Thursday, April 28, 2022

17C Spring Allegory with Flowers & a Garden by Wenceslaus Hollar 1607-1677

1641 Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech, 1607-1677) Spring

Wenceslaus Hollar was born in 1607, the son of an upper middle-class civic official. Very little is known about his early life, but he evidently learned the rudiments of his craft by age eighteen, left his native Prague at age twenty, and likely studied in Frankfurt under Matthaus Merian. His first book of etchings was published in 1635, in Cologne when Hollar was twenty-eight. The following year he came to the attention of the renowned art collector the Earl of Arundel who was making an official visit to the continent, and Hollar subsequently became a part of his household, settling in England early in 1637. He remained in England during the beginning of the English Civil War period, but left London for Antwerp in 1642, where he continued to work on a variety of projects. In 1652 he returned to England, working on a number of large projects for the publisher John Ogilby and for the antiquary Sir William Dugdale. Hollar was in London during the Great Fire of 1666, and remains most famous for his scenes of the city before and after the fire. He was one of the most skilled etchers of his or any other time, which is all the more remarkable given that he was almost blind in one eye. Hollar died in London on 25 March 1677. By his life's end, he had produced some 2700 separate etchings.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

17C Time to Stop & Smell the Flowers

1638 L'Odorat by Abraham Bosse (French, c 1602-04–1676)

Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

17C Personification of Spring with a Garden! by Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech artist, 1607-1677)

Personification of Spring by Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech artist, 1607-1677)  Spring with a view of a 17C walled garden with people, beds, & two gates!

Wenceslaus Hollar was born in 1607, the son of an upper middle-class civic official. He left his native Prague at age 20, and likely studied in Frankfurt under Matthaus Merian. His 1st book of etchings was published in 1635, in Cologne, when Hollar was 28. The following year he came to the attention of the art collector the Earl of Arundel who was making an official visit to the continent, & Hollar subsequently became a part of his household, settling in England early in 1637. He remained in England during the beginning of the English Civil War period; but left London for Antwerp in 1642, where he continued to work on a variety of projects. In 1652, he returned to England, working on a number of large projects for the publisher John Ogilby & Sir William Dugdale. Hollar was in London during the Great Fire of 1666, & remains famous for his scenes of the city before & after the fire. He a skilled etcher, which is remarkable given that he was almost blind in one eye. Hollar died in London on 25 March 1677. By his life's end, he had produced nearly 3000 separate etchings.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers


Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Woman with a Basket of Flowers by William Marshall (1617-1649)

William Marshall (British printmaker, 1617-1649) Woman with a Flower Basket

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers

Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Friday, April 22, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers


Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Woman Holding A Fan by Abraham Bosse (French, c 1602-04–1676)

Woman Holding A Fan by Abraham Bosse (French, c 1602/1604–1676)  Bosse was a French illustrator, mainly as a printmaker in etching. He was born to Huguenot (Calvinist) parents in Tours, France, where his father had moved from Germany. His father was a tailor, & Bosse's work always depicted clothes in loving detail. Roughly 1600 etchings are attributed to him, with subjects including: daily life, religion, literature, fashion, technology, & science. Most of his output was illustrations for books, but many were also sold separately. His style grows from Dutch & Flemish art, but is given a strongly French flavor. Many of his images give informative detail about middle & upper-class daily life in the period, although they must be treated with care as historical evidence. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers


Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers


Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Spring by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Duchess of Lennox as Spring. Spring refers to the ecological, environmental season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection & regrowth.

Spring is the perfect time to celebrate Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Trade Routes between Europe & Asia during Antiquity

 

Trade Routes between Europe & Asia during Antiquity

Long-distance trade played a major role in the cultural, religious, artistic, & plant exchanges that took place between the major centers of civilization in Europe & Asia during antiquity. Some of these trade routes had been in use for centuries. The trade routes served principally to transfer luxury goods, raw materials, plants, & foodstuffs between the East & West.

As far back as the 6th century CE, great caravans of camels traveled regularly over the Arab trade routes between India and the Middle East carrying prized Eastern goods, such as drugs, hemp, opium, incense and spices. In the Middle Ages, these goods were transferred on to the Levant and to merchants in Venice for distribution throughout Europe.

The Silk Road, a series of ancient trade routes stretching across Central Asia to Europe, evokes exotic images of camel trains laden with bales of fine Chinese silk, spices, and perfume;, of desert oases surrounded by snow-capped mountains; of bustling markets thronging with travelers buying and selling grapes, coriander, Baltic amber, and Mediterranean coral. The silks & spices & incence evolved as ancient mankind experimented with the products of Nature.  Along this route, silks were sent from China to ancient Rome; princesses were dispatched in marriage alliances across the deserts; bandits and thieves launched attacks throughout history. Spanning more than 5,000 years, the Silk Road was more than just a trade route, the Silk Road witnessed the movement of Man's cultural influences intermingled with Nature's changing landscapes.

Some areas had a monopoly on certain materials or goods. China, for example, supplied West Asia & the Mediterranean world with silk, while spices were obtained principally from South Asia. These goods were transported over vast distances— either by caravans & pack animals overland, or by seagoing ships—along the Silk & Spice Routes, which were the main arteries of contact between the various ancient empires of the Old World.

Another important trade route, known as the Incense Route, was controlled by the Arabs, who brought frankincense & myrrh by camel caravan from South Arabia. The demands for scents & incense by the empires of antiquity, such as Egypt, Rome & Babylon, made Arabia one of the oldest trade centers of the world.
The original Spice Trade, or 'Incense Route', from the Mediterranean to India and the East was closed off to Europeans due to the spread of Islam after the Prophet Muhammad's death in 632 CE. Traders from the Arabian world controlled overland and sea routes from India to the Levant and Venice. Arabs monopolized trade in drugs, hemp, opium, incense and spices for centuries until the Ottoman Turks broke their stranglehold on Eastern trade in 1453. 

Cities along these trade routes grew rich providing services to merchants who rested in oasis towns (known as a "caravanserai"). These centers served as international marketplaces, & areas where knowledge was also exchanged. Cities such as Palmyra & Petra, on the fringes of the Syrian Desert, flourished mainly as centers of trade supplying merchant caravans & policing the trade routes. They also became cultural & artistic centers, where peoples of different ethnic & cultural backgrounds could meet & intermingle. 

The trade routes were the communications highways of the ancient world. New inventions, artistic styles, religious faiths, cultures, languages, & social customs, as well as goods & plants, were transported.

Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. “Trade Routes between Europe and Asia during Antiquity.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. 

The Medieval Spice & Incense Trade with an Allure & Mythology dating back to Antiquity

Catalan Caravan Atlas Drawing

The Medieval Spice Trade   Newberry Library by Sarah Peters Kernan

How were spices used by medieval Europeans, & why were spices so valuable in medieval Europe?

Spices were an important commodity in the Middle Ages with an allure & mythology dating back to Antiquity. Spices were expensive & a sign of status in the Roman Empire. They were consumed in large quantities by the wealthiest citizens. Like many other goods, spices were easy to transport because of safe & maintained routes controlled by the Romans. When the Empire fell, local powers took control of routes & travel became more difficult as these entities engaged in war, embraced different religions, & neglected maintenance of old Roman roads. As a result, for several centuries in the early Middle Ages, people in Western Europe lacked consistent access to spices.

After religious crusaders tasted the cuisines of the Middle East in the high Middle Ages, they renewed a widespread European interest in spices for culinary & medicinal applications. Merchants procured a wide range of spices for consumers, including pepper, ginger, cinnamon, clove, & saffron, as well as the now-obscure spices like grains of paradise & spikenard. Sugar was also used as a spice during the Middle Ages. Spices again became revered luxury items & status symbols across Europe. European merchants sought out spices from Asia, traveling dangerous routes through the Middle East & Africa. Traders were faced with many challenges, including physical danger & constant economic strain from local tariffs & taxes. Because spices were from distant lands & European consumers had no direct access to their sources, stories about spice origins flourished. Contemporary authors recorded myths about pepper trees guarded by serpents & cinnamon requiring harvest from nests of fantastical birds built on perilous cliffs. These legends only added to their mystique & justified their expense.

Muslims controlled all routes of access to spices in the East from Europe. This presented a challenge for Christian & Jewish traders from the West, as there was perpetual tensions & outright warfare between Christian & Muslim powers. Muslims dominated not only land routes which spanned across the Middle East & northern Africa to Pakistan & western India, but also maritime routes throughout the Indian Ocean. In 1453, Italian merchants were largely forced to stop trading spices through combined land & sea routes. In that year the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople, a city at the convergence of all land routes to the spice centers of the East, & began levying prohibitively expensive tariffs on goods transported through the city. In an effort to find new seaways to Asia, kingdoms sponsored exploratory expeditions. Some explorers discovered new water routes to China & India, re-opening trade of spices & other goods, while others claimed land & resources in the New World.

Luxurious Consumption

Throughout the Middle Ages, spices were a status symbol & sign of luxury. Only the wealthiest could afford large quantities of spices to use for culinary purposes. Meals in noble households were ostentatious affairs, even small & relatively private meals. Consider what spices do in a cooked dish: they color food, flavor food, & make food more aromatic. Spices, then, enhance the senses of sight, taste, & smell. In the context of a medieval meal, especially a feast intended to impress guests, spices played a major role. Fountains flowing with spiced wine might be installed in or near a great hall; this lavish service of wine would scent an entire room with spices like cloves, grains of paradise, ginger, & cinnamon. Nearly any dish, whether roasted, stewed, or baked, could include an impressive array of these imported spices. In one image of a meal from a 15C prayerbook, two wealthy diners share a private meal. They are being served a pie, which in the Middle Ages consisted of a meat or fish mixture baked in a decorated pastry crust. This mixture would undoubtedly include many spices. The exterior of the pie would often be brushed with a wash with saffron, a remarkably expensive spice made from the hand-picked threads of crocus flowers, turning the finished dish into a gleaming, golden work of art.

Wealthy Ancient Romans used spices copiously in their foods, a tradition that continued for many more centuries...Pepper & cumin were the most common combination , & the chicken dish also includes spiced wine as another ingredient. While the dishes of the cookbook De re coquinaria fell out of favor in medieval Europe, the cookbook was still copied by manuscript scribes & was printed several times during the Renaissance.

Spices were not solely culinary ingredients; they were also used for their aromatic properties in perfumes & incense. In a time when bathing was infrequent, streets were not paved, & animal dung was a constant presence, pleasant aromas were highly valued. For example, frankincense & myrrh were prized for their aromas. Additionally, these spices were closely tied to the Christian tradition. In images of the three kings visiting the newborn Christ Child on Epiphany, the close of the Christmas season, frankincense & myrrh are presented as gifts equal to gold.

The Value of Spices

The value of spices was determined not only by their taste & status as luxury items, but also their medical properties & the fantastic legends attached to their production. Spices were believed to have important medical qualities; spices were ingredients in medieval pharmaceuticals. Apothecaries, the medieval equivalent to pharmacies, were stocked with supplies of spices which were then carefully mixed with other spices, minerals, & animal products to create an array of medications to be ingested by or applied on a patient. Medieval & renaissance writers devoted many pages to the benefits of spices, including the excerpts which describe cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, & pepper.

Some spices were legitimately difficult to harvest. Musk, an oil from the scent glands of a Central Eurasian deer, & ambergris, a waxy substance produced by the digestive system of the sperm whale, were 2 such spices. Others, however, were more easily procured. Yet merchants assigned bizarre stories to other spices to heighten their value for European consumers. Since most people in the medieval West had no contact with the Far East & the actual origins of spices, these myths persisted for centuries. The two most notable of these are tied to pepper & cinnamon. Pepper was said to be guarded by serpents which had to be chased away by fire. This fire turned fresh, white peppercorns into black, wrinkled spices...Cinnamon had a similarly wild story. Merchants claimed that a mythical bird called a Cinnamologus made nests out of cinnamon sticks in Arabia. These nests were built on perilous cliffs, & people had to drive the birds from these nests in order to harvest the cinnamon. Platina refers to this myth in his description of cinnamon, below.

A Profitable Venture

Spice merchants could reap enormous profits, but they also faced dangerous journeys to procure their goods. Whether traveling by land or sea, they faced perils like pirates & raiders, religious & political conflict, & accidents like shipwrecks. Traders furthermore faced financial strain to move spices from Eastern points of trade to Europe. Whenever spices were transported through different kingdoms or points of trade, merchants had to pay steep tariffs. Depending upon the spice, merchants could charge 50 or 60 percent more in Europe for the spices they bought in the Middle East. Some contemporary accounts state that merchants charged 100 percent more. However, a majority of the markup was due to tariffs, leaving traders with a smaller profit, even as little as 10 percent.

Spices entering the European market were typically transported through Venice. This city was located in a prime location in Mediterranean. It was relatively easy to access major gateways to Eastern trade routes like Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey); Aleppo, Syria; & Alexandria, Egypt. From the eleventh through the 15C, Venetian merchants ruled the European spice trade. As a result, Venice became an extremely wealthy & powerful city. Such a wealthy city attracted the most talented artisans to produce innovative architecture, artwork, & music.

By the late Middle Ages, thousands of tons of the most common spices were imported into Europe annually through Venice. The value of these spices was approximately the value of a yearly supply of grain for 1.5 million people. In 15C England, a pound of pepper cost more than two days’ wages by a skilled London craftsman. A pound of cloves cost nearly five days’ wages, while a pound a saffron cost one month’s wages. Prices varied throughout Europe & fluctuated over time, but the general idea remained the same: spices were a very expensive ingredient in medieval Europe.

Changes in the Renaissance Spice Trade

Italian traders were forced to significantly reduce trade in spices via combined land & sea routes through Constantinople in 1453. In this year, the Ottoman Empire, an Eastern superpower, conquered the city. Since Constantinople was located on major east-west & north-south trade routes, the Ottomans could charge restrictively high taxes on all goods bound for the West.

Because Europeans were denied access to spices though Constantinople, kingdoms began to sponsor the exploration of new routes to India to directly obtain spices. Portugal & Spain, however, were the first to make significant headway. The Portuguese had already begun to explore northern Africa earlier in the 1400s. So, they quickly set out on a possible sea route to India around the southern tip of Africa. Bartolomeu Dias first crossed the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, & in 1497, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape, continued to the eastern coast of Africa, & sailed across the Indian Ocean to Calicut in south India. At long last, Europeans had direct access to Indian spices without the intervention of Arab traders. By the beginning of the 16C, the Portuguese had complete control of the African sea route. Other explorers attempted alternate routes to India by traveling westward. Christopher Columbus, an explorer for the Spanish crown, was the first of these explorers to reach the New World in 1492 traveling this route, mistaking the Bahamas for the East Indies.

Over the following centuries, consumption of spices declined. Yet they still remained an important commodity. The Dutch struggled, & eventually succeeded at the turn of the 17C, to wrest control of trade from the Portuguese by establishing the Dutch East Indies Company. The British East India Company, a direct competitor, was founded at around the same time. The goal of these companies was all the same: to establish direct trade with Indian spice producers & keep tariffs as low as possible. 

Plants & Incense already traveled The Silk Road as China officially began trade with the West in 130 B.C.

Journey of the Magi by Hieronymus Bosch 1500-1510

The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes connecting China & the Far East with the Middle East & Europe. Established when the Han Dynasty in China officially opened trade with the West in 130 B.C., the Silk Road routes remained in use until 1453 A.D., when the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with China & closed them.
Stefano Di Giovanni Sassetta (Italian artist, 1394-1450) Journey of the Magi along The Silk Road 1435

The Middle Ages refers to the period of European history from the fall of the Roman Empire in the West (5C) to the fall of Constantinople (1453).  In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages (or medieval period) lasted from the 5C to the 15C.  The Middle Ages is the middle period of the 3 traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, & the modern period.
The Meeting of the Magi on The Silk Road by Maestro de Saint Bartholomew 1480

The medieval period is subdivided into the Early, High, & Late Middle Ages. During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological & agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish.  The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from Muslims. For Europe as a whole, 1500 is often considered to be the end of the Middle Ages, but there is no firmly agreed upon end date. Events such as the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas in 1492, or the Protestant Reformation in 1517 are sometimes used.

