New exhibit

There is a new exhibit opening at the Louvre. In the Denon wing for those that know it, right hand side of the glass pyramid if you are looking from the Tuileries.

Some know that I’m an honours graduate in Classical Civilization and History and so understand this news is like catnip to me. ‘So what’ I hear, where’s the ‘big deal’. Well, the deal, is a complete redistribution of all the artifacts of that period that were in single ‘country’ collections, Egypt 50BCE say. How on earth can they do this. It is quite simple really. They shifted the mindset back to the realities of that era between 200 BC and 500 AD and not on the late medieval. Where the meaning of Roman meant Greek in the first and Egyptian in the second, in their mind, the Roman mind. In that Catullus, Virgil, Homer and Seneca were writing Greek Art in Latin. Much like Shakespeare lifted wholesale from Seneca, the Romans lifted from the Greeks. In painting, we can now see that representational figures were the norm – click the link to the museum above. This taken from the Nile, as seen on the painted sarcophagus of that period. Which took another 1000 years to return to the west after the various iconoclasm’s between 500 and 1200. The mosaics at Ravenna  shows the contrasts.

How does this connect with me. Well it makes things far easier to say this or that is Celtic. Or that the derivation of such and such comes from that source. For as it now stands making an argument about the Celts of Ireland or France, one has to break assumptions formed over the last 900 years. But mostly over the last 300 which places the Roman in an ascendant for it fitted very well to the notions of European expansion. Not for nothing is Kaiser and Tzar the very same word as Caesar.  Or your basic ‘the winners write the histories’ sort of thing.

It was so bad that until a few years ago the substantial metal working in France pre-Roman couldn’t have occurred since the tribes weren’t sufficiently developed, it had to be imported. That was the thinking anyway. It took the finding of a hoard of bronze cauldrons of such size and decoration, well below any Roman levels in the archaeological stratigraphic that it was rammed down scholars throats such a position was pure hooey. But even still you’ll find in current writings echos of a blatant racism derived from these early assumptions.

I’m really looking forward to calling over for a visit to see what they’ve done. It should be good for the French are excellent at this kind of thing. Well, far better than the English and those in Dublin for they are able to hold the essence without being to distracted. Or to put it in other words. They tend to pick a person and give power to get on with things. Not as here and in London with bloody committees within committees of sub-committees. Where all are getting their per Diem’s such that as much as 80% of a project can be ganneted that way. Heck the only thing I’ve ever seen that matches the vision of the French was the opening of the 30th Olympics a few weeks ago.

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8 Responses to New exhibit

  1. Kimberly says:

    From what I have read over here, the motive behind this gallery was sort of an olive branch to the Muslim communities and to show the west that they’ve contributed more to society than extremists. I’m sure it will be very interesting to see the artifacts in this chronological fashion. I’ve read through your post a couple of times though, and I’m not quite sure I understand how this relates to your connection with the Celts. I’m not questioning it, just trying to understand it. Is it because this gallery opens up the possibility of advanced people who weren’t Greek or Roman? Ancient history knowledge isn’t a strong suit of mine, so pardon the stupid question if it is one. 🙂
    I’ve always thought designing and setting up a museum gallery would be rather fun. I hope you get over to Paris to see it.

    • Vince says:

      Meahhh kinda. It was as a pre-logical result of the establishment of the Islamic gallery. Since you couldn’t have the Arabs arriving from nothing into nothing. But it’s not connected in reality.

      To give an idea I’ll have to go at it in a different way. Two ways really. If you think of the Celts as the Indians, with the Irish Scot and Welsh as the last mountain hold outs.
      The second, is the issue with terminology as the first is being addressed and has been since the Celtic Revival of the late 1800’s.
      If you take the palace complex of Knossos on the island of Crete. Arthur Evans found the thing and proceeded to follow the usual terminology of that time. Basically it hinged on Kings, Thrones, Palaces, and all things regal or imperial. But there was and is little or no evidence of ‘royal’ at all. This is interfering with current study and attempts at understanding of the complex.
      So how the opening of the exhibit helps the Celt is it reorientates the focus of the Roman sphere to the east. Sucking much of that terminology with it. Or if I put it this way, getting rid of the Anglo focus in the USA over the last 60 years has strengthened the US culture as a whole. Where instead of looking on Geronimo as a pesky irritant in need of re-education in the Florida swamps. The view of a moxy fighter protecting his people replaced it post 1945. Slowly at first but by 1980 you couldn’t have filmed the westerns of the 1930 with their racism not even thinly disguised.

      • Kimberly says:

        Thanks for further explanation, and that link was interesting. I guess, by nature, the history of the ancient civs is constantly evolving, much more than we see with more recent history – Where an uncovered artifact could turn a trusted theory on its head.

        • Vince says:

          Yes, exactly.
          But be careful about the very recent. Things like Churchill not telling Washington that a Royal Navy sub in the Pacific saw the Japanese fleet steaming to Pearl are coming out all the time. And while not game changing, do change the tilt of the thing.
          Of course it is moot what they could have said to D.C. about the sub sighting. It wasn’t as if they were listening to the wardroom. They happened to see a battle fleet outside of where it was expected to be. So it became a weighing matter. And in the weighing the Admiralty came down on the side of it being unimportant, relatively speaking.

  2. Rebecca S. says:

    Sounds intriguing and right up your alley, mate! When are you going to Paris, then, lucky fellow?
    I read your further explanation to Kimberly, and appreciated the expansion on the thought in relation to the Celts and even the Americans 🙂 Yes, the whole Anglo-centered approach has needed a shake-up for certain.

    • Vince says:

      Yes, I feel it will make a big difference over a relatively short time. And it will have a multiplier when the other Deposits of Record re-jig also.
      You see they aren’t really doing that terrible amount. What they are doing is removing the bottom end of the Egyptian, Iraqi, Syrian, Palestinian and moving it to another set of rooms.

  3. sage says:

    I hope you get to make the trip. I enjoy your insights and laughed at your description of committees!

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