Minerva Magazine 196

Cover Story

Written in gold: exploring golden manuscripts from around the world Some of the most significant texts from around the world have been given very special treatment, with words of holiness and of diplomatic value written both in and on gold. Annabel Teh Gallop, Eleanor Jackson, and Kathleen Doyle investigate the…

Features

Feminine Power: She who must be obeyed An exhibition on Feminine Power currently at the British Museum journeys through the beautiful, but dangerous, realm ruled over by great goddesses. There, Lindsay Fulcher discovers, men are often afraid…
From sphinxes to saints: exploring the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston The new galleries at the MFA, Boston, cover more than 2,000 years of art. We take a look at a some of the highlights from the ancient Greek, Roman, and…
The birth of Gothic: building heaven on earth How did the elements of what we now call Gothic come together in medieval Europe? Emma J Wells takes us back to this great age of cathedral-building, when masons set…
Underground Naples The layers of tunnels under Naples preserve traces of Greek life and death in ancient Italy. Dalu Jones heads beneath the surface to visit ongoing restoration work that is making…

News

Meeting the Ancient gods under a Turkish house Research into an intriguing rock relief recorded in the subterranean chambers is revealing details about religion and style in the region during the Neo- Assyrian Empire.
Renewing Paris’ medieval museum The long-term project, which started in 2011, has seen the restoration of the ancient bathhouse to protect parts that were left open to the elements.
Views of the past at the 59th Venice Biennale A number of the national pavilions artists are drawing on ancient culture and themes from the past.
Native American cave art identified in Alabama Glyphs including a serpent amd anthropomorphic figures wearing regalia were revealed using photogrammetry.
Archaeologists explore Bronze Age site emerging from Mosul dam Remains of a palace at the site emerged from the waters in 2010, and in 2018, when water levels were again low, archaeologists carried out a short campaign, documenting the…
Maya maize god head uncovered in Mexico The team believe that the head of the youthful god, depicted with delicate features, was ‘originally conceived as a beheaded figure’.

Views

On show: exhibitions from around the world in 2022 and 2023 Museum, What's on The dates listed below may have changed since we went to print. Check the websites of the museums for the most up-to-date information and bookings.
Amaterasu – imperial goddess of the sun Ideas Summer is in full swing, bringing with it the promise of long, bright days under the shining sun. This all-powerful celestial body has long been linked with kingship: Louis XIV…
Athens of America: an interview with curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Museum, People, What's on At the end of last year, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – the city known as ‘the Athens of America’ – opened a renovated suite of five galleries devoted…
Michael Ventris People Michael Ventris' decipherment of a mysterious ancient script, Minoan Linear B, was dubbed by The Times as ‘the Everest of Greek archaeology’…
Valley of the Kings, 1923 The Picture Desk ‘Yes, wonderful things’ is the oft-quoted response Howard Carter gave when, on 26 November 1922, Lord Carnarvon asked if the archaeologist could see anything through a hole in the inner…
Underground Naples Feature, Travel The layers of tunnels under Naples preserve traces of Greek life and death in ancient Italy. Dalu Jones heads beneath the surface to visit ongoing restoration work that is making…

Reviews

The Great British Dig: History in Your Back Garden Review by Eugenia Ellanskaya. When it comes to interpreting archaeological sites, invisible ink comes to mind as a common medium that has been used to paint the elusive picture of…
On show: exhibitions from around the world in 2022 and 2023 The dates listed below may have changed since we went to print. Check the websites of the museums for the most up-to-date information and bookings.
Feminine Power: She who must be obeyed An exhibition on Feminine Power currently at the British Museum journeys through the beautiful, but dangerous, realm ruled over by great goddesses. There, Lindsay Fulcher discovers, men are often afraid…
From sphinxes to saints: exploring the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston The new galleries at the MFA, Boston, cover more than 2,000 years of art. We take a look at a some of the highlights from the ancient Greek, Roman, and…
Athens of America: an interview with curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston At the end of last year, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – the city known as ‘the Athens of America’ – opened a renovated suite of five galleries devoted…
The Writing of the Gods: The Race to decode the Rosetta Stone Review by Andrew Robinson. The Rosetta Stone, dated 196 BC, is of course famous worldwide – and perhaps the best-known object in the British Museum, following its 1801 capture by…
The Red Sea Scrolls: How Ancient Papyri Reveal the Secrets of the Pyramids Review by Aidan Dodson. In 2013, a remarkable discovery was made at the site of Wadi el-Jarf on the Egyptian Red Sea coast. It comprised a group of papyri, which…
Underground Naples The layers of tunnels under Naples preserve traces of Greek life and death in ancient Italy. Dalu Jones heads beneath the surface to visit ongoing restoration work that is making…

From the editor

The golden scene on our cover of the Buddha granting his disciples promises that they too may attain Buddhahood comes from a spectacularly lavish scroll of the Lotus Sutra. Beyond this opening image, the scroll contains exquisite gold calligraphy that is on display in an exhibition at the British Library along with many other equally sumptuous texts. They were produced in different parts of the world, out of different religious and political traditions, and using different techniques, but what unites them is the gleam of gold. As curators Annabel Teh Gallop, Eleanor Jackson, and Kathleen Doyle write, whether it is for a sacred text like the Lotus Sutra or a secular one like a land grant or a favour-currying diplomatic letter, gold has long been considered to have a special ability to elevate the status of a document.

Next, we visit Naples with Dalu Jones, as she takes us down into the Ipogeo dei Cristallini, a group of four ancient Greek tombs beneath the streets of the southern Italian city. Here, restorers are busy at work as they ready the sepulchral space for visitors, watched from on high by a large head of Medusa that once protected the deceased.
Protection from malevolent forces is one aspect of feminine power explored at a new exhibition at the British Museum. But as well as figures of compassion and salvation, some women were seen as destructive demonesses. Lindsay Fulcher guides us through some of the different attitudes to female spiritual power held by different cultures, and how these are expressed in art.

A spiritual theme continues in our next feature, when Emma J Wells tells us the story of how the Gothic style of architecture came to set the tone for medieval churches, with flying buttresses and ‘strainer’ arches deployed by abbots, master masons, and kings as they vied to create towering cathedrals filled with light.

Finally, we catch up with Christine Kondoleon, Laure Marest, and Phoebe Segal, curators at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, to hear about their work revitalising galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine art, which include everything from Archaic temple friezes to Cy Twombly’s 20th-century painting.