Women with fish tails are among the oldest and still most popular of mythological creatures, possessing a powerful allure and compelling ambiguity. They dwell right in the uncanniest valley of the sea: so similar to humans, yet profoundly other. Mermaids: Art, Symbolism and Mythology presents a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and beautifully illustrated study of mermaids and their influence on Western culture. The roots of mermaid mythology and its metamorphosis through the centuries are discussed with examples from visual art, literature, music and architecture—from 600 BCE right up to the present day. Our story starts in Mesopotamia, source of the earliest preserved illustrations of half-human, half-fish creatures. The myths and legends of the Mesopotamians were incorporated and adopted by ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman cultures. Then, during the early medieval period, ancient mythological creatures such as mermaids were confused, transformed and reinterpreted by Christian tradition to begin a new strand in mermaid lore. Along the way, all manner of stunning—and sometimes bizarre or unsettling—depictions of mermaids emerged. Written in an accessible and entertaining style, this book challenges conventional views of mermaid mythology, discusses mermaids in the light of evolutionary theory and aims to inspire future studies of these most curious of imaginary creatures.
Democracy in ancient Athens was different from what is implemented today even in the most advanced democracies. To evaluate this difference, this paper presents five criteria of democracy and then applies them to ancient Athens and modern advanced democracies. In comparison and according to five criteria, modern democracies are inferior to what the eligible citizens of Ancient Athens enjoyed. The ancient Greek literature on the subject has identified five criteria of democracy which neither today nor in ancient times were fully satisfied. The democracy today satisfies some but not all five criteria. This was also true for the ancient (Athenian) democracy. They differ in which criteria they satisfied. Of course, each criterion is fulfilled to a certain extent and this may differentiate modern from ancient democracy. These issues are discussed in this paper.
The phrase “terracotta sculpture” refers to all figurative representations in fired clay produced in Greece and in the Greek world during the first millennium bce, (from the Geometric period to the end of the Hellenistic period), whatever their size (figurine, statuette, or statue), whatever their manufacturing technique (modeling, molding, mixed), whatever their material form (in-the-round, relief, etc.), whatever their representation (anthropomorphic, zoomorphic [real or imaginary], diverse objects), and whatever the limits of their representation: full figure (figurines, statuettes, groups), truncated or abbreviated representations, including protomai, masks, busts, half figures, and anatomical representations, among others. All these objects, with the possible exception of large statues, were the products of artisans who were referred to in ancient texts as “coroplasts,” or modelers of images in clay. Because of this, the term “coroplasty,” or “coroplathy,” has been used to refer to this craft, but also increasingly to all of its products, large and small, while research on this material falls under the rubric of coroplastic studies. Greek terracottas were known to antiquarians from the mid-17th century onward from archaeological explorations in both sanctuary and funerary sites, especially in southern Italy and Sicily. Yet serious scholarly interest in these important representatives of Greek sculpture developed only in the last quarter of the 19th century, when terracotta figurines of the Hellenistic period were unearthed from the cemeteries of Tanagra in Boeotia in the 1870s and Myrina in Asia Minor in the 1880s. These immediately entered the antiquities markets, where their cosmopolitan, secular imagery had a great appeal for collectors and fueled scholarly interest and debate. At the same time, sanctuary deposits containing terracottas also began to be explored, but scholarly attention privileged funerary terracottas because of their better state of preservation. For most of the 20th century, the study of figurative terracottas basically was an art-historical exercise based in iconography and style that remained in the shadow of monumental sculpture. It is only in the last four decades or so that coroplastic studies has developed into an autonomous field of research, with approaches specific to the discipline that consider modalities of production, as well as the religious, social, political, and economic roles that terracottas played in ancient Greek life by means of broad sociological and anthropological approaches. Consequently, this bibliography mainly comprises publications of the last forty years, although old titles that are still essential for research are also included.
This article discusses the architecture of Assyria and Babylonia, two kingdoms that were located in modern-day Iraq and surrounding parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iran. This region overlaps with Mesopotamia (an ancient Greek name for the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). The rise to prominence around c. 1800 bce of the cities of Assur in northern Iraq and of Babylon in central Iraq is taken as the article’s starting point. The main focus is, however, on the later histories of Assyria (c. 900–612 bce) and Babylonia (c. 626–538 bce). Both kingdoms can be said to have reached an imperial scale during these periods (Assyria around 730 bce during the reign of King Tiglath-Pileser III, and Babylonia when its armies conquered Assyria in 612 bce). Both empires came to control large parts of western Asia and at times also Egypt. This chapter will, however, focus on Mesopotamia proper, what might be described as its architectural koine (a multiregional shared material culture). The conquest of Babylonia by the Achaemenid Persian armies in 538 bce is taken as the end date. Architecture is an integral part of society and cannot therefore be studied on its own. The discourse on Mesopotamian architecture is notably sparse and uneven (as becomes apparent in this article). The limited nature of the discourse can be explained in several ways. First, although Mesopotamian architects created some of the most renowned buildings of their times, those architects did not write down their ideas, nor did they claim authorship. Ancient textual sources, although abundantly preserved, provide limited information when it comes to architecture. The activity of architecture was instead based on learned practice. Second, the architecture of the region was predominantly constructed of mud bricks supplemented with wood. More-extensive use of stones was generally limited to monumental buildings. Over the centuries, these buildings have collapsed and come to be buried under their own, and later, debris. Generally, only the lowest parts of the ground floor walls have survived. Our knowledge of ancient architecture is therefore dependent on archaeological excavations that commenced in the middle of the 19th century. Third, from the time the first excavations in the region commenced, archaeologists have focused mostly on the big urban centers and their monumental palaces and temples. Archaeologists have become more interested in other types of buildings and settlements over time, but our knowledge remains limited and biased to certain regions and periods. These biases, unfortunately, continue to shape the discourse and limit what can be referenced. Although this chapter does not aim to be comprehensive, it does include a substantial selection of the works that have been published on the architecture of the region.
Tourism is a phenomenon that dates back to ancient times. Ancient Greek philosophers recognised, adopted, and promoted the concept of rest-based tourism. Ecotourism is a particular type of tourism that connects with activities that take place in nature, without harming it, along with the herbal and animal wealth. According to estimates, the global ecotourism industry is currently booming due to various reasons, and it is becoming an important factor of sustainable regional development. This article presents the vision, work, and outcomes of project AdVENt, a project focusing natively in sustainable ecotourism through natural science and technological innovation. AdVENt’s study area includes the National Parks of Oiti (or Oeta) and Parnassus in Central Greece, where there is a remarkable native flora with a high endemism rate integrated with areas of cultural value and national and European hiking routes and paths of varying difficulty.