Animals and Allusions on an Italian Renaissance Basin

An intricate basin features sea creatures, birds, and mythological beasts, which bore a multitude of meanings to the sixteenth-century elite. Introduction Animals are rarely just animals in sixteenth-century Italian art. They may symbolize virtues or signify social status. They can also act as mnemonic devices, prompting viewers to recall other works of art, both visual[…]

Animals in the Art of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci saw in animals the ‘image of the world’. About six months ago I stopped eating meat. I was teaching a graduate course at UCLA that investigated how Italian Renaissance writers conveyed their concepts about the human through writing about the nonhuman – plants, animals, objects, angels, demons, gods and God. As weeks[…]

Hunting in Medieval Western Europe

More than a pastime, it was an important arena for social interaction, essential training for war, and a privilege and measurement of nobility. Introduction Throughout Western Europe in the Middle Ages, humans hunted wild animals. While game was at times an important source of food, it was rarely the principal source of nutrition. Hunting was[…]

Dogs and Their Collars in the Middle Ages

In Europe in the Middle Ages (476-1500 CE), dogs performed many services. Introduction Dogs have played a prominent role in the lives of humans going back thousands of years and, more than any other domesticated animal, this role has remained relatively unchanged. In the present day, dogs serve as guardians, perform tricks or tasks on[…]

Prehistoric Sculpture: Camelid Sacrum in the Shape of a Canine

Scholars agree that the carving and markings were made by human hands. Prehistoric Art around the Globe When we think about prehistoric art (art before the invention of writing), likely the first thing that comes to mind are the beautiful cave paintings in France and Spain with their naturalistic images of bulls, bison, deer and[…]

Prehistoric Babies Drank Animal Milk from Bottles

The vessels were found in Bronze Age and Iron Age infant graves in Bavaria, Germany. By Emily Vaughn Breast or bottle? Apparently, parents of infants have been pondering these options for thousands of years. So suggests a new study released Wednesday by the journal Nature. The researchers report finding nonhuman milk residue inside a type[…]