Ancient Societies also Stopped to Smell the Flowers


The spectrum of smells in ancient societies, & their possible cultural meanings, are being explored by scientists who study odor molecules, old documents & other archaeological finds. Here, a carved relief of an ancient Egyptian queen smelling a lotus flower represents the fragrant world that pharaohs & their families inhabited.

Ancient "Smellscapes" are wafting out of Artifacts & Old Texts

Science News. By Bruce Bower. May 4, 2022   

Ramses VI faced a smelly challenge when he became Egypt’s king in 1145 B.C. The new pharaoh’s first job was to rid the land of the stench of fish & birds, denizens of the Nile Delta’s fetid swamps.

That, at any rate, was the instruction in a hymn written to Ramses VI upon his ascension to the throne. Some smells, it seems, were considered far worse than others in the land of the pharaohs.

Surviving written accounts indicate that, perhaps unsurprisingly, residents of ancient Egyptian cities encountered a wide array of nice & nasty odors. Depending on the neighborhood, citizens inhaled smells of sweat, disease, cooking meat, incense, trees & flowers. Egypt’s hot weather heightened demand for perfumed oils & ointments that cloaked bodies in pleasant smells.

“The written sources demonstrate that ancient Egyptians lived in a rich olfactory world,” says Egyptologist Dora Goldsmith of Freie Universität Berlin. A full grasp of ancient Egyptian culture requires a comprehensive examination of how pharaohs and their subjects made sense of their lives through smell, she contends. No such study has been conducted.

Archaeologists have traditionally studied visible objects. Investigations have reconstructed what ...buildings looked like based on excavated remains & determined how people lived by analyzing their tools, personal ornaments & other tangible finds.

Rare projects have re-created what people may have heard thousands of years ago at sites such as Stonehenge (SN: 8/31/20). Piecing together, much less re-creating, the olfactory landscapes, or smellscapes, of long-ago places has attracted even less scholarly curiosity. Ancient cities in Egypt & elsewhere have been presented as “colorful & monumental, but odorless & sterile,” Goldsmith says.

Changes are in the air, though. Some archaeologists are sniffing out odor molecules from artifacts found at dig sites & held in museums. Others are poring over ancient texts for references to perfume recipes, & have even cooked up a scent much like one presumably favored by Cleopatra. In studying & reviving scents of the past, these researchers aim to understand how ancient people experienced, & interpreted, their worlds through smell.

Molecular odors

A growing array of biomolecular techniques is enabling the identification of molecules from ancient aromatic substances preserved in cooking pots & other containers, in debris from city garbage pits, in tartar caked on human teeth & even in mummified remains.

Take the humble incense burner, for instance. Finding an ancient incense burner indicates only that a substance of some kind was burned. Unraveling the molecular makeup of residue clinging to such a find “can determine what exactly was burned & reconstruct whether it was the scent of frankincense, myrrh, scented woods or blends of different aromatics,” says archaeologist Barbara Huber.

That sort of detective work is exactly what Huber, of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, & her colleagues did in research on the walled oasis settlement of Tayma in what’s now Saudi Arabia.

Researchers generally assume that Tayma was a pit stop on an ancient network of trade routes, known as the Incense Route, that carried frankincense & myrrh from southern Arabia to Mediterranean destinations around 2,300 to 1,900 years ago. Frankincense & myrrh are both spicy-smelling resins extracted from shrubs & trees that grow on the Arabian Peninsula & in northeastern Africa & India. But Tayma was more than just a refueling oasis for trade caravans.

The desert outpost’s residents purchased aromatic plants for their own uses during much of the settlement’s history, a team led by Huber found. Chemical & molecular analyses of charred resins identified frankincense in cube-shaped incense burners previously unearthed in Tayma’s residential quarter, myrrh in cone-shaped incense burners that had been placed in graves outside the town wall, & an aromatic substance from Mediterranean mastic trees in small goblets used as incense burners in a large public building.

