Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘artifact’

2251

Photos: British Museum
Tello in Iraq is the site of one of the oldest cities on earth. After the fall of Saddam, looted treasures ended up in London and, thanks to archaeological detective work, have been returned. Today the site is protected by both Iraqi archaeological police and a local tribe.

When you think something is lost forever, hold on to hope. If looted archaeological fragments that have been smuggled to another country can be identified and returned, you can find the family heirloom you put in a too-safe place. You can find the delight you once took in simple things back when you were too young to read the news.

Maev Kennedy reported for the Guardian in August, “A collection of 5,000-year-old antiquities looted from a site in Iraq in 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and then seized by the Metropolitan police from a dealer in London, will be returned to Baghdad this week.

“It comes after experts at the British Museum identified not just the site they came from but the temple wall they were stolen from.

The eight small pieces had no documentation of any kind to help the police, but the museum experts could literally read their origin.

“They included cone-shaped ceramics with cuneiform inscriptions identifying the site as Tello, ancient Girsu in southern Iraq, one of the oldest cities on earth recorded in the earliest form of true written language.

“The inscriptions named the Sumerian king who had them made almost 5,000 years ago, the god they were dedicated to, and the temple. And by an extraordinary coincidence the museum had an archaeologist, Sebastian Rey, leading a team of Iraqi archaeologists at the site, uncovering the holes in the mudbrick walls of the temple they were torn from, and the broken pieces the looters had discarded. …

“Iraqi ambassador Salih Husain Ali [said] the protection of antiquities was an international responsibility and praised the British Museum and its staff ‘for their exceptional efforts in the process of identifying and returning looted antiquities to Iraq.’ …

“St John Simpson, the assistant keeper at the Middle East department of the museum, said: ‘Uniquely we could trace them not just to the site but to within inches of where they were stolen from. This is a very happy outcome, nothing like this has happened for a very, very long time if ever.’ …

“The site of the Eninnu temple at Tello is now protected, not just by the reformed Iraqi archaeological police, but by a local tribe. …

“With no apparent way of tracing their origin, they sat in police stores until some of the antiquities cold cases were reopened with the reforming of the Met’s art and antiquities squad, and brought to the museum earlier this year. …

“The museum experts hope their methodology could be used to create maps of specific sites and types of antiquities, making the work of looters much more difficult.”

More at the Guardian, here. Wouldn’t you like to reach across time and tell the craftsman of the sweet little bull below that people in 2018 are still enjoying it?

Treasures looted from the site of an ancient city in Iraq include a tiny marble amulet of a bull.

1793

Read Full Post »

David Guttenfelder seems to get into North Korea and take pictures there more than anyone else, but what are you allowed to take pictures of in North Korea?

When Guttenfelder isn’t attending any official event, he improvises. He may have invented an art form in North Korea — artifact photography. He snaps bunches of plastic flowers in a hotel room, dinner menus, concert programs and labels them as “artifacts,” numbered.

No wonder he is involved with a new artifact museum, mmuseumm, which features the kooky things people collect.

Consider Toothpaste Tubes from Around the World, collected by Tucker Viemeister.  Says Viemeister, “Although I come from a ‘Crest family,’ I got my first tube of foreign toothpaste in Finland in 1985. We were shopping for normal stuff (Marimekko and toiletries). I saw a tube of toothpaste that’s [got a] name as long as the tube! They have long words in Finland.

“As I traveled around, I’d sample the toothpaste around the world. It was fun to buy and fit easily in my bag. Meanwhile it was an easy gift!

“I noticed that toothpaste is a universal media for indigenous people – a veritable blank canvas — both graphics on the generic tube and the flavors of the paste. French brands are more gourmet, Asian is more fruity, while American is very sharp (it this stereotyping?).” More here.

The museum is in Cortlandt Alley between Franklin St. and White St. in Manhattan.

(I wonder if my collection of wooden thread spools is extensive enough for a museum. I am afraid I lost the varied European toilet papers I collected on a trip at age 15.)

 

Read Full Post »

“In a tiny South African cave,” writes Amina Khan in the Los Angeles Times, “archaeologists have unearthed a 100,000-year-old art studio that contains tools for mixing powder from red and yellow rocks with animal fat and marrow to make vibrant paints as well as abalone shells full of dried-out red pigment, the oldest paint containers ever found. (Photo by Magnus Haaland / October 5, 2011)

“The discovery, described in [the 10/14/11] edition of the journal Science, suggests that humans may have been thinking symbolically — more like modern-day humans think — much earlier than previously recognized, experts said. Symbolic thinking could have been a key evolutionary step in the development of other quintessentially human abilities, such as language, art and complex ritual.

“The artifacts were uncovered at a well-studied site called the Blombos Cave, which sits by the edge of the Indian Ocean about 180 miles east of Cape Town. The two shells, lying about 6 inches from each other, had a red residue from a soft, grindable stone known as ochre. Ochre is rich in iron compounds that usually give it red or yellow hues, and it is known to have been used in ancient paints.”

It is lovely to think that the longing to be creative is something innate. Now we know that at least 100,000 years ago, people were experiencing that urge and acting on it.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: