The Lycurgus Cup, dichroic glass and metal cup, Late Roman, 4th century AD.
This extraordinary cup is the only complete example of a very special type of glass, known as dichroic, which changes colour when held up to the light. The opaque green cup turns to a glowing translucent red when light is shone through it. The glass contains tiny amounts of colloidal gold and silver, which give it these unusual optical properties. The scene on the cup depicts an episode from the myth of Lycurgus, a king of the Thracians (around 800 BC). A man of violent temper, he attacked Dionysos and one of his maenads, Ambrosia. Ambrosia called out to Mother Earth, who transformed her into a vine. She then coiled herself about the king, and held him captive. It has been thought that the theme of this myth - the triumph of Dionysos over Lycurgus - might have been chosen to refer to a contemporary political event, the defeat of the emperor Licinius (reigned AD 308-24) by Constantine in AD 324. - britishmuseum.
Kore 674, paros marble sculpture from the archaic age, Athens, ca 500 BC.
This sculpture from the archaic age depicts a young woman wearing the chiton and the himation. It’s often called ‘the delicata’ because of its very delicate and beautiful features. The smile on her face is also typical of the archaic style in greek art.
photo credit: wikipedia.
Sculpture of Ramesses II and the hawk god Hurun, granite and limestone, 19th dynasty, Cairo museum.
This sculpture depicts the pharaoh Ramesses II as a child under the protection of the hawk god Hurun, a god associated with Horus during the New Kingdom. Ramesses II carries a small plant of papyrus and a solar disc tops his head. This sculpture is interesting because of its cryptographic meaning: in ancient egyptian, the hawk is called Ra, the child translates as Mes and the papyrus as Su. It is a rebus which spells the name of the pharaoh, Ramessu.
Limestone Etruscan funerary urn, 104 x 75 cm, late 3rd century B.C, Italy.
This object is one of five ash urns found in a tomb of the Velsi family of ancient Chiusi. This urn is the largest and best preserved of the group. Its inscription, “FASTIA VELSI LARZL, VELUS PUIA,” which extends across the front and part of the left end of the lid, identifies the cremated remains as those of “Fastia Velsi, wife of Larza Velu.” - mfa.org
Painted limestone stela, ca. 1353-1336 BC, El-Amarna, Egypt.
This limestone stela shows King Akhenaten and his family as a “Holy Family.” It is considered to be an icon and was intended to be kept in a private chapel of an Amarna house. The stela, topped by the cavetto cornice, is decorated with a scene of an intimate moment from the daily life of the royal family under the protection of Aten. - globalegyptianmuseum.org
Limestone sculpture, Imperial Period, A.D. 150–200, Syria.
An elaborate Palmyrene funerary monument with a Greek inscription “Aththaia, daughter of Malchos, Happy One, Farewell”. Although the Greek inscription betrays her Hellenic affinities, her face and the details of carving are thoroughly Eastern. The incised relief line of the eyebrows and the rubbery folds of the neck foreshadow Graeco-Buddhist sculpture in northern and northwestern India, and central Asia. The carving of the chiton (tunic) and himation is expertly handled, but the number of tight zigzag folds also foreshadows Late Antique and Byzantine art. - mfa.org (text and photo)
Zapotec jade and shells mask, ca. 200 BC - 100 AD, Monte Alban, Mexico. Photography © Jorge Pérez de Lara.
Even though many scholars maintain that this is a bat mask, many of its features point towards its identification as a feline, possibly a jaguar. If this is correct, it may be associated with power and royal lineages. Regardless of its identification, it is one of the most valuable treasures ever recovered from Monte Albán. - mesoweb.com
Nazca Human-effigy vessel, ceramic, natural pigments, ca. AD 200-400, southern Peru. - nazcamystery.com
The Nazca culture was the pre-inca archaeological culture that flourished from 100 to 800 CE beside the dry southern coast of Peru. Having been heavily influenced by the preceding Paracas culture, which was known for extremely complex textiles, the Nazca produced an array of beautiful crafts and technologies such as ceramics, textiles, and geoglyphs(most commonly known as the Nazca lines). They also built an impressive system of underground aqueducts, known as puquios, that still function today. - wikipedia.org
Red-figures Lucanian pottery, ca. AD 400. Museo Nazionale Archeologico, Italy.
A youthful Dionysos, seated on a rock and wearing high fur-lined boots, fancy head-dress and only a mantle over his thighs , watches a maenad dance to the pipes. Behind him a female wearing an animal skin over a long-sleeved, short-skirted dress and high boots, holds a torch over his head and a situla. A stayr, at ease, watches. - beazley.ox.ac.uk
Wooden Shabti of Tutankhamun; wood, gold, paint and copper alloy. Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332–1323 B.C.), Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Tutankhamun.
The shabtis and their tools (hoes, mattocks and baskets attached to yokes) are linked to an important belief about Osiris’ kingdom. Osiris is the god of the dead and the bondsman of the deceased’s survival after his death. It was believed that Osiris could summon his subjects - including the deceased king - to work in his fields or accomplish another manual task for him. In order to deal with this possibility, dozens of shabtis were placed in the king’s tomb: these little statuettes were meant to replace the king when he would be summoned by Osiris. In Tutankhamun’s tomb, for instance, there was a shabti for each day in a year and a few shabtis monitors.