Fragrances of various kinds that must have had special meanings permeated a range of daily activities at ancient Tayma, Huber’s group reported in 2018 in Munich at the 11th International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East.

In a more recent study, published March 28 in Nature Human Behavior, Huber & her colleagues outlined ways to detect chemical & genetic traces of ancient scents.

Other researchers have gone searching for molecular scent clues in previously excavated pottery. Analytical chemist Jacopo La Nasa of the University of Pisa in Italy & his colleagues used a portable version of a mass spectrometer to study 46 vessels, jars, cups & lumps of organic material.

These artifacts were found more than a century ago in the underground tomb of Kha & his wife Merit, prominent nonroyals who lived during Egypt’s 18th dynasty from about 1450 B.C. to 1400 B.C. The spectrometer can detect the signature chemical makeup of invisible gases emitted during the decay of different fragrant plants & other substances that had been placed inside vessels.

Analyses of residue from inside seven open vessels & of one lump of unidentified organic material detected oil or fat, beeswax or both, the scientists report in the May Journal of Archaeological Science. One open vessel yielded possible chemical markers of dried fish & of a possible aromatic resin that could not be specified. The remaining containers were sealed & had to stay that way due to museum policy. Measurements taken in the necks of those vessels also picked up signs of oils or fats & beeswax in some cases. Evidence of a barley flour appeared in one vessel’s neck.

Museum-based studies such as La Nasa’s have great potential to unlock ancient scents. But that’s true only if researchers can open sealed vessels &, with a bit of luck, find enough surviving chemical components of whatever was inside to identify the substance, Goldsmith says.

Luck did not favor La Nasa’s group, she says. “Their analyses did not detect any [specific] scents.”

Oils, fats & beeswax in the seven open vessels could only have constituted neutral-smelling base ingredients for ancient Egyptian perfumes & ointments, Goldsmith says. Starting with mixtures of those substances, Egyptian perfume makers added a host of fragrant ingredients that included myrrh, resin & bark from styrax & pine trees, juniper berries, frankincense & nut grass. The heating of these concoctions produced strongly scented ointments.

Re-creating Cleopatra’s perfume

A tradition of fragrant remedies & perfumes began as the first Egyptian royal dynasties assumed power around 5,100 years ago, Goldsmith’s research suggests. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic & cursive documents describe recipes for several perfumes. But precise ingredients & preparation methods remain unknown.

That didn’t stop Goldsmith & historian of Greco-Roman philosophy & science Sean Coughlin of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague from trying to re-create a celebrated Egyptian fragrance known as the Mendesian perfume. Cleopatra, a perfume devotee during her reign as queen from 51 B.C. to 30 B.C., may have doused herself with this scented potion. The perfume took its name from the city where it was made, Mendes.

Excavations conducted since 2009 at Thmouis, a city founded as an extension of Mendes, have uncovered the roughly 2,300-year-old remains of what was probably a fragrance factory, including kilns & clay perfume containers. Archaeologist Robert Littman of the University of Hawaii at Manoa & anthropological archaeologist Jay Silverstein of the University of Tyumen in Russia, who direct the Thmouis dig, asked Goldsmith & Coughlin to try to crack the Mendesian perfume code by consulting ancient writings.

After experimenting with ingredients that included desert date oil, myrrh, cinnamon & pine resin, Goldsmith & Coughlin produced a scent that they suspect approximates what Cleopatra probably wore. It’s a strong but pleasant, long-lasting blend of spiciness & sweetness, they say.

Ingredients of a re-creation of an ancient fragrance called the Mendesian perfume consist of pine resin, cinnamon cassia, true cinnamon, myrrh & moringa oil. Cleopatra herself may have worn the ancient scent. A description of the Thmouis discoveries & efforts to revive the Mendesian scent — dubbed Eau de Cleopatra by the researchers — appeared in the Sept. 2021 Near Eastern Archaeology.

Goldsmith has re-created several more ancient Egyptian perfumes from written recipes for fragrances that were used in everyday life, for temple rituals & in the mummification process.

