Harvester Vase

Harvester Vase


Harvester Vase: Hagia Triada

The Harvester Vase was found in Hagia Triada on the island of Crete. This vase is from the Late Bronze Age, dating from 1550 to 1500 BC. The vase was originally made in three parts and was fitted together. The face is oval shaped and has a vessel on the top. The vase was carved on brownish steatite. The vase was originally glided with gold and hammered to paper-thin thickness. This piece is decorated with low-relief sculpture and shows a unique scene. The piece has pictorial designs. The composition is powerful, rhythmical, and lively. The vase is a sculptural piece. To get the full effect of the piece you have to see the whole thing, which may cause you to have to walk around the piece. The piece is a dark brown and greenish color. The brown and greenish color of the vase resembles harvest time in a way. The figures of the pieces are stylistic, however, their expressions, facial features, and muscles appear to look life-like. Even though there is a lot of repetition within the piece, the artist also portrayed individuality. The very top of the vessel has vertical lines that create texture.

The neck of the vase looks like it has a smooth texture. When you reach the band, the texture becomes rough again because the figures are carved into the piece. Then the bottom, which was reattached when the original piece became missing, has smooth texture that matches the neck of the vase. The vase has two parts, the neck and the shoulder. The form is a variant of the tall narrowed vessels. On the band, there is one leader of a group of twenty-seven figures. The leader, who has long hair, wears a cloak-like garment with a long staff on his shoulder. The dress and equipment of the figures are uniform. The figures are dressed in a kilt and a flat cap. Twenty-one figures out of the twenty-seven are carrying a stick-like object with three pointed ends. Even though the vase as repetition, there is a lot of movement within the piece. The figures overlap each other, which causes movement within the piece. The stick-like objects that the figures wear on their shoulder have a curved bland with three rods. The stick-like object has a knob at the end. The blades are attached to the pole above the knob. Between the knob and the blades are bindings that connect the middle rod to the outside ones.

The stick-like objects create a chaotic rhythmic motion. The stick-like objects also cause a multi-layered wave. The waves created by the stick-like object add energy and forward movement to the composition. This piece has a combination of both front and profile views. The figures’ bodies are very stylized. There seems to be an emphasis on physical strain and muscle. This piece also shows the skeletal structure of the human body. There is a definite emphasis on physical strain. The figures are nude down to the waist. The figures look very athletic, their left thigh looks slightly lifted, as if they are marching and are structured by muscles. However, their right leg, which is on the ground, does not look to have such muscles. They have different characteristics, and they all show some type of emotion. Out of all the figures, a few of them stick out. There is a great deal of emphasis to one figure in particular. He is the one shaking the rattle. You can see this figure’s full profile, and it looks as if he is inhaling air, making his ribs come alive. This really emphasizes the human skeletal structure of his body. The artist of this sculpture also shows the tension and relaxation of not only his face but also his three followers.

The facial expressions of all the men are naturalistic. The facial expressions give animation to the piece. The intense pictures of human emotions reveal that the people who created this vase were becoming aware of the importance of human emotion and the inner world. The composition is overflowing with energy due to the individuality of the humans. The vase is broken up into two parts. Half of the vase displays a group of four figures, who look as though they are shouting or singing. At about three-quarters after the group of shouters displays a man who is on his knees and is holding the waist of another man in front of him. The man in front of him has his head turned backwards to look at the man who has fallen behind him. These figures are vividly caught in their motion and differ from the basic consistency of the other figures. The Harvester Vase has a solid and strong composition. The composition gives rhythm to the piece. The piece comes alive through all the movement shown throughout the piece. This piece is done in a naturalistic way. The figures in the piece have life-like features and their clothes match the clothes of the present time.

The way the figures’ muscles are expressed are very life-like and natural. The detail of the work is unbelievable, especially given that the vase has a diameter of about five inches. The Harvester Vase is a portrayal of the human body, emotions, and expressions. The distribution of the vase shows stylistic uniformity. The Harvester Vase can be interpreted in a few different ways. The other twenty figures carry a stick-like object with three rods at the end. This stick-like object could represent an instrument such as a pitchfork. This leads to the idea that the twenty figures are harvesters. The harvesters seem to be marching in pairs. They seem to be stomping, but are in step with one another. Their lips are pressed together which could indicate silence. Although most of the men are in step, there is one exception. One harvester has fallen to his knees, causing the harvester in front of him to look back at him. An older man, wearing his hair long and a kind of fringed cope, which represents a ritual garment, lead the harvesters.

The leader carries a long staff that is crooked at one end and is tapering to the point at the other. The scene is possibly a harvester festival. In the middle of the vase there is a man who is shaking a rattle. The man holding the rattle wears a fringed cope, which was known to have been a ritual garment. He also wears a fitted cap that comes down to his neck and has a cut out for his ears, resembling the tutulus of a Roman priest. The man carrying the rattle has an open mouth, as if he is singing or shouting. Behind him are four figures, three with opened mouths wearing long cloaks. These people are perhaps depicting a choir led by a priest. The Harvester Vase can also be linked to religious interpretations. A man is wearing hides, which are linked to ritual connections. The leader of the group could be thought of as a priest since he is carrying a sprinkler over one of his shoulders. They are approaching a figure who is holding a staff, which definitely could be linked to have a religious meaning.

Even though the Harvester Vase can be interpreted in many ways, the most popular is that it was a harvesting ceremony. Most of the items in the piece are linked to harvesting. However, there are other symbols that are can be linked to religious aspects. These interpretations can be argued. However, I believe that the artist was mainly trying to put emphasis on the human condition. He puts more emphasis on the human emotions, facial expressions, and the physical strain of the figures than anything else. All of those that he emphasized point to the human condition. I think this is what the artist really wanted to portray throughout his work.

The Harvester Vase, made with brilliant skill depicted a march of figures, who are obviously taking part in some type of ceremony, whatever it may be. The Harvester Vase holds a degree of naturalism. It is a forceful impression of a group of human beings, who show extreme emotion. Even though the Harvester Vase is quite small, the artist was able to portray great amounts of details. The figures are stylistic, but also have a naturalistic style to them. The facial features, expressions, and physical strain are greatly captured within this piece. There is also a great deal of motion shown within the vase. The goal of the creator was to emphasize physical strain and emotions of the figures. Overall, the Harvester Vase is an incredible piece of art, with a great amount of detail through stylistic and naturalistic style that portrays the human condition.


The Harvester Vase of Hagia Triada: An Eye into Ancient Minoan Agriculture

Found at Hagia Triada, an elite site associated with Minoan palaces and dating to the Neopalatial period , (1600-1450 B.C.E.) the Harvester Vase displays a detailed and fascinating scene of men marching and singing in what appears to be a harvest celebration. Although it is not a grand artistic monument, this small vessel (about 4.5 inches in diameter), communicates a grace and vitality typical of Aegean Bronze Age art.

Imitating and Eggshell

Ostrich egg rhyton from the tholos tomb at Dendra, Greece, Mycenaean, 15th-14th c. B.C.E., ostrich egg, silver, gold, and copper (National Archaeological Museum, Athens, photo: Schuppi, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Harvester Vase is actually not a vase but rather a rhyton, a ritual vessel use for pouring liquids. It has a hole at the top and would have had a hole at the bottom before it was damaged. It is made of black steatite and is shaped to look like a similar vessel made of an even more valuable material: an ostrich egg shell. Ostrich egg rhyta were some of the most luxurious and exotic ritual goods in the Aegean Bronze Age. This type of object was made by drilling holes at either end of an ostrich egg (imported from Egypt), drawing out the contents, and affixing a decorative rim on the top and at the bottom. However, what the Harvester Vase lacks in imported luxury, it makes up for in sheer sculptural power.

Harvester Vase from Hagia Triada (detail), c. 1550-1500 B.C.E., black steatite, diameter 4.5 inches (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, photo: Zde, CC BY-SA 4.0)

A Rhythmic Procession

Harvester Vase from Hagia Triada (detail), c. 1550-1500 B.C.E., black steatite, diameter 4.5 inches (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, photo: Zde, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The miniature scene, carved in relief , illustrates some twenty-seven men in a procession. Most of these men are depicted in pairs, legs stepping high and right arms bent at the elbow, hands held close to the chest, and wearing identical costumes: loincloths, flat caps, carrying bags or pads on the left thigh, and on the left shoulder, a pole with a short curved blade and a three pronged fork. These men are all young, slim, and muscular, with angular faces turned up to the sky. Their paired, lock-step procession evokes marching or rhythmic movement. There is one exception to this rhythm: near the back of the group, one man turns to look behind him, perhaps because, it would appear, another has fallen just at his back.

Harvester Vase from Hagia Triada (detail), c. 1550-1500 B.C.E., black steatite, diameter 4.5 inches (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, photo: Zde, CC BY-SA 4.0)

This marching group is led by an apparently older man, wearing long shaggy hair and a fringed robe with a scallop pattern (above). He carries a long staff, crooked at the bottom and tapering at the top. In the middle of the group of men behind him is another single figure, a man who looks perhaps not as young and lean as those in the group, who is shaking a sistrum (a musical instrument used in religious rituals). These were common in ancient Egypt as well as in ancient Greece and Rome examples have been found on Bronze Age Crete as well. This man appears to be shouting or singing with his mouth wide open and he is followed close behind by a rank of four men who also have wide open mouths and wear cloaks around their shoulders.

Reaping or Sowing?

Harvester Vase from Hagia Triada (detail), c. 1550-1500 B.C.E., black steatite, diameter 4.5 inches (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, photo: Olaf Tausch, CC BY-SA 4.0)

As the name of this vessel indicates, it is generally thought that its decoration refers to harvesting, the key evidence being the long implement each of the younger men is carrying over his shoulder. What is not clear is exactly what the implement is. If it is a winnowing fork, these men are harvesting, collecting mature cereal crops they will use the fork to separate the grain from its husk. If the implement is a hoe, festooned with branches, then the men are off to plant seeds—perhaps to be found in each of the men’s bags. Which it is—harvesting or planting—we may never know, but what is clear is the masculine, communal, and celebratory nature of the activity depicted on this beautiful vessel.


The Warrior Vase


In one of the buildings closest to Circle A (Fig. 1, F), Schliemann discovered the fragments of a large, decorative ceramic bowl, used for mixing water and wine. Because of its friezes of soldiers, he dubbed it “the Warrior Vase.” It is probably the best known piece of Late Helladic pottery (Figs. 3, 5A).

For quite some time after its discovery, scholars dated the bowl to the seventh century B.C. They regarded its peculiar bull’s head handles as definitely derived from those found on eighth-century vases. (1) They likewise considered the registers of spearmen as a development from the eighth-century processional friezes on funerary jars found near the Dipylon Gate at the Kerameikos cemetery of Athens. They unhesitatingly attributed the soldiers on the bowl to the Protoattic Period (i.e., early seventh century B.C.) on the basis of style, comparing them to the warriors on another mixing bowl (Fig. 4) painted by a known seventh-century artist some even ascribed both bowls to the same man. (2) They felt that still other technical and stylistic features of the bowl and its decoration indicated a date between 700 and 650 B.C. for the Warrior Vase. (3) That same vase is now firmly assigned to the early LH III C period, which Egyptian chronology fixes at ca. 1200 B.C., (4) leaving as problems the peculiar handles and the figural style. Over seventy years ago, D. Mackenzie replied to those who derived its bull’s head handles from eighth-century prototypes, that the Warrior Vase itself proved that such a device “had a much earlier history.” (5) Still, they stood in isolation from the much later handles, originally thought to be their prototype. The more recent discoveries of two other LH III C handles of the same type (6) has provided companion pieces, but has not alleviated the problem.

Irrespective of the absolute dates for LH III C pottery, scholars had always considered bull’s head handles as a later development from double-loop handles, now artistically rendered as horns surmounting a bovine face. In 1966 N. R. Oakeshott treated the topic in great detail. If the LH III C vases belonged to ca. 700 B.C., as early scholars believed, there would be no problem in deriving the developed handles from the double loops on vases from the Protogeometric Period (i. e., no earlier than ca. 1050 B.C.) onward but since scholars now assign LH III C to ca. 1200 B.C., and since Oakeshott “searched in vain” for double loops earlier than that date, she concluded that the original idea, first seen in the three LH III C examples, was to fashion a fully-articulated bull’s head attachment, both as a decorative and a functional device. She spoke of “a continuous tradition” from LH III C onward, but, reversing the previous consensus, she assumed that the Iron Age examples descended from those on the Warrior Vase, only later degenerating into mere double loops of clay. (7)

Oakeshott branded the early Iron Age handles “very debased,” part of a “’holding operation,’ almost a tactical retreat.” (8) Her evidence for a “continuous tradition” is solid from perhaps 1050 B.C. (at the earliest) on, but there is a lacuna of at least 150 years between the developed LH III C bull’s head handles and the earliest known “debased” double loops, which they supposedly engendered. Additionally, of all the numerous Iron Age handles from the Protogeometric Period onward, only the most developed forms of ca. 700 B.C. again began to look like articulated bull’s heads, and were “very similar” to those of the Warrior Vase. (9) A vase from Cyprus displays not only “very similar” handles, but also a similar bird to those depicted on the Warrior Vase the decoration of the Cypriote bird and the friezes of filling ornaments above the handle are also “very similar” to other LH III C pots. (10) Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholars assigned the same dates to the Warrior Vase and the Cypriote pot. After Egyptian chronology set the former into the early twelfth century, while independent Cypriote chronology has fixed the latter in the early seventh, “the gap between the Cypriote products and the Warrior Vase, to which they are typologically closest, has widened” by half a millennium. (11)

Confronted by a lacuna of 500 years between the “typologically closest,” “very similar” examples of bull’s head handles, Oakeshott suggested “that a continuous tradition culminated in this area [Cyprus] in a revival.” (12) We shall soon see that numerous scholars note a revival of LH III C pottery styles in Cyprus and throughout the East Mediterranean after a 500-year gap still, Oakeshott, faced with a gap of at least 150 years, which unsettles the idea of “a continuous tradition” and observing the closest similarities between fully-developed bull’s head handles of the seventh century (which went through ca. 350 years of continuous evolution from double loops) and 500-year-older handles (which were just as fully developed, but seem to have come about suddenly, and without any ascertainable forerunners) was in a quandary. She concluded that “this is a feature of great interest that others must elucidate.” (13) A chronological revision of 500 years not only elucidates the feature, but also eliminates the problems.

The turn-of-the-century scholars, who assigned the painted figures on the Warrior Vase to the seventh century, did so at a time, when there was a general consensus that the latest Mycenaean pictorial pottery lasted that late. After Egyptian chronology pushed the end of Mycenaean civilization some 400 years earlier than they believed (and the Warrior Vase 100 years still earlier), two problems arose, which remain today. The first is that, during the intervening centuries, there seems to have been what J. N. Coldstream has termed “the darkness of taboo on figured representation in Greek art.” Because he felt that eighth-century painters who “revived” the figural style did so as a result of experimentation and “with no earlier models to guide them,” and because he also considered that artistic revival to be the eighth century’s “most striking innovation of all,” (14) one must explain how the style of ca. 700 B.C., which was a natural development from an only-slightly-earlier “invention,” came to resemble so closely the figural style of ca. 1200 B.C. after such a long break in the artistic tradition. The second problem is, why there should have been a centuries-long period when figures disappeared from art—a phenomenon which one recent observer considered both “strange” and “curious.” (15)

Despite those problems, modern scholars, like Vermeule (16) still see analogies between the friezes of men on the Warrior Vase and those on eighth-century pottery. Unlike earlier commentators, who also saw that similarity, but who had the former develop from the latter, modern specialists must see the Warrior Vase as ca. 450 years earlier than, and devoid of historical connection with eighth-century figural pottery. O. W. von Vacano, like his predecessors impressed by the close similarity of the soldiers on that bowl to seventh-century figures, recently spoke of “an obvious link” between them. (17) If, however, 500 years really do separate the Warrior Vase from the later pottery, with nothing similar to fill the gap, there is, as everyone has noticed, an “obvious” similarity, but there can be no “link,” obvious or otherwise.

The spearmen of the Warrior Vase not only resemble the men depicted on seventh-century Protoattic Pottery from Greece, but, as L. Woolley justly noted, they also look “remarkably” similar to soldiers painted on terracotta roof tiles from Phrygia in Asia Minor, currently dated sometime between the late eighth century and the sixth (fig. 6) (18) Regarding Greek art, “one might almost say that the decorators of Protoattic pottery took up the animal [and human] designs where their predecessors of late Mycenaean times had left off. The similarity is very striking.” (19) With 400 years separating the end of one from the beginning of the other, without anything comparable between the two, “the similarity is very striking” indeed!

F. Dümmler, “Bemerkungen zum ältesten Kunsthandelwerk auf griechischem Boden,” Ath. Mitt. 13 (1888), p. 291 E. Pottier, “Observations sur la ceramique mycenienne,” Revue Archeologique 28 (1896) pp. 20-21 idem, “Documents ceramiques du Musee du Louvre,” Bulletin du correspondance hellenique (henceforth BCH), 31 (1907) p. 248, n. 1.

Pottier, ibid. (1896), pp. 19-23 (1907), pp. 245-248 Walters, (1905), vol. I, pp. 297-298.

Pottier, ibid. (1896), although not all of his considerations are valid for dating purposes.

S. Marinatos and M. Hirmer, Crete and Mycenae (New York, 1960) pls. 232-33 and captions Lacy, (1967), p. 224.

D. Mackenzie, “Cretan Palaces and the Aegean Civilization III,” BSA, 13 (1906-07), p. 433.

O. Broneer, (1939), pp. 353-54 M. R. Popham and L. H. Sackett, Excavations at Lefkandi, Euboea 1964-66 (London, 1968), p. 20, figs 38-39 (from another “Warrior Vase.” )

N. R. Oakeshott, “Horned-head Vase Handles,” JHS, 86 (1966), pp. 114-115, 121.

For similarly decorated LH III birds, concentric arcs, and zigzags, see A. Furumark, Mycenaean Pottery (Stockholm, 1941) motifs 7.48-52 (esp. 49), 44.10, and 61.17-18 M. Ohnefalsch-Richter, in his Kypros, the Bible and Homer [tr. S. Hermann] [London, 1893], pp. 36-37, 63-64) long ago recognized those and other similarities to LH III C decoration.

J. N. Coldstream, (1968), pp. 357, 28 and 350 respectively.

E. Vermeule, (1972) p. 209 (endorsing the view of others).

O. W. von Vacano, The Etruscans in the Ancient World (transl. by S. Ogilvie) (Bloomington, 1965) p. 81 cf. p. 88.

L. Woolley, Mesopotamia and the Middle East (London, 1961) pp. 166-168. Whereas he dated the tiles to the late eighth century, E. Akurgal, (Phrygische Kunst [Ankara, 1955] p. 64, pls. 45-47 Die Kunst Anatoliens [Berlin, 1961] p. 100, pl. VII C) assigns them to the sixth, an assessment with which M. Mellink (letter of Oct. 31, 1978) concurs. Whatever their true date, and irrespective of which region influenced the other, the Phrygian spearmen more closely resemble the art of seventh-century Greece than that of either the eighth or the sixth.


Art history 1600

In lieu of transposing all of my notes this close to the date of the test, I’m just going to go through them and find the pieces that are in the study guide and transcribe what I have on those pieces either from my notes or the textbook. I may employ the textbook or even the internet for pieces I was absent for that haven’t been shared by classmates on the facebook page.

Woman from Willendorf, 24,000BCE, Austria
Limestone, 4 inches.

found in Willendorf, Vienna. Limestone. Found paint made out of red ochre, so we know it was painted. Sculpture in the round. Originally called “Venus from Willendorf,” but changed b/c that was Greek or whatever and this isn’t.

Figure is curvy, thick, level of detail is quite astonishing. Emphasis on breasts, vagina, curves. Fertility. She is large because women put on weight in the hips when they are fertile & this signifies that she is prepared to have children. This also could have been an ideal of beauty from the time period.

Not a portrait of a specific woman. These people lived in groups & didn’t have an idea of the individual like we do. Thing on her head might be a hat.

Figure is only 4 inches, small, portable, people probably carried it around with them. Some have proposed that this is referencing some kind of goddess, but no one is really sure. Goddess religions predate Christianity and are prominent during this time. Not until Western Religions do we get to prominent male gods and women being pushed down, etc.

In the paleolithic, human sculptures were rare, and usually of women.

Lascaux Cave, Bird-Headed Man with Bison, 15,000BCE

this piece is deep in the cave & hard to access. Bison is 3 ft, 8 in. long. Man with a bird mask & a staff with a bird on it. Some believe this is shamanism. Birds play an important part in shamanistic religions, primarily because birds can occupy 2 realms – the earth & the heavens. Also the staff with the bird on it – Shamans in Siberia still use this staff. (looking at contemporary culture to understand ancient cultures)

Are the man & the bison occupying the same space? If this is a shaman, he could be having some kind of vision. Bison has been speared & disemboweled. Could be depicting a myth, omen/vision for a good hunt.

Stonehenge, 2750-1500BCE, England

Post & Lentil construction, beginnings of architecture. Continuously built on. Before there was Stonehenge, there was Woodhenge – wooden posts placed in a circle. (Native Americans also had woodhenges). Functioned as a calender focused on the sun – useful for a farming community to know when to plant. Heel stone in line with altar stone & this is how the sun would hit.

The larger stones were taken from about 23 miles away (weigh up to 15 tons). Water may have been used for moving stones. Smaller stones (blue stones) likely brought from 150 miles away. It is believed that these stones came from an area with a spring and that they believed the stones had healing powers.

Burial mounds have also been found at Stonehenge. Location probably served religious & ritual purposes in conjunction with calender purposes.

Sumerian, Face of a Woman, 3300BCE-3000BCE, Uruk

8 Inches, sculpture in the round, marble (imported) (therefore someone important). Most likely the goddess Inanna, although some believe it may be a priestess of Inanna.

Back of sculpture is flat, holes for eyes, opening on the head – obviously was decorated and adorned. Likely a wig was put on it, shells in eye holes & eyebrow indentation, dressed in finest fabrics & probably attached to a wooden body. Sculpture probably resided in the temple & on certain days of the year was carried out by the priest.
Believed by the people that Inanna would come down from the sky & meet with the priests and the king (the only people who could go into the temple).

Inanna was the goddess of love and war, ties in with fertility, also important to farming.

Head was stolen in 2003 from the Iraq National Museum but was returned. Looting of this nature is a large problem, especially during war, as is damage to artifacts.

Sumerian, Votive Figures, 2900-2600BCE

Found at a temple. It is believed that these figures were placed in temples standing in front of a large sculpture of a god/dess in worship.

Posed: hands clasped, looking up, wide eyes. Adorning. Look alert, ready to serve. Some figures are holding small bottles for libations (liquid poured out for the god).

Figures were mass produced – go pick them up at the market. The wealthy could have them commissioned. Here we see evidence of a stratified society – larger figures cost more (wealthy), smaller ones cost less. But figures look similar – men: beards, shoulder length hair, skirts, no shirt. women: robes w/ right shoulder exposed. Some figures are kneeling. Conical shape – a Sumerian stylistic trait. Freestanding. Wide eyes – some say this means they are awake/alert/venerating while others believe that a hallucinogen was used to enhance the religious experience.
But some variation: bald man (probably a priest). Some have writing on the bottom, messages to the gods of veneration, prayer, requests, etc.

Sumerian, Bull Headed Lyre, 2550-2400BCE, Ur

Detail of Bull, Detail of the front

Believed that wealthy families were buried in this cemetery. People were found buried underground in these tombs along with objects created from precious & imported materials

Discovered in a royal cemetery (tomb 878) by Leonard Wolley in the 1920’s.

Made from wood, decorated. Lapis lazuli, gold. Lyre is like a harp. this is not the only lyre found in Ur. In fact, on the lyre, there is a lyre being played (indication of importance). Used in royal banquets & funerary banquets.
Remember why bulls are so important (many depictions in paleolithic & neolithic art) – Strength, virility, fertility, farming.

Registers containing scenes, scholars are still in debate about what is being depicted here. Some say it’s scenes from the epic of Gilgamesh – one figure in particular is connected to that epic (the scorpion man near the bottom – he protects the land of the dead in the Epic of Gilgamesh.)

Akkadian, Stele of Naram-Sin, 2220-2184BCE

6 ft 7 inches, Pink Sandstone

Naram-Sin was the grandson of Sargon Name means “Beloved of the Moon God”.

Commemorates his defeat of the Lullubi. Inscribed twice – once for Naram Sin’s victory & then again later by an Elamite king who had taken the Stele back as booty after a victory. (citation: book)

Storming the mountain, shows his connection to the gods. Naram-Sin is the highest and largest figure in the piece (focal point, hierarchical scale)

A ground line is shown in this picture – this is significant. The diagonal movement of the ground line moves throughout the piece, moving the eye, showing action and movement. Change in composition and establishment of rhythm – this is also accomplished by the repetition of soldiers behind Naram-Sin. Soldiers show order while the enemy is arranged chaotically, showing how order overcomes chaos.

((Info about Sumerians))

  • No unified empire – all city states. Each city state had it’s own god/goddess & this god/dess was believed to protect the city state & its people. Religion becomes very important during this time. Cities will build elaborate temples for their god/desses to keep them happy. Gods provided fertility (crops, babies, animals).
  1. Bottom: Slaves (prisoners of war)
  2. Peasants & Workers (work in temples, assist farmers, etc.)
  3. Landowners
  4. Ruler
  • Ruler of the city is a representation of the god(s). You would go to him and on your behalf he would go to the gods.
  • Sumerians are referred to as the culture of firsts: wheel, plow, irrigation, writing.
  • Writing began as pictographs, changes over time. Becomes wedge-shaped (cuneiform). Writing was first used for accounting/economics (recording things with trading). Other cultures adopt it, applying their language to the writing. The Sumerians are known for their literature (Epic of Gilgamesh). Sumerian Cuneiform was deciphered in 1857.
  • Gilgamish was a king of Uruk in 2750 bce – stories about him began to circulate after his death. Earliest version dates to 2100 bce. When other cultures came along, they took the epic & translated it to their own languages. The Assyrians had a copy in their libraries. The story is basically about Gilgamesh & his companion. His companion dies & then he goes in search of immortality. Gilgamesh was a king and was therefore semi-divine.
  • So note that things are changing from prehistory with the advent of literature. This also gives us the first Stele.

Sumerian, Nanna Ziggurat, 2100-2050BCE, Ur
(Notes from book & facebook, not class)

  • Ziggurat: to build High
  • Base is a solid mass of brick 50 ft high. Builders used baked bricks laid in bitumen (an asphalt like substance) for the facing of the entire monument. 3 ramp-like stairways of 100 steps converge on a tower-flanked gateway. From there, another flight of steps probably led to the temple proper, which no longer exists.
  • The temples thought of as waiting rooms, where the gods could come to.
  • Shows the power of the Sumerian, Their king, and of their gods.

Babylonian, Stele of Hammurabi, 1792-1750
(((Notes from Book)))

Contained Hammurabi’s law code written in Akkadian – 3,500 lines of cuneform characters. These laws goverened all aspects of Babylonian life, from commerce and property to murder, theft & marital fidelity, inheritances and the treatment of slaves.
Carried off as booty to Susa alongside the Stele of Naram Sin.

Top is a high-relief representation of Hammurabi in the presence of Shamash (the flame shouldered sun god). Hammurabi (king) raises his hand in respect. The god extends to him the rod and ring that symbolize authority. The symbols derive from builders tools – measuring rods and coiled rope – and connote the ruler’s capacity to build the social order and to measure people’s lives (that is, to render judgements and enforce the laws spelled out on the stele).

Stele is noteworthy artistically as well – the sculptor depicted Shamash in the familiar convention of combined front and side views but with 2 important exceptions – his great headdress with its 4 pairs of horns is in true profile so that only 4, not all 8 pairs of horns are visible & the artist seems to have tentatively explored the notion of foreshortening. Shamash’s beard is in a series of diagonal, rather than horizontal lines, suggesting its recession from the picture plane, and the sculptor represented the side of his throne at an angle.

Sample of laws included on the Stele:

  • If a man puts out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out
  • If he kills a man’s slave, he shall pay one-third of a mina
  • If someone steals property from a temple, he will be put to death, as will the person who recieves the stolen goods.
  • If a man rents a boat and the boat is wrecked, the renter shall replace the boat with another
  • If a married woman dies before bearing any sons, her dowry shall be repaid to her father but if she gave birth to sons, the dowry shall belong to them.
  • If a man’s wife is caught in bed with another man, both will be tied up and thrown int he water.

Assyrian, Assurnasirpal II Killing Lions, 850BCE

Considered to be a narrative plot telling us a story about this hunt. This is the way the king showed his power – people would come and watch. Political propaganda.

( Ask about this piece on Monday :( )

Assyrian, Assurbanipal and His Queen in the Garden, 669-627BCE

  • Assurbanipal is reclined here (& wrapped in a blanket), showing not only that he is relaxed, but that he is powerful – queen is sitting up, so he is obviously more important. Servants on the right are fanning the king & two are fanning the queen – fans for comfort and to keep away bugs. Servants holding food, she has drink, he has food – this is where they come for leisure.
  • Note exotic plants brought in from foreign lands.
  • There is a head of a felled enemy reminding us of the power of the king.

Early Dynastic, Palette of King Narmer, 3000BCE

  • 2 ft tall, made of slate (stone)
  • Palettes were used to grind eye makeup (which was used to protect from the sun). This was obviously a ceremonial palette rather than one for daily use. Palettes often celebrated Hathor, who was a goddess of beauty and the deified mother of the Pharaoh.
  • Palette shows how Narmer brought together Upper & Lower Egypt.
  • Note the Papyrus & “Bowling Pin” shaped crown. The Papyrus is a symbol of Lower Egypt, while the crown is a symbol of Upper Egypt.
  • Detail: Narmer smites an enemy

Early Dynastic, Imhotep, Stepped Pyramid, 2630-2611 BCE

(Full Size) (Detail & Schematics)

  • Djoser’s tomb.
  • These are the earliest burial chambers following the one-story Mastabas. The Step Pyramid is a natural progression from Mastaba to the full Pyramids.
  • It’s possible that Djoser wanted something larger and more significant for his tomb, so what Imhotep devised was a series of stacked mastabas that acted as a stairway that the Pharaoh would symbolically ascend to meet Ra in the sky in his solar boat and move into the afterlife.
  • We see here in the pyramid, a reference to the mound that came out of the waters of chaos (Ben Ben)
  • This pyramid is part of an entire complex that includes a mortuary temple (where Djoser’s Ka statue would be) – a place where people could come and give the king offerings. Also included was the Heb-sed court. (here(?) every 13th year a festival celebrating the renewal of the king occurred in which the gods would come down and approve the king’s continued rule.) Then there was the House of the North which includes the first columns in art history – they are engaged columns designed to reference papyrus.

(Note: Comparing step pyramid to the ziggaurat: )

  • both have the idea of going toward the sky
  • huge & only the upper echelon are allowed within.
  • no physical stairs int he actual step pyramid.
  • one’s rectangular & the other one is a pyramid shape
  • one’s for living worship & the other is for death

Old Kingdom, Pyramids at Giza (Khufu, Khafre, Menkaure)

(Overhead view of Giza Complex & Detail)

The Complex at Giza consists of 3 large pyramids – the tombs of Khufu, Khafre & Menkaure.

