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Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Simon P. Ellis

Ruined city on the North African coast at the end of a narrow peninsula pointing into the Bay of Tunis. Now an archaeological site at the edge of Tunis itself, Carthage was founded, according to legend, by the Phoenician queen Elyssa in 814 bc. It became a major Mediterranean power until its destruction by the Romans in 146 bc. Carthage flourished as a Roman city, Christianity reaching it by the 2nd century ad. The city was revived by Emperor Justinian, but it was finally destroyed by the Arabs in ad 698.

For later history see Tunis.

In the 6th and 5th centuries bc the city’s interventions in disputes between the Greek and Phoenician city states of Sicily made Carthage the leading western Phoenician colony, and it formed a close alliance with the Etruscans. From the 5th century bc the Carthaginians spread into the African hinterland, eventually controlling the area that is today the northern half of Tunisia. They also concluded three alliances with the newly emergent power of Rome. Further conflict in Sicily, however, precipitated (...

Article

A. J. Mills

Egyptian oasis c. 600 km south of Cairo and c. 200 km west of the Nile. Throughout history, Kharga was closely connected with the civilization of the Nile Valley as an important stage in the great overland trade route known as the Darb el-Arbain (‘Forty Days’ Road’) between Egypt and the Sudan. Ancient texts praise the oasis products. The oasis is narrow but measures c. 160 km from north to south; it is dotted with monuments in varying states of preservation. The earliest of these is the Temple of Amun at Hibis (see fig. and Egypt, ancient, §VIII, 2, (i), (a)), which was begun on earlier foundations in the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc), completed during the reign of Darius I (reg 521–486 bc) and enlarged in later periods. The temple is a well-preserved example of the Saite Renaissance style, while its sandstone walls are decorated with finely cut Persian period reliefs. A series of mud-brick fortified settlements of the Roman period (...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

W. Eugene Kleinbauer

[now Tebessa]

Algerian town at the foot of the Tebessa mountains. It was probably the site of a pre-Roman settlement that became the residence of a Roman imperial legate and his legion in the late 1st century ad, when it was raised to the rank of colony and served as the capital of an administrative and estate district.

The Roman town is known to have had a forum, a theatre, an oval amphitheatre (c. 86×80 m), public baths and some unidentified public works; a temple and a four-sided triumphal arch (ad 214) are perfectly preserved. In the 3rd and 4th centuries the plain surrounding the town was the location of numerous fortified farms that continued in use into the 6th century and beyond. From the time of the synod of Carthage in 256 there was a Christian community and a bishop in Thevestis. Funeral epitaphs attest to Vandal occupation in the second half of the 5th century. After the Byzantine reconquest of North Africa in 533, however, the town gained in military importance and became a marketing centre. Although archaeological and epigraphic evidence indicates the continued presence of a Christian community in the 6th century when two churches were built, little is known of the town’s history until the numerous references to it by Arab geographers between the 11th and 14th centuries....