Category: Reconstructions

A Reconstruction of the Oracle’s Chambers in Apollo’s Temple at Delphi

Bridget O’Hara

After Apollo’s visit to Olympus, where he was greatly admired for his beauty, the god of music travelled the Earth searching for a suitable home. His journey comes to an end at the port of Delphi, where he proclaims that he will build a temple that will serve as an oracle for men and a proxy for his revelations to them (Middleton, 285). Or, if you were to ask ancient historian Diodorus of Sicily, a goat shepherd happened upon a chasm while herding his goats and leaned his head over the divide whereupon he breathed in the vapors and went into a euphoric state and began predicting the future. Word spread amongst Delphi and soon the entire town was at the chasm predicting futures. Until citizens started falling in, that is. The danger of the abyss led the people to the genius idea of appointing a woman to the task of receiving visions from the vapor. She was sat upon a tripod over the chasm to protect her from falling in (Oppé, 218-219). Regardless of her true origins, divine or otherwise, the result of the chasm was the same: on the seventh of every month, countless people gathered to have their fortunes divined by the Oracle of Delphi from 1400B.C. – 381 A.D. (Roach). From dusk ‘til dawn, the people of Greece waited in line for the chance to hear their future. The first in line were the people of Delphi; second preference was given to a city chosen by Delphi; and the rest drew the remaining lots. Those who did not make it into the adytum that day had to come back next month and try their luck again (Parke).
While there are a number of plausible reconstructions of the Temple of Apollo, there are few, if any, of the adytum specifically. This is the area where the priestess would preform her ritual and receive her visions from Apollo over the vaporous chasm. I was inspired by the Oracle of Delphi and fascinated with the abyss that brought her divinations. My inspiration is what drew me to attempt a reconstruction of the Oracle Chambers in the Temple of Apollo. My chosen method of reconstruction is a blueprint drawing based on historical accounts and research of the temple. As an artist channeling my inner architect, I am interested in creating a historically accurate setting of the Oracle receiving revelations from Apollo. I hope to provide a context of the Oracle that helps art historians envision life in the temple during the Oracle’s golden age.
Luckily, geologists John Hale and Jelle Z. De Boer give an amazing description of the entire Temple of Apollo in their article from the 2002 November/December edition of Archeology Odyssey, “The Oracle of Delphi – Was She Really Stoned?” They describe the Sacred Way into the temple where fortune-seekers would wait all day to get into the lower chamber. If they finally made it downstairs, visitors were faced with great, golden statue of Apollo and the omphalos – or “navel” – stone. Connected to this chamber was the adytum (Greek for “not to be entered”). The adytum contained the priestess on her tripod above the fissure. Visitors would wait in the chamber outside the adytum and ask their question to a priest. The priest would relay the question to the Oracle and translate her answer back to the visitor.
Together, De Boer and Hale formed a team including chemist Jeff Chanton and toxicologist Henry Spiller to investigate Delphi. What they discovered overturned the generally accepted belief that the ancient Greeks had simply misconstrued the facts and mistaken the chasm for a nearby gorge and that the vapor emission were a myth. A.P. Oppé proposed this idea after his trip to the 1927 French excavation site of Delphi, where they found no evidence of a chasm. Amandry of the École Française d’Athènes reinforced Oppé’s belief in a 1950 publication. Amandry stated that hallucinogenic gasses could never have been emitted at Delphi because only volcanic activity could produce such fumes. What Amandry did not realize was that Delphi was actually a hot spot for tectonic activity, as Hale and De Boer’s team discovered on their expedition.
In 1996, De Boer and Hale’s team began surveying the area of the temple and discovered two intersecting faults. The first, which they named the Delphi Fault, runs east to west. The second intersecting fault, named the Kerna Fault, runs southeast to northwest. The Kerna Fault runs along the natural springs in the temple complex, the largest being the Kerna Spring for which the fault was named. De Boer conducted a study of the remaining active springs near Delphi and discovered evidence of ethylene gasses, known for causing disembodied euphoria. According to De Boer, the Delphi and Kerna faults meet underneath the Temple of Apollo. The vaporous fissure was likely caused by the crossing of these faults and has since been destroyed by the inevitable tectonic activity.
In any case, their research is vital to any discussion of the Oracle of Delphi. They set out to prove the scholarly community wrong with modern science and made amazing discoveries that prove the chasm at Delphi existed and emitted ethylene gasses. Their investigation and detailed research was essential to putting the pieces together to form my reconstruction of the Oracle’s chambers.

