Richard Miles: A Graphic History

RICHARD MILES: A GRAPHIC HISTORY

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Archaeology: A Secret History - BBC Four 

Episode 1 “In the Beginning”

John Frere (1740 - 1807) was an English antiquary, founder of prehistoric archaeology. He was a pioneering discoverer of Old Stone Age tools and a member of both the Royal Society of Antiquars and the Royal Society.

Frere was the first person in Britain to recognise palaeoliths for what they were. In June 1797, he paused to watch workman digging clay for bricks in a pit at the site of the Hoxne (Suffolk) clay brick pit. His attention was caught by the regularly shaped triangular flints which the workmen were using to fill up potholes in the road. Frere recognised the flints as human tools which we now call hand axes. This was the earliest recognition that hand axes were the work of early humans - rather than the widely held view that they were the result of thunderbolts or meteorites. The flints had come from a layer of gravel 12 feet below the surface, underneath layers of sand and brick-earth. Frere correctly interpreted the overlying deposits as riverine.

Frere wrote a letter to the Royal Society of Antiquars (illustrated with two fine engravings above and two samples of hand axe) which would later set the stage for Palaeolithic Archaeology as we know it today. -One of the hand axes is on permanent display at the British Museum.

In his letter, he came to the conclusion that the flints were “weapons of war, fabricated by a people who had not the use of metals” and that “the situation in which these weapons were found may tempt us to refer them to a very remote period indeed: even beyond that of the present world”. Frere’s article was in effect publically challenging Archbishop Ussher’s date of creation of 4004 BC which most authorities accepted as the literal truth of the Bible.

Royal Society of Antiquars, London, UK

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Ancient Worlds - BBC Two 

Episode 6 “City of Man, City of God”

In the Roman city of Oxyrhynchus (Upper Egypt), archaeologist found Papyri, thousands and thousands of them. So many that it’s going to take generations of scholars to decipher and publish them all.

The manuscripts include thousands of Greek and Latin documents, letters and literary works, dating from the third century BC to the seventh century AD. Among the texts discovered are plays of Menander, fragments from the Gospel of Thomas, and fragments from Euclid’s Elements.

Oxyrhynchus was the capital of the 19th nome; Egyptian society under the Greeks and Romans was governed bureaucratically so vast amounts of paper have been found: accounts, tax returns, census material, invoices, receipts, correspondence on administrative, military, religious, economic, and political matters, certificates and licenses of all kinds. Private citizens added their own piles of paper.

Picture 2: This one addresses the serious problem of donkeys being driven too quickly through the busy streets of the city.

Picture 3 & 4: This little note was written by two friends, Apium and Epimus, to a school mate of theirs, Ephroditos. And it contains the most extraordinary suggestion.
”If you let us bugger you, if it’s okay with you, ”we shall stop thrashing you.” And there’s even a helpful little illustration here (picture n. 4).

Picture 5: This is a letter by Diogenes, to one of his employees.
”A thousand times I’ve written to you to cut down the vines of pohaya.
”But today again I get a letter from you asking what should be done.
”To which I reply - ”Cut them down.
Cut them down.
Cut them down.
Cut them down ”and cut them down.

Oxyrhynchus, Al Minya, Egypt

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Archaeology: A Secret History - BBC Four 

Episode 1 “In the Beginning”

Burton Constable Hall is a large Elizabethan country house with 18th and 19th century interiors, and a fine 18th century  ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’.

William Constable had a passion for art, architecture and natural history.
He collected artefacts throughout Europe and Britain -even objects from the ancient world. His cabinet of curiosities is one of a very few to have remained largely intact in all its glorious diversity.

PART II

Burton Constable Hall, Yorkshire, England

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Archaeology: A Secret History - BBC Four 

Episode 1 “In the Beginning”

Visiting Burton Constable Hall. The interiors of this Elizabethan mansion are filled with fine furniture, paintings and sculpture, a library of 5,000 books and a remarkable 18th-century ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’.

18th-century gentry all wanted to own a piece of a mystery, to show how sophisticated, cosmopolitan and wealthy they were. This was the age of the cabinet of curiosities.

William Constable (1721-91) collected artefacts throughout Europe and Britain: fossils, natural history specimens, scientific instruments (a very important collection), artistic objects and even objects from the ancient world. His cabinet of curiosities is one of a very few to have remained largely intact in all its glorious diversity.

Picture 4: Bronze age axe head.

Picture 5: Toothbrush from Mecca.

