Multilingualism Along the Nile in Ancient Egypt

This bilingual papyrus containing magical spells and recipes dates from the early third century A.D. and is written in both Greek and Demotic. In some passages, the Greek text is also transliterated into Demotic, and vice versa. London Magical Papyrus, A.D. 200–225, Romano-Egyptian. Papyrus and ink, 9 7/16 × 33 5/8 in. The British Museum,[…]

Art and Architecture of Southeast Asia before 1200 CE

An ancient wall painting depicting the awakening of the Buddha Taṇhaṅkara in Upali Thein temple, Bagan, Myanmar / Photo by Jacklee, Wikimedia Commons The art and architecture of Southeast Asia was heavily influenced by Indian religions and artistic styles. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.12.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Sculpture in Southeast Asia Overview: Influences[…]

Native South American Art and Architecture before 1300 CE

Machu Picchu Exploring the work of South American indigenous people’s before colonization. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.12.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Ceramics in Early South America The ceramic objects of the Paracas, Nazca, and Moche communities of Peru vary in artistic forms and were important cultural artifacts. Like the Tiwanaku and Waki people of[…]

From Scroll to Codex: New Technology and New Opportunities

Madrid Codex (replica) in the Museum of the Americas, Madrid / Photo by Simon Burchell, Wikimedia Commons When the codex came along, it was a novel form for recording knowledge and information—a disruptive technology. By Anna O. Funk One of the most important disruptions in the history of the book was the invention of the[…]

Early Modern Books and Moving Images

EPB/35960/A: François Mauriceau, The accomplisht midwife, treating of the diseases of women with child, and in child-bed (London: J. Darby for B. Billingsley, 1673), first folding plate. Wellcome Images L0014457. By Rebecca Whiteley / 08.11.2016 PhD Student in History of Art University College London Looking through copies of ‘The diseases of women with child and[…]

A Very Brief Introduction to Gothic Architecture

View from north-east of Reims Cathedral (High Gothic) / Photo by G.Garitan, Wikimedia Commons By Valerie Spanswick / 08.08.2015 Freelance Writer, History of Art and Architecture Forget the association of the word “Gothic” to dark, haunted houses, Wuthering Heights, or ghostly pale people wearing black nail polish and ripped fishnets. The original Gothic style was actually developed[…]

The Practice of Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Nubia

Tattoos on Egyptian mummy / Public Domain Tattooing was practised by many ancient societies, including the ancient Egyptians and Nubians. By Dr. Geoffrey Tassie Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Archaeology University of Edinburgh Abstract Tattooing was practised by many ancient societies, including the ancient Egyptians and Nubians. Egypt, for example, boasts iconographic and physical evidence for[…]

Founding Mothers: Postage Stamps Honoring Women’s Contributions to the Early Republic

Abigail Adams / Public Domain As state sponsored government art, stamps offer an incredibly rich visual resource. By Dr. Richard Scott Morel / 01.27.2017 Curator of Philatelic Collections British Library As state sponsored government art, stamps offer an incredibly rich visual resource for gender studies, a fact most apparent when looking at how women have[…]

Myth and Miraculous Performance: The Virgin Hodegetria in Byzantine Iconography

“She Who Points the Way.” Wall Fragment with the Virgin Mary and Coats of Arms, mid-1400s, made in Athens. Pigment on plaster, 44 1/8 x 60 5/8 in. Image courtesy of the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, inv. no 1111 This icon of the Virgin Mary has a fascinating story, closely intertwined with the history[…]

Ornament in Contemporary Iranian Architecture

The Āmeri House is a historic house in Kashan, in Isfahan Province, in Iran / Photo by Mastafameraji, Wikimedia Commons Examining the status of ornamental practices in contemporary Iranian architecture.      By (left-to-right) Dr. Fatemeh Ahani, Dr. Iraj Etessam, and Dr. Seyed Gholamreza Islami / 12.28.2017 Ahani: Department of Art and Architecture, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University Etessam: Department[…]

What’s My Thai Horoscope? – The Importance of Divination in Eastern Culture

Illustrations with highly symbolic meanings are used to determine the fate of people born on a particular day. Phrommachāt, 19th century. / British Library, Public Domain In traditional Thai culture, horoscopes and divination were used to establish the fate and future of people. By Jana Igunma Curation and Cataloguing Thai, Lao, and Cambodian Collections British[…]

Art as Propaganda in Ancient Greece: The Feeding of the Greek Soldier’s Ego

By Judith M. Lamb Senior Thesis Hollins University The stories of an all-female warrior race had long been told and depicted in artistic forms prior to sixth century Greece. These tales, that may have had some basis in real life events, were eventually woven into the cloak of influence that the classical Greeks wore in[…]

The Paper Revolution: The Origin of Large-Scale Technical Drawing under Henry VIII

The first important transformation of English medieval design practice occurred in a military context, during the reign of Henry VIII. Pioneering plans, surveys and designs by leading Tudor engineers are housed in the British Library, particularly within Sir Robert Cotton’s manuscript collection. Anthony Gerbino, Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Manchester, explores[…]

The Sacred and the Sensual: Experiencing the Medieval Eroticain Temples of Khajuraho, India

Various statues carved on the temple walls depicting the Indian Gods in various moods. / Photo by Ankit Saha, Wikimedia Commons While most temples in India are considered to be sacred sites for pilgrimage and worship, a group of twenty-two temples at Khajuraho are known for the thousands of erotic carvings that saturate its exterior[…]

Meet the Real François-Thomas Germain, Sculptor-Silversmith of the Enlightenment

Centerpiece for a Table, 1754, François-Thomas Germain. Silver, 8 1/4 × 14 1/2 × 9 1/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005.43. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program Germain’s artistic achievements are more amazing than his radical schemes in a video game. By Charissa Bremer-David / 07.23.2018 Associate Curator, Department of Sculpture[…]

A Right Royal Gift Book: ‘The Wedding at Windsor’, 1863

Engraved illustration from Harper’s Weekly newspaper of the wedding of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and Alexandra of Denmark / Harper’s Weekly newspaper dated 11 April 1863, Wikimedia Commons Both the marriage of Edward VII and Alexandra – and the Princess’s landing at Gravesend and royal entry into London – were commemorated in a lavish volume[…]

Byzantine Music and Musical Manuscripts

Music has played a central role in Greek Orthodox services for centuries. Nicolas Bell describes the manuscript evidence for this music in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine eras. By Dr. Nicolas Bell College Library Trinity College Cambridge The Byzantine Empire fostered a very rich musical tradition. The music used in church services is exceptionally well preserved[…]

Seafaring Material Culture in 18th-Century Ship Logs

‘Scene at Bideford Bridge’, by Mark Myers, showing the crowded waters of the Torridge during the heyday of colonial trade. / Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Wikimedia Commons Attention to the material cultures of the eighteenth-century log-book and journal reveal that media of navigation, through which to imagine distant, and not proximal, relations, might not be[…]

What Material Culture Tells Us about How the Vikings Lived

Chieftains house replica / Photo by Juanjo Marin, Wikimedia Commons Archaeological artefacts found in places such as Viking graves and former villages – including animal bones, brooches, weapons, pottery, etc. – can tell researchers many things about the Vikings, including how wealthy they might have been, what they wore, what items they used in their[…]

Book Illumination in Antiquity

Image of Timbuktu manuscripts / Wikimedia Commons The history of illuminated manuscripts goes back to antiquity. In this article, Cillian O’Hogan describes the surviving fragments of ancient and late antique illuminated Greek books now held in the British Library. By Dr. Cillian O’Hogan Assistant Professor of Medieval Latin Centre for Medieval Studies University of Toronto The relationship[…]

Making Books in the Ancient World

Papyrus Bodmer VIII / Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Wikimedia Commons What did books look like in antiquity? In this article, Cillian O’Hogan tells how ancient books were made, and traces the process by which the bookroll was replaced by the codex. By Dr. Cillian O’Hogan Assistant Professor of Medieval Latin Centre for Medieval Studies University of[…]

Public Spaces of Xi’an: Balancing Past and Future

Wikimedia Commons The emerging field of public history in Xi’an is essential to the city’s identity. By Luke Stanek / 09.26.2016 Council on East Asian Studies Yale University In cities like Xi’an, with such rich historical traditions, the People’s Republic of China faces the task of reckoning with history. In order to establish where China is going,[…]

Urban Theory and Performative Streetscapes Looking at the urban social history of Accra through the singular Oxford Street, part of the city’s most vibrant and globalized commercial district. By Dr. Ato Quayson / 09.03.2014 Professor of Literature University of Toronto The news caused ripples on, the Ghanaian website that carries information and news on the country for both locals and those[…]

Art in Medieval Greek Manuscripts

Use of a hand-siphon, a portable flame-thrower, from a siege tower equipped with a boarding bridge against the defenders on the walls. Medieval illumination in the manuscript Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1605. / Wikimedia Commons Many of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts contain beautiful illuminations. Here, Cillian O’Hogan provides a brief overview of the history of illumination[…]

Greek Manuscripts at the Dawn of Medieval Print

Add MS 34654 / British Library The development of printing in the 15th century signaled huge changes for the spread of Greek knowledge in Western Europe. Here, Eugenia Russell describes the key events in the early years of Greek printed books. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.16.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief The first real printed[…]

Storing and Accessing Books in Ancient Libraries

Celsus Library, Ephesus / Photo by the Austrian Archaeological Institute, Wikimedia Commons How were books stored and accessed in the ancient world? Matthew Nicholls explores what the surviving evidence of ancient books can tell us about libraries in antiquity. By Dr. Matthew Nicholls Associate Professor of Classics University of Reading The British Library holds many[…]

Roman Inscription Discovered from the Time of the Rule of Marcus Aurelius

The newly found inscription provides invaluable information about the construction of the Roman thermae in the Ancient Thracian city of Kabyle during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Photo: Yambol Regional Museum of History By Ivan Dikov / 07.05.2018 An intact Ancient Roman inscription in Latin dating back to the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161 – 180 AD) has[…]