Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Head of Dionysus from Corinth

Hello all and welcome to this blog post!

Today I will be looking at this mosaic of the head of Dionysus, from ancient Corinth.

I picked it because I liked the pattern around the head, so I decided to do some research into it. Unfortunately, there are many pictures of this mosaic, but not very much information about it! I was able to find out that it is dated to around 150-225 AD, and that it was the floor in a Roman villa. I also found out that it is currently housed in the Ancient Corinth Museum, that opening times are 8-3 every day except holy days, and tickets are 6 euros unless you are over 65, under 18 or a student in the European Union, which sadly I am not!

What is interesting about this mosaic is that is recognised as being Dionysus rather than Bacchus, the Roman equivalent. When Greece was incorporated into the Roman Empire, many of their gods became closely linked with the Roman ones, for example Zeus became Jupiter, Hera became Juno, and Dionysus became Bacchus. The fact that this is Dionysus instead of Bacchus could be an indication that the Greek gods lingered during the Roman empire. Alternatively, it could just be that because it was found in Greece, archaeologists dubbed him Dionysus and so Dionysus he stayed!

Anyways, super short today because I chose my subject matter poorly, so sorry for that. Tis still a very pretty mosaic and I would love to go see it one day!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Madaba Map

Hello and welcome to this blog post!

Today I will be looking at the Madaba Map, an intricate and interesting mosaic found during the construction of a Greek Orthodox in 1884, following the destruction of the city of Madaba by earthquake in 746 AD. It originally was part of the Nea Church, which was dedicated in 542 AD.

Now I say this is an intricate and interesting mosaic, and it is probably the most intricate and interesting mosaic in the world being as it is a map of the Jerusalem! We don't know who it was made by, but we do know that it was made between 542 and 570 AD, as no buildings build after 570 are on it. This means it it almost 1,500 years old. Unfortunately, after it's rediscovery in 1884 it was badly damaged by activities in the church, fires and moisture, reducing its size from the original 21 by 7 metes to 16 by 5 meters. Luckily, in 1964 90,000 DM (roughly £40,000 or $52,000) was given for the restoration, which was undertaken by archaeologists Heinz Cuppers and Herbert Donner. When complete, it would have had 2 million tesserae!

Reproduction of the mosaic, with credit to Bernard Gagnon

One of the many things that is interesting about this map is that it does not face north, as modern maps do, but instead faces towards the altar at the east. This means that the places the map depicts are in line with with the compass directions. The map depicts a large number of important biblical sites that were previously undiscovered, such as Askalon, the Nea Church and the Cardo Maximus, the latter two of which were found in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. It also showed a road running through the middle of Jerusalem which was later discovered 4m below the surface of a modern road!

All of the places on the map are labelled in Greek, including around 150 towns and villages. There are also descriptions of several cities including Gaza and the previously mentioned Askalon that are so detailed that they could almost be used as street maps. 

Location of John the Baptist's baptism.

This map is incredibly helpful for locating sites of biblical significance, which makes it incredibly significant for Jewish and Christian people alike. It is also the oldest geographic floor mosaic in art history which makes it significant from an archaeological and historical perspective as well! I personally am amazed by how accurate it has proven and the sheer scale - it must have been incredibly impressive when it was complete and I am glad work is going into restoring it.

Thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed!