Minerva Magazine 192

Cover Story

Kazakhstan’s Golden Burials The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that among the Scythians, the nomads of the Eurasian steppe, there was a group of ‘gold-guarding Griffins’. Were these people the Saka, whose elite filled their tombs with golden depictions of griffins and other…

Features

The Viking Great Army In AD 865, a Viking army landed in eastern England. For more than a decade, it raided across the country, but contemporary documents tell us little about it. Dawn M…
The Triumph of Rubens One of the most accomplished painters of the 17th century, Peter Paul Rubens had a deep interest in the ancient world, expressed through the power of the paintbrush, but also…
Honouring Augustus After centuries of reuse and years of closure, the Mausoleum of Augustus is now open to visitors. Dalu Jones examines the structure’s long history and how, with its neighbour the…
The Humboldt Forum: under one roof Over the course of this article, we take a look at a small selection of works on display in the newly opened spaces of Berlin’s Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für…
Berlin’s Humboldt Forum: building power Berlin’s ambitious cultural project the Humboldt Forum opened its doors to the public this summer. Exhibition spaces, museum collections, and presentations of scientific research are brought together in a partially…

News

Tomb of a wealthy Pompeiian uncovered The sealed funerary chamber ensured the preservation of the remains buried in the tomb, including some hair as well as a skeleton.
Sacred sites in Tyre The investigations targeted the acropolis of the city, which was occupied from the Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC).
Reworked battlefield finds in Mississippi Military items – like a cannonball, lead shot, apparent pieces of a sword, and a ramrod tip, which were rarely traded – were found at the site complex of Stark…
John Dee’s ‘magic mirror’ has Aztec origins, study confirms Dee used the polished mirror as a scryer to try to commune with spirits.
Carving camels ‘Neolithic communities repeatedly returned to the Camel Site, meaning its symbolism and function was maintained over many generations’
Gold hoard discovered in Denmark Found at Vindelev, the hoard contains 22 gold objects

Views

Kazakhstan’s Golden Burials Feature, Museum, What's on The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that among the Scythians, the nomads of the Eurasian steppe, there was a group of ‘gold-guarding Griffins’. Were these people the Saka, whose elite…
‘Arrogance and violence’ Books, Ideas Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars offers a series of sensational biographies of Roman rulers from Julius Caesar to Domitian, highlighting moments of depravity, viciousness, scheming, and excess.
Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637) People It is hard to disagree with the astronomers. They clearly felt that naming a single lunar crater after Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc in 1935 was insufficient and, in 1993, honoured…
Exhibitions from around the world- October 2021 Museum, What's on Due to changing coronavirus measures, the dates listed below may have changed since we went to print, and museums and galleries may close. Check the websites and social-media accounts of…
Baalbek and Antioch, 1933 The Picture Desk In 1933, the first season of excavations at Tell ed-Duweir (Lachish), south-west of Jerusalem, came to end. The remains of a building from the late 5th-4th century BC, described as…
The Humboldt Forum: under one roof Feature, Museum, What's on Over the course of this article, we take a look at a small selection of works on display in the newly opened spaces of Berlin’s Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für…

Reviews

Kazakhstan’s Golden Burials The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that among the Scythians, the nomads of the Eurasian steppe, there was a group of ‘gold-guarding Griffins’. Were these people the Saka, whose elite…
‘Arrogance and violence’ Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars offers a series of sensational biographies of Roman rulers from Julius Caesar to Domitian, highlighting moments of depravity, viciousness, scheming, and excess.
Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern Few people have recently had as much face time with the ghosts of the Roman emperors as Mary Beard, a well-known professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge. Her…
The Hidden Language of Graphic Signs: Cryptic Writing and Meaningful Marks Throughout history, scripts have become established by communicating language and meaning as transparently as possible to literate readers. But, of course, scripts have an aesthetic dimension, too, which both enhances…
Exhibitions from around the world- October 2021 Due to changing coronavirus measures, the dates listed below may have changed since we went to print, and museums and galleries may close. Check the websites and social-media accounts of…
Honouring Augustus After centuries of reuse and years of closure, the Mausoleum of Augustus is now open to visitors. Dalu Jones examines the structure’s long history and how, with its neighbour the…
The Aztecs: Lost civilizations Five hundred years ago, the spectacular city of Tenochtitlan, power centre of the Aztec empire, upon which modern Mexico City was later built, fell decisively to the Spanish. The conquistador…
The Humboldt Forum: under one roof Over the course of this article, we take a look at a small selection of works on display in the newly opened spaces of Berlin’s Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für…
Berlin’s Humboldt Forum: building power Berlin’s ambitious cultural project the Humboldt Forum opened its doors to the public this summer. Exhibition spaces, museum collections, and presentations of scientific research are brought together in a partially…

From the editor

In 2018, archaeologists discovered the intact burial of a teenage archer of the Saka people in eastern Kazakhstan. Buried with him were golden weapon-cases and ornaments with dynamic depictions of animals, among them the spectacular stag on our cover. They left behind no histories of themselves, so these remarkable finds – and those from other elite Saka burial mounds – provide valuable insights into their world. As the discoveries go on view in a new exhibition in Cambridge, its curators Rebecca Roberts and Saltanat Amir explore what Saka art, much of it in the pan Scythian animal style, can tell us about these Iron Age people of the Eurasian steppe.

For our next feature, we turn to one of my favourite artists: Peter Paul Rubens. His familiarity with ancient sources enabled him to produce large dramatic canvases of unusual mythological scenes, a way of showing off his erudition, which was something he also did in his many letters. We speak to Anne Woollett to find out more about his involvement in antiquarian activities in 17th-century Europe, and the ways in which he brought the ancient world to life.

While the invasion of England by the Viking Great Army in the 9th century AD had dramatic repercussions – leading to the growth of towns and industry, and to seismic shifts in power politics – contemporary sources tell us little about it. Recent archaeological finds are filling in the gaps, revealing the scale of the Great Army at its various camps and their impact, as Dawn M Hadley and Julian D Richards write.

In Rome, the Mausoleum of Augustus has reopened to visitors. Though it was built as an impressive tomb for Rome’s first emperor, it has also seen life as a quarry, a hanging garden, and even an amphitheatre. Dalu Jones explores 20th- and 21st-century efforts to revitalise Augustus’ tomb.

Another site that has had a long history of reuse is the plot of land that Berlin’s new cultural complex, the Humboldt Forum, sits on. For our final feature, we speak to Alfred Hagemann to learn about the medieval monastery, Baroque palace, and East German cultural and political centre that stood on this central site – before taking a look at some of the displays at the newly opened museums in the rebuilt palace.