Tag Archives: Ridley Scott

today’s birthday: H.R. Giger (1940)


H.R. Giger (1940)

Giger was a Swiss painter, sculptor, and set designer who became popular for providing concept art for the movies Alien and Species and won an Oscar for his work on the former in 1980. His work is often surreal and nightmarish and is recognizable for its frequent blending of human forms and mechanical or industrial elements. It is this “biomechanical” style for which Giger is best known. From where did the artist draw much of his early inspiration? More… Discuss

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Ancient History, Really?!? Where Was the Land of Punt (and a inspired video on YouTube, by David S. Rosado


Where Was the Land of Punt

A relief depicting Hatshepsut's expedition to the Land of Punt.

The ancient Egyptians documented everything. Surviving paintings and writings show details about almost every aspect of life in that place and era. Wars and religion and rulers are all recorded in ways that have fortunately lasted into modern times.

Business and trade were no different–extensive documentation chronicled who the ancient Egyptians were doing trade with and what exactly that trade was.

According to information unearthed by archeologists, the land called Punt was a great source of riches and slaves and exotic spices and wild animals. From the descriptions that survived, the land of Punt was a peaceful and prosperous country that seemed to have a wide variety of highly valued goods to trade. The discovery of such a society would be a huge accomplishment for an archeologist.

The only problem is that nobody today knows where Punt was.

But people have looked. The first problem is that we have to rely solely on ancient Egyptian information. No other ancient civilization, so far, has unearthed a single reference to the land of Punt–which is unusual. This would imply that either Punt only dealt with Egypt (not likely), or else other societies referred to it by other names.

Any country with so many riches and expensive goods would be ripe for conquest, and yet there is no mention of Egypt (who went to war frequently with neighbors) ever going to war with Punt.

The most evidence about the land of Punt comes from a temple dedicated to the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled for more than 20 years circa 1465 BCE. A large relief of a trading mission to Punt is featured on the walls of the temple. We even know the names of the rulers of Punt during Hatshepsut’s reign: King Parahu and Queen Ati. But the Egyptians either forgot to put concrete directions to Punt in their temples and such, or else we haven’t uncovered such evidence yet.

A wall relief in Egypt depicting a typical Punt House.

According to the art that has survived, men from the land of Punt, unlike ancient Egyptians, had long hair and little facial hair. The people of Punt lived in round houses built on stilts–most likely to avoid damage from flooding in their land.

Wherever that land was.

There are various clues. Animals living in Punt, according to the Egyptian paintings, lived primarily in the area around the Red Sea on the Arabian peninsula. But other scholars, due to the origin areas of some of the traded goods, have proposed a location south of ancient Egypt in Africa. The surviving evidence is just not clear.

No remains have been unearthed by archeologists showing a civilization that equates itself to the land of Punt.

Author Bill Price even questions whether Punt existed at all, or was the equivalent of an ancient Egyptian imaginary utopia. This is possibly reinforced by an alternate name of Punt that translates into “Land of the God(s).”

There are even some tantalizing allusions that the Egyptians believed they originally came from Punt and journeyed and founded ancient Egypt after leaving that homeland.

Punt may currently lie below mounds of earth and sand and we won’t know the location of this marvelous land until future excavations unearth an ancient paradise.

Hatshepsut. A travel to Punt

References:
Price, Bill. “History’s Greatest Mysteries”.
Punt“, Wikipedia, pulled June 11, 2014

Coptic Architecture


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
Coptic Churches” redirects here. For the bodies of the Coptic religion, see  Coptic Church. For church buildings, see List of Coptic churches.
 

Pulpit and section of iconostasis inside the The Hanging Church in Cairo

St. Mark Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria

Origin and influenceSome authorities trace the origins of Coptic architecture to Ancient Egyptian architecture, seeing a similarity between the plan of ancient Egyptian temples, progressing from an outer courtyard to a hidden inner sanctuary to that of Coptic churches, with an outer narthex or porch, and (in later buildings) a sanctuary hidden behind an iconostasis. Others see the earliest Coptic churches as progressing, like those of the Byzantine and Roman churches, from the Graeco-Roman basilica. The ruins of the Cathedral at Hermopolis Magna (c.430–40) are the major survival of the single brief period when the Coptic Church represented the official religion of the state in Egypt.

Thus, from its early beginnings Coptic architecture fused indigenous Egyptian building traditions and materials with Graeco-Roman and Christian Byzantine styles. The fertile styles of neighbouring Christian Syria had a greatly increased influence after the 6th century, including the use of stone tympani.[2]

Over a period of two thousand years, Coptic architecture incorporated native Egyptian, Graeco-Roman, Byzantine and Western European styles.

 

The Hanging Church is Cairo’s most famous Coptic church first built in the AD 3rd or 4th century

After the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the influence of Coptic art and architecture on Egyptian Islamic architecture and the incorporation of some Coptic features in Islamic building in Egypt can be seen.[3] This can be explained by the fact that the early Muslim rulers of Egypt, much like the Ptolemaic and Byzantine rulers before them, recruited native Egyptians to undertake the building labor. In later centuries, Coptic art and architecture also incorporated motifs inspired by Islamic styles.[4] In particular, very early examples of the pointed arch appear in Coptic churches from the 4th century onwards, and this became a notable feature of Islamic architecture, and may have spread from there to European Gothic architecture, though this whole area remains controversial among architectural historians, with many now seeing the origins among the Assyrians, from whom it spread to Persia, where it joined the Islamic style.[5]

Features

The Coptic Church broke from the other Eastern Orthodox Churches in 451 AD. After that date, the Copts, then a great majority of the Egyptian population, were shunned and often persecuted by their Byzantine rulers until the conquest of Egypt by Islam, after which the slowly declining Coptic population was in a rather precarious position. Coptic architecture therefore lacked the lavish patronage of rulers and the Court, which was directly responsible for most of the important buildings of Byzantine and medieval Catholic architecture. Most buildings are small, conservative in design, and remain closer to vernacular styles. They also have a tendency to massive construction, which is partly a surviving Egyptian taste from the Pharaonic period, partly reflects the need to semi-fortify buildings, partly is an inevitable result of mudbrick construction of large structures, and is also partly to keep them cool in the Egyptian climate.

