Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Antiquarians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Antiquarians. Show all posts

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Pilgrim Timekeepers

A pilgrim walking the Camino, or Way of St. James. Image Source: Tailored Spain.

If you want to know why tax season is in spring and its subsequent meaning for May, read on. As Catholic pilgrims prepare now for Pentecost on 15 May 2016, the blog returns to France's Chartres cathedral to note how places which attract pilgrims become centres of spirituality and memory. Pilgrimage routes have endured worldwide for thousands of years. One famous European route is the Spanish Camino de Santiago or the Way of St. James. In 2014, 200,000 people undertook that journey, and the road is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 'Walking the Camino' is a huge event, even for atheists. For the faithful and secular alike, it is a modern walking holiday, attracting its share of business and crime.

In 2012, The Guardian asked why atheists participated in old Christian pilgrimages. Image Source: Guardian.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Clay Tablet News Flash

Image Source: British Museum via news.com.au.

At the British Museum, Irving Finkel, the museum's assistant keeper of the Middle East, has deciphered a 4,000 year old clay tablet, on display as of 24 January 2014, which refers to ancient flood preparations. The tablet came to Britain via an RAF airman's Second World War service in the Middle East. The tablet predates Biblical sources by several centuries:
The tablet gives a version of the ark story far older than the biblical accounts, and Finkel believes the explanation of how "holy writ appears on this piece of Weetabix", is that the writers of the Bible drew on ancient accounts encountered by Hebrew scholars during the Babylonian exile [in the 7th-6th centuries BCE].
The tablet originated in Mesopotamia; its 60 lines of text are written in cuneiform:
The text describes god speaking to Atram-Hasis, a Sumerian king who is the Noah figure in earlier versions of the ark story.
He says: 'Wall, wall! Reed wall, reed wall! Atram-Hasis, pay heed to my advice, that you may live forever! Destroy your house, build a boat; despise possessions And save life! Draw out the boat that you will built with a circular design; Let its length and breadth be the same.'

The ancient Babylonian text describes the ark as a round 220-ft diameter coracle with walls 20-ft high.

According to the tablet, the ark had two levels and a roof on the top.

The craft was divided into sections to divide the various animals into their own sections.

The 60 lines of text, which Dr Finkel describes as a 'detailed construction manual for building an ark', claims the craft was built using ropes and reeds before being smeared with bitumen to make it waterproof.
Because the tablet stipulates that this 'ark,' or 'coarcle' was round, a new unusual detail has been added to the family of flood myths.

Finkel has penned a book and is preparing a television show around his translation of the tablet and the folk memory it relates, The Ark Before Noah (brought to you by the same people who published Teach Yourself: Complete Babylonian). CNN:
The newly decoded cuneiform tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark, who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. It even includes the famous phrase “two by two,” describing how the animals came onto the ark. ...

We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account ... .

What’s really intriguing scholars is the description of the ark itself. The Bible presents a standard boat shape long and narrow. The length being six times the measure of the width, with three decks and an entrance on the side. The newly discovered Mesopotamian text describes a large round vessel, made of woven rope, and coated (like the biblical ark) in pitch to keep it waterproof.

Archaeologists are planning to design a prototype of the ark, built to the specifications of this text, to see if it would actually float. Good luck to them in trying to estimate the weight of its cargo. So, why does this new discovery matter? It matters because it serves as a reminder that the story of the Flood wasn’t set in stone from its earliest version all the way through to its latest incarnation.

The people who wrote down the Flood narrative, in any of its manifestations, weren’t reporting on a historical event for which they had to get their facts straight (like what shape the ark was). Everyone reshapes the Flood story, and the ark itself, according to the norms of their own time and place.
Coincidentally, the British Museum translation, book, and Channel Four TV show are being released just before the CGI-300-style, ancient-prepper film, Noah, starring Russell Crowe. The film will premiere on 28 March 2014. See the trailer below the jump. In the same vein, the sequel to 300, which deals with ancient Babylonia in the 5th century BCE, will be released earlier in March.

