ancient art of stone

William Wetmore Story (1819-1895)
“Sappho” (1883)

Sappho was a Greek lyric poet from the island of Lesbos. She was born sometime between 630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE, but little is known for certain about her life. Sappho’s poetry was well-known and greatly admired through much of classical antiquity. However, most of her poetry is now lost, and survives only in fragments.


Sutton Hoo Burial Helmet Original and Reconstruction, The British Museum, London, 2.8.17. This is probably the most famous Anglo-Saxon artefact in the world and was part of an extensive find from a ship burial in 7AD. The intricacy and detail of the helmet is best appreciated in person with the object right in front of you up close. Well worth a visit!

Marble Head of a Youth

Copy of work attributed to Polykleitos

Early Imperial, Claudian,ca. A.D. 41–54, Roman, Marble, Stone Sculpture.

Copy of a Greek bronze statue of ca. 450 B.C. attributed to Polykleitos

This head is associated with the statue of a nude athlete who probably held a diskos. The famous Greek sculptor Polykleitos sought rigorous, mathematically based proportions in his figures. “Perfection comes about little by little through many numbers” he is reported to have stated. His attention to the smallest details can be seen in the precise design of each lock of hair on this head.

Source: The Metropolitan Museum Of Art


Egyptian tomb curse stone, Limestone, Thebes, Egypt, c1295-1069 BCE

I’m not particularly drawn to Ancient Egyptian culture tbh but I came across this very rare tomb curse stone at a temporary exhibition in Edinburgh and thought I’d share it. I thought Egyptian tomb curses were all giant boulders and pits with poisonous snakes, not stones to stub your toes on…

This stone warns:

‘Beware not to take even a pebble from it outside… or the gods of the West will reproach him greatly.’


Star washed limestone guides you

across cruel grikes and scrabbling scree.

Loaded steps pilot your conscience,

stale pelt draped and gore painted

to the cleansing of a simple fire,

hearty bowl and sleepy semi-silence,

save only the gnarly crackle and spit

of two tired minds flame searching,

wandering through cavernous pasts.

You return to this rock hideaway,

immoveable, prehistoric home;

tricked into the wild dreaming of

fire parades and heartbeat percussion.

This space denies the refreshment

of new petrichor and nimbostrata;

a transient hearth dies out; reminder

of how ancient we have now become;

you sweet refuge, old soul shelter.

Written by The Silicon Tribesman

Iran: Rock art from unknown ancient civilisation discovered on sacred volcanic stone at top of mountain

In Iran’s remote north-east, the discovery of mysterious rock art is intriguing archaeologists. Strange symbols engraved on an outcrop of volcanic rock, on top of a mountain, appear particularly puzzling.

The site, known as Pire Mazar Balandar (or PMB001), is situated near a small village and is well known to the locals. They in fact consider the engraved stone to be sacred. It is covered in 16 simple symbols, including U-shapes which the villagers believe are the hoof prints of the horse of the prophet Imam Reza, who is buried at a nearby shrine.

Pilgrims had for years left offerings by the volcanic stone and had started to build a small temple around it. But it was only recently, in 2015, that archaeologist Mahmoud Toghrae discovered the site and began documenting the rock art. Read more.

Thirteen bracelets were found on the forearms of the mummy of King Tutankhamun. Seven on the right arm, and six on the left. Several of the bracelets included scarabs separated by motifs such as uraei and ankhs some have a large amuletic udjat eye or another central element. The bracelets were made of gold, multi coloured glass, faïence, and semiprecious stones. (MMA Burton photo TAA1382)