Oh my gosh. So today in geography of Africa someone presented their research on the Africanness of Egypt. A perfectly valid topic. But did they discuss Egyptian’s membership in the Afro-Asiatic language family? Or the extensive and well-documented trade connections, political relations, and cultural synthesis between Egypt and Kush/Nubia? Or Egyptians’ portrayals of themselves in art? Nope! They cited a bunch of nonsense Afrocentrist theories about nonexistent connections between Wolof and Egyptian, the supposed origin of the Egyptian people and civilization in the Great Rift Valley, and…African Olmecs?? Just…why?
Paolo Uccello c. 1443
Florence Cathedral (Duomo)
This clock is very unique in that it is the only clock in the world to run on “Italian time”. The dials move from left to right and the 24 (placed on the bottom instead of the top), which in our culture signifies midnight actually means sunset. The time of sunset changes however and once a week the clock needs to be reset. Sunset it early modern cities was when the gates were locked and citizens were locked in (or out) until the next day. The cathedral bells were in sync with the clock and would toll to warn residents that the gates would soon be closed. The time for sunset has to always be at the 24 so depending on the week and how many hours of daylight there was going to be the clock would not be at the same place at the same time of day.
Orichalcum Sestertius of Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus (AD 69-79)
Among the finest known, a numismatic masterpiece with a bird’s eye view of the Flavian Amphitheater.
On the coin is the Flavian Amphitheater (The Colosseum) of Rome. In the reverse is inscribed IMP T CAES VESP AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII with Titus seated on curule chair, holding branch and scroll; below, on either side of him is a pile of arms. In the field, S – C.
From a numismatic perspective, the Colosseum is among the hardest to collect of Roman monument representations. It only occurs on coinage three times and each issue is scarce. It first appears on sestertii of Titus, the emperor under whom the Colosseum was completed, and later on coins of Severus Alexander and medallions of Gordian III.
Orichalcum is a metal mentioned in several ancient writings, including the story of Atlantis as recounted in the Critias dialogue, recorded by Plato. According to Critias, orichalcum was considered second only to gold in value, and was found and mined in many parts of Atlantis in ancient times. However, by the time of Critias (5th century BC), it was known by name only. In numismatics, orichalcum is the golden-colored bronze alloy used for the Roman sestertius and dupondius coins.
Built around the year 1000, the church of Hosios Loukas (Saint Luke for those of you English speakers) was a product of the thriving Byzantine monastic movement. Many citizens of the empire contributed to this movement, either financially or by spending part of their lives in a monastery or convent.
In the Eastern Roman Empire, as in the far east, it was common for older people to join a holy community as sort of a way of preparing for the afterlife. But true champions of the faith embraced this lifestyle at a much earlier age. The tenth-century saint for whom the church of Hosios Loukas is named left his parents at the age of 14 to join other monks. In time, a longing for solitude led him to a rugged hillside in Phocis where ancient Greeks had once worshipped the goddess Demeter. There, Loukas/Luke passed his last 8 years in a small cell, visited now and again by pilgrims, and acquiring a reputation as a healer and prophet. Before his death in 943, it was said, he foretold the liberation of Crete from Muslim control. When that prophecy was fulfilled in 961, Loukas/Luke’s reputation soared, and powerful patrons offered their support to the monastic community that had grown up around his dwelling. By one account, the church that arose there drew support from Basil II.
A fitting monument to power and piety, the building projected a fortress-like solidity, relieved by a host of graceful arches and windows that threw light on the sacred images housed within. Wrought of stone, brick, and tile, the exterior of Hosios Loukas reveals the building’s symbolic plan - a cross within a square, with the cross defined by the gable transepts projecting from the central dome. Hosios Loukas has endured as a shining example of Byzantine church architecture.
I am so glad I didn’t see any Easter = Ishtar nonsense this year.
Dialogue du vent et de la mer from Debussy’s La Mer, 1903-1905.