Pyramids, as previously mentioned refer to the Ben Ben, however the shape was important for other reasons – the triangle shape refers to the sun’s rays and the construction of the pyramid is oriented to the 4 cardinal directions to align the pyramids with the rising and setting sun.

Only a king could be buried in a pyramid.

Construction was done by citizens (not slaves) as a civil service for young men who were recruited from cities by the Pharaoh. It was kind of like being drafted – you had a place to live and you were given meals.

Built of limestone that was quarried – stone was cut out with copper chisels and wooden mallets. Pieces of stone were removed from the quarry and then transported by donkeys, wooden rollers and sleds, or by hand by men. Once the raw stone reached the pyramid, it would be reshaped and polished to fit where it belonged. Some believe that ramps were used at right angles and then built up, while others believe there was a ramp built around the pyramid and then built up.

The Sphinx was also a part of the Giza complex.

Pyramid of Khufu (2551-2528 BCE)
450 ft, largest pyramid.
Khufu was not well liked and many of his Ka statues were destroyed.

Pyramid of Khafre 2520-2494
(NO INFORMATION?? Ask Monday.)

Pyramid of Menkaure, 2490-2472 bce
Smallest of the 3 pyramids at Giza, likely because they were running out of stone and people were getting tired of doing this hard labor for the king. This sort of tension ran through the end of the Old Kingdom – civil unrest eventually causing the Old Kingdom to fall apart after 500 years.

Old Kingdom, Khafre Enthroned, 2520-2494 BCE


(Back & Detail)

  • 5 ft 6 in. dyarite. looked green when the light hit it.
  • Found in the valley temple
  • Khafre is seated, enthroned. He is wearing the royal headdress. Horus is behind his head.
  • idealized

Old Kingdom, Great Sphinx, 2520-2494 BCE

  • 65 ft x 240 ft, Sandstone.
  • Carved from a spur of rock in an ancient quarry. Collossal statue – largest in the ancient near east.
  • Placed in front of the Pyramid of Khafre – it’s likely that the face of the Pharaoh on the Sphinx is Khafre. (Originally adorned with headdress & false beard & Painted). Some scholars believe it portrays Khufu & was carved before construction of Khafre’s complex began.
  • Regardless, portrayed a sun god & was thus appropriate for a Pharaoh. The composite form suggests that the Pharaoh combines human intelligence with the immense strength and authority of the king of beasts. (from the book)
  • The Stele at the foot of the Sphinx: Dream Stele of Thutmose the 4th. He was hunting on the Giza plateau one day and he fell asleep below the Sphinx. He had a dream during which the Sphinx offered to make him the next Pharaoh if he unburied him from the sand.

Old Kingdom, Triad of Menkaure, 2490-2474 BCE

  • 38 inches, Graywlacke
  • Menkaure is the largest figure, (hierarchical scale).
  • On his left, Hathor. On his right, an anthropomorphic representation of a province.
  • We know it’s Hathor because she has the horns & sun disk. (She’s also sometimes depicted as a cow)
  • Observation of Hathor’s feet indicate that the king holds more powerful than her. Although she has one foot forward, Menukare’s forward foot is further forward than hers.
  • Hathor and Menkaure are holding hands – showing the king’s connection to the gods. The Province is not holding hands with Menukare, signifying that she is the least powerful. Her feet are also together, showing that both her feet are on the earth.
  • Egyptologists believed that each province had a triad like this – when you observed this, you were reminded that the Pharaoh, as well as the Gods & Goddesses were reigning over you. Each province may have a governor but the king is reigning over (holding hands with Hathor one foot in heaven, one on earth).
  • Notably Menukare is wearing the crown of upper Egypt (bowling pin shape).
  • Hathor is known as the mother of the Pharaoh, so this may also have something to do with why they are holding hands also.

Middle Kingdom, Seated Statue of Mentuhotep II, 2055BCE-2004BCE

  • Limestone Ka statue.
  • Found in his burial tomb at Deir El Bahri. (tomb built within the cliffs).
  • Face & body painted black, arms crossed referencing Osiris. When sun hits the black statue, it looks green – also a reference to Osiris. (Like the Ka statue of Kaphre made of dyrite)
  • Wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, seated, enthroned.
  • Mentuhotep is significant because he reunited Upper & Lower Egypt after the collapse of the Old Kingdom. Later Pharaohs will refer back to him.

Middle Kingdom, Amun Receives Senusret I, 1965BCE-1920BCE

  • Senusret I began the construction of the Karnak temple in Luxor to which every Pharaoh after him will later contribute.
  • This piece, located in the White Chapel in Karnak is a presentation scene. Amun is receiving him by holding an Anhk up to his mouth. Behind Senusret we have the god Montu (Falcon head, headdress with sun disk & two plumes sticking out, connecting him with Amun. Note that Montu is also taking on the characteristics of Horus). Note that Montu has his arm around Senusret, showing again the connection between the Pharaoh and the Gods.
  • Senusret, shown in twisted perspective (or composite view) has the white crown of Upper Egypt, a mallet in one hand and a staff in the other. The mallet is a reference to war.
  • Note the Cartouche that contains Senusret’s name.

Middle Kingdom, Head of Senusret III, 1874BCE-1855BCE

  • Senusret III was significant because of his military expansions. He expanded the kingdom into the area of Palestine.
  • I’m not entirely sure which section of my notes refers to this piece, however I have some notes labeled “Another depiction of Senusret III” that I think might be about this piece, so I’ll use those and then ask him about it on Monday.
  • Sculptures during this time were notable due to the change from idealistic, young and powerful looking people to more natural people that displayed emotion. There are varying theories as to why Senusret looks old and sad here – some say it’s simply naturalism and it’s what he really looked like (he aged as he reigned) while others believe he looks sad as a reflection of the fall of the empire after the first intermediate period – an event the Egyptians never forgot. (Even in literature you have a lot of mention of the first fall of Egypt.)
  • Made of Stone.

New Kingdom, Funerary Temple, Deir El-Bahri, 1479-1458 BCE

(From the book)
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.

  • Hatshepsut – first great female monarch whose name is recorded. She was the regent to Thutmose III, but proclaimed herself Pharaoh after a few years, even going so far as to claim that her father had chosen her as his successor during his lifetime.
  • Painted reliefs recounting her divine birth (Said to be the daughter of the god Amun-Re – a sanctuary to whom was situated on the temple’s uppermost level) and significant achievements adorned her immense funerary temple.
  • Temple rises from the valley floor in three colonnaded terraces connected by ramps on the central axis. The long horizontals and verticals of the colonnades and their rhythm of light and dark repeat the pattern of the limestone cliffs above. The colonnade pillars, which are either simply rectangular or <i>chamfered</i> (beveled or flattened at he edges) into 16 sides, are well proportioned and rhythmically spaced.
  • The terraces were originally gardens containing frankincense trees and rare plants the pharaoh brought in.

New Kingdom, Hatshepsut as Osiris, 1479-1458 BCE

(Zoom Out)
(no info, posted to facebook group to request info.)

New Kingdom, Hatshepsut Enthroned, 1479-1458 BCE

(no info, posted to facebook group to request info.)

New Kingdom, Amenhotep III with Gods, 1390-1352


(no info, posted to facebook group to request info.)


New Kingdom, Colossal Statue of Akhenaton, 1352-1336

  • 13 feet high, Sandstone.
  • This was created to show the power of Akhenaton.
  • Akhenanton made significant changes to both the religion of ancient Egypt as well as its art style and the canon used to represent images. The statues become more curvy with longer faces that are idealized. Although these changes are not as abrupt as Egyptologists might have once believed them to be, they are still significant. He maintains old stylistic designs such as the use of the crook and flail, false beard and headdress, but the visual changes are stark and stunning. This art style is referred to as the Armana Period.
  • Religious changes were even more significant and drastic. Formerly an extremely monotheistic religion, Akhenaton abandoned (and outright banned) the worship of the all of the gods, and instead focused on a god named Aten (or Aton, according to the textbook), represented by a sun disk (significant because all gods before this were represented in animal or human form). He went so far as to strike out the name of Amen from inscriptions and emptied out the great temples, enraging priests. He also moved the capital downriver from Thebes to a site he named Akhetaten (Akhetaton according to the book) (named after the Aten god). Akhetaten is now called Armana.

New Kingdom, Akhenaten and His Family, 1352-1336

  • 15 inches, limestone, sunken relief.
  • This is the first time a family portrait like this has been seen. The family is being shown in a domestic scene. People would have these in their homes.
  • Note that Nefertiti’s headdress is similar to the headdress of lower Egypt.
  • The Aten is at the top, but the family is the focal point. The Aten’s rays reach down, ending in hands as it is normally depicted, but note that the rays in front of Nefertiti & Akhenaten end in ankhs, signifying life and power – the god is literally giving life and power to the Pharaoh and his wife. A cobra was originally inside the Aten sun disk, but it is no longer there.
  • Note the small throne that Nefertiti is sitting on is made of lotus & papyrus plants, symbols of upper & lower Egypt.
  • There is a theme here representing the nearly equal ruling power of the king and queen that has not previously been seen. The royal family is as important as the Pharaoh and the Gods here.

(About Pharaoh Tutankhamen)

  • Ruled from 1333 – 1323
  • Son of Akhenanten and a lesser wife. His birth name was Tutankhaten – “Living image of the Sun Disc,” but as Egypt returned to the traditional religion after Akhenaten’s rule his name was changed to Tutankhamen (Living image of Amen).
  • There will still be some remnants of the Armana art style, despite all of the changes that came into effect after Akhenaten’s death.
  • During his rule, the capitol moved South from Akhetaten back to Thebes (near Karnak). This means a return to building on the temple at Karnak, including repairing damage done to the temple by Akhenaten.
  • He became king at age 8, died at 19. There is some debate on how he died – theories include murder, infection from a broken leg, and heart disease. We know a lot about Tutankhamen because of how much treasure was found intact in his tomb. He was, however, a minor pharaoh in the history of Egypt, so imagine, based on this, how much treasure was probably in the looted temples like Giza.
  • Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter (egyptologist) in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes. All of the New Kingdom pharaohs (with the exception of Hatshepsut) will be buried here in rock-cut tombs in the cliffs and underground.

New Kingdom, Mask of Tutankhamen, 1333-1323

  • 1 ft, 9 inches. Gold, lapis lazuli & semi-precious stones.
  • This is a death mask that was found on his body. Note that the face isn’t elongated like statues and depictions of Akhenaten. There is a return to the young and idealized representation of the Pharaoh (although Tutankhamen was very young).
  • The cobra on the top is a reference to Wadjet, a very early Sun Goddess and Goddess of Lower Egypt.
  • This mask no longer travels – fear of theft & damage.

New Kingdom, King Tutankhamen’s Throne, 1333-1323

(Detail)

  • 40 inches. Wood, gold leaf & silver.
  • Detail on the back of the sculpture is a family portrait in the Armana style. It shows Tutankhamen with his wife, who is rubbing lotion on him. This is obviously a family scene. The Aten is depicted in the background, including cobra and sun rays. His wife is wearing a plumed headdress. There is also a reference to lotus and papyrus on the pictured throne that Tutankhamen is seated on, just as Nefertiti’s throne in the portrait of Akhenanten and his family.
  • Also note the lions and lion paws seen previously on Kaphre’s sculpture.

New Kingdom, Book of the Dead (Hunefer), 1285BCE

This is a continuous narrative. The scenes are as follows:

  • Anubis has Hunefer by the hand.
  • Anubis is weighing Hunefer’s heart
  • Thoth is recording what’s happening
  • Horus presenting Hunefer to Osiris
  • In front of Osiris sit his 4 sons in the form of canopic jars, while behind him stand Isis & Nepthys.

About the Book of the Dead:

  • Also called the “Book of Going Forth by Day” (The sun goes forth by day, you will also.)
  • During the Old Kingdom, Pyramid Texts were inscribed on the tomb walls. In the Middle Kingdom there were Coffin Texts. Now, in the New Kingdom, we have The Book of the Dead. The spells are now on papyrus – some were up to 70 ft long. The scrolls were rolled up and put in between the legs of the mummified corpse.
  • The spells were then used by the spirit of the dead person as they took their journey. Some of those spells were also transformative, allowing the user to transform himself into other beings, usually animals (snake, falcon) but also things like lotus. This may be what the Sphinx is about as well.Of course the deceased wants to have every possibility when they’re dead because of whatever they may encounter on their journey.
  • This isn’t like the Bible where there is a set canon – when a person commissioned their Book of the Dead, they had spells and passages to choose from that they wanted included. Even middle-class citizens eventually had their own books commissioned.

Africa, Nok, Head, 500BCE-200CE

  • 8 inches, Terra Cotta.
  • The first Nok sculpture was discovered near the small town of Nok in 1983, and thus the name was coined. We have no idea what the people who created these called themselves – they had no written language.
  • The instructor first said that they were found all throughout Africa, but then he contradicted himself and said they were all found in Nigeria. (I’ll ask him about this on Monday)
  • They were found near rivers, which complicates things for archeologists, as we’re now unsure how they were originally used or where they were placed. They probably moved with flooding and erosion.
  • The Bottom is broken – it was probably a full sculpture with a body smaller than the head, however no bodies or complete sculptures have been found. It’s also possible that the bodies were made of wood and were not preserved. The heads would have been bigger (and potentially made out of a more durable material because this culture likely placed emphasis on the head just as the Yoruba people who live in the area do now. The Yoruba hold the belief that the head is the most important part of the body, and thus place emphasis on it in their art.)
  • It is believed that these figurines could have been buried in or near shrines or graves or simply placed inside of them. It is likely that they were made of royalty or gods, although there is an emphasis on ancestor veneration in the current Yoruba culture, as well as many cultures throughout Africa. (Royalty would be especially important ancestors – important to keep their memory alive. People would also go to shrines and ask them for things, such as fertility or crops.)It’s also possible that these figures could have been adorned and brought out during festivals as we’ve seen in other cultures previously (Egypt, the Near East & the contemporary Yoruba).
  • This sculpture contains specific Nok stylistic traits – upside-down triangle eyes, ridged eyebrows, broad nose, open mouth. The eyes for the holes, nostrils and mouth were likely for the firing process and are also a stylistic trait. Notice the hair – it was reflective of the hair that people had at the time.
  • It is believed these heads were made using a subtractive method because the Nok were a woodcarving people, as the contemporary cultures in Nigeria are. It’s also believed that they had a masking tradition. However, wood deteriorates, so we have nothing left of these things today.

(About the Yoruba)

The Yoruba are the largest ethnic group in Africa and their culture has spread throughout the world. They were greatly impacted by the slaving trade, and this, too, has helped to spread their culture throughout the world. (including the US and the Carribean).

Religion: Santeria. Within this we get the idea of Orishas (spirits). Spritis can be deified ancestors or personified natural forces (sometimes both). Also, the idea of ancestor veneration is maintained, including having a family shrine. The religion is constantly changing and evolving and has no set dogma. Even today, the religion varies from one village to another.

Capital City: ileife, from about 1200 ce – 1400 ce. It had lots of power & provinces. It is still a city today, although it iis not still part of this powerful Yoruba kingdom. It was greatly impacted by the slave trade, which kind of ruined everything when it hit. All of the Yoruba’s cities are circular, with the king’s palace in the center and everything built around it.

Yoruba creation myth: God Olodumare (supreme god) instructs Obatala (creator god) to create life. At this time the world was covered in water, Obatala took a snail shell with dirt & a chicken. Earth was poured onto the water and the chicken spread it all around. Obatala creates Ileife & this becomes his city (patron god). Other gods create their own cities.

In all African religions you have this idea of a supreme god (first mover) who begins everything – but once he instructs another god to create life, he goes away and the humans don’t have any more interaction with him. You have Orishas as go-betweens.

With the Yoruba, we have tons of heads too, especially during this time.

Africa, Yoruba, Head of an Oni, 11-12th century

  • Oni means king.
  • 1 ft high, brass. Lost wax casting method (which started in Asia).
  • The Lost Wax Casting method is a very advanced procedure which took a lot of time – of course it is only going to be used for the king because of this intensive creation process.
  • Found buried with other brass objects in the back of the king’s palace.
  • It is believed that this was used during certain ceremonies. Again, the king is a very important ancestor that they would want to please. So they would bring it out adorned with a headdress, likely on a wooden body (emphasis on the head)
  • Note the lines on the face – at first historians believed that this was a representation of scarification, but notice the holes on the top Most likely it was a headdress that the head was wearing, much like contemporary Yoruba Oni
  • It was believed that the Oni was very powerful – his voice is powerful and you can’t look him in the eyes, so he is completely covered.
  • Idealized naturalism – looks young (flesh on face, eyes nose mouth ears -realism). When westerners first found these heads, they did not believe that the people of that area did them. (Social Darwinism)

Aegean (Cyclades Islands), Male Lyre Player, 2700-2500 BCE

9 inches high, marble
(From book)

The most elaborate of the male Cycladic figurines take the form of these seated musicians. The meaning of all Cycladic figurines is elusive, but this seated musician may be playing for the deceased in the afterlife. The statuette displays the same simple geometric shapes and flat planes as other figurines from this period. Still, the artist showed a keen interest in recording the elegant shape of what must have been a prized possession: the harp with a duck-bill or swan-head ornament at the apex of its sound box. (Animal-headed instruments are well documented in contemporary Mesopotamia and Egypt.)

There is an absence of written documents in Greece at this date, as everywhere else in prehistoric times. This, coupled with the lack of information about where many these pieces were found and in what context makes it difficult to determine their exact meaning. It is likely, in fact, that the same form took on different meaning in different contexts

To understand the role that this or any other artworks played in ancient society – in many cases, even to determine the date and place of origin of an object – the art historian must know where the piece was uncovered. Only when the context ofan artwork is known, can one go beyond an appreciation of its formal qualities and begin to analyze its place in art history – and in the society that produced it.

The extraordinary popularity of Cylcadic figures in recent decades has had unfortunate consequences. Clandestine treasure hunters, eager to meet he insatiable demands of modern collectors, have plundered many sites and smuggled their finds out of Greece to sell to the highest bidder on the international market. Entire prehistoric cemeteries and towns have been destroyed because of the high esteem in which these sculptures are now held. About 10% of the known Cycladic marble statuettes come from secure archaeological context – many of the rest could be forgeries produced after WWII when developments in modern art fostered a new appreciation of these abstract renditions of human anatomy and created a boom in demand for “Cycladica” among collectors.

Minoan, Young Girl Gathering Flowers, 1700-1450BCE

(No Information Provided)

Minoan, Woman with Snakes, 1700-1450BCE

1 ft, 1 1/2 inch high, Faience (low-fired opaque glasslike silicate)
(From the book)

  • (Popularly known as the) Snake Goddess, from the palace at Knossos (Crete), Greece.
  • One of the most string finds at the palace at Knossos.
  • Reconstructed from several pieces, it is one of several similar figurines that some scholars believe may represent mortal attendants rather than a deity, although the prominently exposed breasts suggest that these figurines stand in the long line of prehistoric fertility images usually considered to be deities.
  • The snakes in her hands and the feline on her head imply that she has power over the animal world appropriate for a deity.
  • The formality of the figure is reminiscent of Egyptian and Near Eastern statuary, but the costume with its open bodice and flounced skirt is distinctly Minoan. If the statuette represents a goddess, as seems likely, it is yet another example of how humans fashion their gods in their own image.

Minoan, Harvester Vase, 1700-1450BCE

  • Greatest Diameter – 5 inches, Steatite, originally with gold leaf.
  • This vase is the finest surviving example of Minoan relief sculpture. Only the upper half of the egg-shaped body and neck of the vessel are preserved. Missing are the the lower parts of the harvesters & the ground on which they stand, as well as the gold leaf that originally covered the relief figures
  • Formulaic scenes of sowing and harvesting were staples of Egyptian funerary art but the Minoan artist shunned static repetition in favor of a composition that bursts with the energy of its individually characterized figures.
  • Depicted is a riotous crowd singing and shouting as they go to or return from the fields. The artist vividly captured the forward movement and exuberance of the youths.
  • Although most of the figures conform to the age-old convention of combined profile and frontal views, the sculptor singled out one figure from his companions. He shakes a rattle to beat time and the artist depicted him in full profile with his lungs so inflated with air that his ribs show. This is one of the first examples in history to represent the underlying muscular and skeletal structure of the human body. This is a remarkable achievement, especially given the vase’s small size. Equally noteworthy is how the sculptor recorded the tension and relaxation of facial muscles with astonishing exactitude, not just for the leader with the rattle, but for his 3 companions as well. This degree of animation of the human face is without precedent in ancient art.

Mycenaean, Mask of Agamemnon, 1600-1100BCE

  • 1 ft long, gold.
  • The gold was taken and beaten from behind to create this relief.
  • The man who found this mask (anthropologist Heinrich Schliemann) was a businessman and amateur archeologist. He came to the area looking for the remnants of Agamemnon – the legendary king who led the Greek forces in the battle of Troy. No one is really sure if Agamemnon actually existed – they believe now that they have found the city of Troy in Turkey. But Schliemann said this was Agememnon, so it was accepted at that time that that was who it was.
  • Scholars now recognize that this artifact is from 300 years to early to be Agememnon.
  • Some also say that things were added to the mask, such as the mustache and large ears.
  • This was a funerary mask so it was placed on someone’s face when they were buried. It’s much smaller than Tutankhamen’s mask – a noted move toward naturalism, where they’re trying to cover the face, rather than make a colossal mask.
  • Paleolithic- Old Stone Age…. Hunter groups, moved around
  • Neolithic-New Stone age… Farming and settlement began
  • High Relief-Carving method where more than 1/2 of the subject is projected from the background
  • Low Relief-Carving method with a shallow overall depth.
  • Sunken Relief-The subject is carved within the background
  • Shaman- A Person who could communicate with the other world/Gods. First type of religious beliefs.
  • Post and Lintel- Two bars up, on across…. How Stonehedge was built
  • Mesopotamia-Middle-East area we studied involving the Syrians, Sumer and Babylonians. Means “The Land Between Two Rivers,” also known as the fertile crescent.
  • Twisted Perspective-Where one part of the body is at profile while the other part is at frontal view…. Very common in Egyptain art. Also known as “composite view”.
  • Heirarchy of Scale-The importance of an object in a piece is shown in size. The more important, the bigger
  • Ka-Egyptain spirit…. It was what traveled into the afterlife. There were many statues made for the ka of the pharohs.
  • Mastaba-First type of tomb for the Pharohs… Squared off top.
  • Rock Cut Tomb- Burial chambers built within the wall of a mountain
  • Necropolis- Large burial site for many people…Means “City of the dead.
  • Maat-The egyptain word for truth and order. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. The job she was often represented doing was weighing the heart of the deceased as they were judged when they died. If the heart was heavier (with evil or misdeeds) than her feather, it was consumed by Ammit (a beast with the head of a crocodile, the front legs and body of lion or leopard, and the back legs of a hippopotamus). If the heart was lighter than her feather, the deceased was permitted to continue to the afterlife.
  • Amarna Style- Change in style of egyptain art, during the reign of Akhenaten. Named after the current Armana region where Akhenaten’s captal, Akhetaten once stood.
  • Repousse- Type of metal wor where you make a revers of the shape on the back. See Burial Mask
  • Ethnoarcheology-The study of the past through current cultures.
  • Idealism – When a piece is drawn//created more to fit the ideal image than reality/truth

(Sierra was kind enough to provide the definitions for key terms. I expanded on a few of them, but the credit really lies with her. Thank you.)


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The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’

With two rat terriers trotting at his heels, and a long wooden staff in his hand, J.R. Gavin leads me through the woods to one of the old swamp hide-outs. A tall white man with a deep Southern drawl, Gavin has a stern presence, gracious manners and intense brooding eyes. At first I mistook him for a preacher, but he’s a retired electronic engineer who writes self-published novels about the rapture and apocalypse. One of them is titled Sal Batree, after the place he wants to show me.

I’m here in Jones County, Mississippi, to breathe in the historical vapors left by Newton Knight, a poor white farmer who led an extraordinary rebellion during the Civil War. With a company of like-minded white men in southeast Mississippi, he did what many Southerners now regard as unthinkable. He waged guerrilla war against the Confederacy and declared loyalty to the Union.

In the spring of 1864, the Knight Company overthrew the Confederate authorities in Jones County and raised the United States flag over the county courthouse in Ellisville. The county was known as the Free State of Jones, and some say it actually seceded from the Confederacy. This little-known, counterintuitive episode in American history has now been brought to the screen in Free State of Jones, directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games) and starring a grimy, scruffed-up Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight.

Knight and his men, says Gavin, hooking away an enormous spider web with his staff and warning me to be careful of snakes, “had a number of different hide-outs. The old folks call this one Sal Batree. Sal was the name of Newt’s shotgun, and originally it was Sal’s Battery, but it got corrupted over the years.”

We reach a small promontory surrounded on three sides by a swampy, beaver-dammed lake, and concealed by 12-foot-high cattails and reeds. “I can’t be certain, but a 90-year-old man named Odell Holyfield told me this was the place,” says Gavin. “He said they had a gate in the reeds that a man on horseback could ride through. He said they had a password, and if you got it wrong, they’d kill you. I don’t know how much of that is true, but one of these days I’ll come here with a metal detector and see what I can find.”

On his property, Jones County’s J. R. Gavin points out a site that was a hide-out for Newt Knight. “The Confederates kept sending in troops to wipe out old Newt and his boys,” says Gavin, “but they’d just melt into the swamps.” (William Widmer)

We make our way around the lakeshore, passing beaver-gnawed tree stumps and snaky-looking thickets. Reaching higher ground, Gavin points across the swamp to various local landmarks. Then he plants his staff on the ground and turns to face me directly.

“Now I’m going to say something that might offend you,” he begins, and proceeds to do just that, by referring in racist terms to “Newt’s descendants” in nearby Soso, saying some of them are so light-skinned “you look at them and you just don’t know.”

I stand there writing it down and thinking about William Faulkner, whose novels are strewn with characters who look white but are deemed black by Mississippi’s fanatical obsession with the one-drop rule. And not for the first time in Jones County, where arguments still rage about a man born 179 years ago, I recall Faulkner’s famous axiom about history: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

After the Civil War, Knight took up with his grandfather’s former slave Rachel they had five children together. Knight also fathered nine children with his white wife, Serena, and the two families lived in different houses on the same 160-acre farm. After he and Serena separated—they never divorced—Newt Knight caused a scandal that still reverberates by entering a common-law marriage with Rachel and proudly claiming their mixed-race children.

The Knight Negroes, as these children were known, were shunned by whites and blacks alike. Unable to find marriage partners in the community, they started marrying their white cousins instead, with Newt’s encouragement. (Newt’s son Mat, for instance, married one of Rachel’s daughters by another man, and Newt’s daughter Molly married one of Rachel’s sons by another man.) An interracial community began to form near the small town of Soso, and continued to marry within itself.

“They keep to themselves over there,” says Gavin, striding back toward his house, where supplies of canned food and muscadine wine are stored up for the onset of Armageddon. “A lot of people find it easier to forgive Newt for fighting Confederates than mixing blood.”

I came to Jones County having read some good books about its history, and knowing very little about its present-day reality. It was reputed to be fiercely racist and conservative, even by Mississippi standards, and it had been a hotbed for the Ku Klux Klan. But Mississippi is nothing if not layered and contradictory, and this small, rural county has also produced some wonderful creative and artistic talents, including Parker Posey, the indie-film queen, the novelist Jonathan Odell, the pop singer and gay astronaut Lance Bass, and Mark Landis, the schizophrenic art forger and prankster, who donated fraudulent masterpieces to major American art museums for nearly 30 years before he was caught.

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This story is a selection from the March issue of Smithsonian magazine

Driving toward the Jones County line, I passed a sign to Hot Coffee—a town, not a beverage—and drove on through rolling cattle pastures and short, new-growth pine trees. There were isolated farmhouses and prim little country churches, and occasional dilapidated trailers with dismembered automobiles in the front yard. In Newt Knight’s day, all this was a primeval forest of enormous longleaf pines so thick around the base that three or four men could circle their arms around them. This part of Mississippi was dubbed the Piney Woods, known for its poverty and lack of prospects. The big trees were an ordeal to clear, the sandy soil was ill-suited for growing cotton, and the bottomlands were choked with swamps and thickets.

There was some very modest cotton production in the area, and a small slaveholding elite that included Newt Knight’s grandfather, but Jones County had fewer slaves than any other county in Mississippi, only 12 percent of its population. This, more than anything, explains its widespread disloyalty to the Confederacy, but there was also a surly, clannish independent spirit, and in Newt Knight, an extraordinarily steadfast and skillful leader.

On the county line, I was half-expecting a sign reading “Welcome to the Free State of Jones” or “Home of Newton Knight,” but the Confederacy is now revered by some whites in the area, and the chamber of commerce had opted for a less controversial slogan: “Now This Is Living!” Most of Jones County is rural, low- or modest-income roughly 70 percent of the population is white. I drove past many small chicken farms, a large modern factory making transformers and computers, and innumerable Baptist churches. Laurel, the biggest town, stands apart. Known as the City Beautiful, it was created by Midwestern timber barons who razed the longleaf pine forests and built themselves elegant homes on oak-lined streets and the gorgeous world-class Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

The old county seat, and ground zero for the Free State of Jones, is Ellisville, now a pleasant, leafy town of 4,500 people. Downtown has some old brick buildings with wrought-iron balconies. The grand old columned courthouse has a Confederate monument next to it, and no mention of the anti-Confederate rebellion that took place here. Modern Ellisville is dominated by the sprawling campus of Jones County Junior College, where a semiretired history professor named Wyatt Moulds was waiting for me in the entrance hall. A direct descendant of Newt Knight’s grandfather, he was heavily involved in researching the film and ensuring its historical accuracy.

A large, friendly, charismatic man with unruly side-parted hair, he was wearing alligator-skin cowboy boots and a fishing shirt. “I’m one of the few liberals you’re going to meet here, but I’m a Piney Woods liberal,” he said. “I voted for Obama, I hunt and I love guns. It’s part of the culture here. Even the liberals carry handguns.”

For Wyatt Moulds the film is “an idea whose time has come.” (William Widmer) (Guilbert Gates) A fading mural in Ellisville depicts the town's history. (William Widmer) A tattered American flag hangs from a tree in the unincorporated community of Crackers Neck, near Ellisville. For a few years after the war, Ellisville was known as Leesville in memory of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. (William Widmer)

He described Jones County as the most conservative place in Mississippi, but he noted that race relations were improving and that you could see it clearly in the changing attitudes toward Newt Knight. “It’s generational,” he said. “A lot of older people see Newt as a traitor and a reprobate, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to make a movie about him. If you point out that Newt distributed food to starving people, and was known as the Robin Hood of the Piney Woods, they’ll tell you he married a black, like that trumps everything. And they won’t use the word ‘black.’”

His current crop of students, on the other hand, are “fired up” about Newt and the movie. “Blacks and whites date each other in high school now, and they don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Moulds. “That’s a huge change. Some of the young guys are really identifying with Newt now, as a symbol of Jones County pride. It doesn’t hurt that he was such a badass.”

