Category: prad - Part 6

Daily Flickr Finds: Sean Molin’s Stonehenge

Today’s Flickr Find comes from talented photographer Sean Molin, who beautifully depicts the iconic Stonehenge and portrays it in a dramatic and atmospheric shot. The use of the sepia tint takes away the colour of the shot, leaving the viewer to pay close attention to the great detail in the shot.

The dark skies indicate an impending storm advancing on the relic which has braved the elements for millenia, representing the resilience of this ancient monument as it continues to serve as a reminder of of our heritage.

Sean Molin notes that he is not keen on showing both the sepia and the colour versions of his capture on his Flickr stream, but I think it is a credit to his excellent post-production to turn an already beautiful picture into a fantastic portrayal, most definately worthy of the Heritage-Key select images pool.

There are several articles on Heritage Key that cover Stonehenge, as well as the recent Summer Solstice festival. As a potent symbol of British prehistory, it is one of the mysterious and most loved sites in the world, and Sean Molin’s photograph certainly does the monument justice!

Daily Flickr Finds: johnmartine63’s Scene from The Egyptian “Book of the Dead”

The “Book of the Dead” isn’t as daunting as some horror cinema flick may make it sound to be. In fact, it was a series of spells, pleas and stories which were written and compiled as a guide for the deceased to navigate across the underworld to reach paradise.

johnmartine63‘s image shows a scene depicted by figures in the Chicago Field Museum’s exhibition, showing a crucial chapter of the Book of the Dead – Judgement. In the scene, the heart of the deceased is weighed against the Feather of Truth (an ostrich plume, representing the proper order of the universe known as ma’at), as they plead their case of having lived a life aligned with the ethical values held in Ancient Egypt.

Should the God Thoth and the accompanying 42 Judges decide that the heart is lighter than the feather (hence pure), the deceased joins Osiris on a path to eternal paradise. Should the heart be heavier than the feather, then it is eaten by the demon Ammit with the deceased dying forever. And whichever way you cut it, that’s not really a good scenario..! Be sure to have a look around johnmartine63’s Flickr stream, and if you want to know more about the Book of the Dead?Learn about the latest research and new perspectives on the ‘BD’ in Sean’s article.

Architectural Copies: What Nashville Has in Common With Athens

Athens was the learning centre of what was one of the greatest empirical cultures in history – the Ancient Greeks. Building the foundations of civilisation, the Greeks progressed education, politics, sports, science, arts and philosophy. Spawning the concept of democracy, and influencing design and architecture for centuries to come, Athens served as the template for society.

The Parthenon, AthensNashville is the capital of the American state of Tennessee, has a prosperous port and numerous high rise skyscrapers, and lays claim to being the home of country music. A city which has a thriving commercial heart, boasting enough neon signs to make Las Vegas bat an eyelid!

So what does Athens, the ancient city which kickstarted civilisation as we know it, have in common with Nashville, a city which was only founded a couple of centuries ago?

The answer? The Parthenon.

The Parthenon is one of the ancient gems of the architecture world – it’s a relic which is instantly recognisable around the world, and is certainly iconic of Ancient Greece. The Parthenon essentially is the example of classical Greek architecture. When looking at the beauty in the design of this ancient building, one can examine and marvel at the craftmanship of the ancient Athenians.

And yet, Nashville has a replica of the Parthenon which stands proudly in Centennial Park. Except, theirs isn’t in ruins.

A full scale replica was built in 1897 as part of a World’s Fair event, as were other ancient wonders. Only the Parthenon was retained though, leading to the city’s reputation as being the “Athens of the South” – a reference to the city having 24 post-secondary educational establishments, drawing similarities to Plato’s academies in Athens.

Replica of the Parthenon, Nashville, TennesseeIt’s worth noting perhaps, that the “new Parthenon” in Nashville, has been modernised to allow disability access to bring it up to code with requirements of public buildings in America. We can probably assume that was something Pericles didn’t factor into the original design.

