How were people identified in ancient times

Beginnings and antiquity - the focus is on people

Although man used the first stone tools 2.5 million years ago, we can only date his earliest known works of art to a time no more than 35,000 years ago. However, these cave paintings and sculptures already testify to such a high artistic maturity that they were initially thought to be forgeries when they were discovered in modern times.

With the emergence of the early advanced cultures, human art also reached new heights. It allows us deep insights into the worldview of that time. While the animal was the preferred subject of art in the Paleolithic, people in the advanced civilizations became increasingly aware of their importance and nature. He moved himself and the gods imagined to be human forms at the center of his culture and his art. The early art centers include Mesopotamia, Egypt and Crete, the Indus culture, Bronze Age China and the culture of the Mexican Olmecs.

Mythical animals continued to play a role in the art of advanced civilizations, such as the griffin, the sphinx or the Babylonian serpent kite. The bronze age vessels of China deserve special interest, the artistic decoration of which depicts mythical animals, the execution of which is closely related to the art of the steppe peoples.

The different cultures were in close contact with each other, which is also reflected in the exchange of artistic motifs. Greece took inspiration from Egypt and the Middle East, integrated them into its art and in turn influenced the art of the Etruscans and Romans. Roman art dominated a world empire and thus became fundamental to the creation of art in Europe.

Paleolithic cave painting: images in the heart of the earth

How old are the cave paintings?

The first drawings and scratches of animals and stylized women were around 33,000 BC. in the so-called Aurignacia; But painting flourished 10,000 years ago in Magdalenian, especially in south-western Europe. The pictures were made with earth colors and applied with a brush or blowpipe. Mostly they are individual figures without any relation to each other and without a uniform size. They often overlap in several layers.

What is shown?

The most common representations are of the hunted prey: mammoth, bison, aurochs, horse, reindeer, deer, fish and bird, but also predators such as the bear. There are also hunters and strange hybrid creatures as well as abstract signs - the female shame as a symbol of fertility or negative handprints - which may have a ceremonial background.

In the cave of Rouffignac (around 22,000 BC), engravings and monochrome images predominate, especially of mammoths and rhinos. In the somewhat younger stalactite cave of Pech-Merle, two horses were repeatedly "hit" with colored dots over a long period of time. The best-known picture in the Les Trois Frères cave (around 18000 BC), named after its discoverers, is the "magician" made up of various living beings.

Did an artistic development take place?

Yes, the discovery of the Lascaux cave by young people in 1940 was considered a sensation. There were since around 16000 BC. Multi-colored pictures in a more and more mature, plastic style emerged, especially horses, aurochs and bison in a size of up to five meters. The hunters are new and appear at the same time in Le Portel and Niaux. There the representation was made around 11000 BC. increasingly realistic, there are many weapons and wounded prey. New finds are reported to this day, such as in 1991 the Cosquer Cave near Marseille (17th millennium BC), which was only accessible by diving from the sea and in which many marine animals, seals and giant alks can be seen.

Why were the cave walls decorated?

The paintings certainly had a specific purpose. Footprints in Niaux's Noir Gallery and in the Le Tuc d'Audoubert cave, as well as musical instruments, indicate dances and rituals. Since young people were also present, initiation rites may have played a role. Many pictures and clay reliefs, such as those in Le Tuc d'Audoubert and in Bédeilhac, have symbolic “puncture wounds” that can only be explained with a hunting spell.

Was there a religion already in the Stone Age?

There are many indications of this. An important indication of religious ideas are the strange hybrid creatures such as the "magician" in Les Trois Frères and Le Gabillou. They are disguised people or transformed beings who, like the shamans of today's indigenous peoples, make contact with the spirit of the animals. The stylistically quite uniform paintings are likely to have come from such a priesthood that only passed on their knowledge and skill among themselves.

If one uses ethnological studies of indigenous peoples such as the Australian Aborigines for comparison, it becomes clear that the people of the older Stone Age must have believed in supernatural powers. Their rituals were used to find their way around their world. At the same time, they promoted the demarcation from neighboring tribes and the feeling of belonging to one's own tribe - both should prove to be important factors for survival and cultural development.

When did the people of the Magdalenian culture live?

When the last ice age around 20,000 BC. approaching its climax and covering the northern half of Europe, a new culture well adapted to the climate arose in the tundra belt from France to the Ukraine, which is rich in game. The people made decisive advances in social life, in art and technology and produced a variety of tools such as harpoons, chisels and spear throwers. After the rock overhang settlement of La Madeleine in the Vézère Valley in the south of France, the entire epoch is known as »Magdalenian«. Favorable living conditions, especially in southern France and northern Spain, allowed the population to grow, which now formed into tribal groups. For the organization, the exchange of goods and the choice of partners, meetings were necessary, which may be related to the painted caves.

Did you know that …

the Stone Age cave paintings also have something to say to modern artists? Picasso, for example, saw in them a bridge to the originality of art.

the little daughter of the hobby scholar Don Marcelino de Sautuola found the terrifyingly natural animal images in the Altamira cave in Spain when he was looking for prehistoric stone tools in 1879? The murals were so unusual that no one could believe in their authenticity until excavations confirmed the old age.

Prince Rahotep and his wife Nofret: perfect statues of rulers

What age do the statues of the rulers come from?

From the time of the so-called Old Kingdom. The Old Kingdom (around 2755–2255 BC) comprises the 3rd to 6th dynasties and is probably the greatest period in Egyptian history. The pyramids, which were built from the 4th dynasty, are symbolic of this golden age. But "world wonders" were not only created in architecture, painting and sculpture also flourished in a unique way.

Last but not least, the art of the Old Kingdom was funerary art. One of her most important creations, the pair statue of Rahotep and Nofret, was also found in a tomb: in 1871 the Egyptologist Auguste Mariette discovered it in Meidum in a brick mastaba north of the pyramid of Pharaoh Snefru, the victorious general and founder of the 4th dynasty. Rahotep was probably one of his sons. He fulfilled important tasks in the royal construction work, served as general and high priest of the god Re in Heliopolis.

The pair statue is believed to have been made around 2620 BC. Dated. It is made of limestone, about 1.20 meters tall, 50 centimeters wide and painted in color.

How do you know who the statues represent?

The broad-shouldered Rahotep and his wife Nofret sit on blocks with a high back, on which there are various hieroglyphic inscriptions listing their names and titles in detail.

What special characteristics do the figures have?

The prince's only item of clothing is a simple white apron, around his neck he wears a tubular chain with a small amulet, the shape of which is reminiscent of a turtle. The right arm is bent in front of his chest, while the left fist rests on the knee.

The name Nofret means "the beautiful" and her portrait is beautifully designed: a tight-fitting robe underlines the femininity of the "royal acquaintances", as her honorary title is. She wears a heavy strand wig, which is held by a tiara decorated with rosettes. Such tiaras are also preserved as original pieces, made of gold and decorated with semi-precious stones. But the diadem of the stone Nefertiti is painted white, which leads to the conclusion that the real model was made of silver. It should be noted that silver was more valuable at certain times because it was rarer than gold. The forehead of her own hair is clearly visible below the wig. The neck is surrounded by a multicolored collar made of strings of pearls and teardrop-shaped pendants.

What do the different skin colors of the rulers mean?

With the different skin tones of Rahotep and Nofret - he dark, she light - the grave sculpture follows a general rule that applied to ancient Egyptian art: the darker skin color of the man indicates his activities in the open air, the lighter one of the woman, on the other hand, of her Home and hearth defined life.

Why do the characters' eyes shine so?

The unusual liveliness that exudes this sculpture is also achieved through the lively shimmering eyes made of quartz and rock crystal. It is said that the workers during the archaeological excavations fled when they were unexpectedly confronted with the "look" of those eyes. The Egyptian artists used an elaborate process to achieve this liveliness: the vitreous body of the eye was made from opaque white quartz. A small hole was drilled in the center, which was filled in black and marked the pupil. A transparent, round cut piece of rock crystal formed the overlying iris.

What do the statues have to do with the afterlife?

The portrait should guarantee survival after death. The people in the social position or function they held during their lifetime were depicted, sitting or standing, but never in motion.

Why was stone the building material of the Egyptians?

With the Egyptians, who thought far beyond their lifetime and wanted to create buildings and works of art for eternity, the durable stone was the preferred material. In this way they developed outstanding skills in processing, as evidenced by the early flowering of the stone sculpture and, of course, the pyramid construction. Jewelry was also made from stone. In addition to limestone, alabaster was mainly used in the manufacture of vessels that were used to store valuable ointments and cosmetics.

Did you know that …

the realistic looking ancient Egyptian grave figures were part of a pronounced cult of the dead?

the priest magically breathed life into the statues during the funeral ritual? So the deceased should be able to participate in the offerings.

The Pyramids of Giza: Mysterious Wonders of the World

Why were the Giza pyramids built?

They served the pharaohs as impressive tombs. Twelve kilometers from Cairo, west of the Nile on the edge of the Libyan desert, rise the three great pyramids of Giza: those of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos. The royal tombs were erected in the 4th dynasty of the Old Kingdom, i.e. between around 2560 and 2500 BC. Like all Egyptian pyramids, they were part of a huge city of the dead with numerous cult buildings, temples and tombs. These included smaller pyramids for royal wives and tombs for officials and members of the royal family.

How were the monumental buildings erected?

The technical and logistical requirements on the large construction site were immense. The Greek historian Herodotus said that 100,000 people must have worked on the building of the Great Pyramid over a period of 20 years. Some modern archaeologists consider this number to be realistic. The question of how the heavy stones could be lifted up to a height of 147 meters is still being discussed. A combination of complex ramp systems and lifting devices seems possible - unfortunately the ancient Egyptian sources do not provide any information. In addition, the heavy boulders first had to be transported from the quarries.

Which is the most impressive pyramid?

Certainly the Great Pyramid, the largest pyramid ever built in Egypt. It originated around 2560 BC. And was formerly 147 meters high; It is estimated that it was built from around 2.5 million stone blocks, each weighing 2.5 tons. Originally the Great Pyramid consisted of 210 layers of stone stacked on top of each other. Today there are still 201. The cladding masonry made of fine limestone is only preserved in a few places.

What does the Great Pyramid look like inside?

The entrance tunnel used today was created by grave robbers and is located just below the original entrance. A narrow corridor leads to the Great Gallery, which is 47 meters long and 8.5 meters high and has a cantilever vault made of huge stone blocks. At the top there is a short corridor. It is followed by a system of three granite falling stones, one behind the other. The grave chamber, which has been cleared except for an empty granite sarcophagus, shows that the obstacle was bypassed. The coffin chamber of Cheops is made of rose granite, the ceiling of several stone blocks, each weighing 40 tons. Above it are five accessible relief chambers with a gable roof.

Which puzzles does the burial chamber system pose?

It is unclear, for example, the significance of some narrow shafts that rise diagonally upwards from both the coffin chamber and the great gallery. The explanations range from a symbolic-magical meaning to the ventilation function. The importance of the so-called Queen's Chamber, which forms the end of a corridor branching off from the Great Gallery, is just as uncertain. There is also an unfinished passage carved into the rock under the pyramid.

What are the other two pyramids called?

The pyramids of Chephren and Mykerinos. The 143.5 meter high Pyramid of Chephren, the middle of the three great pyramids, looks larger than the Pyramid of Cheops from a distance because it is higher and has a better preserved limestone clad top. The burial chamber system is laid out more simply here. Two entrances lead into descending corridors, both of which lead into a horizontal corridor, at the end of which is the coffin chamber.

The core of the 66 meter high pyramid of Mykerinos is also made of limestone, but red granite was used for the cladding in the lower 16 layers and limestone only in the upper layers. The burial chamber built in the rock can be reached through a descending corridor with an antechamber and a drop gate system made of three granite stones.

What other structures are near the pyramids?

On the east side of each of the three large pyramids are the so-called mortuary temples, which are connected to the valley temple by a long path. Next to the well-preserved valley temple of Chephren stands the famous Sphinx, the colossal statue of a reclining lion with the head of the Pharaoh. We do not know why the statue and another adjacent temple were built at this point. On the other hand, the extensive cemeteries of the Great Pyramid of Cheops have been well researched. Sensational find: a completely preserved royal ship that was salvaged in one of five boat chambers.

Did you know that …

the pyramids of Giza are probably the most famous monuments on earth? You were and are the first of the seven wonders of the world.

the so-called pyramidion of the Great Pyramid, the approximately ten meter high summit peak, has been lost?

a scientist calculated that the five largest Christian churches in the West, including St. Peter's Basilica, would find a place in the Great Pyramid?

Priam's Treasure: The Gold of Troy

Why is the gold find so shrouded in mystery?

The rediscovery of Troy and the gold hoard, which became known as the »Treasure of Priam«, is hardly less dramatic than the Trojan War itself. Already the spectacular circumstances under which Heinrich Schliemann found these treasures in 1873 and then from the Ottoman Empire smuggled, founded the myth. This was followed by a lawsuit from the sultan, whereupon Schliemann paid a generous severance payment, which, however, could not do justice to the ideal and historical value of this sensational find. But the story was far from over. It culminated in the disappearance of the treasure from Berlin in the last days of the Second World War, in its reappearance after the fall of the Wall in the former Soviet Union and in the dispute over property rights that has been surging since then.

What does the treasure contain?

The so-called »Treasure of Priam« comprises more than 100 larger objects, including vessels made of gold, silver and electron - a gold-silver alloy - as well as gold earrings and gold pearls that were originally strung to form chains. Highlights are the two gold diadems, consisting of thousands of fine plates and rings, and a gold headband.