Knight was 6-foot-4 with black curly hair and a full beard—“big heavyset man, quick as a cat,” as one of his friends described him. He was a nightmarish opponent in a backwoods wrestling match, and one of the great unsung guerrilla fighters in American history. So many men tried so hard to kill him that perhaps his most remarkable achievement was to reach old age.

“He was a Primitive Baptist who didn’t drink, didn’t cuss, doted on children and could reload and fire a double-barreled, muzzle-loading shotgun faster than anyone else around,” said Moulds. “Even as an old man, if someone rubbed him the wrong way, he’d have a knife at their throat in a heartbeat. A lot of people will tell you that Newt was just a renegade, out for himself, but there’s good evidence that he was a man of strong principles who was against secession, against slavery and pro-Union.”

Those views were not unusual in Jones County. Newt’s right-hand man, Jasper Collins, came from a big family of staunch Mississippi Unionists. He later named his son Ulysses Sherman Collins, after his two favorite Yankee generals, Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. “Down here, that’s like naming your son Adolf Hitler Collins,” said Moulds.

When secession fever swept across the South in 1860, Jones County was largely immune to it. Its secessionist candidate received only 24 votes, while the “cooperationist” candidate, John H. Powell, received 374. When Powell got to the secession convention in Jackson, however, he lost his nerve and voted to secede along with almost everyone else. Powell stayed away from Jones County for a while after that, and he was burned in effigy in Ellisville.

“In the Lost Cause mythology, the South was united, and secession had nothing to do with slavery,” said Moulds. “What happened in Jones County puts the lie to that, so the Lost Causers have to paint Newt as a common outlaw, and above all else, deny all traces of Unionism. With the movie coming out, they’re at it harder than ever.”

Although he was against secession, Knight voluntarily enlisted in the Confederate Army once the war began. We can only speculate about his reasons. He kept no diary and gave only one interview near the end of his life, to a New Orleans journalist named Meigs Frost. Knight said he’d enlisted with a group of local men to avoid being conscripted and then split up into different companies. But the leading scholar of the Knight-led rebellion, Victoria Bynum, author of The Free State of Jones, points out that Knight had enlisted, under no threat of conscription, a few months after the war began, in July 1861. She thinks he relished being a soldier.

The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War

Victoria Bynum traces the origins and legacy of the Jones County uprising from the American Revolution to the modern civil rights movement. In bridging the gap between the legendary and the real Free State of Jones, she shows how the legend reveals a great deal about the South's transition from slavery to segregation.

In October 1862, after the Confederate defeat at Corinth, Knight and many other Piney Woods men deserted from the Seventh Battalion of Mississippi Infantry. It wasn’t just the starvation rations, arrogant harebrained leadership and appalling carnage. They were disgusted and angry about the recently passed “Twenty Negro Law,” which exempted one white male for every 20 slaves owned on a plantation, from serving in the Confederate Army. Jasper Collins echoed many non-slaveholders across the South when he said, “This law. makes it a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

Returning home, they found their wives struggling to keep up the farms and feed the children. Even more aggravating, the Confederate authorities had imposed an abusive, corrupt “tax in kind” system, by which they took what they wanted for the war effort— horses, hogs, chickens, corn, meat from the smokehouses, homespun cloth. A Confederate colonel named William N. Brown reported that corrupt tax officials had “done more to demoralize Jones County than the whole Yankee Army.”

In early 1863, Knight was captured for desertion and possibly tortured. Some scholars think he was pressed back into service for the Siege of Vicksburg, but there’s no solid evidence that he was there. After Vicksburg fell, in July 1863, there was a mass exodus of deserters from the Confederate Army, including many from Jones and the surrounding counties. The following month, Confederate Maj. Amos McLemore arrived in Ellisville and began hunting them down with soldiers and hounds. By October, he had captured more than 100 deserters, and exchanged threatening messages with Newt Knight, who was back on his ruined farm on the Jasper County border.

On the night of October 5, Major McLemore was staying at his friend Amos Deason’s mansion in Ellisville, when someone—almost certainly Newt Knight—burst in and shot him to death. Soon afterward, there was a mass meeting of deserters from four Piney Woods counties. They organized themselves into a company called the Jones County Scouts and unanimously elected Knight as their captain. They vowed to resist capture, defy tax collectors, defend each other’s homes and farms, and do what they could to aid the Union.

Neo-Confederate historians have denied the Scouts’ loyalty to the Union up and down, but it was accepted by local Confederates at the time. “They were Union soldiers from principle,” Maj. Joel E. Welborn, their former commanding officer in the Seventh Mississippi, later recalled. “They were making an effort to be mustered into the U.S. Service.” Indeed, several of the Jones County Scouts later succeeded in joining the Union Army in New Orleans.

In March 1864, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk informed Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, that Jones County was in “open rebellion” and that guerrilla fighters were “proclaiming themselves ‘Southern Yankees.’” They had crippled the tax collection system, seized and redistributed Confederate supplies, and killed and driven out Confederate officials and loyalists, not just in Jones County but all over southeast Mississippi. Confederate Capt. Wirt Thompson reported that they were now a thousand strong and flying the U.S. flag over the Jones County courthouse—“they boast of fighting for the Union,” he added.

In spring of 1864, Knight's company stayed deep in the swamps, supplied with food and information by local sympathizers and slaves. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved) Matthew McConaughey (center) stars as Knight in The Free State of Jones. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved.) The house where a Confederate general was shot, likely by Knight (William Widmer) Newton Knight (From the collection of Earle Knight / Courtesy of Victoria Bynum) A photograph of Newton Knight, held by his fourth cousin DeBoyd Knight (William Widmer) A portrait tentatively identified as Rachel (Herman Welborn Collection / Courtesy of Martha Doris Welborn)

That spring was the high-water mark of the rebellion against the Rebels. Polk ordered two battle-hardened regiments into southeast Mississippi, under the command of Piney Woods native Col. Robert Lowry. With hanging ropes and packs of vicious, manhunting dogs, they subdued the surrounding counties and then moved into the Free State of Jones. Several of the Knight company were mangled by the dogs, and at least ten were hanged, but Lowry couldn’t catch Knight or the core group. They were deep in the swamps, being supplied with food and information by local sympathizers and slaves, most notably Rachel.

After Lowry left, proclaiming victory, Knight and his men emerged from their hide-outs, and once again, began threatening Confederate officials and agents, burning bridges and destroying railroads to thwart the Rebel Army, and raiding food supplies intended for the troops. They fought their last skirmish at Sal’s Battery, also spelled Sallsbattery, on January 10, 1865, fighting off a combined force of cavalry and infantry. Three months later, the Confederacy fell.

In 2006, the filmmaker Gary Ross was at Universal Studios, discussing possible projects, when a development executive gave him a brief, one-page treatment about Newton Knight and the Free State of Jones. Ross was instantly intrigued, both by the character and the revelation of Unionism in Mississippi, the most deeply Southern state of all.

“It led me on a deep dive to understand more and more about him and the fact that the South wasn’t monolithic during the Civil War,” says Ross, speaking on the phone from New York. “I didn’t realize it was going to be two years of research before I began writing the screenplay.”

The first thing he did was take a canoe trip down the Leaf River, to get a feel for the area. Then he started reading, beginning with the five (now six) books about Newton Knight. That led into broader reading about other pockets of Unionism in the South. Then he started into Reconstruction.

“I’m not a fast reader, nor am I an academic,” he says, “although I guess I’ve become an amateur one.” He apprenticed himself to some of the leading authorities in the field, including Harvard’s John Stauffer and Steven Hahn at the University of Pennsylvania. (At the urging of Ross, Stauffer and co-author Sally Jenkins published their own book on the Jones County rebellion, in 2009.) Ross talks about these scholars in a tone of worship and adulation, as if they’re rock stars or movie stars—and none more so than Eric Foner at Columbia, the dean of Reconstruction experts.

“He is like a god, and I went into his office, and I said, ‘My name’s Gary Ross, I did Seabiscuit.’ I asked him a bunch of questions about Reconstruction, and all he did was give me a reading list. He was giving me no quarter. I’m some Hollywood guy, you know, and he wanted to see if I could do the work.”

Director Gary Ross recreates the world of Newt Knight, where the pro-Union rebels escaped into local swamps. “My heart lay here,” says Ross of his decade-long effort to bring the story to the screen. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved)

Ross worked his way slowly and carefully through the books, and went back with more questions. Foner answered none of them, just gave him another reading list. Ross read those books too, and went back again with burning questions. This time Foner actually looked at him and said, “Not bad. You ought to think about studying this.”

“It was the greatest compliment a person could have given me,” says Ross. “I remember walking out of his office, across the steps of Columbia library, almost buoyant. It was such a heady experience to learn for learning’s sake, for the first time, rather than to generate a screenplay. I’m still reading history books all the time. I tell people this movie is my academic midlife crisis.”

In Hollywood, he says, the executives were extremely supportive of his research, and the script that he finally wrestled out of it, but they balked at financing the film. “This was before Lincoln and 12 Years a Slave, and it was very hard to get this sort of a drama made. So I went and did Hunger Games, but always keeping an eye on this. ”

Matthew McConaughey thought the Free State of Jones script was the most exciting Civil War story he had ever read, and knew immediately that he wanted to play Newt Knight. In Knight’s defiance of both the Confederate Army and the deepest taboos of Southern culture McConaughey sees an uncompromising and deeply moral leader. He was “a man who lived by the Bible and the barrel of a shotgun,” McConaughey says in an email. “If someone—no matter what their color—was being mistreated or being used, if a poor person was being used by someone to get rich, that was a simple wrong that needed to be righted in Newt’s eyes. He did so deliberately, and to the hell with the consequences.” McConaughey sums him up as a “shining light through the middle of this country’s bloodiest fight. I really kind of marveled at him.”

“He was a beacon of a man, ahead of his time,” says McConaughey of Knight. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved)

The third act of the film takes place in Mississippi after the Civil War. There was a phase during early Reconstruction when blacks could vote, and black officials were elected for the first time. Then former Confederates violently took back control of the state and implemented a kind of second slavery for African-Americans. Once again disenfranchised, and terrorized by the Klan, they were exploited through sharecropping and legally segregated. “The third act is what makes this story feel so alive,” says McConaughey. “It makes it relevant today. Reconstruction is a verb that’s ongoing.”

Ross thinks Knight’s character and beliefs are most clearly revealed by his actions after the war. He was hired by the Reconstruction government to free black children from white masters who were refusing to emancipate them. “In 1875, he accepts a commission in what was essentially an all-black regiment,” says Ross. “His job was to defend the rights of freed African-Americans in one of Mississippi’s bloodiest elections. His commitment to these issues never waned.” In 1876, Knight deeded 160 acres of land to Rachel, making her one of very few African-American landowners in Mississippi at that time.