Works cited

De Boer, Jelle, and John Hale. “The Oracle of Delphi—Was She Really Stoned?” Archaeology Odyssey, 2002.

Middleton, J. Henry. “The Temple of Apollo at Delphi.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 9 (1888): 282-322.

Oppé, A.P. “The Chasm at Delphi.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 24 (1904): 214-40.

Parke, H.W. “The Days for Consulting the Delphic Oracle.” The Classical Quarterly 37, no. 1/2 (1943): 19-22.

Roach, John. “Delphic Oracle’s Lips May Have Been Loosened by Gas Vapors.” National Geographic News, 2001. Accessed April 19, 2015. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/08/0814_delphioracle.html.

Ishtar Gate Reconstruction

Lauren Bowles

Around 575 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon constructed the eighth gate to the ancient city, the Ishtar Gate. Ancient Babylon was enclosed by tall walls that measured over forty one miles in length and today it is still debated how tall the walls would have been. It has been estimated that the walls stood 75 feet tall, and other have even described the walls as being 300 feet tall (Walls 2012). Because the walls are no longer standing it is of no real knowledge that we would be able to decipher just how tall the walls of Babylon stood. However, it is agreed that there were two walls surrounding the ancient city, with the Greek historian Herodotus claiming that a four-horse chariot could move between the two (Walls 2012).

The Ishtar Gate was built in dedication to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and stood approximately 38 feet tall (Garcia, 2013).  It was constructed of mud bricks that were created from the clay taken from the river valley. Babylon was surrounded on one side by the Euphrates river, and as a result, Babylonians constructed most of their architecture with clay bricks (Harris 2012). The Ishtar Gate was constructed on the side with the river and was accessed by the Processional Way. The Processional Way crossed over the Euphrates River and was used in religious ceremonies. Each new year, those participating in the religious ceremony would carry statues that represented the gods over the Processional Way. This ceremony honored Marduk, the patron god of Babylon (Damon, 1993). The gate displays reliefs of lions, dragons, and bulls, each representing different gods and formed from brick. The lion represented the goddess Ishtar and could be found lining the walls of the Processional Way (Garcia, 2013).

Today there is a portion of the gate that is standing in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany (King, 2008). Between 1928 and 1930, a representational reconstruction was built and transferred to the Pergamon Museum. It was created using the excavated remains of the gate. However, because of the size of the museum, they were not able to create an exact replica and the gate standing in the museum is smaller than the actual gate would have been. They only have the first gate on display, with the larger second piece in storage because of size restrictions.

During my reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate, I used artistic renderings and the Pergamon reconstruction for inspiration. I began by constructing the front half of the gate with two large pillars and the gate archway. From my readings, I had determined that the second part of the gate would have been similar to the first, except it would have been larger. I constructed my gate using playing cards because they would provide a sturdy and bendable material. They also had an interesting, blue design that I believed would look nice. Because the material I used was already decorated and on a small scale, I did not show the reliefs of the dragons, lions, and bulls. If the reconstruction were done on a larger scale, it would be easier to show the animal reliefs. I cut, folded, and glued the cards into the shape of the reconstruction found at the Pergamon museum. After achieving the desired look I constructed the second part of the gate that would have been found on the inner wall surrounding the city. I created larger columns for the second part and attached the two pieces together. After reaching completion of the large pieces of the gate I was able to measure and cut sections of brown paper for the roof of the gate and large columns. After finishing my gate I attached it to the desired base and created a path to the gate. I created a path to represent the Processional Way over the Euphrates River. I wanted the gate to be the main focus and effort of my reconstruction so I did not create an overly designed representation of the Processional Way. I also used tulle to represent the Euphrates River, which the Processional Way crossed over.

Reconstructions are important in art and history because it gives us a glimpse of what an object would have looked like when it was created. When an object is discovered or located it is not usually whole and complete. Reconstructing an object allows further study of a culture and society when we might not get a complete understanding of otherwise. The Ishtar Gate would never have been as appreciated or studied as it is today had there not been a reconstruction. It is one thing for an artist to draw what an object might have looked like, but when an object such as the gate is reconstructed, it allows people to get a better understanding of the size, shape, look, and importance of the object. As I was reconstructing the gate, I learned more about it and now have a better understanding of the city of Babylon, the gate, and the religious importance of the gate and religious ceremonies.

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Works Cited

Damon, Duane. 1993. “The great restorer: Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon.” Calliope 4, no. 1: 34.
MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 18, 2015).

