Kitchen Tender being Rowed. Egyptian, ca. 1981–1975 B.C., from the Tomb of Meketre.

Many outings of Egyptian nobles culminated in a picnic. On the menu for Meketre’s boat trip were roasted fowl, dried beef, bread, beer, and some kind of soup. Meat and bread were carried on another model of a tender, now in Cairo. Here, the beer is prepared and the soup cooked. A blackened trough may have contained burning coal for roasting the fowl. A man tends a stove on which soup simmers. On either side, a woman grinds grain. Brewers inside the cabin are shaping bread loaves, then working them through sieves into large vats. One brewer stands in another vat, where he tramples the dates that provide the sugar for the fermentation of the beer. The oars of this boat are fixed to the sides; to avoid damaging the oars while the boats were transported and deposited in the model chamber, all oars of Meketre’s boats were secured in this manner. (met)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections20.3.3.

Illustrated here in bas-relief are Assyrian war chariots with charioteers, and horsemen, in battle during the campaign against the kingdom of Elam. It was this campaign depicted which brought Elam under Assyrian rule in 645 BCE. These artworks come from the palace of Ashurbanipal (668-627 BCE) in Niniveh.

Artefact courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France, AO 19909. Photos taken by Mbzt.

A brief look at the prehistoric rock art of Laas Geel, Somaliland (East Africa).

Despite already being known to the local inhabitants of the area for centuries, the art was ‘discovered’ by a team of French archaeologists carrying out an archaeological survey in northern Somalia in 2002, thus only recently gaining international recognition. 

Laas Geel is one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in the Horn of Africa, and contains some of the earliest known cave paintings in the region. These paintings are estimated to date to between 9,000-3,000 BCE, and are incredibly preserved considering this.

The artworks, painted in the distinctive Ethiopian-Arabian style, depict predominantly wild animals, decorated cows, and herders, the latter believed to have been the creators of the paintings. Note the herd of cows shown in the first photo, the ceremonial cow shown in the seventh, and the herder shown aside the cow in the final photograph. 

Photos taken by joepyrek.

Recommended reading: Grenier L., P. Antoniotti, G. Hamon, and D. Happe. “Laas Geel (Somaliland): 5000 year-old paintings captured in 3D.” International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XL-5/W2 (2013): 283-288.

Faustina the Elder, A.D. 140 - 160. This marble sculpture is Roman, and from Asia-Minor (present-day Turkey).

Annia Galeria Faustina, known as Faustina the Elder, was the wife of Antoninus Pius, who ruled the Roman empire from A.D. 137 to 161. She probably married Antoninus Pius about A.D. 110 and they had four children. The marriage appears to have been quite loving compared to others in the Imperial family. Although she died twenty years before him, Antoninus Pius did not remarry. On her death in A.D. 141, Antoninus Pius declared Faustina divine and built a temple in her honor in the Roman Forum.

Portraits of Faustina can be identified by her distinctive hairstyle and facial features. This slightly over life-size statue combines a conventional portrait head for the empress with a standardized body type, referred to as a “Large Herculaneum Woman” by scholars. The size of this statue indicates that it occupied a public space, perhaps a city square or a temple dedicated to the divine Faustina. Although they are now missing, Faustina may have held attributes of poppies and ears of wheat in her lowered left hand. That being the case, this statue would have portrayed the empress in the guise of Ceres, the goddess of fertility. (getty)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Getty Villa, Malibu, 70.AA.113. Photos taken by Harvey Barrison.

Depictions of Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility and rain

And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.” -1 Kings 18:26.

Baal is actually a title meaning master or lord. There was a large number of local Baals, such as Baal-zephon and Baal-hamon. Of these Baals was the “Great Baal,” or “the Rider of Clouds,” the son of El. Baal is usually depicted in ancient art to be wielding a club or a thunderbolt. Both shown figurines would have once held either of these items.

Baal worship likely included a number of rituals, such as a ritual dance which involved participants limping or hobbling around an altar, as described at the top of this postThe Bible describes human (particularly child) sacrifice as a part of Baal worship: “They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” (Jeremiah 19:5).

