercury Inventing the Caduceus" Henri Michel Chapu - 1860-1862

“Mercury Inventing the Caduceus”
Henri Michel Chapu – 1860-1862

Riddle of the Sphinx

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It’s pretty well established that I love mythology. I also love history and follow archaeology too.

Earlier last week I came across some news out of Greece about a tomb that was discovered  dating back to 300-325 BC. The archaeologists haven’t actually gotten inside of the tomb yet, but they have cleared up to the entrance, where two giant sphinx sat guarding whomever rested inside. I’m excited to learn more as the news about this dig unfolds.

This news triggered my imagination though, because I am fascinated by ancient Greek culture, their artwork and sculpture, and I the Sphinx. I guess I should say that even though I would absolutely love to visit The Great Sphinx in Egypt someday soon, it is the mythology behind the Grecian Sphinx that inspires me the most. The stories are great, where she brings destruction and death to all of those who cannot solve her riddle.

I’ve drawn her a few times over the years, and have made a quick painting of her once or twice (which I have uploaded to the bottom of this post). Like I say though, my mind and imagination has been triggered though, so I have spent a bit of time looking through sphinx related images. And I have included some of those in this post as well.

What goes on four legs at dawn, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?

RAWR! Chomp!

www.washingtonpost.com | exceptionally-important-greek-tomb-from-era-of-alexander-the-great-discovered

www.theguardian.com | archaeologists-greece-tomb-alexander-great

uk.reuters.com | greece-tomb

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"Oedipus and the Sphinx"  by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

“Oedipus and the Sphinx” by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

"Oedipus" by Gusatv Moreau

“Oedipus” by Gusatv Moreau

"Sphinx: Narcolepsy Series" by Dave McKean

“Sphinx: Narcolepsy Series” by Dave McKean

"The Chariot" - Rider / Waite Tarot

“The Chariot” – Rider / Waite Tarot

 

"Riddle" by Todd Powelson

“Riddle” by Todd Powelson

"Sphinx Drawing" by Todd Powelson

“Sphinx Drawing” by Todd Powelson

"Sphinx" by Todd Powelson

“Sphinx” by Todd Powelson

The Green Man

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osirisI’ve been thinking a lot about plant people and will probably sit down to draw them soon. One of my favorite plant buddies would have to be the Green Man, god of the forest. I’ve already painted him a few times over the years, but yeah, he is starting to play in my imagination once again. This week, I’ve decided to post a few pictures of him throughout history.

2012-ZL-Greenman-WEBI’ve read that the first incarnation of the Green Man (that we know of) may have been the Egyptian god Osiris.  His body representing the land of Egypt as it goes through the winter months when he is murdered, dismembered, planted in the ground, only to rise again for harvest (with his skin a nice shade of green). The Green Man has certainly evolved since then, and has been represented throughout Europe, and even India and Asia to represent the guardian of Nature. Even the Catholic church couldn’t get rid of the Green Man, and his image can be found inside and incorporated into their medieval cathedral’s architecture, columns and stained glass.

green-man-bambergI love the Green Man. Branches and bark on his face and skin, leaves as his hair, with flowers and foliage growing out of his mouth.

I remember being very happy as a kid if he’d show up in one of the books I’d be reading. I may have initially encountered the Green Man the first time I read Tolkien, where the he was embodied by the Ent, Treebeard. I’ve come across him many times since, in comics (Yay Swamp Thing!), literature, artwork, sculpture, and out in the wild wood. He shows up all over the place, and if you keep your eyes open you will see him everywhere!

Some books and things:

The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest

Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth

A Little Book of the Green Man (Little Books)

The Earth Has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life

Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1

The Green Man Tree Oracle: Ancient wisdom from the greenwood

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Acheloos,_detail_of_roman_mosaic

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"Fall" by Todd Powelson

“Fall” by Todd Powelson

"Green Man" by Todd Powelson

“Green Man” by Todd Powelson

Apollo and Daphne

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Apollo and Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1622-1625

I think the sculpture of Apollo and Daphne by Bernini may have been the very first piece of artwork that I ever really noticed. It was the first piece to really register, if that makes sense. And I didn’t even see the sculpture in person, but watched a film that featured the sculpture in it. I’m not sure, but I imagine I must have been in maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. I don’t know why I was even watching the film, but I did like reading the Greek myths especially back then.

The film portrayed the story of Daphne running away from Apollo, praying to the gods that she can somehow escape. Then it showed her skin becoming bark, branches growing from her fingers and hair, until finally she turned into a tree. Then the show ended with this sculpture. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that the piece I saw in that film was this sculpture by Bernini. I do know that seeing the transformation played out on screen really disturbed me. Or maybe that’s the wrong word… it fascinated me.

I think about it from time to time. I also have drawn a number of dryads and other plant people over the years. Maybe this is why. Even now I see dryads and human forms playing in the trees.

I’m starting to think I might want to draw a few plant people again.

Mount Nemrut

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Another cool ancient burial site is Mount Nemrut. This is thought to be where King Antiochus I was buried. He was a Greek King and the statues at the site show the Greek and Persian gods of his ancestors.

I love looking at photos of this site. I want to have them here on ArtDuh so I can look at them whenever I like. I find old and weathered sculptures where you can see the passage of time to be so beautiful. The sculptures from this particular site are amazing. When I look at them that line from T S Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men comes to mind…

Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

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nemrut-handshaking

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