Garcia, Brittany. “Ishtar Gate,” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified August 23, 2013. 
     http://www.ancient.eu    /Ishtar_Gate/.

Harris, Dr. Beth and Zucker, Dr. Steven. “Ishtar gate and Processional Way.” Khan Academy
       video, 6:49. April 2, 2012. 
       https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/ancient-near-east1/ba
       bylonian/v/ishtar-gate-and-processional-way-reconstruction-babylon-c-575-b-c-e

King, Leo. 2008. “The Ishtar Gate.” Ceramics Technical no. 26: 51-53. Academic Search
       Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 18, 2015).

“Walls of Babylon,” Global Security. Last modified March 26, 2012. Accessed April 18, 2015.
       http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/babylon-walls.htm

 

Parthenon Reconstruction

Julia Stewart

               At the time of its construction, Athens’ Parthenon dominated the religious and civic aspects of the city, both conceptually and physically. This temple, poised above the city, served as a constant reminder of Athenian patriotism and religion. The Parthenon was constructed of white marble on a rectangular stylobate with three stairs. The temple was colonnaded with fluted Doric columns. The northern and southern sides had seventeen columns each while the East and West facing sides both featured eight columns. The latter sides additionally had a second row of columns of six apiece. Pediments were included at the conclusion of the gabled roof. These pediments housed figural sculptures. An architrave encompassed the perimeter of the structure below the roof. Under the band of stone was a frieze that featured low-relief sculpture through triglyphs and metopes. The interior cella was composed of a walled-off rectangular space divided into two separate spaces accessible on either end. The West-facing cella compartment had a small interior colonnade and housed the cult statue for the city.[1]

             Construction on the edifice began during the mid-fifth century BCE under the orders of Athenian statesman Pericles. Greece was shifting away from the principalities ruled by monarchs and instead began ruling the various city-states through a government of councils and assemblies. This change in power dynamic affected Athens not only administratively but also architecturally. Temples were being raised in honor of the city-states’ patron deities, the collective citizens’ new focus rather than the kingship. These temples were essentially homes for the gods or goddesses with an internal cult figure statue. While the temples were religious in nature, they served an equal nationalistic and civic purpose as well. The Parthenon was constructed by locally quarried stone, something of which the Athenians were vehemently proud, and was located on a site with deep historical significance, the Acropolis. This natural citadel was elevated towards the heavens and had ties to ancient Greek rulers and mythology.[2] Legend dictated that the Acropolis was the site in which Athena and Poseidon battled to determine who would claim the land of Attica. The two gods provided a gift to the citizens who then voted for the victor. Athena’s olive tree trumped Poseidon’s salt pools, and thus the city of Athena came into existence.[3] The Athenians demonstrated their nationalism through the construction of their patron deity’s temple at the site of her famed victory and also the depiction of the mythic story on the West pediment. Further bolstering the idea of civic nature of the temples is the idea that it was not necessary in the practices of Grecian religion to have a temple to worship. In fact, the altar was often placed outside of the temple to be accessible to the masses because the interior of the temple, the cella, was reserved only to highest religious leaders.[4] While the Parthenon lies in ruin today, stripped of its decoration, roof, and interior walls, the ritualistic and civic significance of Athena’s temple may escape the modern viewer. It is my hope that a reconstruction of the Parthenon through an investigation of object, style, and technique may encourage a better understanding of the structure’s form and function.

To begin the reconstruction process, exact measurements were necessary. I was able to find several articles that provided detailed drawings and dimensions of the Parthenon. Working at a 1/100 scale, I drew several models and calculated my desired measurements. The ancient Greeks’ fervor for perfection and the architects’ mathematical prowess were extremely evident in my findings. Through the subtle change in column length and floor height, an optical illusion was achieved to feign perfection and counter the eye’s natural tendency to determine distance.[5] This knowledge allowed me to tailor the columns and base to the proportions of the original Parthenon. To further assist with my reconstruction process, I discovered information regarding the rhythm, proportion, and technique utilized in Athena’s temple.[6] This was instrumental in drafting and completion of reconstruction, particularly in reference to the restructured cella and interior colonnade.