How old is the find?

Schliemann interpreted the location of the hoard in a wall niche near the Skaean Gate, which was part of a layer of fire, as proof that it was a find from Homeric Troy. He brought him in connection with the Trojan king Priam. As his assistant Wilhelm Dörpfeld, who continued the excavations after Schliemann's death, discovered that the location of the treasure belonged to Troy II, which was founded around 2250 BC. And is therefore more than 1000 years older than Homer's Troy. More recent research has defined the location more precisely: in the inner wall of a gate that had not yet been discovered in Schliemann's time. It is therefore quite possible that the hoard was not a treasure hidden in troubled times, but possibly a building sacrifice.

What does the treasure tell about the culture of that time?

The nature of the treasure suggests that Troy was founded in the middle and second half of the 3rd millennium BC. was in close contact with neighboring cultures, with the Aegean archipelago and Greece, but also with Anatolia, Syria and even Mesopotamia. For example, the only comparative pieces, even if only one-handled and one-beaked, for the two-handled gold vessel come from the Aegean Sea. The diadem-like headband made of gold has counterparts in the Aegean, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. There are no specific comparative pieces for the two tiaras, which may have served as decorations for images of gods, although some details refer to the Aegean and Anatolia.

Between 2500 and 2200 BC The gold find dated to the 3rd century BC stands for the high quality of the Trojan goldsmith and metal technology around 2500 BC. Had reached. The not far away gold, silver and copper deposits covered the demand for raw material.

The various techniques of the Trojan master goldsmiths included, among other things, the forging of thin round and square wire as well as the production of extremely fine gold sheets. Then there was the filigree and granulation technique, in which wires and tiny gold balls are soldered onto jewelry items. These handicraft processes also seem to have reached Troy and Asia Minor by way of trade relations from Mesopotamia via northern Syria.

What other discoveries did Schliemann make?

The "Treasure of Priam" is not the only, but the largest coherent treasure find. Heinrich Schliemann discovered a total of 19 treasures in Troy that are scientifically numbered A to S, whereby the "Treasure of Priam" is marked with an A. The finds include vessels and jewelry made of precious metals, bronze weapons and small lenses made of rock crystal. The latter was probably used as a magnifying glass for the extremely fine goldsmith work.

Why was the archaeological sensation questioned?

Misleading claims and many proven lies by Heinrich Schliemann put himself and his treasure trove in an unfavorable light. This even led some scientists to suspect that a treasure that belonged together did not originally exist. Rather, Schliemann collected pieces from the antique trade and from several excavations and presented them as "Priam's treasure" in order to satisfy his vanity with a "sensational find". But these assumptions are now considered to have been definitively refuted.

The Minos Palace of Knossos: In the labyrinth of the Minotaur

When was the Minos Palace excavated?

The British excavator Sir Arthur Evans brought the palace of Knossos to light since 1900 and founded a special Minoan research. The famous excavator of Troy, Heinrich Schliemann, almost anticipated him. However, the property was too expensive for them. So he lost the fame of tracking down the Minotaur.

What was the importance of Knossos in Minoan times?

It was the center of power in Crete. Since about 6000 BC The place was continuously populated. Knossos attained its greatest importance during the "palace period" around 2000 to 1400 BC. At that time, perhaps all of Crete was ruled from here. The founding of Knossos is attributed to the mythical king Minos, son of Zeus and Europa. He is said to have commissioned the Athenian craftsman Daidalos, who lives at the Cretan court, to build the palace and an underground labyrinth.

Of the unique Minoan palace complexes on Crete, the Palace of Knossos, with an area of ​​22,000 square meters, is the largest not only in terms of its size, but also in terms of construction volume and political importance. The Minoan palaces served not only as the residence of the respective ruler, but also for administration, the exchange of goods, trade and storage.

What does the architecture of the palace have to do with the legend of the Minotaur?

The nested construction with a complicated system of paths, corridors and ramps later influenced the saga of Theseus and the Minotaur in the labyrinth. In Knossos a total of almost 1200 rooms could be uncovered or proven. Representative, residential, cult, business and storage rooms as well as workshops and magazines are grouped around a large rectangular central courtyard. The furnishings of the palace testify to the high level of civilization of the Minoans. There were comfortable baths and toilets with flushing water.

What was the destruction of the palace?

For a long time it had been assumed that the destruction took place around 1550 BC. Result of the devastating volcanic eruption near Thera (today Santorini). According to the latest geological studies, however, this volcanic eruption took place around 200 years earlier than previously assumed, so that it cannot have been the cause of the destruction.

The first palace of Knossos was probably around 2000 BC. originated. It was made around 1700 BC. either destroyed by war or earthquake, but soon rebuilt. Around 1550 BC. the above-mentioned destruction occurred, and soon afterwards again. The palace was destroyed by an earthquake around 1450 BC. badly damaged, but rebuilt by the Achaeans who immigrated from the mainland. In the event of a fire, probably in the 14th century BC. it was finally destroyed. The settlement was still inhabited, but increasingly lost its importance. Knossos had to give up its supremacy to Gortyn in the south of Crete.

What did the excavation manager do?

Sir Arthur Evans not only created the still valid periodization of the Minoan culture, but also conveyed a clear picture of the epoch to a broad audience with extensive reconstructions of the buildings and frescoes.

What was the "Ariadne thread"?

That is a long story. King Minos is said to have tried in vain to take Athens. However, his hateful prayers caused a plague to descend on the city. To avert them, the Athenian king Aigeus had to undertake to send seven young men and seven virgins to Crete every year. There they were thrown to the Minotaur, a monster with a bull's head and human body, to eat.

Theseus, son of King Aigeus and the greatest hero of Attica, came to Crete with one of these groups and killed the Minotaur in the labyrinth. Ariadne, the daughter of the Cretan king, helped Theseus find the way out of the labyrinth with the proverbial "thread of Ariadne". The two fled Crete together. Although Theseus had promised Ariadne the marriage, he left her on the island of Dia (later Naxos) on the first stop.

Did you know that …

a city also belonged to the palace? It was below the palace hill and was built around 3000 BC. Founded. It probably had around 50,000 inhabitants and was connected to two ports.

near Knossos was the Dictaiian Grotto, in which, according to myth, the Greek god Zeus was born?

Experts criticize Sir Arthur Evans' reconstruction for building the palace at its peak in the 16th century BC. shows and not at the time of its construction?

The bust of Nefertiti: immaculate portrait of a queen

At what time did Nefertiti live?

The pyramids of Giza had already stood for one and a half millennia, when the pharaohs Nefertiti and Akhenaten were about 300 kilometers up the Nile instead of old Thebes around 1350 BC. BC Achetaton ("Horizon of Aton") as the new capital of Egypt. Her rule lasted 17 years. It is named "Amarna period" after the place of Tell Al Amarna, where the excavators uncovered the residence of the royal couple in 1891.

Where was the bust found?

During the excavation campaign in the winter of 1912/13, the excavators from Amarna uncovered a building complex that turned out to be a sculpture school. The rest of a blinker points to the "head sculptor Thutmose" as the owner. In the main house, the archaeologists came across a depot of portrait heads, which was the most important find in Amarna in terms of art history. Among the depictions of the royal family was the now famous, life-size bust of Queen Nefertiti. The portrait head, carved from limestone, was modeled with stucco and painted with mineral paints. In contrast to this is a portrait head, which was probably intended for a statue. Compared to the painted bust, the facial features are stylized differently here. A few black lines set this off against the unstuccoed stone.

What did Nefertiti look like?

We don't know exactly what Nefertiti looked like. It is true that the artist captured the beauty of the queen in various realistic plastic portraits. However, an investigation using a square grid that was placed over a photogrammetric representation of the famous head showed that its proportions are ideally constructed. Nevertheless, the Thutmose portraits impress with their extremely individual physiognomy, which also includes changes due to age. A wonderful limestone statuette of the queen belonged to this find, with which the artist evidently created a stylized portrait of the age, as can be deduced from the unusually strong mouth and nose folds. There was no such individualization either before or after the Amarna period.

What do we know about Pharaoh Akhenaten?

In the fifth year of his reign, the pharaoh from the 18th dynasty, Amenophis IV, introduced the cult of the sun god Aton and called himself from then on Akhenaten: "Aton is gracious". He left the residence of the New Kingdom in Thebes to found Achetaton. We can only guess what made him take this step. Apparently it happened out of displeasure with the Theban priests, who had inflicted an "incomparable offense" on him. At that time the priesthood had acquired a powerful power which could be dangerous to the pharaohs. She owned a third of the land and, with an immense number of minor gods, kept not only the people but also the pharaohs in check.

What was Nefertiti's position at court?

There are many indications that Akhenaten's main wife, Nefertiti or Nefertiti, became an ardent advocate of the new faith. Like no wife of a pharaoh before or after her, she was involved in all public and cultic acts of her husband. Perhaps she was given the highest priesthood, a position normally reserved for kings. Contrary to popular belief, Akhenaten did not introduce a one-god religion. In Amarna, in addition to the sun god, the uraeus serpent closely connected to him was also worshiped; according to mythology, she protected the sun god from enemies with her breath of fire.

Little is known about political events during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Apparently he exercised the power he had won unchallenged.

How did the queen die?

So far, there have only been speculations about this. In the twelfth year of Akhenaten's reign, Nefertiti died - or she fell from grace, because she was replaced as queen by Meritaton, one of the six daughters of the regent couple.

It is more likely, however, that Nefertiti survived her husband: In Amarna there is no evidence of a burial there or of an earlier burial during Akhenaten's reign. In the royal tomb in Amarna intended for them, only the remains of additions for Akhenaten and their daughter Maketaton, who died at the age of about 17, can be found.

Did you know that …

the name Nefertiti means something like "the beautiful one has come"?

Akhenaten also expressed his self-image as God-King by leaving the old capital, Thebes, to - as he himself said - found his new residence Akhetaten in a place "that had not previously belonged to any god or goddess"?

there are noticeably many private representations of Akhenaten, his wife Nefertiti and their six daughters? As the first ruling couple, they made their private life public.

Tutankhamun's treasure: gold for an ancient Egyptian king

Who Discovered Tutankhamun's Tomb?

The archaeologist Howard Carter made the sensational find. On November 4, 1922, he and his small group of workers came across ancient steps in the Valley of the Kings (near Thebes in Upper Egypt). After the steps were exposed, they stood in front of a walled-up door. The door was sealed. Carter had the entrance closed again and telegraphed to his employer, Lord Carnarvon, in England: “I have finally made a wonderful discovery in the valley. A grave with undamaged seals. Stay locked until you arrive. 'Carnarvon arrived in Thebes three weeks later. On November 24th, when they stood at the door again, they discovered two more seals. They were named Tutankhamun (r. 1346-1337), son of Akhenaten and young king of the 18th dynasty, who had died under unexplained circumstances at the age of 17.

What did the archaeologists find in the grave?

Carter and Carnarvon discovered a treasure. When the door was broken open, they came to a six foot entrance corridor, at the end of which was another door. After it had been broken into, they looked into an antechamber that was filled with numerous objects. These included three large gilded wooden beds with animal heads and bodies, magnificent chairs, armchairs and stools, chests with items of clothing, jugs with valuable oils and ointments, alabaster vases and four dismantled chariots of the king, clad with stucco and gold leaf.

Among the most valuable finds was a painted chest, the highly detailed scenes of which show the Pharaoh as a conqueror and hunter, and the so-called Golden Throne, one of the grave's greatest and most famous works of art. On the back of the throne is depicted Tutankhamun enthroned under the sun god Aton, who is anointed by his wife.

Three more rooms followed, including the coffin chamber. The whole thing formed an ensemble of immeasurable archaeological and artistic value. A total of 5000 objects, fantastic works of art, ritual and everyday things that no one had seen before (except perhaps on ancient Egyptian representations) came to light after over 3000 years.

Where was Tutankhamun's mummy?

It was in the coffin chamber, to which a walled entrance leads from the antechamber, flanked by two guardian figures two meters tall. When the wall was broken, Carter and Carnarvon saw the golden wall of a huge wooden shrine. The five meter long, 3.30 meter wide and 2.75 meter high shrine contained three other gilded and ornate shrines. In the fourth shrine there was a stone sarcophagus, which in turn contained three nested - mummy-shaped - coffins.

The two outer coffins were gold-plated, the innermost one, weighing 110 kilograms, was made of pure gold. In it lay the embalmed body of the dead king, whose face and upper body were covered with the world-famous gold mask, a masterpiece of Egyptian goldsmithing. 125 valuable pieces of jewelry and amulets had been wrapped in the bandages of the corpse.

What treasures did the treasury contain?

In the center of the "treasure chamber" adjoining the coffin chamber, which was guarded by the jackal-headed god Anubis, was a gilded shrine surrounded by four artistically unique figures of goddesses. In it was discovered an alabaster chest with four gold miniature coffins containing the king's mummified entrails. In the “treasure chamber” and in the side chamber adjoining the antechamber, boxes with a total of 413 figures, so-called ushabtis (servant figures), were found to stand by the pharaoh in the afterlife. In other boxes one found statues of kings and numerous animal and human figures of gods. Countless pieces of furniture, boat models, chests with clothing and jewelry, and food were also stored there.

However, the examination of the grave also showed that many treasures had apparently been stolen by ancient grave robbers, because countless caskets had clearly been broken into and ransacked before the grave was finally closed over 3000 years ago.