Well before the break of 451, Egyptian Christianity had pioneered monasticism, with many communities being established in deliberately remote positions, especially in Southern Egypt. The relatively large number of buildings surviving from the early periods of monasticism, from about the 5th century onwards, are one of the most important groups of early Christian buildings to remain, and offer a useful corrective to the Court art of Ravenna or Constantinople. Many very early wall-paintings also survive. Even the ruins of monasteries in many places have survived in a good enough condition to impress the visitor and inform the art historian. Early Coptic architecture is therefore of great importance in the study of Early Christian architecture in general.

 

Archangel Michael’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Aswan

Despite the break with the other churches, aspects of the development of the arrangement of Coptic churches have paralleled those in Orthodoxy, such as the emergence of a solid iconostasis to separate the sanctuary, and the West, such as the movement over the centuries of the place of baptism from the narthex or outer porch into the rear of the nave. However the existence of three altars in the sanctuary, sometimes in separate apses, is typically and distinctively Coptic. The altars themselves are always free-standing.

Especially between the Muslim conquest and the 19th century, the external facade of Coptic urban churches is usually plain and discreet, as is the roof-line. Equally the monasteries were often enclosed with high blank walls to defend them from desert raiders during the Middle Ages. However, internally the churches can be ornately decorated, although monumental sculpture of holy figures is avoided as in Orthodoxy.

Many Coptic monasteries and churches scattered throughout Egypt are built of mudbrick on the basilica plan inherited from Graeco-Roman architectural styles. They usually have heavy walls and columns, architraves and barrel-vaulted roofs, and end in a tripartite apse, but many variant plans exist.[6] Domes are small compared to Byzantine churches, and from the 10th-century naves are often roofed with domed cupolas. The dome raised on a circular supporting wall, which is so characteristic of later Byzantine architecture, is rarely used. Massive timber is often used across the nave, sometimes to support a flat roof, and sometimes to give structural strength to the walls. Inside the churches are richly decorated with frescoed murals and reliefs.[7]

Iconostasis

 

Example of modern Coptic Iconostasis of at St Mary and St Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church in Wales

The screen known as the iconostasis separating the sanctuary from the main body of the church is one of the main features of any Coptic church. The Coptic iconostasis is usually less completely composed of icons than the Eastern Orthodox one, although there will always be several. It is very often an open-work screen, usually made of ebony and sometimes inlaid with ivory like that in Saint Mary Church (Harat Zewila). These may be in geometrical patterns comparable to the secular screens which are a feature of traditional Egyptian houses.

The iconostasis of Saint Mary Church in Harat Zewila in Old Cairo, rebuilt after 1321, shows the mixture of stylistic elements in Coptic architecture. The basic plan is that of the basilica, and recycled ancient columns are used. The older woodwork is Islamic in style, as are the Muqarnas in the pendentives, and a Gothic revival rood cross surmounts the iconostasis. This uses Islamic abstract motifs, which is also common. Some screens are pierced rather than solid.

There are many examples of Coptic iconostasis that predate the earliest surviving Eastern and Western counterparts.[8]

Khurus or Choir

Between the 7th and 12th centuries, many churches were built or modified with a distinctive Coptic feature, the khurus, a space running across the whole width of the church separating the naos or nave from the sanctuary, rather as the choir does in Gothic architecture.

 

Archangel Michael’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Aswan

Decorative carving

Early Coptic buildings contain elaborate and vigorous decorative carving on the capitals of columns, or friezes, some of which include interlace, confronted animals, and other motifs. These are also related to Coptic illuminated manuscripts and fabrics, and are often regarded as significant influences both on early Islamic art, like the Mshatta facade and on the Insular art of the British Isles (which appears to have been in contact with Coptic monasteries.[9] From Insular art these motifs developed into European Romanesque art.[10]

Examples

The architecture of many Coptic buildings remains poorly documented, as they become more at risk for abandonment, vandalism, and destruction. Time sensitive architectural and cultural research projects are awaiting initiation.

Examples of significant Coptic architecture include:

 

this pressed: Ebola virus refuses to stick to the script | Follow Ebola


English: Ebola virus virion. Created by CDC mi...

English: Ebola virus virion. Created by CDC microbiologist Cynthia Goldsmith, this colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What has been revealed over the past two months is how skittish and profoundly insecure we feel, as individuals and as a species, and how fear is a brushfire easily fanned, by memories of best-selling books like Richard Preston’s 1994 “The Hot Zone” — soon to be a television miniseries, directed by Ridley Scott! — and by the fear-mongering of news media and politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Most unnerving is that the virus isn’t conforming to popular expectation. A doctor in the full hazmat regalia still got infected? That’s not supposed to happen. The CDC proving to be as fallible as any human organization? Who’s writing this thing?Well, no one is. That’s how reality works. Things fall apart and get put back together — or not — in ways you wouldn’t believe. Entropy happens.”

via Ebola virus refuses to stick to the script | Follow Ebola.

Pathogenesis schematic

Pathogenesis schematic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)