The Evolving Judeo-Christian Concept of “Hell” from the Ancient World to Today

The abyss of hell. Sandro Botticelli The meaning of hell might have changed over the centuries, but for devout Christians it remains a core part of their faith. By Dr. Joanne M. Pierce / 04.18.2018 Professor of Religious Studies College of the Holy Cross The recent dispute over whether Pope Francis denied the existence of hell[…]

How Did 4th-Century Roman Coins End Up in a Medieval Japanese Castle?

Roman coins were discovered in Katsuren castle in Uruma, Okinawa, southwestern Japan. EPA/Uruma City Education Board Is this evidence that Rome traded with Japan? Almost certainly not. By Dr. Kevin Butcher / 10.03.2016 Professor of Classics and Ancient History University of Warwick The recent discovery of Roman coins in controlled excavations of a castle in Japan prompted the inevitable[…]

Yvette Borup Andrews: Photographing Central Asia in the Early 20th Century

“Young China”, featured in Camps and Trails in China (1918) / HathiTrust Digital Library Although often overshadowed by the escapades of her more famous husband (said by some to be the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones), the photographs taken by Yvette Borup Andrews on their first expeditions through Central Asia stand today as a compelling contribution to[…]

Andreas Vesalius: The Man Who Revolutionized Our Knowledge of the Human Body

Drawn directly from the flesh. Public Domain Review/Flickr, CC BY-SA By Dr. Richard Gunderman / 12.31.2014 Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis Andreas Vesalius authored one of the most elegant and influential books in scientific history. His investigations revolutionized our understanding of the interior of the human body and the methods physicians use to[…]

Did All Roads Actually Lead to Rome?

The Peutinger Table. Reproduction by Conradi Millieri – Ulrich Harsch Bibliotheca Augustana. Wikimedia Commons Today the phrase ‘all roads leads to Rome’ means that there’s more than one way to reach the same goal. But in Ancient Rome, all roads really did lead to the eternal city, which was at the centre of a vast road network.    By Dr. Caillan Davenport (left) and Dr. Shushma Malik (right) / 01.19.2017 Caillan: Senior[…]

The Meenakshi Hindu Temple at Madurai

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Naidu, India (photo: Jorge Royan, CC BY-SA 3.0) By Edward Fosmire / 04.03.2018 Assistant Professor of Art Santa Ana College Imagine approaching a temple complex where you are greeted by a soaring gateway more than fifteen stories tall, covered in 1500 brightly painted sculptures of divine and demonic figures. It’s overwhelming and[…]

Ancient Treasures on Top of Mediterranean Mountains

The summit of Mt Zagaras north of Athens. Jason König In ancient times, they were the shrines and ritual sites to the Greek gods. These days, they’re astonishingly unloved and neglected. By Dr. Jason König / 03.01.2016 Professor of Greek University of St. Andrews The mountains of the Mediterranean are permanent reminders of the past. The ancient Greeks climbed to their summits to offer sacrifices to the[…]

Chambers of Art and Wonders in Early Modern Europe

The Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in His Gallery at Brussels, by David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) 1651. / Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna As collection rooms based on a universalist approach to art and artifacts, the chambers of art and wonders (Wunderkammern) were characteristic of the pre-modern era. By Gabriele Beßler / 07.16.2015 Art Historian Abstract As collection[…]

Excavating Etruscan Acquarossa

A revetment plaque depicting dancers. Terracotta, Portico Building A, Acquarossa. 6th century BCE. (National Etruscan Museum of Viterbo, Italy). / Dan Diffendale, Flickr, Creative Commons By Mark Cartwright / 02.03.2017 Introduction Acquarossa, located in the north of Italy’s Lazio region, is the site of an Etruscan settlement of unknown name. Although much smaller than other, more famous Etruscan towns, Acquarossa has proved invaluable[…]

Largest Ancient Tomb in Amphipolis Shows How Unique Macedonia Was

The (smaller) tombs at Vergina. Damian Entwistle, CC BY-NC By Dr. Laura Swift / 08.18.2014 Lecturer in Classical Studies The Open University The tomb is located near the ancient city of Amphipolis, and archaeologists have been excavating it for the last six years. While there are still plenty of questions unanswered (who it was made for for example),[…]