Did you know that …

the tomb of Tutankhamun is the first and so far only almost completely preserved tomb of an ancient Egyptian king? Its discovery meant the greatest treasure trove in the history of archeology. The 25 pharaohs graves discovered by then had all been looted in antiquity and their valuable gifts were robbed.

Howard Carter had searched for Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings for six years - despite the prevailing opinion at the time that there were no more tombs to be found in this small, remote rocky valley?

Treasury of Atreus in Mycenae: the largest circular dome of antiquity

What time does the "Atreus Treasure House" come from?

This building in Mycenae, Greece, is one of a group of monumental domed tombs dating from 1400 to 1250 BC. With them, the techniques of the cantilever dome and megalithic construction handed down from the Neolithic Age reach their climax.

Are there similar grave structures?

In a way, yes. This Mycenae dome tomb is very similar to a tomb in Orchomenos in central Greece, which the Greek geographer Pausanias called the "treasure house of Minyas". The structural features are so similar that experts suspect the same architect or the same building school. All essential elements of the Aegean tombs are in the Mycenaean domed tombs of the late Bronze Age between 1400 and 1250 BC. Recorded: a tumulus (hill) as an externally visible form, a brick dromos (entrance way) as access, the cantilever dome as cover and shaft or, more rarely, chamber graves inside the facilities. Another common feature is a gate with a lintel that weighs tons. This type of grave was widespread throughout the Mycenaean territory; it is most frequently found in the core area, the Argolis, nine times in Mycenae itself.

Why is the Mycenae dome tomb considered an architectural masterpiece?

Because it is the outstanding example of its kind and was to remain the largest circular dome of antiquity for 1400 years until the new building of the Roman pantheon, the building for the Roman state gods and heroes, under Emperor Hadrian (reign 118-138). Around 1250 BC The structure erected in BC is the best preserved grave of this type.

What are the dimensions of the building?

The uncovered corridor leading to the entrance, 35 meters long and six meters wide, is flanked by ten meter high walls made of rectangular cuboids. The gate originally gave the impression of a palace facade. Altogether about eleven meters high, the entrance was flanked by green half-columns and richly decorated with plastic, colored ornamental ribbons and reliefs.

With a diameter of 14.50 meters, the beehive-shaped space behind it, made of strict cuboids, reaches a height of 13.20 meters. Here we have the perfect implementation of the "false vault" technique: Each of the horizontally placed stones is carved in such a way that the side visible on the inside is curved according to the circular shape of the floor plan. Towards the top, they protrude so far that the beehive shape of the dome results.

Why is the burial chamber not decorated?

Presumably it was not completed. The burial chamber is a room roughly carved into the rock. Access is through a gate that is similar in construction to the entrance portal, but is much smaller.

What curse was on the house of Atreus?

According to Greek mythology, the royal house of Atreus was haunted by misfortune. The reason lay with grandfather Tantalus: the long association with the gods had gone to the head of the king of Lydia. To put them to the test, he served them his son Pelops cut up for dinner. Of course, the gods noticed and put the boy back together. Tantalus was punished with eternal torment in Hades and passed on his guilt up to the fourth member. Pelops was cursed but otherwise spared. Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, punished the gods for her arrogance. Atreus, son of Pelops and Hippodeima, and his children and grandchildren, however, felt the whole burden of divine anger.

Atreus 'most famous sons, Menelaus and Agamemnon, had to go to the Trojan War after Menelaus' wife Helena was kidnapped by the Trojan prince Paris. After the war Menelaus and Helena returned to Sparta reconciled and happy. The victorious Agamemnon, however, died a shameful death in the bathtub immediately after his return to Mycenae: his wife Clytemnestra had in the meantime bonded with Aigisthus, Agamemnon's cousin, who had also killed his uncle Atreus. Seven years later the murder of Agamemnon was avenged by his children Elektra and Orestes. Only when Orestes was acquitted of the murder of his mother on the intercession of Athena and Apollo of Areopagus in Athens, the curse on the house of Atreus was broken.

Did you know that …

Atreus killed the sons of his brother Thyestes, cooked them and put them in front of the brother for dinner? This was revenge for Thyestes having previously seduced Atreus' wife Aerope.

the name Atreus means "the fearless" in Greek?

Atreus managed to make the sun go backwards? That was a clever move in the throne dispute with Brother Thyestes, in which Zeus came to Atreus' aid and changed the course of the star.

The gold sculpture of the Scythians: art of the steppe

Who were the Scythians?

An equestrian people who have lived since the early 7th century BC. Lived in the steppes north of the Black Sea. The wealth and power of the princes are reflected in the rich furnishings of their barrows. In addition to various other grave goods, there were also numerous objects made of gold: vessels and jewelry, but also fittings and decorative parts for clothing, bridles and saddles of horses, shields and weapons.

What special art style did the Scythians shape?

The "animal style". The animal as the main artistic motif is explained not least by the way of life of the Scythians, who as equestrian nomads and hunters, cattle breeders and shepherds had a very close connection to the animal. Deer, ibex, predators and birds of prey as well as mythical mythical creatures were depicted. This thematic preference led to the art-historical term "animal style".

How did the Scythian goldsmiths portray animals?

The animal style represents the animal in a simplified form, which, however, is differentiated enough to allow the unique identification of the species. The movement in which a panther is held can also be clearly seen as stalking. The essential body features are emphasized by stylization. In the case of the deer, for example, the antlers dominate, and their imaginative shape surpasses reality.

Even with the so-called roller animal type, which shows the animal curled up in a circle, the characteristic muscles of the big cat, for example, are still worked out. Scythian art did not aim at a detailed, naturalistic rendering of the animal, but rather at the representation of its essence, the characteristics and body parts that make up a certain animal.

How did the animal style influence the development of art?

The animal style is considered to be the creation of the Scythians, but later became a common property of all Central Asian equestrian peoples and thus influenced the art of Bronze Age China. In the west, the animal style outlasted the Scythians for many centuries. The Sarmatians, who from the 4th century BC. invaded the southern Russian areas between the Don and the Black Sea coast, ended the rule of the Scythians, but took over their artistic tradition and passed it on to the tribes of the Great Migration Period. The animal style lived on among Teutons, Lombards and Vikings and influenced early medieval art in the West.

Did the Scythians have contact with the Middle East?

Yes. Their unsteady life brought the equestrian peoples into contact with many different cultures. We influenced each other. The Middle East in particular made an important contribution to the development of Scythian art. Style elements and motifs of Near Eastern art of the late 2nd and 1st millennium BC BC, including those of Hittite, Syrian and Iranian origins, influenced the animal style. In the 7th century BC BC all these influences merged into one unit. The gold sculpture of this time is one of the most magnificent art works of the Scythians. An outstanding example is the deer from Kostromskaja Stanica, which was used as a decorative plate on a shield from the late 7th or early 6th century BC. BC served. His reclining, yet tense posture with legs underneath shows a fundamental scheme that has been taken up again and again.

