Minerva Magazine 199

Cover Story

Painting Pompeii Richly painted frescoes enlivened the often dark and claustrophobic rooms of Roman houses. How was this interior world of colour created? Dalu Jones celebrates the triumph of Pompeii and Herculaneum’s frescoes.


Alexander the Great in Persia and beyond Alexander the Great’s ambitions of conquest took him far from his Macedonian home and into Asia and Babylon, where he died. Ursula Sims-Williams investigates the mythical legacy of Alexander in…
Shock and awe: the imaginative work of Henry Fuseli The drawings and paintings of Romantic-era artist Henry Fuseli showcase his fascination with fantasy, expression, and elaborate hairstyles. Lucia Marchini takes a look at the imaginative work of the artist,…
Chariot kings: the image of the pharaohs From Ahmose I to Horemheb, the depiction of kings in Egypt’s 18th Dynasty was a tale of tradition and innovation. Even as the image of the chariot-riding warrior pharaoh became…
Caravan kings: exploring ancient Uzbekistan Sculptures of kings and princes and murals of delegations of ambassadors paint a detailed picture of the wealth, influences, and connections of Uzbekistan’s oasis cities. Lucia Marchini speaks to Yannick…


Conserving artworks after the Beirut blast Conservation work is being carried out on a painting of Hercules and Omphale, recently attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi, that was damaged during the massive explosion in 2020 in Beirut.
17th-century silk dress from the Palmwood Wreck goes on display in the Netherlands The garment comes from the Palmwood Wreck, which was discovered in 2014 off the Texel coastline.
Feathers and fur in Stone Age Finland Analysis of animal hairs and plant fibres from a Late Mesolithic grave have shed new light on prehistoric clothing and burial practices in Finland.
Sacrificial spider monkey remains offer evidence of gift diplomacy between Teotihuacán and Maya elite The spider monkey was found along with a golden eagle, rattlesnakes, and artefacts made of jade, shell, and obsidian.
Royal hall revealed at Rendlesham Excavations at Rendlesham in eastern England have unearthed the remains of a high-status early medieval settlement, including a royal hall built for the first kings of East Anglia.
New reliefs found at Nineveh The reliefs depict details including mountains, grapevines, pomegranates, figs, palm trees, and warriors firing arrows in battle
Trove of bronzes found at ancient Italian sanctuary Archaeological investigations have revealed more than 20 large statues dating from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD, as well as thousands of bronze, silver, and gold coins,…


On show: exhibitions from around the world in 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.
17th-century silk dress from the Palmwood Wreck goes on display in the Netherlands News, Objects The garment comes from the Palmwood Wreck, which was discovered in 2014 off the Texel coastline.
Santa Costanza, c.1710-1730 The Picture Desk Among the early Christian catacombs in northern Rome, beyond the walls of the ancient city, are those of the Sant’Agnese fuori le mura complex. It is here along the via…
Hilda Petrie (1871-1956) Comment, People Having learnt Arabic, Hilda would hire and pay their workers. She slept in a hut at Tarkhan with 80 skulls by her bed, living off canned pilchards and bully beef.
Janus: two-faced god of beginnings Comment, Ideas As we enter a new year, many of us find ourselves both reflecting on the past and making plans for the future. This dual outlook is embodied by the two-faced…


On show: exhibitions from around the world in 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.
Underworld: Imagining The Afterlife In Ancient South Italian Vase Painting Review by David Stuttard On an Apulian funerary vase, a fair-haired young man sits clutching a spear in his left hand as he exclaims in terror, ‘I’m not coming!’ But…
Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws and Other Classical Myths, Historical Oddities, and Scientific Curiosities Review by Diana Bentley Years of research as a folklorist and historian have enabled Adrienne Mayor, research scholar in classics and the history of science at Stanford University and an…
Treasures of Ukraine: A Nation’s Cultural Heritage Review by Lucia Marchini As well as death and displacement, conflict brings with it a threat to cultural heritage. Nearly one year on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this…

From the editor

Living and writing in the Sumerian city of Ur around 2300 BC, Enheduanna is the first named poet that we know of. Her hymns to the gods give us her name, some autobiography, and a new, warlike image of the goddess of love and fecundity Inanna. She was the first person to hold the title en, or high priestess, of the moon-god Nanna – a tradition upheld by royal women (with some breaks) into the 1st millennium BC. Yet for centuries before her, other high-ranking women in Mesopotamia had been playing an essential part in spiritual life, honouring the gods through offerings at temples where they set up small statues of themselves, but also in administration and the economy. For our cover feature, we delve into the world of Enheduanna.

In Denmark, Mads Ravn has been investigating a remarkable gold hoard discovered by a metal detectorist in 2020. Nordic bracteates inscribed with runes mingle with Roman medallions bearing emperors’ heads in the spectacular assemblage at Vindelev. Buried in the 6th century AD at a site intriguingly close to the later Viking centre of Jelling, what can the hoard tell us about power in the Germanic Iron Age?

Just as striking as these gold finds are the elaborate flame pots of prehistoric Jomon Japan. The people who made them, as well as distinctive cord-marked pottery and ceramic dogu figurines representing the human form, also set up stone circles, which like Stonehenge, Susan Greaney writes, show a preoccupation with sourcing the right stone and solar alignments.

Shared interests run through our next feature, too, in which we examine the relationship between the young United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries and the ancient Mediterranean. Architecture, collections of moralising art, poetry, and friendship highlight the breadth and depth of these interactions with the distant past.

We return to the subject of writing as Lindsay Fulcher explores a new exhibition on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that celebrates the bicentenary of the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone. The beautiful, and for a long time mysterious, hieroglyphs have the power to entice and inform, but for the ancient Egyptians the spoken word was even more potent than the written.

Finally, we mark another anniversary in Egyptology with a special review of some of the latest books on Tutankhamun, whose tomb was discovered 100 years ago.