At the completion of my data research and mathematical conversions, I began the reconstruction process. I started with a wooden rectangular base and fashioned a styrofoam stylobate as the base. Using foam board, I constructed the three sets of stairs with mitered corners. I then measured the desired distances between all of the columns and inserted a short wooden dowel into the styrofoam. Focusing on the changing dimensions, I carved fifty-eight columns out of the styrofoam and capped them with Doric capitals of the same material. The cella walls were made from the foam board and pressed into the soft base. I created the smaller interior colonnade and columns out of dowels and styrofoam. To cap the reconstruction, I made a removable roof, including the architrave and frieze, out of foam board. The pedimental sculptures were composed of adapted ‘Army Men.’ I coated the entirety of the reconstruction with white spray paint to emulate the white marble of the original Parthenon.

The development of reconstructing the Parthenon revealed clues to the original form and function of the structure. With the rebuilding of the cella walls, it became apparent the exclusivity and sanctity of the interior of the temple. Additionally, the thorough dedication to the preciseness of appearing perfect in this ancient Greek landmark divulged the values of the culture that constructed the temple. The reconstruction process of the Parthenon provided insight into its form and function based on the object, style and technique of the structure.

 

Julia Stewart

Works Cited

Agard, Walter R. “Athens’ Choice of Athena.” The Classical Weekly   

38, no. 2 (1994): 14-15.

Angelopoulos, Athanasios G. Metron Ariston. Athens: Aeropos,

2003.

Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s. v. “Parthenon.” Accessed April

16, 2015.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/444840/Parthenon.

Kappraff, Jay and Ernest G. McClain. “The System of Proportions

of the Parthenon: A Work of Musically Inspired

Architecture.” Music in Art 32, no. ½ (2005): 5-16.

Ritté, Christopher. “Athens: Recreating the Parthenon.” The 

Classical World 91, no. 1 (2003): 41-55.

 

[1] Encyclopedia Britannica Online, “Parthenon,” Accessed April 16, 2015,http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/444840/Parthenon.

 

[2] Christopher Ritté, “Athens: Recreating the Parthenon,” The Classical World 91, no. 1 (2003):

41-44.

 

[3] Walter R. Agard, “Athens’ Choice of Athena,” The Classical Weekly 38, no. 2 (1994): 14.

 

[4] Christopher Ritté, “Athens: Recreating the Parthenon,” The Classical World 91, no. 1     (2003): 43-45.

 

[5] Athanasios G. Angelopoulos, Metron Ariston (Athens: Aeropos, 2003), 275.

 

[6] Jay Kappraff and Ernest G. McClain “The System of Proportions of the Parthenon: A Work of Musically Inspired Architecture,” Music in Art 32, no. ½ (2005): 12.

Ancient Greece’s Parthenon: A Minecraft Reconstruction

Allie Hagg

Photo credit: http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/ARTH209/Parthenon_gallery.html
Photo credit: http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/ARTH209/Parthenon_gallery.html

The Greek Parthenon can be found in ruins at the acropolis in Athens. Originally designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, the temple became the best renowned structure of Ancient Greece. In the middle to late 5th century BCE, this massive structure was dedicated to the gods, specifically to the goddess Athena whom acted as the patron deity of Athens. The original structure is made out of limestone and marble (as well as bronze and gold in some areas), which was continually looted over centuries. This was nicely outlined in Evan Hadingham’s “Unlocking Mysteries of the Parthenon”. As a result, there is very little left remaining of this structure due mainly to the erosion of the materials over time, but mistreatment of the space and looting as well. Over the years several reconstructions were created to portray the magnitude and structural genius that defines the Parthenon as well as the core ideals of Greek culture. There are several different ways that reconstructions have been created including the replica in Nashville, Tennessee as well as smaller models approximately the size of a dollhouse. Through the advancements in technology as well as some research into the considerable amount of architectural elements, this reconstruction of the Parthenon was created using the game Minecraft. Because the current ruined state of the structure, people are unable to experience the magnitude of the structure as well as the ethereal qualities of the Parthenon, which were carefully architected by interacting with its environment and displaying its culture.

Using Minecraft as a tool to reconstruct this temple has its benefits because there are night and day settings that cast shadows at realistic angles. This is optimal for this reconstruction because one of the most remarkable aspects of the Parthenon is the contrasting light and dark spaces within the different parts and rooms of the building. For the vast majority of the reconstruction, I used the white quartz blocks and its several forms. Most of the floor as well as the roof is made from the chiseled white quartz blocks, the columns are made from the column white quartz blocks, and the capitals for the columns as well as the remainder of the structure is made out of the original white quartz. The white quartz looks the most similar to marble in the server and offers the use of the columns as well (columns cannot be created using other materials). In order to maintain the lighting on the interior as well as around the sides of the building, golden braziers were created with ignited netherrack in the center. There were additional gold accents that were used on the roof as well as adorning the colossal statue of the goddess Athena in the cella.

Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft
Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft

In order to begin the reconstruction, researching plans and photos of the Parthenon was essential. The most useful of these were found within James Fergusson’s book, The Parthenon. Within this text a plan was made available as well as useful information regarding the columnar order as well as the proper labeling for the various rooms and sections of the ancient Greek structure. It is also fortunate that there is a decent amount of foundation that remains at the acropolis and has been photographed millions of times. The photographs of the Parthenon from all different angles on the Internet were also very useful in regard to estimating the scale of the building and how it would most accurately and perfectly be reconstructed within the game server. Once an area within the game realm was cleared out into a flat area, the plan that was included in Fergusson’s book was utilized.

The most important aspect of the Parthenon is the aspect of lighting. There is a stark contrast between light and dark within the structure due to the outer columns within the colonnade as well as the wall that sections off the inner portions of the temple. This is also mainly due to the Eastward facing entrance of the temple which was mentioned in Lena Lambrinou’s “The Parthenon Through Time”. During the morning daylight hours, the sun would shine through the columns and within the cella and illuminate the interior of the structure. This aspect of lighting is included within the Minecraft reconstruction because the temple was created with an Eastward facing entrance as well. The columns were all put into place precisely as the plan instructs. This accuracy allows for optimal illumination of the pronaos and the cella exactly as the architects would have originally intended. Additionally, Fergusson remarks upon that of the Doric order columns. Creating stairs out of the white quartz blocks and placing them upside-down on the ceiling and normally on the ground surrounding each column block could recreate the Doric order column style.

Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft
Colonnade– Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft

Another aspect of the Parthenon that becomes quintessential to Hellenistic architecture of temples is the illusion of a wall made out of columns. In reality, if one desired to visit the Parthenon at the Athenian acropolis, they would come at the structure from an angle. This angle offers the illusion that the left side of the structure, completely made from columns, is really a wall. The concept of creating walls without actually making solid walls is a trend that continues for centuries. For comparison to the real structure, the angular wall illusion is still functional with the Minecraft reconstruction. This peristyle structure is not only ideal to withstand the weight of the roof, but allows for the light and dark contrast to persist throughout the building.

Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft
Traditional Angle, Wall Illusion– Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft

The colossal statue of patron deity, Athena, proudly stood within the cella. Bruce S. Thornton remarks on the glorious statue and refers to her golden armor. Though there are certain limitations within Minecraft (such as being able to create a realistic statue on a smaller scale), a generalized Minecraft version of Athena was created in the statue’s place. The gold blocks were placed to display Athena’s armor in this section. It had already been established by the plan included in Fergusson’s book that the statue was raised above the ground level of the structure. Outside of the cella, but within the naos, would have contained the infamous Elgin Marbles. These statues were, of course, taken from their home at the acropolis and taken to museums that maintained what remained of the pieces. Thornton remarks on the statues and particularly on how much the statue of Athena cost, as well as the rest of the construction of the acropolis during ancient times.

Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft
Cella and Statue of Athena– Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft

The last section of the Parthenon is the opisthodomos. This would have been restricted to very few people. The only entrance to this area is around the back. The room is small and contains four Doric order columns. This is where the treasure of Athens was said to be kept. People would give Athena large offerings of gold and precious belongings that were held in the opisthodomos. According to Thornton, this area acted as Athens’ treasury of sorts. The security of the room is heightened because there is only one entrance; it is small, dark and not especially easy to get to.

Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft
Opisthodomos– Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft

Lastly, the pediment of the Parthenon was a main point of reconstruction. Because of the scaling used, a simplified scene was created to fill the space. The East pediment, of the original structure, was a narrative representing the birth of Athena. The West pediment portrayed the competition between Athena and Poseidon that determined which deity would earn the position of divine patron of Athens. The pediments were not the only details included in constructing the upper parts of the building: the friezes and metopes were included as well which were analyzed in Toshihiro Osada’s article, Also 10 tribal units: the grouping of cavalry on the Parthenon north frieze.

Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft
Upper Structure– Parthenon Reconstruction Project: Minecraft

Reconstructions of ancient Greece’s Parthenon are essential to understanding the experience of the structure. Because it was located at the highest point in the city and because the structure is so grandiose, the temple could be nothing less than a product of and related to the gods. The structure and the devotional statue located within offer a larger-than-life experience to the viewer. It is a marvel to experience the magnitude of the building and its contents while also experiencing the contrasting light and dark spaces within and how the building interacts with its environment. The Parthenon has been, and will continue to be, one of the most influential structures in history. Even in ruins, the structure inspires awe to millions of people and provokes curiosity of ancient Greek culture.

