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.
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”.
Its subject, size, materials, and naturalistic style suggest that this small sculpture was made by one of the nomadic peoples of Western and Central Asia—perhaps the Scythians, who, with the Medes, conquered the Assyrians.
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).
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
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.
The Celts began making their own coins in the 200s b.c. when they received payment from Hellenistic kings who employed Celtic warriors as mercenaries. The king weighs 6.8 grams and is about 2cm in diameter.