The 1st image of Baal shown dates to approx. 1400-1200 BC, and was found in Syria. The bronze figurine in the 2nd photo dates to the 14th-12th centuries, and was found in Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit). The 3rd artefact dates to between circa 1499 and circa 1299 BC, and was found at the acropolis in Ras Shamra-Ugarit. 

The first image is © The Trustees of the British MuseumME 134627Both the 2nd and 3rd artefacts are courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre (AO 17330, AO 15775), and both photos are taken by Jastrow

The Stela of Pakhaas, 2nd-1st century B.C.E., made of limestone.

The central vignette here features a unique combination of two types of stela illustration. Normally the deceased is shown offering to Osiris, lord of the underworld, or to another deity. Alternatively, the deceased and his or her spouse receive offerings from their family. At first glance, the stela seems to fit the second category. The dead person, Pakhaas, accompanied by his wife, Nesihor, who stands behind him holding a sistrum, or rattle, enjoys the oblations of his son, Pakhy (a nickname, in effect, Pakhaas, Jr.).
This scene, however, is hardly conventional. Pakhy’s censer and Nesihor’s sistrum rarely appear in scenes of offerings to humans, and Pakhaas is not depicted as a mortal. The small image of the god Osiris that sits on his knees indicates that Pakhaas has become that god. Pakhy thus becomes Horus, who offers to his dead father, Osiris, and Nesihor is Isis. (BM)

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, USA, via their online collections, 71.37.2.

The Stela of Pakhaas, 2nd-1st century B.C.E., made of limestone.

The central vignette here features a unique combination of two types of stela illustration. Normally the deceased is shown offering to Osiris, lord of the underworld, or to another deity. Alternatively, the deceased and his or her spouse receive offerings from their family. At first glance, the stela seems to fit the second category. The dead person, Pakhaas, accompanied by his wife, Nesihor, who stands behind him holding a sistrum, or rattle, enjoys the oblations of his son, Pakhy (a nickname, in effect, Pakhaas, Jr.).

This scene, however, is hardly conventional. Pakhy’s censer and Nesihor’s sistrum rarely appear in scenes of offerings to humans, and Pakhaas is not depicted as a mortal. The small image of the god Osiris that sits on his knees indicates that Pakhaas has become that god. Pakhy thus becomes Horus, who offers to his dead father, Osiris, and Nesihor is Isis. (BM)

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, USA, via their online collections71.37.2.

The site of Julius Caesar’s assassination: the Theatre of Pompey in Rome.

When he saw that he was beset on every side by drawn daggers, he muffled his head in his robe, and at the same time drew down its lap to his feet with his left hand, in order to fall more decently, with the lower part of his body also covered. And in this wise he was stabbed with three and twenty wounds, uttering not a word, but merely a groan at the first stroke, though some have written that when Marcus Brutus rushed at him, he said in Greek, “You too, my child?”

All the conspirators made off, and he lay there lifeless for some time, and finally three common slaves put him on a litter and carried him home, with one arm hanging down.”

-Roman historian Suetonius in The Lives of the Twelve Caesars 1.82.2-4 (trans. Rolfe).

The Theatre of Pompey was one of the first permanent theatres in Rome, and was dedicated in 55 BC during the late Republic. It was commissioned by Pompey primarily was a way to gain political popularity during his second consulship, and was inspired by his visit to a Greek theatre in Mytilene. 

The first photo was taken by franfeeley, and the reconstruction of the theatre was done by Lasha Tskhondia, via the Wiki Commons.

Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer. Greek, 3rd–2nd century B.C.

The complex motion of this dancer is conveyed exclusively through the interaction of the body with several layers of dress.

Over an undergarment that falls in deep folds and trails heavily, the figure wears a lightweight mantle, drawn tautly over her head and body by the pressure applied to it by her right arm, left hand, and right leg. Its substance is conveyed by the alternation of the tubular folds pushing through from below and the freely curling softness of the fringe.The woman’s face is covered by the sheerest of veils, discernible at its edge below her hairline and at the cutouts for the eyes. Her extended right foot shows a laced slipper. This dancer has been convincingly identified as one of the professional entertainers, a combination of mime and dancer, for which the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria was famous in antiquity. (MET)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections1972.118.95.