 

 

References:

Fergusson, James. 1883. “The Parthenon: an essay on the mode by which light was introduced into Greek and Roman temples.” HathiTrust (accessed April 18, 2015).

Hadingham, Evan. 2008. “UNLOCKING MYSTERIES OF THE PARTHENON. (cover story).” Smithsonian 38, no. 11: 36. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 21, 2015).

Lambrinou, Lena. 2010. “THE PARTHENON THROUGH TIME.” Calliope 20, no. 4: 20. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 21, 2015).

Osada, Toshihiro. 2011. “Also 10 tribal units: the grouping of cavalry on the Parthenon north frieze.” American Journal Of Archaeology no. 4: 537. Academic OneFile, EBSCOhost (accessed April 21, 2015).

Thornton, Bruce S. 2014. “A MIRROR IN MARBLE.” Claremont Review Of Books 14, no. 4: 84. Points of View Reference Center (accessed April 21, 2015).

The Great Sphinx

Kirsty Rice

The Great Sphinx has been seen as the symbol of both ancient Egypt and even for Egypt today. The Sphinx is an iconic symbol that is so widely recognized it is crazy to think that there is so much we don’t know about it. Although it is largely recognizable that information that we have about it is fleeting. The Sphinx is in many ways on of the greatest ancient mysteries; from it creation to the always changing face. The origin date of the Sphinx is unknown, the most common and agreed upon date is that it was constructed in the 4th Dynasty (2575 – 2467 BCE) by the Pharaoh Khafre. “However, an accumulating body of evidence, both archaeological and geological, indicates that the Sphinx is far older than the 4th Dynasty and was only restored by Khafre during his reign.”(Gray) Along with the indefinite creation date we struggle to figure out what the original face looked like on the sphinx. With all these questions I was intrigued to see how my own personal recreation would come out based on what I learned from my research.

As I’m sure many would assume that task of reconstruction such an enigmatic figure was not an easy one. All the decision’s I made in the building of my replica where thought out and double-checked. My approach involved a lot of research and comparisons of information to see what I agreed with and thought to be most likely accurate. This was not the easiest task considering there are thousands of different opinions on what the sphinx originally looked like, who it was modeled after and when it was originally constructed. Once I finished my first step, which was research, I moved on to step 2: materials. The sphinx, “varies from a soft yellowish to a hard grey limestone. The massive body is made of the softer stone, which is easily eroded, while the head is formed of the harder stone.”(Gray) Since I am in no way equipped to handle carving stone I moved to something I knew could harden to have the effect of stone but could also be easily manipulated: clay. My decision to use clay was based on what I though would be the closest I could get to stone and still make it something in which I could manipulate it to get an accurate portrayal of what I wanted to accomplish. With clay I knew I could make the sphinx in blocks like it was made from blocks of stone but I could also smooth it down like many believe the sides originally were before they were eroded away by the sand and wind. The sides of the sphinx over time have been distressed because of the sand and wind, “The archaeological record confirms that Thutmosis did indeed free the Sphinx of sand.” (Hawass) When we learned that the sphinx was discovered with sand covering its body it was easier to understand how so much erosion could have occurred to the body of this fig (Orcutt) (Hill)ure. Making the body appear to be more rough and angular then smooth on the sides.

This is a picture of the smoothed down body of my sphinx.
This is a picture of the smoothed down body of my sphinx.

My third step was the actual construction of the sphinx. The building of my sphinx took about two hours. Once I figured out the measurements of the original sphinx scaled down to my one foot long replica the building was not very hard. I made the sphinx one and one hundred- fiftieth of the size. The hardest part in making the sphinx was wanting to fix it so that it was proportional. Making that body the appropriate size made the head appear to be to small and the head alone appeared to large. This was hard to ignore while I was putting the two pieces together. I found it hard to remember that it was not mine to fix and make proportional. But once I looked past the discrepancies in size I then made it a point to spend time on the face. I think the head was a step in-and-of itself.

This is a close up of my face early on. I was working on making the eyes uneven and the mouth off center.
This is a close up of my face early on. I was working on making the eyes uneven and the mouth off center.