Picture 6: Brazen lace from a Bronze Age burial unearthed in 1676 at Broughton Hall, near Skipton, Yorkshire (meaning that in 1676 somebody was conducting what we would recognise as an archaeological excavation)

PART I

Burton Constable Hall, Yorkshire, England

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Ancient Worlds - BBC Two 

Episode 6 “City of Man, City of God”

The Amphitheatre of Capua (Campania Amphitheatre) is the second largest amphitheatre in Italy next to the Coliseum in Rome.

It has been difficult to pin an exact construction date on this amphitheatre; it was probably constructed sometime between 30 BC and 1 AD, restored by Hadrian and dedicated by Antoninus Pius, as the inscription over the main entrance recorded. At its zenith, the amphitheatre would have been able to seat up to 60,000 people. The exterior was formed by 80 Doric Arcades of four stories each, but only two arches now remain. The keysotnes were adorned with heads of divinities. The interior is better preserved; there is an extensive network of tunnels below the stadium floor. The tunnels are littered with fragments of the great ornaments which once adorned the amphitheatre.

Capua, Caserta, Campania, Italy

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Ancient Worlds - BBC Two

Episode 1 “Come Together”

Mycenaean funerary gold masks.

The gold mask is the exclusive funerary apparel of Mycenaean males.

Picture 1:Mask of Agamemnon”. Found in Shaft Grave V in Grave Circle A at the Acropolis of Mycenae. Unearthed during excavations at Mycenae in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann who believed it to belong to the Homeric hero Agamemnon. Later dating however placed the mask to 1580-1550 BC, about three hundred years earlier than the time of Agamemnon. Two holes near the ears indicate that the mask was held in place over the deceased’s face with twine.

Pictures 2 - 3: Gold death-mask from Shaft Grave V, Grave Circle A, Acropolis of Mycenae, 1600-1500 BC.

Picture 4: Gold death-mask from Shaft Grave IV, Grave Circle A, Acropolis of Mycenae, 1600-1500 BC.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece

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Archaeology: A Secret History - BBC Four 

Episode 2 “The Search for Civilisation”

In 1798 Napoleon marched into Egypt with his army. He also took with him academics, scientists, geographers and engineers. He was there to uncover a whole civilisation.

A contemporary record of Napoleon’s expedition is kept at the Bibliotheque Nationale, in Paris. The Description de l’Égypte was a series of publications which offered a comprehensive scientific description of ancient and modern Egypt as well as its natural history. It is the collaborative work of about 160 civilian scholars, known popularly as the Savants, who accompanied Napoleon's expedition, as well as about 2000 artists and technicians, including 400 engravers.

They recorded virtually every aspect of Egyptian life; everything from religion to geography was precisely measured and recorded.

Only a thousand copies of these expensive (23) volumes were created. The work had a huge influence on the nascent field of Egyptology.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France

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Ancient Worlds - BBC Two 

Episode 6 “City of Man, City of God”

Constantine the Great (Constantine I) was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337 and the first Christian emperor of Rome. His reign had a profound effect on the subsequent development of the Roman, and later Byzantine, world.

The Colossus of Constantine was a colossal acrolithic statue of the emperor that once occupied the west apse of the Basilica of Maxentius near the Forum Romanum in Rome. Portions of the Colossus now reside in the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, on the Capitoline Hill. The great head, arms and legs of the Colossus were carved from white marble, while the rest of the body consisted of a brick core and wooden framework, possibly covered with gilded bronze. Judging by the size of the remaining pieces, the seated, enthroned figure would have been about 12 m (40 ft) high. The head is about 2 ½ m high and each foot is over 2 m long.

First 2 pictures: Colossal bronze statue of Constantine: head - 4th century AD 

Capitoline Museums, Capitoline Hill, Rome, Italy

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Ancient Worlds - BBC Two

Episode 1 “Come Together”

The Uluburun Shipwreck is the world’s oldest known shipwreck, dated to the end of the 14th century BC, the high-water mark of the Bronze Age (about 3.300 years ago).

Some of the 15.000 objects recovered by the archaeologists, including  items from at least seven different cultures (Mycenean, Syro-Palestinian, Cypriot, Egyptian, Kassite, Assyrian and Nubian).

PART V

The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey

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Ancient Worlds - BBC Two

Episode 1 “Come Together”

The Uluburun Shipwreck is the world’s oldest known shipwreck, dated to the end of the 14th century BC, the high-water mark of the Bronze Age (about 3.300 years ago).

Some of the 15.000 objects recovered by the archaeologists, including  items from at least seven different cultures (Mycenean, Syro-Palestinian, Cypriot, Egyptian, Kassite, Assyrian and Nubian).

PART IV

The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey

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