How did the Greeks influence Scythian art?

From the 6th century BC. shows an increasing Greek influence on the Scythian gold work, which is also related to the fact that Greek masters worked for Scythian clients. In these works of art, such as a magnificent breast ornament from the 4th century BC BC, the depiction of the animal fight was still one of the main motifs, but the execution is purely Greek. Despite these strong external influences, the animal style retained its original characteristics, which were to be formative for the art of the steppe peoples for centuries.

Why do historians know so little about the Scythians?

Because these equestrian people left no written evidence, not even larger settlements, palaces or temples from which conclusions could be drawn about their way of life. Therefore, one is dependent on statements from neighboring peoples - and on the grave finds. So the Scythian gold work is not only highly interesting from an artistic point of view. Because on the vessels and pieces of jewelry there are detailed scenes of Scythian life, with an exact reproduction of the weapons and clothing. Wild fight scenes alternate with everyday activities such as milking sheep, dressage horses and even dental treatment.

Did you know that …

wood carving was probably the inspiration for the goldsmith's art of the Scythians? This is indicated by the sharp breaks and deep ridges - typical of wood carving - that can be seen in the work of the Scythians.

Is Scythian art primarily precious grave goods that were reserved for the aristocratic upper class and were intended to demonstrate their prominent social position?

The terracottas of the Nok culture: evidence of African art

Where is the Nok culture geographically located?

The Nok culture owes its name to the small town of Nok, which lies east of the Niger River on the Jos Plateau in central Nigeria. In its surroundings in 1928, the first discovery of an independent art style was made during tin mining: an imposing, almost life-size terracotta head, obviously a fragment of a figure. Here a people whose history is completely in the dark created the oldest known works of art from sub-Saharan Africa around 2000 years ago.

The chance find was followed by numerous archaeological excavations, which to date have brought several thousand objects to light. There were numerous fragments among them, but also almost complete figures. In addition to sculptures of various domestic animals - elephants, for example, snakes, even a tick - most of the finds show human figures and heads. Fantastic hybrid creatures made of human and animal elements as well as vessels with figurative decorations have also been found more and more frequently by archaeologists in recent years.

What makes the characters so unique?

Due to their dimensions, the sculptures attest to an extraordinary mastery of the firing technique and the expert mastery of the material. Their bold aesthetics also arouse admiration. The sculptors of the Nok culture are considered to be the earliest artists in sub-Saharan Africa who dared to create almost life-size terracotta figures. The largest of the previously recovered works are up to one and a half meters high.

Clay, which contained crushed pieces of stone and quartz components, was used as the raw material for the sculptures. The choice of clay types and the mixing ratio were well thought out. The terracottas were modeled by hand using the construction technique. Inside they are always hollow, because there they were supported by a wooden frame that was consumed by the fire during the subsequent burning - in the open field fire. The works remained unglazed.

What is characteristic of the Nok style?

The fully preserved human figures are shown sitting or kneeling. The heads are elongated, conical or cylindrical and greatly enlarged. The stylized faces are characterized by flat noses and triangular eyes. With larger heads, the pupils, nostrils and mouth openings are perforated. The ornate hairstyles and jewelry are very detailed. Despite the stylization, the portraits show different »personalities«, allow individuality to shine through in the facial features, which reinforces their powerful effect on the viewer.

Who do the figures show?

The often very elaborate hairstyles and jewelry suggest that they represent rulers, priests or other high-ranking personalities. It may also be ancestral figures, i.e. figures of the deceased who were recognized as ancestors by the community. Perhaps the figures were placed on altars, in shrines or ritual rooms, as was customary in Nigeria with wooden and clay figures until the 20th century for certain population groups. The smallest of them may have been worn as amulets or jewelry.

When were the works of art created?

When exactly the sculptures were created cannot be said with absolute certainty. Modern scientific studies date most of the art works of the Nok culture between 500 BC and 500 AD. However, some researchers extend their period of origin considerably. What is certain, however, is that the people of the Nok culture were also among the oldest known iron smelters south of the Sahara. This is evidenced by various finds of iron objects and the remains of smelting furnaces, slag and clay pipes for bellows.

What makes the work of archaeologists difficult?

Most of the time, there is no documentation about the found circumstances. Most Nok terracottas are found at a depth of one and a half to ten meters, often by archaeological laypeople and predatory graves. And unfortunately they usually only have a financial interest in the well-preserved heads of the sculptures, leaving fragments belonging to them in the ground or destroying them. This is why archaeologists find it difficult to place the works of art in a historical context, to collect information about the people who conceived and created them, and about the culture that gave rise to them.

Did you know that …

one of the first Nok sculptures discovered by researchers when it was used as a scarecrow?

the terracottas are traded on the black market for thousands of euros?

have the sculptures and vessels of the Nok culture been interpreted as grave goods, among other things? However, no terracottas have been found in graves during excavations and no human bones in the immediate vicinity of the works of art.

How is archeology doing in Africa?

Bad, because professional excavations have so far only rarely taken place in sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, early African cultures with impressive art forms are discovered again and again. The frequent robbery excavations, which destroy valuable traces for scientific research into the African past, represent a major problem. And this problem is not new, given that African art has been popular with European collectors since the beginning of the 20th century and therefore brings a lot of money.

The Strettweg chariot: art and cult of the early Celts

Why is the Strettweg car so important for research?

The bronze chariot with its many figures not only stands as a work of art, but also allows conclusions to be drawn about its creators, the people of the Celts, who once settled large areas of Europe and yet left so few traces. The car was found in 1851 in a burial mound near Strettweg in Styria.

Which figures are depicted on the wagon?

The central figure of the chariot is a goddess or priestess with raised arms, who holds a kettle which is additionally supported by bars. Your figure is more than twice the size of the other people on the wagon. She wears earrings and a wide belt. The belt finds its equivalent in the bronze belt plates of the women's costume of that time and the helmets and hatchets of the men clearly reflect the finds from this time.

In front and behind, the goddess is surrounded by two groups of figures in a scenic composition, with their backs turned to her.On each of the axles of the cart there are two men holding a deer by the antlers, behind them there is a naked couple. The woman is wearing earrings, the man is brandishing a hatchet and is about to sacrifice the deer. The couple is flanked on both sides by a rider equipped with a helmet, a round shield and a spear.

Is the Strettweg wagon a one-off?

No. In terms of its technical and design design, the car is related to the Late Bronze Age tank cars in Central Europe, Scandinavia and Italy. They may have their models in similar Eastern Mediterranean wagons, some of which are examples from the late 2nd millennium BC. Came to light in Cyprus.

Closest in time and form to the Strettweg carriage is a similar vehicle from the late 8th century BC. BC, which comes from the necropolis of Olmo Bello in Tuscany. Here, too, women carry vessels on their heads and the men are armed with shields and helmets.

What time and culture does the car come from?