Step 4 of my reconstruction project was the head. The reason I see the head as its own step is because most of the controversy that surround this historical object is around the head and more specifically the face of the sphinx. Still to day we lack a confirmed identification on who the sphinx is modeled after. “In ancient Egypt, it wasn’t so much the physical similarity of a statue to its owner that lent its identity, but rather the name on the inscription. Statues were idealized representations, even in the Old Kingdom, and the figure could only be related to a particular individual when the inscription was added.”(Orcutt) And this is something that doesn’t help us much considering we know the sphinx to be thousands of years older than when we have the first inscription into it. Another problem we see with the face is that it was rushed work. “Its left (north) eye is higher than its right (south) eye, and its mouth is a bit off-center. The axis of the outline of the head differs from the axis of the facial features. The quality of details apparent on the face of the diorite Khafre are absent from the face of the Sphinx.”(Orcutt) With information like this we can assume that the workers who built the face where not working while the person whom this was modeled after was alive. Along with the face there is a great debate about whether or not the sphinx had a beard. A beard was found in pieces around the Sphinx and now resided in the British Museum. Although this beard was found and may have been on the sphinx at some point there is not accurate record that the beard was an original piece because that beard with the head dress are more New Kingdom and we know that the Sphinx was created before then. “There is some evidence that a ceremonial beard was added to the Sphinx some time after its original construction.”(Hill) That’s why in my reconstruction I did not include a beard on my Sphinx. My replication of The Great Sphinx is what I believe to be the closest to what the original Sphinx may have looked like. Reconstructing something so enigmic real opened my eyes to all the different studies and theories that surround history.

This is my Final result!
This is my Final result!

 

Works Cited

Gray, Martin. The Great Sphinx Facts. 1982-2014. <http://sacredsites.com/africa/egypt/great_sphinx_facts.html>.

Hawass, Dr. Zahi. The Sphinx Book: “The Secrets of the Sphinx Restoration, past and present”. Published by Samir Gharieb Director of the Development Fund of the Ministry of Culture in Collaboration with Mr. Mark Linz, Director of the American University in Cairo press, 1988.

Hill, J. The Great Sphinx of Giza. 2010. <http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/great-sphinx.html>.

Orcutt, Larry. The Sphinx Indentity. 2000 . <http://www.catchpenny.org/face.html>.

 

 

 

 

Egyptian Mortuary Temple reconstruction

 

imageedit_10_6457030866Reconstruction of a Mastaba

           By Connor Carraway

The ancient Egyptians were one of the most architecturally gifted people of the ancient world. Their most noticeable contributions being the care they put into building their tombs. From the greatest of pyramids in Giza, to the humble mastaba were worked on by expert builders so they could serve one purpose, to withstand the harsh ravages of the sands of time. The Egyptians believed that the body must be intact for the deceased’s soul may live in the afterlife, and these tombs in addition to being created in the memory of the deceased, also serves as a protection for the deceased’s body. imageedit_3_8726632542

The exterior to this tomb is guarded by two statues depicting the ancient Egyptian god of embalming, Anubis. Behind the statues is a row of Obelisks that lead up into the doorway, and into the dark halls of the tomb.

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The inside of the tomb is nearly pitch black, and that darkness is amplified upon entering from the sunlit outside, emulating a portal from the world of the living, and into the world of the dead. It is through here that the family and friends of the deceased would traverse in order to pay respects, and tributes for the ka.

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The dark halls open up to a small mortuary chapel, where a totem, or serdab is placed. A serdab is a statue or totem that depicts the image of the deceased which is meant to house the ka, the deceased’s link to the world of the living. The ka needs to be able to live in the world of the living so the spirit can exist in the afterlife, and it serves as an image for the family so they can feel like the deceased is there and accepting their tributes.

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It is believed that there were treasure chambers full of equipment that had would’ve been used by the spirit in the afterlife. These treasures could range anywhere from the practical including foods and incense, and the ornate including statues, and benches. Unfortunately many treasures have been lost to the likes of grave robbers over the millennia, creating the need to come up with plans to prevent robbing, and most importantly, a way to protect the body.

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The tomb architects decided not to place the sarcophagus under the main chamber, as that would prove an easy target for the grave robbers. Instead they would place the burial chamber in a different section of the mastaba, and to confuse the would be thieves even further, they would build false chambers that would lead into a dead end.

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Meanwhile the sarcophagus would rest in an isolated chamber, and there it was there that the earthly remains of the deceased could rest in and their spirit could proceed into the afterlife and live there in peace for all of eternity.

