Bent Pyramid of Sneferu
Photo by Francis Frith, 1857
[Dahshur, Egypt, ca. 2600 BC]
Electrum Hekte from Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377-326 BC
Obverse: Laureate head of Zeus facing right. Reverse: Forepart of a serpent facing right within a linear square.
According to Homer, Mytilene has been an organized city since 1054 BC. Its most famous citizens were the poets Sappho and Alcaeus and the statesman Pittacus (one of the Seven Sages of ancient Greece). The city was famed for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid 4th centuries BC.
Mytilene revolted against Athens in 428 BC but was overcome by an Athenian expeditionary force. The Athenian public assembly voted to massacre all the men of the city and to sell the women and children into slavery but changed its mind the next day. A fast trireme sailed the 186 nautical miles (344 km) in less than a day and brought the decision to cancel the massacre.
Aristotle lived on Mytilene for two years, 337-335 BC, with his friend and successor, Theophrastus (a native of the island), after becoming the tutor to Alexander, son of King Philip II of Macedon.
I’ve written several plays set in Mytilene yet I have never visited. Some day.
The Fall of Atlanta:
The city of Atlanta, Georgia fell to Union forces under Major General William T. Sherman on September 2, 1864, following a six week siege after the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864.
The impact of the fall of Atlanta was instrumental in the eventual victory for the Federal forces. It boosted morale in the North and insured the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln which meant that the war would continue to the South’s capitulation. Until then, with no major Confederate Army left to contest Sherman and his men, he would order them to move east, towards Savannah, and from there, north into the Carolinas. Unopposed, Sherman’s Army brought the war to the heart of the South and to its civilian population.
These photos are from a series by George Barnard. Once an employee of Matthew Brady Studios, Barnard worked for the Topographical Branch of the Army Engineers after December 1863. Assigned to Sherman’s Army, he captured many of the images of the Atlanta Campaign on early photographic equipment.
(Be sure to follow atlantahistorycenter's series of Civil War Letters for more!)
Engravings believed to have been made by Neanderthals more than 39,000 years ago are pictured in Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar, in this handout photo courtesy of Stewart Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum. Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported on September 1, 2014 in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species.
Happy Birthday to Romare Bearden, born today in 1911!
Sharp, black outlines and geometric flashes of color punctuate a stark white background in Romare Bearden’s Some Drink! Some Drink!. One of his early ventures away from representational social realist painting to abstraction, Bearden uses ambiguous shapes, forming a whirl of color, line, and figures.
The subject, one of a series of paintings by Bearden, comes from the stories of French writer François Rabelais. During this period of his career, Bearden frequently drew inspiration from such diverse sources as the Bible, literature, Old Master painting, and cubism. Bearden’s early works were realistically painted urban scenes, but after World War II, he began experimenting with abstraction. The shift from realism to abstraction was natural for Bearden who emphasized the creative process and energy of art more than realism as a means to express his ideas.
Romare Bearden, Some Drink! Some Drink!, 1946, oil on masonite, Michener Acquisitions Fund, 1969.
On this day in 1666, a great fire swept through London and raged for four days. More than a century later, J.M.W. Turner witnessed another great fire in the capital, the burning of the Houses of Parliament, and created some quick sketches before producing this dramatic painting.
”The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, October 16, 1834,” 1834–35, by Joseph Mallord William Turner