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Posts tagged ‘ancient Roman’

Recycled Stone – Christianized Art in Athens

While this practice seems unthinkable today, across the Mediterranean, ancient Greek and Roman structures were salvaged for building materials in subsequent centuries.  Given the prevalence of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, pagan buildings were at best a curiosity.  The Parthenon in Rome is said to have only survived because it was converted into a church.

The Pentelic marble used to construct ancient Athens proved to be too alluring for Byzantine builders.  You can see blatant example of stone theft in the piece-meal construction of the 13th century Panagia Gorgoepikoos Church in Athens.  While the materials were stolen, the care with which pieces were selected and incorporated suggests some appreciation for classical art.

Panagia Gorgoepikoos, Athens

13th Century Panagia Gorgoepikoos (The Madonna who Quickly Hears) Church, Athens (Image adapted from the web)

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Ephesus Terrace Houses

As if the ancient Roman city of Ephesus wasn’t already amazing, there is a separate museum within the site that lovers of art and history must see.  The recently excavated and partially restored Terrace Houses are located in the center of the site.  Homes of some of the wealthiest citizens were built on this valuable real estate (ie. across from the ancient public toilets!) which is evident today in the extensive mosaic floors and frescoed walls.  The artwork dates from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD with several homes torn down and combined into a small basilica during the later part of that period.  Remnants of indoor plumbing throughout the homes are also visible.

Terrace House, Ephesus Read more

Photo of the Week – Ghosts of Gladiators

ancient gladiator blocks in Ephesus

I found these blocks tucked in a corner at the Ephesus Museum.  The figure on the right looks to me like an Eques gladiator (medium round shield and short sword) although the helmet is small.  I imagine that this fragment was part of a celebrity fighter’s tomb, now broken and nestled in some overgrown plants.

Images of Nike (the Goddess, not the shoes)

In honor of the opening of the Olympics today, I’ve picked out three of my favorite images of Nike from the ancient Mediterranean.  I’ve always been amused by the iconography of the Goddess Nike – flying off in a flurry or racing away, arms and legs shown mid-stride.

Athens Agora Nike

Classical Greek Nike from the Ancient Agora in Athens

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Back from Turkey

Aphrodisias Agora theater frieze, Turkey, ancient Roman

Aphrodisias Agora theater frieze (Photo: Daydream Tourist)

I just returned from two incredible weeks in Turkey!  I’m still processing the experience and my impressions of the country.  But on a more practical matter, I’ve only just started looking at my 1300 photographs!

I’ll start with a detail from the Agora at Aphrodisias.  The ancient Roman market there was encircled with this Theater Frieze depicting known mythological characters and dramatic masks linked with a floral and fruit garland.  The blocks are stacked near the entrance to the site forming a wall of quirky and unique faces.  Aphrodisias itself was one of the most impressive archaeological sites I have ever seen and we had it almost completely to ourselves.

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