"Irving Finkel poses with the 4000-year-old clay tablet containing the story of the Ark at the British Museum in London on Friday." Image Source: The Hindu.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Evolutionary Babylon

"A rainbow-colored beast from the margins of a fifteenth-century text." Image Source: Public Domain Review via Paris Review.

The Justin Bieber mugshot is already an Internet meme (do not click here or here and don't don't don't click here (told you not to)). Fortunately, there are other things to think about, like the origins of life. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old physicist at MIT, thinks that he has identified the physics that underlies the difference between inanimate and animate matter. The thermodynamic theory, which complements Darwin's theory of evolution, is outlined in Quanta Magazine, and summarized below the jump.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with the Tower of Babel in the background ("probably 19th century after the first excavations in the Assyrian capitals"). Image Source: Wiki.

Already, critics are queueing to attack England's ideas. But is this simply because his concept has appeared in many guises, to researchers working in various fields, each of which has a field-specific language and set of research precedents? Is the theory of the origin of life a modern Tower of Babel?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Animated Orientalism

All images are stills from The Adventures of Prince Achmed.

Tonight's post picks up on yesterday's orientalist theme but with a slightly more benign turn. We look at one of the greatest contributions to cinema when it was in its infancy. This is the third oldest full-length animated film, but it is the oldest one that still survives: The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) directed by Lotte Reiniger. It took Reiniger three years, using cut-outs similar to Javanese Wayang shadow puppets. She animated the figures frame by frame with the help of avant-garde artists such as Walter Ruttmann, Berthold Bartosch, and Carl Koch. Wiki summarizes the plot:
The story is based on elements taken from the collection 1001 Arabian Nights, specifically The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou featured in Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book. With the assistance of Aladdin, the Witch of the Fiery Mountain, and a magic horse, the title character reclaims the magic lamp and conquers the African sorcerer. The culminating scene in the film is the battle between "die Hexe" (the witch) and "der afrikanische Zauberer" (the African sorcerer), in which those characters undergo fabulous transformations. All is well in the end: Aladdin marries Dinarsade (Achmed's sister and daughter of the Caliph); Achmed marries Pari Banu; the African sorcerer is defeated; and the foursome return to the Caliph's kingdom.
The original score was composed by Wolfgang Zeller. While the link still works, see this beautiful piece of film history below the jump.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day Curios

Image Source: Bonhams.

The auction houses have nothing on Boxing Day sales ... except cuneiform tablets. From Bonhams famous auction house, up at auction in New York City on 4 December 2012:
A Babylonian clay inscription fragment, Middle Babylonian, Syria circa 1600-1500 B.C., part of a lexical text giving a list of fish. Approx 95 x 102 mm of inscribed surface area and 30 mm thick. Custom velvet-lined clamshell box.

Provenance: purchased from Bernard Quaritch Ltd. in September, 1992.

Such compilations of signs according to subject (e.g. trees, fish etc.) were used for teaching purposes.
US$ 1,500 - 2,500
£940 - 1,600
€1,200 - 2,000
(Thanks to -C.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hallowe'en Countdown

Braver souls than I are devoting the entire month of blogging to counting down to Hallowe'en
.  Dr. K's 100-Page Super Spectacular has a countdown of horror movies running here.  He's also mentioned that the site Countdown to Halloween is coordinating all blogs participating in this marathon (they're listed on the right hand margin of that site).  I didn't get a chance to check them all, but some of the Hallowe'en marathon blogs listed there that look pretty interesting are: the Edge of Forever; Cinema Suicide (this blogger is telling one ghost story every day this month, and every story has some basis in truth); Gothtober (this person has one of the most original blogs I've ever seen); and Distinctly Jamaican Sounds (ultra cool horror reggae - check this out!). For those of you in North America, Turner Classic Movies is playing old Hammer films every Friday this month; TCM is also running a horror movies blog here.

I'll do about a fortnight's worth of spookily-themed posts through late October and early November.  In the meantime, here are some of my earlier postings on horror herehere, here and here Further image credits: Veduta di Roma: Ruins of a Gallery with Statues at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli. Etching. Inv. 11.120-1963. Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Germany).  For more images from Piranesi's series of Hadrian's Villa, go here.