132. Bronze Age Athens Posted on November 20, 2023 by Nathan (Yay! Another 3-D view! Go full-screen, click, drag, and zoom to explore.) Post navigation If you're on desktop, you can navigate with your left and right arrows. Join the conversation! There are now 15 comments on this chapter's page 132. Bronze Age Athens. What are your thoughts? “This panorama is too big for your device! It’s 10000px wide, but your device only supports images up to 8192px wide. (If you’re the author, try scaling down the image.)” Also, the this page doesn’t fit the screen. This is on an Android phone. Reply ↓ Aw. I shrunk it down, but don’t blame me if you can’t zoom in to the raw individual pixels now. Wait, I’m the only one you could possibly blame. Yeah, go ahead and blame me. ________________________________ Edit: I could just post the full 10,000 x 5,000 pixel version right here, if people actually do want to see it for some unfathomable reason. You’ll want to go full-screen. Reply ↓ Why are the men in the frescoes darker skinned, while the women are light? Reply ↓ If you’re asking why I painted them that way, it’s because that’s how the Mycenaean artists depicted people. If someone was male, then you used a reddish-brown pigment. If someone was female, then you gave them very pale, almost white skin. That was the common artistic convention at the time. Actually, for quite a long time. The ancient Egyptians illustrated people that way for ages and ages. The Minoans had done it that way, and the Mycenaeans borrowed most of their art style from the Minoans. The convention continued on beyond the Bronze Age into the classical era. In Greek black-figure art, for example, where the men were painted all black, the women were painted over with a layer of white. It’s just how they illustrated people back then. But if you’re asking why that convention existed in the first place, that’s a harder question to answer. The knee-jerk response is to say it’s because men got suntanned and women did not—that men worked out in the sun on boats and in fields while women stayed indoors and kept house. But that’s clearly wrong. We know that most women got outside plenty, and would have gotten just as tanned as the men. We also know that men wore hats and covered up and often had indoor jobs, and probably didn’t get super-dark all-over tans. Besides, when art styles started to get more realistic, women and men now got painted with the same skin tones. So it’s safe to say that, in real life, there wasn’t such a stark distinction. Which makes sense, because at this time art wasn’t supposed to be realistic. Instead, it was highly stylized. It had more in common with comic-book iconography than realistic portraiture. (Maybe “iconography” isn’t the right term What I mean is, if I draw a coffee mug with some wavy lines coming out of the top, I’m using those lines as a symbol to instantly communicate “hot.” Or when you look at a map, you know the blue lines are rivers even though the actual rivers might be brown or grayish green. That’s the same thing that’s going on here. Nobody was trying to depict realistic skin tones. They were just using “pale skin” to instantly signify “female,” and “dark skin” to tell you the character was male.) The contrasting colors symbolically communicated the two different sexes. Much the same as pink and blue are used nowadays. One nifty example of how color was visual language communicating a character’s sex is the Egyptian ruler Hatshepsut, who was a contemporary of the Mycenaeans. When she took power, it wasn’t in the most legitimate fashion. Plus, she was a woman in a traditionally male office. So her administration launched a massive propaganda campaign to get the Egyptians to accept her as their legitimate “king.” As part of that campaign, all kinds of public art depicted Hatshepsut with the same dark red/brown skin as a man. She also wore the usual false beard. Okay, but why light and dark? And why was this symbolism so widespread, and why did it persist so long? Some argue that it was a yin-yang-like reference to men and women as “opposite” sexes, through the use of “opposite” colors. I’m not persuaded. I mean, obviously they considered the two sexes to be different and distinct. But opposing forces, like good and evil, or chaos and harmony? I don’t see that. Especially because in the Bronze Age Aegean and Egypt, women weren’t yet relegated to their own separate and subordinate world, but inhabited much the same social sphere as men. Furthermore, if you look at nearby Anatolia, the Levant, and Mesopotamia, where women were much more separate and subordinate, their art didn’t differentiate the skin tone of the different sexes. Both men and women were depicted with various light and dark skin tones. Others have theorized that it’s a more complicated cultural depiction of “idealized” femininity and masculinity, like the impossibly perky breasts they put on women who’d never seen a bra, or the impossibly tiny waists they gave men. Kind of like Barbie or Superman. Again, I’m not persuaded, because again there’s nothing else that seems to indicate that more womanly women were more likely to have been extremely pale, or that more manly men were more likely to be extremely deeply tanned. Was it something to do with high status? But in that case, why are high-status priests and kings shown to be just as dark as the male slaves in their fields? I don’t think anybody’s argued that they were limited by the available pigments, but I’ll go ahead and raise that straw-man argument just because it lets me point out that they used a profusion of colors, which I think is pretty cool. That does raise the linguistic fact that ancient peoples had very different words for colors than we do, which suggests that they did not think of colors in the same way as we do. Homer might describe the sea as the color of red wine, or a farmer’s ox as red, or say the sky was bronze, or whatnot. I don’t remember the details exactly, but the point is that what we’re perceiving in our own cultural context as pale untanned skin and dark tanned skin, might have signified something else entirely in the language and culture of the time. It’d be fun to speculate on that. But I doubt it answers your question. Reply ↓ The page not fitting the screen on mobile was driving me nuts. It had never been a problem before, then suddenly it was. On every page, the left half of everything below the post titles was cropped off, and you couldn’t even scroll to see it. I went through thousands of lines of php and css, and every tweak that would have made sense either did nothing or made it worse. Googling the problem a dozen different ways did not help. Then I accidentally moved a single one-word command from after a commented-out remark to before it… and suddenly the full page appeared again! Only now the full page was shrunk into the left half of the screen. Except for the form where you can post a comment, which now stretched out past the right edge. A lot more tweaking followed. Again, it wasn’t the lines actually relevant to the issue that wound up being the solution. Yes, they had to be fiddled with, but none of it took effect until I changed a value in a line that cannot be called, really just some junk code that ought to have been deleted years ago. Now it looks like it’s working once again… and I haven’t the faintest idea why. Reply ↓ I feel like this series is going to end with a panorama of the Oval Office. Reply ↓ Hmm… :) How to put them in a print version, that is a question. Reply ↓ CD bound into the back of the book. I’d say QR code to a website, but those tend to be ephemeral. Maybe a massive QR code that holds the whole image? Can you do that with standard 2D barcodes? Reply ↓ Hell no, that is definitely not possible. The panorama is over 30 megabytes. QR codes max out in the low kilobyte range of capacity. Reply ↓ Can we just talk about how adorable that red dog is!! I have decided his name is Copper, and I want to take him outside and play Reply ↓ I once met a dog named Copper, short for Copernicus. His owner was an astronomer. Reply ↓ I immediately thought of this one: Reply ↓ Is that loss? Reply ↓ Nathan, did you do the illustrations in the Penn Museum ancient food and flavor exhibit? It’s a very similar art style and subject matter. Reply ↓ Someone who draws like me? Poor fellow! No, I didn’t do anything for the Penn Museum that I’m aware of. But now I want to see the exhibit! Because it totally sounds right up my alley. (And I haven’t been to Pennsylvania since my last James Wilson research junket back in October ’22, so I’m overdue!) Reply ↓ Class Participation Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment * Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Δ Post navigation If you're on desktop, you can navigate with your left and right arrows.