The Strettweg tank car dates from the 7th century BC. and belongs to the Iron Age Hallstatt culture. Their core area extended from the middle of the 8th century BC. from the eastern Alpine region via southern Germany to western France. The early Celts were the bearers of the Hallstatt culture. The car has some remarkable details that shed light on the Celtic world. It is very likely that the wagon was part of a funeral ritual in which the deceased was driven to the burial site and at the end of which the wagon itself served as a valuable burial object for an outstanding personality. The kettles were probably filled with a sacred liquid, such as mead.

What is the meaning of the characters?

The sacrificial animal, the deer, was an important symbolic animal of the Celts even in later times and was closely related to the god Cernunnos, who was depicted with deer antlers and worshiped as a god of nature. The goddess also establishes the relationship to nature and fertility. It stands on a radiant base plate, which is a symbol of the wheel and the life-giving sun, and carries the cauldron that represents abundance.

The division of the figures into groups of six is ​​reminiscent of the division of the twelve-month course of the year through the summer solstice. The movement of the car would thus also symbolize the path of the sun. The artists of the cult car succeeded in reproducing a complex ceremony in the smallest of spaces and with economical means in pictorial, abstract symbolic language.

Did you know that …

the cult car from Strettweg is almost half a meter long?

the carriage is adorned on both axles with two horse protomes, i.e. head sections of horses, which symbolize the draft animals?

According to research, the protomes attached to the two axles of Strettweg's cult car indicate that the car was moved in different directions as part of cultic acts?

The neo-Babylonian Ishtar Gate: splendid architecture of the old world

Who built the Ishtar Gate?

King Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC), mentioned in the Bible, who ruled Babylon after the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 612 BC. once again helped to a new bloom. He restored Babylon's position of power. At the same time, he spared no means of expanding Babylon as the new capital of the old world. He fortified the city with a double wall system with at least seven gates and there were also new palaces and temples. Little remains of the architecture and the famous hanging gardens at the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II. One of the few surviving buildings is the Ishtar Gate (around 575 BC).

What was the function of the Ishtar Gate?

The Ishtar Gate, the largest and most magnificent gate of Babylon, was one of the city gates. The broad processional street that led north from the main temple district to the Ishtar Gate was paved with pink-marbled limestone blocks. The walls were clad on both sides with glazed relief bricks, which showed 60 lions stepping majestically one behind the other on the right and left, each 1.95 meters long. This monumentality alone must have been impressive.

What was pictured on the gate?

On the full height of the gate, which was paneled with blue enamel bricks, one had inserted gold-colored animal pictures in six rows one above the other - alternately a bull and an animal called "musch-chusch", a kind of snake griffin. The bull was the symbol of the weather god Adad, the snake griffin that of the Babylonian main god Marduk; the symbol of the goddess Ishtar, on the other hand, was the lion depicted on the processional path. Presumably the animals had a defensive function and were supposed to keep visitors with bad intentions away.

The entire double gate was 48 meters long and about 30 meters wide. It was rebuilt repeatedly because the street level was raised several times. The older gate had been decorated with unglazed brick reliefs. Since this was used as a foundation for the newer gate, it remained - in contrast to the reconstructed younger gate - below the last street level.

What led to the downfall of Babylon?

The beginning of the end was the conquest by the Persian king Cyrus II in 539 BC. Babylon remained under Persian rule for 200 years and increasingly lost its importance. When an uprising was put down in 482 BC. The Persian great king Xerxes I destroyed the city. 331 BC Alexander the great conquered Babylon. He wanted to rebuild the city, but before that could happen he died. One of his successors, Seleukos, founded a new residence, Seleukeia am Tigris, south of what is now Baghdad on the west bank of the Tigris. When a large part of the population of Babylon moved there, the fate of the city was finally sealed. It deteriorated more and more and was eventually forgotten.

When did modern Babylon research begin?

Babylon was only cleared of rubble a century ago. From 1899, the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey excavated for 18 years and focused on the large buildings of the Neo-Babylonian period. However, little was preserved from older layers, because the changes made to the old city by Nebuchadnezzar II were so radical that almost all older traces were destroyed at that time. The Ishtar Gate was completely excavated in 1902; The excavators had to fight their way through layers of rubble up to 17 meters thick. As part of the division of finds anchored in the ancient law of Iraq and thanks to the benevolence of the British director of the Archaeological Department of the Kingdom of Iraq, Gertrude Bell, the broken bricks came to Berlin in the 1920s.

They were put together in painstaking detail and inserted into an architectural reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate and the street; The visitor has to realize that today only the 14.73 meter high and 15.70 meter wide entrance gate with two flanking towers can be admired in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In Babylon itself there is a reconstruction on a scale of 1: 2 as the entrance to the excavation site.

Who gave the gate its name?

The Ishtar Gate was dedicated to the chief goddess of the Babylonians and Assyrians. Officially it was called "Ishtar-sakipat-tebischa" - "Ishtar, the conqueror of her enemies". Ishtar was both the goddess of love and fertility and the unruly and bellicose goddess of hunting and war. The Babylonians worshiped her primarily as the Great Mother Goddess and in connection with the evening star. The Greeks and Romans knew her under the name Astarte. She was portrayed either naked with large breasts or as a nurturing mother with a child at her breast.

Etruscan sarcophagus: traces of a flourishing high culture

What does their burial culture reveal about the Etruscans?

The colorful wall paintings, the relief art of the urns and sarcophagi and the small additions made of bronze, iron or ivory convey the image of an Etruscan world in which earthly life was enjoyed to the full and there was no fear of the afterlife. It was believed that the deceased would live on with part of his being. So they gave him food, dishes, furniture, jewelry and weapons with him on the way. Scenic representations such as dances, games, competitions and banquets should also accompany him imaginatively. Among other things, a work of art made of terracotta just under two meters long and 1.40 meters high was preserved. This so-called husband's sarcophagus is now in the world's largest Etruscan museum, the Villa Giulia on the outskirts of Rome. The representation comes from the 6th century BC. (around 530-520) and was found in a necropolis, a burial town in Caere.

What is depicted on the sarcophagus?

A man and a woman rest on a kline, a kind of lounger, as it was also known in Greece. The couple have comfortably stretched their legs and are leaning on a cushion. The man's arm is placed around the woman's shoulder in a loving gesture. The two are not facing each other, but face the viewer head-on, as if they were playing the role of a host.

How is the couple portrayed?

Both figures are characterized by a strong build and relatively broad shoulders. The man has a well-groomed beard, his upper body is bare, while the woman is wrapped in a coat. In addition, she wears pointed, soft beaked shoes and a tutulus, a traditional Etruscan headgear, on her head. The faces are extensive, the almond-shaped eyes, nose and lips are short and sharp, the facial features delicate and full of grace. The couple look at us with genteel restraint and even seem to smile at us.