Much as Ross wanted to shoot the movie in Jones County, there were irresistible tax incentives to film across the border in Louisiana, and some breathtaking cypress swamps where various cast members were infested with the tiny mites known as chiggers. Nevertheless, Ross and McConaughey spent a lot of time in Jones County, persuading many county residents to appear in the film.

“I love the Leaf River and the whole area,” says Ross. “And I’ve grown to love Mississippi absolutely. It’s a very interesting, real and complicated place.”

On the website of Jones County Rosin Heels, the local chapter of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, an announcement warned that the film will portray Newt Knight as a civil rights activist and a hero. Then the writer inadvertently slips into the present tense: “He is actually a thief, murderer, adulterer and a deserter.”

Doug Jefcoate was listed as camp commander. I found him listed as a veterinarian in Laurel, and called up, saying I was interested in his opinions on Newt Knight. He sounded slightly impatient, then said, “OK, I’m a history guy and a fourth-generation guy. Come to the animal hospital tomorrow.”

The receptionist led me into a small examining room and closed both its doors. I stood there for a few long minutes, with a shiny steel table and, on the wall, a Bible quotation. Then Jefcoate walked in, a middle-aged man with sandy hair, glasses and a faraway smile. He was carrying two huge, leather-bound volumes of his family genealogy.

He gave me ten minutes on his family tree, and when I interrupted to ask about the Rosin Heels and Newt Knight, he stopped, looked puzzled, and began to chuckle. “You’ve got the wrong Doug Jefcoate,” he said. “I’m not that guy.” (Turns out he is Doug Jefcoat, without the “e.”)

He laughed uproariously, then settled down and gave me his thoughts. “I’m not a racist, OK, but I am a segregationist,” he said. “And ol’ Newt was skinny-dipping in the wrong pool.”

The Rosin Heel commander Doug Jefcoate wasn’t available, so I went instead to the law offices of Carl Ford, a Rosin Heel who had unsuccessfully defended Sam Bowers, the imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in his 1998 trial for the 1966 murder of civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer. Ford wasn’t there, but he’d arranged for John Cox, a friend, colleague and fellow Rosin Heel, to set me straight about Newt Knight.

John Cox, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, is critical of the movie’s historical treatment of Newt. (William Widmer)

Cox, an animated 71-year-old radio and television announcer with a long white beard, welcomed me into a small office crammed with video equipment and Confederate memorabilia. He was working on a film called Free State of Jones: The Republic That Never Was, intended to refute Gary Ross’ film. All he had so far was the credits (Executive Producer Carl Ford) and the introductory banjo music.

“Newt is what we call trailer trash,” he said in a booming baritone drawl. “I wouldn’t have him in my house. And like all poor, white, ignorant trash, he was in it for himself. Some people are far too enamored of the idea that he was Martin Luther King, and these are the same people who believe the War Between the States was about slavery, when nothing could be further from the truth.”

There seemed no point in arguing with him, and it was almost impossible to get a word in, so I sat there scribbling as he launched into a long monologue that defended slavery and the first incarnation of the Klan, burrowed deep into obscure Civil War battle minutiae, denied all charges of racism, and kept circling back to denounce Newt Knight and the simpering fools who tried to project their liberal agendas on him.

“There was no Free State of Jones,” he concluded. “It never existed.”

Joseph Hosey is a Jones County forester and wild mushroom harvester who was hired as an extra for the movie and ended up playing a core member of the Knight Company. Looking at him, there’s no reason to ask why. Scruffy and rail-thin with piercing blue eyes and a full beard, he looks like he subsists on Confederate Army rations and the occasional squirrel.

He wanted to meet me at Jitters Coffeehouse & Bookstore in Laurel, so he could show me an old map on the wall. It depicts Jones County as Davis County, and Ellisville as Leesburg. “After 1865, Jones County was so notorious that the local Confederates were ashamed to be associated with it,” he says. “So they got the county renamed after Jefferson Davis, and Ellisville after Robert E. Lee. A few years later, there was a vote on it, and the names were changed back. Thank God, because that would have sucked.”

Joseph Hosey, a Jones County forester who was an extra on the film, honors Knight’s legacy. “One of the things we do is clean up the graves. We keep Newt’s grave looking nice, and Rachel’s. We’re proud to do it.” (William Widmer)

Like his grandfather before him, Hosey is a great admirer of Newt Knight. Long before the film, when people asked where he was from, he would say, “The Free State of Jones.” Now he has a dog named Newt, and describes it as a “Union-blue Doberman.”

Being in the film, acting and interacting with Matthew McConaughey, was a profound and moving experience, but not because of the actor’s fame. “It was like Newt himself was standing right there in front of me. It made me really wish my grandfather was still alive, because we were always saying someone should make a movie about Newt.” Hosey and the other actors in the Knight Company bonded closely during the shoot and still refer to themselves as the Knight Company. “We have get-togethers in Jones County, and I imagine we always will,” he says.

I ask him what he admires most about Knight. “When you grow up in the South, you hear all the time about your ‘heritage,’ like it’s the greatest thing there is,” he says. “When I hear that word, I think of grits and sweet tea, but mostly I think about slavery and racism, and it pains me. Newt Knight gives me something in my heritage, as a white Southerner, that I can feel proud about. We didn’t all go along with it.”

After Reconstruction, with the former Confederates back in charge, the Klan after him, and Jim Crow segregation laws being passed, Knight retreated from public life to his homestead on the Jasper County border, which he shared with Rachel until her death in 1889, and continued to share with her children and grandchildren. He lived the self-sufficient life of a yeoman Piney Woods farmer, doted on his swelling ranks of children and grandchildren, and withdrew completely from white society.

He gave that single long interview in 1921, revealing a laconic sense of humor and a strong sense of right and wrong, and he died the following year, in February 1922. He was 84 years old. Joseph Hosey took me to Newt’s granddaughter’s cabin, where some say that he suffered a fatal heart attack while dancing on the porch. Hosey really wanted to take me to Newt Knight’s grave. But the sacred rite of hunting season was underway, and the landowner didn’t want visitors disturbing the deer in the area. So Hosey drove up to the locked gate, and then swiped up the relevant photographs on his phone.

Newt’s grave has an emblem of Sal, his beloved shotgun, and the legend, “He Lived For Others.” He’d given instructions that he should be buried here with Rachel. “It was illegal for blacks and whites to be buried in the same cemetery,” says Hosey. “Newt didn’t give a damn. Even in death, he defied them.”

There were several times in Jones County when my head began to swim.

During my final interview, across a brightly colored plastic table in the McDonald’s in Laurel, there were moments when my brain seized up altogether, and I would sit there stunned, unable to grasp what I was hearing. The two sisters sitting across the table were gently amused. They had seen this many times before. It was, in fact, the normal reaction when they tried to explain their family tree to outsiders.

Dorothy Knight Marsh and Florence Knight Blaylock are the great-granddaughters of Newt and Rachel. After many decades of living in the outside world, they are back in Soso, Mississippi, dealing with prejudice from all directions. The worst of it comes from within their extended family. “We have close relatives who won’t even look at us,” says Blaylock, the older sister, who was often taken for Mexican when she lived in California.

As great-granddaughters of Newt and Rachel, Dorothy Knight Marsh, left, and Florence Knight Blaylock revere their past: “It’s a very unusual, complex family,” says Blaylock. (William Widmer)

“Or they’ll be nice to us in private, and pretend they don’t know us in public,” added Marsh, who lived in Washington, D.C. for decades. For simplification, she said that there were three basic groups. The White Knights are descended from Newt and Serena, are often pro-Confederate, and proud of their pure white bloodlines. (In 1951, one of them, Ethel Knight, published a vitriolic indictment of Newt as a traitor to the Confederacy.) The Black Knights are descended from Newt’s cousin Dan, who had children with one of his slaves. The White Negroes (a.k.a. the Fair Knights or Knight Negroes) are descended from Newt and Rachel. “They all have separate family reunions,” said Blaylock.

The White Negro line was complicated further by Georgeanne, Rachel’s daughter by another white man. After Rachel died, Newt and Georgeanne had children. “He was a family man all right!” said Marsh. “I guess that’s why he had three of them. And he kept trying to marry out the color, so we would all keep getting lighter-skinned. We have to tell our young people, do not date in the Soso area. But we’re all fine. We don’t have any. problems. All Knights are hardworking and very capable.”

In the film, Marsh and Blaylock appear briefly in a courthouse scene. For the two of them, the Knight family saga has continued into the 20th century and beyond. Their cousin Davis Knight, who looked white and claimed to be white, was tried for the crime of miscegenation in 1948, after marrying a white woman. The trial was a study in Mississippian absurdity, paradox, contradiction and racial obsessiveness. A white man was convicted of being black the conviction was overturned he became legally white again.

“We’ve come to terms with who we are,” says Blaylock. “I’m proud to be descended from Newt and Rachel. I have so much respect for both of them.”

“Absolutely,” says Marsh. “And we can’t wait to see this movie.”


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For generations, these Irish craftsmen have passed their knowledge of the ancient art of crystal making and cutting from father to son. Cashs artisans have dedicated their lives to their craft, and their city of Waterford, Ireland. Cashs Crystal is hand cut, where possible, and polished to perfection according to centuries old techniques.

Inspired by Nature

Talented designers draw inspiration from Ireland's rich history and beautiful countryside. They translate the rolling green foothills, walled remnants of ancient cities, and magnificent seaside into stunning art. Cashs designers bring to life these textures and patterns of Ireland with unique and exquisite detail.

Handmade in Waterford, Ireland by a group of Master Artisans and Designers.
Both designer and craftsman pour their talents into each piece as a handmade testament to their artistry and respect for nature.


Vintage/Discontinued Patterns

Noritake began selling dinnerware in the US marketplace in 1904. We have sold our products through numerous department stores, jewelry stores and specialty stores from coast to coast. In addition to our over 100 years of selling fine quality china and porcelain within the United States, we have also served US military personnel around the globe.

Noritake has been a fixture in American military bases for years and many servicemen have delighted their families sending home beautifully crafted sets of fine china.

There are many good choices when it comes to finding replacement pieces in your vintage pattern. We have listed several companies below whose business is locating, buying, and selling vintage and retired patterns. All pricing and valuation for vintage patterns is set by these individual companies and the marketplace. Noritake does not participate in setting pricing on vintage/retired patterns.

You can utilize the tips we've covered in our blog to stay on top of your patterns and be notified of items available. Click here to read "Tools to Stay in Touch with your China Patterns" on The Noritake Dish.

The following retailers regularly carry a large selection of vintage Noritake items:


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