The Story of Maximo and Bartola: Apollo and the Aztecs

A baby with an encephalocele. Photograph by F.A. Hudson, 1869. Wellcome Library reference no. 34335i.3. By Dr. William Schupbach / 06.27.2016 Historian Microcephaly is a word that has come from nowhere to the newspapers’ front pages in a surprisingly short time, owing to the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil coinciding with the preparations for the Olympic Games in Rio[…]

Form and Meaning in African Art

Helmet Mask, 19th-20th century, Sierra Leone, Moyamba region, Mende or Sherbro people, wood, metal, 47.9 x 22.2 x 23.5cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) By Dr. Christa Clarke / 10.09.2016 Senior Curator, Art of Africa and the Americas Newark Museum Abstraction and Idealization Realism or physical resemblance is generally not the goal of the African artist. Many[…]

Mesa Verde: Ancestral Puebloan Homes in Cliffs

By Dr. Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank / 08.09.2015 Assistant Professor of Art History Pepperdine University Wanted: stunning view Cliff dwellings, Ancestral Puebloan, 450–1300 C.E., sandstone, Mesa Verde National Park, (photo: Steven Zucker, CC: BY-NC-SA 2.0) Imagine living in a home built into the side of a cliff. The Ancestral Puebloan peoples (formerly known as the Anasazi) did just that in some of[…]

The Easter Island Moai

View of the northeast of the exterior slopes of the quarry, with several moai (human figure carving) on the slopes; a young South American man with a horse is standing in the foreground for scale, Easter Island, photograph, 8.2 x 8.2 cm © Trustees of the British Museum By The British Museum / 03.01.2017 The moai of Rapa[…]

The Artistic Eye of Marie Antoinette

Queen Marie-Antoinette, about 1789, Pierre-Michel Alix after Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun. Etching and wash manner, printed in blue, red, yellow, and black inks, 9 3/16 x 7 1/16 in. The National Gallery of Art, Widener Collection, 1942.9.2. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington By Philippe Halbert / 06.07.2015 Graduate Student in Art History (American and European[…]

Why Did Shakespeare’s Father Paint Over Iconic Medieval Murals?

Virtual reality model of the west wall of the guild chapel, Stratford on Avon. © University of York, Author provided Due to recent restoration, the paintings are clearer than they have ever been over the last 600 years. By Dr. Kate Giles / 11.30.2016 Senior Lecturer in Archaeology University of York Screens, stages and airwaves have this year been dominated[…]

The Art and Architecture of Ancient and Early Medieval Japan

Old painting of Himeji castle / Wikimedia Commons Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 04.07.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – Prehistoric Japan 1.1 – Ceramics in the Jomon Period Pottery from the prehistoric Jōmon period in Japan is thought by many scholars to be the oldest ever discovered. 1.1.1 – Overview Prehistoric art of Japan[…]

The Language of Drapery

Louis XIV / Wikimedia Commons By Zhenya Gershman / 10.19.2010 Education Department J. Paul Getty Museum Drapery—artfully folded fabric—has been used by European artists for centuries, from ancient Greek sculpture to contemporary photography. 1.  Drapery Serves Composition Artists make strategic use of drapery to aid composition, the arrangement of elements that leads our eye through a scene. In Peter[…]

Fallen Angels: Birds of Paradise in Early Modern European Art

Bird of paradise from Ulisse Aldrovandi’s Ornithologia (1599) Wikimedia Commons When birds of paradise first arrived to Europe, as dried specimens with legs and wings removed, they were seen in almost mythical terms — as angelic beings forever airborne, nourished by dew and the “nectar” of sunlight. Natalie Lawrence looks at how European naturalists of the 16th and[…]

Everyone’s Talking about Giotto

Left: The Virgin and Child with Saints and Allegorical Figures, about 1315–20, Giotto di Bondone (Italian, about 1267–1337). Tempera and gold leaf on panel. Private Collection. Courtesy of Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York. Right: The Crucifixion, about 1315-20, Giotto di Bondone. Tempera and gold leaf on panel. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg, photo M. Bertola Florentine[…]

Meet the Artist Who Helped Launch the Renaissance in Florence

The Ascension of Christ from the Laudario of Sant’Agnese, about 1340, Pacino di Bonaguida. Tempera and gold on parchment, 17 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (44.4 x 31.8 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 80a, verso By Dr. Christine Sciacca / 09.14.2012 Associate Curator The Walters Art Museum In the early 1300s, 150 years before[…]