Sex life of the ancient Greeks in all its physical glory

A marble statuette of a sleeping Eros and a lion next to himA marble statuette of a sleeping Eros and a lion next to him on display at the Cycladic Art museum in Athens. Photograph: Yiorgos Karahalis/Reuters

The ancient Greeks were never at a loss for words when it came to love and lust – and an exhibition that opened in Athens today laying bare the practice of sex in classical times through an unprecedented collection of eye-popping art partly explains why. Continue reading Sex life of the ancient Greeks in all its physical glory

The Persian Nowruz

By : Iraj Bashiri

Introduction

The oldest of Iranian traditions, Nowruz (also referred to as eyd-i sar-i sal and eyd-i sal-i now) recalls the cosmological and mythological times of Iran. Its founder is a deputy of Ahura Mazda on earth, a position that imparts to him and the celebration a spiritual dimension and a particular sense of secular authority. The celebration is organized according to the dynamics of love between the Creator and his creation, the material world. The annual return of the spirits of the departed to their homes is celebrated by their offspring according to primordial rites of which only a faint trace remains among the Persians and the Parsees of today. But that in no way diminishes the importance of the bond which is refreshed at every Nowruz. Continue reading The Persian Nowruz

Dress and Fashion in Ancient Egypt

The hot and sunny climate of Ancient Egypt meant that simple lightweight linen clothes were the preferred choice of most Egyptians. Whilst a number of examples of New Kingdom textiles have survived, studies of Ancient Egyptian dress and textiles are still largely based upon the study of wall paintings, reliefs and sculptures.

The well documented kohl-rimmed eyes of the ancient Egyptians are one of their most distinctive features. Cosmetics were not considered a luxury, and most people, from the simple peasant upwards to pharaoh himself used them. The only real difference between the classes was the quality of the products used. Men and women followed the latest fashions in both hairstyles, make-up and fashion. Continue reading Dress and Fashion in Ancient Egypt

Achaemenid Army

By: Professor A. Sh. Shahbazi

These life sized “Immortal Guard” in richly ornamental robes wear the twisted headband typical of native Iranians from Susa.

The Achaemenian/Achaemenid Army is well known through descriptions by Herodotus, Xenophon, and Arrian as well as by illustrations on Persepolitan and Greco-Persian monuments. Of particular importance for the topic are the Greek representations of Persian warriors and the evidence of the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus from Sidon. The Persians whom Cyrus the Great united did not possess a professional army: as in days of old, the “people” of a region was represented by its backbone, the “military force,” so the two words were used synonymously in one Old Persian term, kara (cognate with Lithuanian karias/karis “war, army,” Gothic harjis “army,” and German Heer “army,”), a sense still retained in the New Persian term kas-o kar “relatives and supporters.” Continue reading Achaemenid Army

Amenhotep IV

Amenhotep IV (throne name Nefer-kheperue-re) becomes Akhenaten, the famous “heretic” pharaoh.

Akhenaten (1352-1336 BC) was son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy. During his reign both the art and religion in Egypt were marked by rapid change. When he initially succeeded the throne he was known as Amenhotep IV, but changed his name to Akhenaten in his fifth regnal year, and began to build a new capital called Akhetaten (“horizon of the sun”), in Middle Egypt. This phase, encompassing Akhenaten’s and Smenkhkara’s reign and the beginning of Tutankhamun’s, is now referred to as the Armarna Period, and the site of the city of Akhetaten is now known as el-Amarna.

Images of Akhenaten
Late-Amarna style sculpture of Akhenaten, probably from the workshop of Thutmose Akenaten and his family, shown adoring the Aten sun-disc. Bust of Akhenaten, Cairo Museum

Continue reading Amenhotep IV

Nazca Lines and Culture

Stretching across the Nazca plains like a giant map or blueprint left by ancient astronauts, lie the famous Nazca Lines of Peru. Peru is associated with the Incan Civilization who many link with alien visitors who still interact with local people to this day.

The Nazca Lines are an engima. No one has proof who built them or why. Since their discovery, the Nazca Lines have inspired fantastic explanations from ancient gods, a landing strip for returning aliens, a celestial calendar created by the ancient Nazca civilization — putting the creation of the lines between 200 BC and 600 AD, used for rituals probably related to astronomy, to confirm the ayllus or clans who made up the population and to determine through ritual their economic functions held up by reciprocity and redistribution, or a map of underground water supplies.

There are also huge geoglyphs in Egypt, Malta, United States (Mississippi and California), Chile, Bolivia and in other countries. But the Nazca geoglyphs, because of their numbers, characteristics, dimensions and cultural continuity, as they were made and remade through out the whole prehispanic period, form the most impressive, as well as enigmatic, archeological group.

Location

The Nazca Lines are located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the pampa (a large flat area of southern Peru). The desolate plain of the Peruvian coast which comprises the Pampas of San Jose (Jumana), Socos, El Ingenio and others in the province of Nasca, is 400 Km. South of Lima, covers an area of approximately 450 km2, of sandy desert as well as the slopes of the contours of the Andes. They cover nearly 400 square miles of desert. Etched in the surface of the desert pampa sand about 300 hundred figures made of straight lines, geometric shapes most clearly visible from the air.

Nazca Plain

The Nazca plain is virtually unique for its ability to preserve the markings upon it, due to the combination of the climate (one of the driest on Earth, with only twenty minutes of rainfall per year) and the flat, stony ground which minimises the effect of the wind at ground level. With no dust or sand to cover the plain, and little rain or wind to erode it, lines drawn here tend to stay drawn. These factors, combined with the existence of a lighter-coloured subsoil beneath the desert crust, provide a vast writing pad that is ideally suited to the artist who wants to leave his mark for eternity.

The pebbles which cover the surface of the desert contain ferrous oxide. The exposure of centuries has given them a dark patina. When the gravel is removed, they contrast with the color underneath. In this way the lines were drawn as furrows of a lighter color, even though in some cases they became prints. In other cases, the stones defining the lines and drawings form small lateral humps of different sizes. Some drawings, especially the early ones, were made by removing the stones and gravel from their contours and in this way the figures stood out in high relief.

The concentration and juxtaposition of the lines and drawings leave no doubt that they required intensive long-term labor as is demonstrated by the stylistic continuity of the designs, which clearly correspond to the different stages of cultural changes.

Designs, Myths and Metaphors

There appear to be various designs consisting of figures of animals, flowers and plants, objects, and anthropomorphic figures of colossal proportions made with well-defined lines. An example of this is the drawing of a weird being with two enormous hands, one normal and the other with only four fingers.


Gray Alien hand vs. Human Hand?

Also represented are drawings of man-made objects such as yarn, looms and “tupus” (ornamental clasps). All these figures have well-defined entrances which could be used as paths or to allow people to line together along the conformations of the drawings. Continue reading Nazca Lines and Culture