 

 

 

 

1. ” The Mastaba (Tomb) of Idu At Giza in Egypt” Accessed April 21 2015. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/idut.htm

2. “Serdab” Accessed April 21 2015. http://www.saqqara.nl/context/glossary/serdab

3. “Mastaba” Last modified July 15 2014. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/368650/mastaba

4. ” Anubis” Last modified April 16 2014 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/29015/Anubis

Reconstruction of the White Temple

Busy Hopper

The White Temple is one of the few ziggurat structures that left enough remains to give a hint to what it could have looked like when it was first built. This famous temple was built for the Mesopotamian god, Anu, around mid 3000 BCE (Gates). These ziggurats were unique because of the trend of this period to place a deity as the owner of a city (Mark). Therefore, the temple of these gods would be the center of town, the largest structure, and could have been seen from beyond the city’s fortress to foreigners (Ruins). Reconstruction of the White Temple exhibits all of these Mesopotamia characteristics, which helps us better understand the importance of religion to this society.

Reconstruction of the White Temple on the Anu Ziggurat
A virtual representation of the reconstructed White Temple.http://www.artefacts-berlin.de/en/uruk-visualisation-project-the-white-temple/

For this reconstruction, the rebuilding of what the White Temple should have resembled could better help with the understanding of the Sumerian religion. Ziggurats were made of mud-brick during this time and often would be high enough to be the tallest structure in the city. The Anu Ziggurat (the base of the White Temple) is a polygonal shape, which is different because of the complicated staircase that was created to reach the terrace around the White Temple (Uruk). The staircase and walkway were built in a way so that the entire city would have been able to see the people walking up to the terrace. This is important because it would have been imperative to the city people to broadcast to the town that they were visiting Anu, the sky god. However, only a few were allowed into the White Temple to be a part of the sacrifices and religious ceremonies, most likely the priest and important leaders (Ruins). The White Temple stood forty feet above the city level oriented by the corners to the cardinal points of a compass (Gardner 34). It would have been made of mud-brick as well, but since this is not attractive to the eye, the temple was covered in white plaster. The interior of the temple would have had a central hall leading to an altar (Gardner 33). These temples were often seen as the gateway between the gods and earth, so Anu would have descended to the altar in this divine hall. These are the key elements that make up the layout of the reconstruction of the White Temple. Though we cannot be certain this is the exact layout of the White Temple, it does fit in with the ziggurats of Mesopotamia. There were enough remains to also suggest to this kind of setup, as well as a small temple model that was found in the White Temple during excavation (Uruk).

This reconstruction aids historians in understanding why the layout of the White Temple can White Temple Reconstructed
describe so much about the culture of this society in relation to religion. Religion was the most important aspect of life for Sumerians, so it makes sense that the temple to their deity would have been the largest structure. Also, mountains and high structures such as this temple would have been seen as a sacred high place between heaven and earth. But, not only were there religious ceremonies held in the temple, but also this would have been where the leaders met for executive and economic meetings (Gardner 33). The terrace had a surface area of about 45 x 50 m, which alludes to the encouragement for the townspeople to come up to this area and praise Anu (Uruk). Even though most people did not go into the actual temple, they were definitely encouraged to visit the temple and observe rituals. The layout of the temple suggest to many offerings to the altar where Anu would have descended down to before the priest (Gates). The layout of the White Temple exhibits that there was a necessity for the people to be seen by the city and by the gods visiting their deity. The governmental backbone was even focused around religion, and it is clear from the layout of the White temple that administrative meetings would have also been held in this sacred temple. The height and large-scale of the White temple being above the fortress wall is the prime explanation to the importance of religion. The Sumerians would have wanted anyone passing outside their city to see the White Temple and know this town belonged to the deity, Anu.

Reconstructions like this can help historians today better understand the Sumerians based on these specific structures. Each choice made in building the White Temple suggested to a religious motive driving that architectural decision. By looking at other Mesopotamian structures and the remains, we can come close to an accurate setup to help us understand these decisions. The White Temple is a perfect example of rebuilding a structure from history, so that we can learn more about the history from that time period.

Works Cited:

1. Gardner, Helen, and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner’s Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

2. Gates, Charles, and Neslihan Yılmaz. Ancient Cities: The Archaeology of Urban Life in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2011. Print.

3. Mark, Joshua J. “Uruk.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p., 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. 4. “Ruins of the White Temple and Ziggurat.” Art Through Time: A Global View. Annenberg Learner, n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.

5. “Uruk Visualisation Project: The White Temple.” Artefacts – Scientific Illustration & Archaeological Reconstruction. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.