Ancient Antiquity

Eagle-headed Protective Spirit

The relief to the right portrays an Eagle-headed protective spirit that is Assyrian in origin, from Nimrod, Temple of Ninurta and dates to 860-865 BC. It is carved from gypsum. The temple is located in what is now northern Iraq, but Nimrod was also a place named after a person. Nimrod is mentioned in the Bible as the great-grandson of Noah and he is attributed to be the builder of the Tower of Babel. In other news of ancient antiquity, we both enjoyed a quiet day today. Anne got today off and we puttered around the house, each dedicated to their chosen chores, resulting in domestic domesticity.

The Standard of Ur

The Standard of Ur

This artifact was so named by Leonard Woolley. the archeologist that found it. It was found near the shoulder of a man, as if it was being carried on a pole like a battle standard. It is a hollow box and its original function is not yet known. It was found in a grave that had been thoroughly robbed in antiquity. The mosaic is made of incised shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli inlay. The wooden structure had been crushed, but Woolley was able to preserve the mosaic using wax. He then painstakingly reconstructed it to what you see here. The mosaic portrays martial scenes and dates to 2500 BC.

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Aztec Turquoise Mosaic Mask

Well, into each life a little rain must fall and that is what the weather has been doing since Friday. They forecasted 6″ of it and I think that we got every bit of that. There’s a fair amount of flooding going on and in our 80 year-old basement, the cracked concrete floor is weeping to beat the band. Also, the sump pump roars to life about every fifteen minutes. I shouldn’t really complain too much, because I caused this frog strangler to occur. Just like my Dad ended the five-year drought in California, when he had solar panels installed on his house, I did something similar. When he turned on his solar system, the clouds moved in, the rains commenced and the drought out there was soon history. I feel like I caused our deluge here this weekend, when I bought a new sprinkler system to water the lawn. It’s really not much of a system, just a new sprinkler and a timer for the faucet, but it should be able to automatically water the lawn, some day. I haven’t tried it out yet. There hasn’t been any reason to, but if the rain ever halts, then I’ll be ready. Anne has taken better advantage of this storm by working on her quilting. In other news, I’ve been going to the dentist a lot lately. I’m having new caps put on my teeth. The photo is an artist’s rendition of how they’ll look, when it’s all done. Great smile, don’t you think? That just a joke. The actual dental work is molars and Inca gold.

The British Museum

Anne at the British Museum

At the British Museum, as with most museums, patrons are asked not to touch the museum’s collection. Delicate and fragile items are encased in glass, while larger more rugged pieces are kept under the ever watchful eyes of the museum’s art police. When we were at the British Museum I saw one of these guards scold a man for touching an ancient Egyptian sculpture, meanwhile hundreds of school kids were bouncing around the same gallery and were frequently pawing the same art. I never touch the art. What never? Well, hardly ever. Caught red-handed, I am pictured below touching a statue of Sophocles. Now, in my defense, the one that I am seen touching was in the gift shop and not the pictured original, but what about the Rosetta stone?

The real Rosetta stone is on display in the museum’s antiquities wing and is encased in thick protective glass. It was also surrounded by a horde of tourists. All of this made it very difficult to photograph. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the museum in the Enlightenment wing there is a copy of the Rosetta stone. This duplicate is only a couple of hundred years old and is not protected at all. I knew of its existence and had been looking for it. A middle-age British couple were viewing it, when I walked right up on its side and press my left palm on to the center of its exposed surface. This evoked an audible gasp from the woman and their eyes both shot daggers at me. At least until I pointed out the sign on the stone’s pedestal that said, “Please touch.” This seemed to mollify the couple and they even went so far as to daintily touch the stone with their fingertips. If you look closely at this duplicate, you can see that most people touch it just to the left or right of center.