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Article

Anjar  

Hafez K. Chehab

[Andjar, ‛Anjar, ‛Ayn al-Jarr]

Late Antique and early Islamic settlement in the Beqa‛a Valley of Lebanon, 56 km east of Beirut. Excavations since 1953 have revealed a cardinally orientated rectangular enclosure (370×310 m) with dressed stone walls. Each side has regularly spaced half-round towers and a central gate. Two colonnaded avenues intersecting at right angles under a tetrapylon link the gates, a plan recalling that of Roman foundations in the Levant and in North Africa. Within the enclosure are the remains of two palaces and the foundations of three others in stone and hard mortar, as well as a mosque, two baths (one paved with mosaics) and a well. The western area has streets intersecting at right angles and housing units with private courts, and the eastern area has open fields beyond the palaces and mosque. The construction of the greater palace in alternating courses of stone and brick is a technique well known in Byzantine architecture. Reused architectural elements from the Roman and early Christian periods, some bearing Greek inscriptions, are found all over the site. A large quantity of archivolts and mouldings, carved with vegetal, geometrical and figural motifs, was found among the ruined palaces. Texts suggest that Anjar was founded in the time of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid (...

Article

Jenny F. So

Functional personal accessory used in China from the Eastern Zhou period (771–256 bc) to the 2nd century ad, after which elaborate forms evolved with a purely symbolic and decorative purpose. The typical Chinese belthook (also sometimes garment hooks), which was worn by both men and women, was made of bronze in a club shape, with a button on the underside of the broad end and a small hook turned to the top at the other (see Zhengzhou Erligang, pl. 40:9). It also occurs in a wide variety of sculptural shapes, including shield-form and rectangular, and may on rare occasions be made of gold, silver, iron, jade or bone. Most belthooks between 100 mm and 200 mm long were worn horizontally to secure a belt, with the button inserted into one end of the belt and the hook latched on to the other end. A bronze kneeling figure excavated from a site of the Warring States period (...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

Greek city situated at the foothills of Mt Olympus in northern Greece (district of Pieria), 14 km south of modern city of Katerini. It was an important Macedonian political and cultural centre from the Classical to the Roman periods (6th century bc–4th century ad). By the 6th century bc it seems that the Macedonians were gathering at Dion in order to honour the Olympian gods, chiefly Zeus; according to myth, Deukalion, the only man to survive the flood at the beginning of time, built an altar to Zeus as a sign of his salvation. His sons, Macedon and Magnes, lived in Pieria, near Olympus, and became the mythical ancestors of the Macedonians. The altar allegedly erected by Deukalion remained the centre of the cult life at Dion throughout its history.

King Archelaos of Macedon (c. 413–399 bc) organized athletic and dramatic contests in the framework of the religious celebrations, following the practice of the Greeks in the south, such as at the great sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi. Philip II (...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

(fl late 1st century bc).

Roman gem-engraver active in Rome at the time of Augustus (27 bcad 14). According to Pliny, Dioskourides made ‘an excellent likeness’ of the Augustus emperor on the emperor's personal seal, which was also used as a state seal by successive emperors (Natural History 37.8). The story is repeated by Suetonius, who adds that Augustus ‘at first used the figure of a sphinx, afterwards the head of Alexander the Great, and at last his own, engraved by the hand of Dioskourides’ (Life of Caesar Augustus 50).

No fewer than 11 intaglios and cameos signed by Dioskourides survive (Richter, nos 664–72; Plantzos, 96–7), and many more have been attributed to him and his workshop. Dioskourides signed his name in Greek, with his name in the genitive case, as was customary for gem-engravers in the Greek world. Although several Roman artists of the Augustan period assumed a Greek professional name to enhance their business prospects, or signed their Italian names in Hellenized form and script, it seems that Dioskourides was actually of Greek origin. He belonged, therefore, to the wave of artists and craftsmen who came to Italy in the ...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Treasure hoard consisting of more than 15,000 coins (both gold and silver), gold jewellery, and silver tableware, mainly from the 4th century AD, found in 1992 at Hoxne (pronounced ‘Hoxon’), in Suffolk, and now in the British Museum, London. The latest datable coins in the hoard were minted in AD 407/8, so the treasure must have been buried in the closing years of the Roman period, early in the 5th century. The treasure seems to have been buried in a wooden chest and small caskets, for which small silver padlocks survive. The jewellery consists of a necklace, a body-chain, finger rings, and bracelets. The silverware consists of some 100 spoons and ladles; the only indication of the larger pieces that must have been part of the collection (like the plates in the Mildenhall Treasure) is a silver handle (in the shape of a female tiger) that must have been one of a pair attached to a large vessel such as a silver amphora or vase....

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

( fl 4th–3rd century bc).

Greek gem-engraver associated with the glyptic portraits of Alexander the Great (reg 336–323 bc). According to Pliny (Natural History 7.125), Pyrgoteles was one of the three court artists authorized to depict Alexander's likeness in art (the others being Apelles for painting and Lysippos for sculpture). The same author (Natural History 37.8) adds that Alexander had issued an edict forbidding anyone to engrave his image on emeralds, other than Pyrgoteles, ‘who was without a doubt the most illustrious master of his art’. According to Plutarch (Life of Alexander, 4.1), it was Alexander himself who designed his public image, and saw that it was widely publicized through art, as a means to cultivate his own legend. Plutarch also relates that Alexander demanded from his court artists, in order to convey his royal qualities through his idealized portrait, that ‘the poise of the neck turned slightly to the left and the melting of the eyes’, in order to broadcast ‘his manly and leonine quality’ (Plutarch, ...

Article

Eve D’Ambra

[Silene]

Roman villa in Libya. The élite of the great city of Leptis Magna built villas along the Tripolitanian coast, and the Villa Sileen, near the village of Khums(Qums) is an excellent example of this type of domestic architecture in North Africa. Discovered in 1974, the villa was inhabited in the 2nd century ...

Article

Eve D’Ambra

Roman Spain consisted of the entire Iberian peninsula, both modern Spain and Portugal. As it is twice as large as Italy, Hispania was viewed as a remote subcontinent with the Pyrenees guarding passage to Europe and the Straits of Gibraltar beckoning to Africa. Its geography, therefore, played a significant role in its historical development, especially in its early contact with Rome during the Punic wars. The landscape exhibits variety in features, such as a high central plateau bounded on three sides by mountain ranges, a narrow coastal plain bordering the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic seaboard. With a climate ranging from Mediterranean to subdesert conditions, agriculture provided a livelihood for its inhabitants (wheat, olives and grapes being the most important products). Its wealth of resources also included metals (gold, silver, iron, copper, lead) that were mined, and the harvest of the sea (especially for the making of garum, a fish sauce considered a delicacy by the Romans)....

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....