Jorge de Torres, Project Cataloguer, African Rock Art Image Project, British Museum
As I look up at the rock shelter here in Somalia, several thoughts cross my mind about the beautiful pieces of rock art above me. There’s always a strange feeling when you visit for the first time a place you have been studying for a long while: a merging of expectations, recognition and, in some cases, a feeling of its being other than how one had imagined it. The first time I saw the Pyramids in Egypt, for all their greatness and despite the myriad of photos, they appeared somehow different to how I had pictured them. However, this has never been the case for me when faced with the paintings and engravings on natural rock surfaces…
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Originally posted on The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife.
It may be hard to imagine, these days, that Sicily was once the cradle of European civilisation. Three super-powers battled for supremacy and Sicily was the centre of it all.
Today, I’ll tell you about the Phoenicians, the earliest super-power and Sicily’s first colonists.
Carthaginians and Phoenicians: the first empire
The Phoenicians were the first super-power, from the narrow strip of coastal land now called Lebanon.
Fearless sailors and ingenious traders throughout the known world, the Phoenicians invented money, created an alphabetic script for taking inventory, and built the world’s first import-export economy.
Everyone in the ancient world wanted their red murex shellfish, because wearing clothes in this special colour protected them against the Evil Eye, a terrifying primal force which caused infertility, crop failure and death. Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Consuls and Greek dictators dared not leave the house without their red clothes on. The name „Phoenician“ comes from the Greek word for red.
This was not all they sold. They also produced fine glass artwork and ceramics, they transported rare food crops, and they sold the best wood in the world for making ships’ masts, from their indigenous Lebanese pines.
Phoenician colonies sprang up all over the Mediterranean. These began as small trading stations, with a warehouse and a few guards who stayed behind to protect the merchandise and trade with the locals. Gradually, they grew into full-scale city-states. Their seminal culture laid the groundwork for much of modern Mediterranean religions, foods, languages, agriculture and art.
Carthage (nowadays called Tunis), benefitted from its central position and eventually became the largest of all the Phoenician city-states. When the Assyrians of modern-day Iraq conquered Phoenicia around 800 B.C., Carthage became the centre of the Phoenician civilisation. Carthage founded colonies of its own, including many in Sicily.
And the evil eye? To this day, some elderly Sicilians sprinkle salt inside their doorways and hide red pouches of…
Originally posted on Host City Glasgow
The “second city of empire” was how this year’s host of the Commonwealth Games used to be well-known. Glasgow’s imperial past is hinted at by names littered throughout the city centre, in geographic pointers such as Virginia Street and Jamaica Street; and tributes to tobacco barons in the likes of Buchanan Street and Ingram Street.
A quarter of the world’s locomotives and a fifth of its ships were built on the banks of the river Clyde in the second half of the 19th century. These were used primarily to transport goods and people around the empire. The route from Glasgow to America was much shorter than the passage from London. As a result, goods such as tobacco, cotton and sugar were all transported and stored by the Clyde. More tobacco was transported through Glasgow than the rest of the United Kingdom combined. This added to the wealth of so-called “tobacco lords”. Beyond street names, the city is still littered…