But it is rather odd to have a copy of the Greek temple sitting amidst the middle of an American city. It seems too fresh and pristine in an age when we view such a structure in our mind to be worn and in ruin. In a way, it’s unremarkable – it comes across simply as just another classically themed building – but this is the Parthenon as it would’ve stood back in its day!A structure which should be astounding, yet we’d much rather see it in ruins.

Much of America’s architecture has relied upon copying, although admittedly it rarely is a direct and blatant copy as the Parthenon. It’d be unfair to pick on just Nashville – a lot of Andrea Palladio’s designs were replicated Stateside too. The original premise for keeping the Parthenon replica was to promote Nashville in the same light and bring about the same sort of popularity as the city of Athens. And in a sense, it has achieved it, developing the city with that reputation of being the “Athens of the South”.

But nevertheless, I can’t help but approach the copy with a sneer about myself, knowing it can never beat the original.

Daily Flickr Finds: Chris Bryant’s Xian City Wall

Xi’an is a city which boasts many ancient relics, from the famous Terracotta Warriors, to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. As one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, the city was fortified with one of the oldest and best preserved Chinese city walls.

Chris Bryant’s photograph of the Xi’an City Walls shows the immense beauty of the scene. An image of still water captures a near perfect reflection of the bridge, and the vegetation looks richly green against the stone walls. Perhaps most telling in this photograph is the river extending to a vanishing point in the distance, as it merges into the horizon with the sky.

A strategic defence for this ancient important city, the walls were made from compressed earth and stands at an impressive 12 metres high. The wall was later encased in bricks, and has a watchtower located at each corner, as can be seen in Chris Bryant’s fantastic photograph.

Map Game: Seven Ancient Wonders of the World

In my ever-long quest to be innovative and interactive with how Heritage Key presents information, I thought I’d take a moment out to have a little fun and games! So using mapping software from umapper,I’ve devised a little map quiz. Here’s how it works – you’re presented with a map and asked to find a location (which appears at the top of the screen). You then use your mouse cursor and click where you think that particular location is on the map.

Simple, huh? Not exactly, as I’m using a physical map. So there’s no country borders or landmarks to guide you along the way.. I’m mean like that. Also, there’s a time limit, and the faster you find the landmark, the more points you get – so you have to be accurate ANDquick!

This week’s map game is
the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World
so have a go, and lets see who comes out on top!

The game works best in full screen mode, so click the button in the top right corner to be able to see the whole map.

Just in case you need a reminder, have a look at the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World on Heritage Key:

Daily Flickr Finds: Lou Rouge’s Misterioso Palenque

In the deep south of Mexico, there lies a mysterious and enchanting temple in ruins, a relic of a Mesoamerican past. Lou Rouge’s photograph beautifully captures the mystical aura of this tomb in a fantastic capture which portrays the mood perfectly. The mist and dark lighting creates the sense of the unknown, but maintains the feel of the alluring. It’s a photograph which makes the person looking at it feel that the place has hidden secrets which are waiting to be unravelled.

And it certainly has those!The Temple of Inscriptions, as it is known in English, is the only Maya pyramid of this era to be used as a tomb – for Kinich Janaab Pakal none the less. Otherwise known as Pacal the Great, the Mayan ruler of Palenque was notable for several architectural structures and inscriptions.

Named after three tablets contained within the tomb which are emblazoned with hieroglyphic inscriptions, they are essentially a biography of the life of the ruler. Detailing notable events in Pacal the Great’s life up to his death, this Temple is a stunning ancient relic. And perfectly portrayed by Lou Rouge’s photograph!

Google Earth Tour: Ancient China – The Terracotta Army

Imagine being one of the local farmers in Xi’an, China, drilling a new water well only to break into a pit containing one of the most unbelievable sights that a man can ever see. Over 6,000 life sized terracotta figures buried under the ground and never seen by anybody for centuries.

