The four canopic jars of Horemsaf (c.1069-1030 BCE)

“All four of these calcite ‘canopic’ jars—the modern term used for the containers that were used to store the internal organs removed from the deceased’s body during mummification—belonged to the same person, who lived during the Late Period. Their stoppers were made in the likeness of Horus’s four sons, funerary gods whose role was to guard the internal organs.” (Source)

fuckyeahalejandra replied to your post: Ancient Art Week! Various Roman Sculpt…

Are these sculptures of roman citizens or slaves?

The association of Black people with enslavement is an entirely modern invention, as in, chattel slavery in the Americas and the routine enslavement of black people in Europe did not exist in Rome. Roman slavery was NOT the same as chattel slavery, and it did not have anything to do with race as we know it today.

There is nothing about any of those artworks that indicates slave status.

This is what I’m talking about when I say that our modern attitudes and colonial-era histories 100% affect the way we view ancient artworks.

American schools teach “slavery then civil rights”, and that’s their “Black History” curricula, for the most part. That’s why I get responses like this. Because it seems like a large number of Americans see any Black person from before 1950 and think “slave”.

This is far from the first time someone has asked this, and it probably is far from the last time I will be asked. It’s my hope that people will really think about how we got to this point, and why it’s so necessary to explore how this degree of anti-blackness has been codified into our education system.

Figure 1: Images of figurines and their geographic origins. Images are shown in the same (random) order and numbered, as they were for the questionnaire study.

(1) Willendorf’s Venus (Rhine/Danube)

(2) Lespugue Venus (Pyrenees/Aquitaine)

(3) Laussel Venus (Pyrenees/Aquitaine)

(4) Dolní Věstonice Venus (Rhine/Danube)

(5) Gagarino no. 4 Venus (Russia)

(6) Moravany Venus (Rhine/Danube)

(7) Kostenki 1. Statuette no. 3 (Russia)

(8) Grimaldi nVenus (Italy)

(9) Chiozza di Scandiano Venus (Italy)

(10) Petrkovice Venus (Rhine/Danube)

(11) Modern sculpture (N. America)

(12) Eleesivitchi Venus (Russia)

(13) Savignano Venus (Italy)

(14) The so-called “Brassempouy Venus” (Pyrenees/Aquitaine)

(15) Hohle Fels Venus (SW Germany)

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archaeo_girl submitted to medievalpoc:

The Viking Buddhas

Thinking of your Ancient Art, would you consider the Viking Age ancient? It’s more early Middle Ages generally speaking.

I was wondering if you’d seen any of the Viking Buddhas? The Vikings had extensive trade with Asia (some through Russia and extensively through Persia). The most common east Asian trade item found in the Viking world (from what I understand) is silk. Less well known are the “uncommon” but not “rare” occurrence of Buddhas. There are several “classic” style Buddhas found in the Viking world that were likely acquired in trade from eastern Asia (i.e. China) as well as some in the style of southern Asia (i.e. India), but there are also some that are done in a style and with materials that suggests they might have been created in northern Europe, from within the Viking world. The more famous of these (to my knowledge) is the “Oseberg Bucket Buddha” (wikimedia link ). It was found in a burial of a very high profile woman.

From what I’ve been able to find, how these Buddhas fit into the Viking worldview is not known. where they representations of a religious minority? Where they co-opted as representation of Norse gods? Was a Buddha figure incorporated into the Viking pantheon in some areas? Where there immigrants or descendants from east/south Asia living in the Viking world that maintained their religious heritage (we know the Viking brought back people from both raid and trade expeditions from most of the “known” world, as spouses, slaves, and even equals/freemen immigrants, and it was possible for slaves to become freemen). In addition to the Buddhas, there are several figurines, mostly interpreted as Valkyrie or Shield Maidens, that have what art historians and hobbyists describe as “slanted” eyes (how i wish they said “artistic interpretation of a hooded eye” or something less probematic! Even “Asiatic” would have been less loaded, for goodness’ sake. ) ( wikicommons link ).

Actually, in recent years, more connections to the Vikings and Asia have been revealed in both art and literature. In additions to the Buddhas from Helgö and Oseburg, Persian silk fragments previously thought to have been looted from England or Ireland are now thought to have been gained by legitimate trade directly with Persia. Some of the fragments are suspected to have originated even further east in China.

The literary connection comes from the Saga of Siddharta, which became Baarlams and Josaphat, which was originally Buddha. Apparently a written version of this tale was recorded as a Norse saga in the 13th century.

There are also some linguistic and genetic connections, but that’s definitely wayyy outside my field.

photo credit to Saamiblog


Egypt: Dendera, the cosmos of Hathor

Enclosed within its rugged mud brick walls the temple precincts at Dendera seem to be an island left untouched by time. Particularly in the early hours of the morning, when foxes roam around the ruins of the birth house or venture down the steep stairs leading to the Sacred Lake. Stepping into the actual temple is like entering an ancient time machine, especially if you look up to the recently cleaned astronomical ceiling. This is a vast cosmos filled with stars, hour-goddesses and zodiac signs, many of which are personified by weird creatures like snakes walking on long legs and birds with human arms and jackal heads. On the columns just below the ceiling you encounter the mysterious gaze of the patron deity of the temple: Hathor. Deeper into the building (which dates from around 0 AD) is the crypt with the famous “light-bulb” reliefs where the golden statue of Hathor’s soul was kept. From there you can follow the route of a New Year procession to the roof of the temple where Hathor’s golden soul was rejuvenated by the rays of the sun on the first day of the Egyptian year.


Byzantine jewelry completely opposes the church’s condemnation of excessive luxury.

But these pieces stand as a testament to Byzantine affluence, social habits, and technical achievements of their cosmopolitan culture.

Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections now open!


Necklace, 4th century. Marion, Cyprus, Greece.. Image courtesy of the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, no. Z.438.1
Bracelets, 9th–10th century. Constantinople, Turkey. Image courtesy of the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki

The green lion devouring the Sun.

In alchemy, the green lion describes a chemical reaction but also represents a midpoint in a spiritual transformation; it symbolizes a step towards perfection. In mystical terms, it’s a step out of darkness (winter) towards some final transformation.

“I am who was the green and golden lion without cares; within me lie all the mysteries of the philosophers”, from Rosarium Philosophorum (c. 1550).