The depiction of the deceased in a half-upright posture on a couch is a hallmark of Etruscan sepulchral sculpture. Whether on small alabaster urns or heavy tufa sarcophagi: Etruscans are everywhere, stretched out and leaning back slightly, as if they were still alive. The Greeks used this sitting posture when they came to a meal together.

What is known about the Etruscan culture?

In the ancient world, Etruscans were considered carefree, adaptable and hard-drinking. In contrast to Greek and Roman culture, women in Etruscan society were, according to everything we know today, on an equal footing with men: in play, in love, in everyday life and - as the famous husband's sarcophagus shows - also in death. The Etruscan culture got by without patriarchy. This otherness evidently appeared dangerous to contemporaries.

What reputation did the Etruscans have among their contemporaries?

They were considered decadent. In Rome and Athens the Etruscan world was met with scorn and ridicule. It was made fun of the fact that Etruscans even dined lavishly twice a day and surrounded themselves with luxury in every form. They were accused of being effeminate and lacking in self-discipline. Etruscan women were fond of personal hygiene and were considered particularly beautiful. In contrast to Greeks and Romans, they took part in all social events alongside their husbands as a matter of course, even if these were evening events of a private nature.

With this in mind, the famous spouse sarcophagus is also a sociological document. It expresses an intimate togetherness between two people, a familiarity that comes along without great pathos. Seldom has a work of art described the partnership between man and woman so impressively.

Did you know that …

much of the culture and history of the Etruscans is a mystery? What is certain is that they developed the first advanced civilization on Italian soil in the area of ​​today's Tuscany and Umbria and Latium between the 10th and 1st centuries BC.

the Etruscans were world champions in agriculture, city and road construction, iron processing and shipbuilding? In addition, they laid the foundations of the city of Rome.

The palace complex Persepolis: imperial show of power

Who was the founding of Persepolis?

Around 520 BC. laid King Darius I the Great (549–486 BC) the foundation stone for an Achaemenid spring residence in Persepolis, although he already owned two capitals. He wanted to present the world with a palace that reflected the importance of his world empire. Inspired by Mesopotamian models, Persepolis - alongside Pasargadai and Sousa - became the most glamorous of the three great Persian residences.

However, Persepolis in particular was probably not a residence in the true sense of the word, but rather a kind of palace that the great king visited on the occasion of certain days of remembrance and which served the representative self-portrayal of the Persian great kingdom. Since the Persians were only a minority within the Achaemenid Empire, Darius I divided the empire into provinces, each of which was headed by a satrap (governor). The representatives of the defeated countries should pay their respects to him in his residence. To get the right impression of the power of the "King of Kings", they were led over many terraces and through many halls before entering the audience hall.

How is the royal residence laid out?

On a 125,000 square meter terrace, partly natural, partly raised, several gates, palaces, treasure houses, the throne room with the 100 pillars and a towering audience hall (Apadana) were built over the course of around 60 years. Although it was built under several kings, the entire complex of Persepolis gives a very uniform impression. The arrangement of the buildings, open stairs and grand gates corresponds to the ceremonial of the national festivals, especially that of the great New Year celebrations. At the same time, the Persian builders and sculptors tried to develop a Greater Persian national style from the traditions of old Iranian timber construction and nomadic tent architecture as well as the techniques and architectural styles of the subjugated peoples.

What is the "train of immortals"?

It is actually a representation of warriors. From the square in front of the Apadana, stairs lead up to the porticoes (vestibules) in the north and east. The extensive reliefs that were attached to the surrounding brick wall, staircases and walls depict Achaemenid court ceremonies. Above all, soldiers of the royal bodyguard are shown, who were called "immortals" because their number was increased to 10,000 immediately after each loss. In between there are Persian and Median dignitaries, who are followed by delegations from 23 of the 28 peoples of the Achaemenid Empire, especially at the staircases on the east side.

Although the names of all 28 conquered peoples are known, it is not easy to identify the various figures. On the basis of typical attributes such as hairstyle, headgear, clothing and shoes as well as a comparison with reliefs from the different regions of the empire, researchers were able to make a reasonably reliable assignment. The Medes can be recognized by their round or three-lobed hats, the Elamites and also the Persians wear a kind of pleated skirt, while the Babylonians wrap themselves in a wrap-around robe.

Did Persepolis finish?

No, Dareios I only saw the completion of the treasury and the audience hall. His son Xerxes (486–465 BC) continued his father's plans, adding the "Gate of All Lands" and his own palace. However, he did not come to the completion of the monumental Hundred Columns Hall, which was only completed by Darius' grandson Artaxerxes I (465-423 BC). Under his successors there was a cessation of all construction activities for no apparent reason. Only Artaxerxes III. (359–337 BC) continued it in a noteworthy manner. After the pillage and destruction by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. Persepolis lost its importance until the builder and purpose of the palace complex were forgotten.

Under whom was the Persian Empire at the zenith of its power?

The Persian Empire reached its greatest extent and prosperity under Darius I the Great. This was thanks to the rise of the Achaemenids, who took over power in the Middle East from Greece to India for a good 200 years from the southern Iranian region of Pars (Greek Persis). Under the successors of Darius I there were then again and again long, costly battles against the Greeks until the end of the Achaemenid Empire in 330 BC. Chr.

Did you know that …

The then Shah Reza Pahlevi presented himself as the successor to the Achaemenids on the occasion of the 2500th anniversary of the »Iranian« kingdom in 1971 and organized a gigantic historical exhibition in the ruins?

the square remained hidden from Europeans until it was rediscovered by Pietro della Valle in the 17th century? The Italian went on an eleven-year research trip through the Orient.

Acropolis of Athens: symbol of a golden age

What is the history of the Acropolis?

The limestone rock in the center of Athens was inhabited as early as the Stone Age. Then a Mycenaean king had his palace here and surrounded it around 1200 BC. with a partially preserved fortification wall. Half a millennium later, temples were built until the whole mountain was considered sacred.After the destruction by the Persians, rubble and statues were poured into large holes - a godsend for archaeologists and tourists, who can now visit a great museum. In the 5th century BC. the Acropolis (Upper Town) received the face that it is now again shaping. Nevertheless, today's picture is incomplete, because the countless consecration gifts such as the huge Athena Promachos (champion), which can already be seen from Piraeus, have been lost.

How is the Acropolis built?

The ascent to the Acropolis was built from 437 to 432 BC. framed by the architect Mnesikles. An 80 meter long ramp led to the front gate (propylon) of the temple area, a central gate building with a Doric temple facade and Ionic columns along the way through the building. Columned halls on high foundations still flank the ramp to the right and left. In front of it stands a tall pillar monument dedicated to the Roman admiral Agrippa. On the right is an old Mycenaean bastion, on which from 427 to 424 BC. a small, stocky temple with a portico on both sides was built. It was dedicated to the "victorious" Athena: the Nike Temple.

What was the function of the Erechtheion?