Assyrian Scale Armour dated between 800-600 BCE from Ardabil, Iran on display at the British Museum in London
Assyrian soldiers wore copper alloy armour made in segments aligned like fish-scales. Holes allowed the scales to be laced together and a central ridge maintained their alignment. The armour protected only the back and chest allowing free movement of the limbs.
Hellenistic Greek, 2nd-1st century BC, Said to be from Alexandria, Egypt
Literary sources tell us, though perhaps not reliably, that Alexander (reigned 336-323 BC) chose only a few artists to produce his image, and famous names such as the sculptor Lysippos and the painter Apelles were associated with his portraiture. Though none of the famous images have been recovered, many sculptures in different materials, as well as portraits on gemstones and coins, survive. These were mostly produced long after Alexander’s death and while the portraits follow similar general characteristics, they also vary in style.
Alexander was always shown clean-shaven, which was an innovation: all previous portraits of Greek statesmen or rulers had beards. This royal fashion lasted for almost five hundred years and almost all of the Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors until Hadrian were portrayed beardless. Alexander was the first king to wear the all-important royal diadem, a band of cloth tied around the hair that was to become the symbol of Hellenistic kingship.
Earlier portraits of Alexander, in heroic style, look more mature than the portraits made after his death, such as this example. These show a more youthful, though perhaps more god-like character. He has longer hair, a more dynamic tilt of the head and an upward gaze, resembling his description in literary sources.
This head was acquired in Alexandria, the city founded by Alexander in 331 BC, and the location of his tomb. Alexandria was also the capital of the longest surviving Hellenistic dynasty, the Ptolemies. From the time of the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (‘Saviour’) (305-282 BC), Alexander was worshipped as a god and the forefather of the dynasty.
Priam arrives at Achilles’ shelter to ransom the body of his son Hector. The youth facing him has been variously identified as an attendant or the disguised Hermes. Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, attributed to the Briseis Painter; ca. 480 BCE. Thought to have been found at Vulci; now in the British Museum.
Janus, Roman god of gates, doorways, beginnings, and endings. (British museum)
HAPPY NEW YEAR BOYS AND GIRLS!!
The Greeks had a tremendous influence on Rome: its culture, its self-image and, of course, religion. However, one often forgets that there was religion in Rome prior to this contact. There was, however, a dramatic shift. Roman gods became greeker, that is, more human-like with all of the foibles of humankind: love, hate, jealousy, etc. However, there was one god who never changed; he was the beginning and the end. He had no Greek counterpart. He was uniquely Roman. He was Janus.
Illustration from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer, showing the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony being performed on Hunefer’s mummy, which is supported by the god Anubis. Artist unknown; ca. 1300 BCE (18th Dynasty, New Kingdom). Now in the British Museum.