The enigmatic soldiers hold many myths and mysteries about them, but they are certainly one of the most captivating finds of the 20th Century. There are three pits in the region, as well as other museum structures which can be seen from the air thanks to Google Earth. Another tour which this time takes us to the site of the Terracotta army, looking at the various areas around the Qin Emperor Tomb.

The tour enables you to fly over and explore the sites and their surroundings, and where you see a Heritage Key logo, you can click it and you’ll see more information about the adjacent landmark.

To view this Google Earth Tour, you will need to download additional software created by Google. You will require Google Earth 5.0 which will need to be installed in order to explore the aerial photography in a 3D environment. Once the software is installed, you will need to return to this webpage and download Google Earth Plugin (Your browser should meet minimum requirements). the Plugin can be downloaded by selecting it in the panel below:

To open webpages in a new window, right click the link in the information window and select “Open link in new window”. This will enable you to view the link in a full web browser.

You can also download this tour to your computer by clicking here, selecting “Save” and then running the file. It will automatically open Google Earth and begin the Heritage Key: Ancient Rome tour.

Keep an eye out for more Google Earth tours from Heritage Key!

Who Owns Antiquities?

On a recent trip to the British Museum, it occured to me:”Who owns all this?”

It’s a pretty complex question to be asking though. As I wandered past the Elgin Marbles, I overheard a couple of tourists discussing how Greece wanted the ancient relics back. Apparently hacking the marbles off the Parthenon and shipping them over to show in the British Museum doesn’t sit too well with our Greek friends. Go figure.

Should the museums of the world, packed full of “stolen” ancient treasures and permanently borrowed artefacts from around the globe start returning the wares back to the countries where they originate?

Archaeologists and Museums have often been at loggerheads over the matter. Archaeologists want to see national and international laws which will restrict, if not prevent, the international movement of antiquities. Some museums, surprisingly, are against any such legislation as it would result in their treasure chest suddenly becoming rather bare.

Unprovenanced antiquities is the hot potato – items whose whereabouts in modern times aren’t fully documented. The liberation of Iraq saw the National Museum, Baghdad looted in April, 2003 with tens of thousands of artefacts removed. International reaction condemned the looting, but the items stolen turned up around the world on the black market.

It’s somewhat a stark contrast to the days of Lord Elgin, who along with his crew of men, set about working on the Acropolis as per their permit with the Ottoman Rulers. Allegedly, an Ottoman firman allowed Elgin to remove some items and take them back to Britain. In removing the marbles and transporting them to England, Elgin may well have saved them from the sorry state that was the Parthenon in the early 1800s. And then the British Government paid Elgin for them to the tune of a cool 39,000.

So wait – essentially Elgin did what a FOXNews employee did in 2003, and bring back some antiquities with him in the hope of selling it on for a handsome profit. Except the employee got arrested at Customs – apparently that’s the sort of thing you’re supposed to declare. Elgin, on the other hand, never had to deal with Heathrow Airport Customs.

That said, Elgin did lose his wife to his best friend, lost a chunk of his nose after a particularly bad infection and came close to bankruptcy after his wife took him to the cleaners in the divorce settlement.

But who really owns the antiquities? Can the museums really lay claim to something when the originating country wants them back?Or do ancient artefacts lose all ownership?Lets face it – it’s not as if anyone can directly lay a claim to say it belongs to them personally. So in fact, do antiquities belong to us all?

Simply put, it’s a huge grey area. The Elgin marbles have been the subject of debate for the past 200 years since they first came to British soil, and they’re still here! The argument with many such antiquities is that they’re better off in the museums of developed nations where they can be properly conserved. Which is fair enough. But then the counter argument comes that countries are being denied the rights to their own heritage. Which is another good point. And which is also why this whole thing seems to keep going around in circles.. again, and again, and again..

Frederick Schultz was a New York art dealer jailed for three years in 2002 for smuggling Egyptian antiquities into America on the pretence that they were cheap souvenirs. Having violated the United States law of the National Stolen Property Act, he attempted to plead that he was not guilty as the law stated it was illegal to import or subsequently come into the possession of items which were stolen property. And Egypt’s 1983 law on national patrimony did not share the definition of “stolen” as is commonplace within the United States.

And of course he lost. Mainly because he was citing a law which said all antiquities discovered in Egypt are property of the Egyptian State, and hence belong to the nation.It continues, detailing that any such artefacts that come into the possession of a person, or institution, without the permission of the state means you’re handling stolen goods, and breaking the law. So really, citing that was a bit silly.

But it brings about an interesting point – in particular with regards to the commercial value of such artefacts. Archaeologists will argue that the best way to stop this sort of trade is for everyone to just stop buying antiquities, and hence making them all worthless. Leave it to the archaeologists to sort out, and that then, the blackmarket trade will cease. Wishful thinking, methinks..

So who owns antiquities?The origin country who claims their national soul has been taken from them, and demand for it to be repatriated? The foreign museums who claim the countries of origin are unable to preserve the artefacts as well as they can?Is there any gain from moving a treasure from a museum where it will be seen by millions to a museum where it will be seen by a handful?

Needless to say, it’s a topic with no easy answer.

I find it remarkable that in this age where globalisation and modern technology is making the world smaller and smaller, and we’re all learning much more about one another, sharing information freely, the subject of antiquities hasn’t changed. Nations and museums still bicker and argue about who owns what, and mankind’s heritage is being restricted in the process.

So what is to be of it all?Well for a start, Heritage Key is cataloguing the world’s collection of historical antiquities and bringing it to life for anybody with a computer and an internet connection to enjoy.

For me, this is where the future for accessing antiquities will lie.

Daily Flickr Finds: gh0stdot’s Abu Simbel

Part of the Nubian Monuments, Abu Simbel is an ancient site home to two rock temples in the south of Egypt. A beautiful tribute build by Pharoah Ramesses II to his queen Nefertari, they had the alterior motive of commemorating the Battle of Kadesh, as well as the added bonus of intimidating the neighbours!Nothing like a massive temple or two to show the region who’s boss!

The beauty of this monumental structure is depicted perfectly in gh0stdot’s photograph. Choosing to portray the two ancient statues at an angle which captures them from below, and results in a picture including the sky, the effect is one which shows the great detail that went into these structures. The colour is very rich and glows the stone from which it is made, and the dramatic shading really punctuates this photograph to life.

Be sure to check out gh0stdot’s photostream for some truly stunning shots of ancient relics around the world.

Google Earth Tour: Ancient Egypt

Continuing the Google Earth Tours here at Heritage Key, which have so far covered Rome, Athens and London, this week’s tour looks at Ancient sites across the historically rich nation of Egypt. An ancient civilisation which boasts some of the most famous relics in the world, such as The Great Pyramid of Giza and the Temple at Thebes.

By bringing together aerial photography with 3D virtual environments, we can use Google Earth to scan across the surface of Egypt and see the sites and relics that remain of this great civilisation. This tour is complete with those clickable Heritage Key logos once again, which will link you to articles on this website, as well as photographs from our Heritage Key Flickr photo pool.

To view this Google Earth Tour, you will need to download additional software created by Google. You will require Google Earth 5.0 which will need to be installed in order to explore the aerial photography in a 3D environment. Once the software is installed, you will need to return to this webpage and download Google Earth Plugin (Your browser should meet minimum requirements). the Plugin can be downloaded by selecting it in the panel below:

To open webpages in a new window, right click the link in the information window and select “Open link in new window”. This will enable you to view the link in a full web browser.

You can also download this tour to your computer by clicking here, selecting “Save” and then running the file. It will automatically open Google Earth and begin the Heritage Key: Ancient Egypt Tour.