Odor molecules unearthed in archaeological digs & reconstituted perfumes from the past, however, offer only a partial view of the scents of thousands of years ago. To get a more complete picture of an ancient city’s or town’s range of smells — its smellscape — some archaeologists are combing ancient written texts for references to smell.

That’s what Goldsmith did to come up with what she thinks is a smellscape typical of ancient Egyptian cities. Here’s what a “smellwalk” through one of these cities would entail, she says.

In the royal palace, for instance, the perfumed smell of rulers & their family members would have overpowered that of court officials & servants. That would perhaps have denoted special ties to the gods among those in charge, Goldsmith wrote in a chapter of The Routledge Handbook of the Senses in the Ancient Near East, published in September of 2021.

In temples, priests anointed images of gods with what was called the 10 sacred oils. Though their ingredients are mostly unknown, each substance apparently had its own pleasing scent & ritual function. Temples mixed smells of perfumes, flowers & incense with roasted meat. Written sources describe the smell of fatty meat being grilled as especially pleasing & a sign of peace as well as authority over enemies.

In other parts of an ancient Egyptian city, Goldsmith says, scribal students lived in a special building where they learned Egyptian script. Achieving such knowledge required total devotion & the avoidance of perfume or other pleasant scents. One ancient source described aspiring scribes as “stinking bulls.” That name speaks, & reeks, for itself.

Meanwhile, in workshops, sandal-makers mixing tan to soften hides & smiths making metal weapons at the mouths of furnaces probably developed their own distinctive, foul smells, Goldsmith says.

Stinky odors get far fewer mentions than sweet aromas in many of the written accounts from ancient Egypt that Goldsmith reviewed. Goats & other domestic animals, butchered carcasses, open latrines & garbage in the streets, for example, get no mention in these surviving texts.

An awareness that such texts may represent only an elite perspective - & thus not reveal the entire smellscape of the time or how it was perceived by everyday folks - is crucial when compiling the scents of ancient history, Goldsmith says.

Once researchers come up with a reasonable reconstruction of an ancient city’s smellscape, the challenge shifts to figuring out how the ancients interpreted those smells.

Scent is a powerful part of the human experience. Today, scientists know that smells, which humans might discriminate surprisingly well, can instantly trigger memories of past experiences... 

People in modern settings probably perceive the same smells as nice or nasty as folks in ancient Egypt or other past societies did, says psychologist Asifa Majid of the University of Oxford. In line with that possibility, members of nine non-Western cultures, including hunter-gatherers in Thailand & farming villagers in highland Ecuador, closely agreed with Western city dwellers when ranking the pleasantness of 10 odors, Majid & her colleagues report April 4 in Current Biology.

Smells of vanilla, citrus & floral sweetness — dispensed by pen-sized devices — got high marks. Odors of rancid oiliness & a fermented scent like that of ripe cheese or human sweat evoked frequent “yech” responses.

A collective “yech” in response to the Nile Delta’s moist, stinky emissions may have inspired the hymn that instructed Ramses VI to rid the land of its swampy fish & fowl smell. But Goldsmith argues that the hymn’s meaning is deeper & hinges on what ancient Egyptians saw as a conflict between sweet & evil smells.

In a 2019 review of texts written during the reigns of various ancient Egyptian kings, Goldsmith was struck by frequent references to this odiferous opposition. She concluded that ancient Egyptians’ largely unexplored views about what exemplified good & bad smells could provide insights into their world view. Researchers have long noted that concepts known as isfet & ma’at helped ancient Egyptians determine what was good or bad in the world. Isfet referred to a natural state of chaos & evil. Ma’at denoted a world of order & justice.

Signature odors were associated with isfet & ma’at, Goldsmith proposed in a chapter in Sounding Sensory Profiles in the Ancient Near East. In Nile societies, the smelly fish & birds best represented isfet’s nasal assault. Fish, in particular, signified not only stench but also the danger of unfamiliar places outside the pharaoh’s command, she concludes. Meanwhile, the ancient documents equated scented ointments & perfumes with the ma’at of civilized, pharaoh-ruled cities, she says.

Thus, an Egyptian pharaoh’s first duty was to erase the social & physical stink of isfet & institute the sweet smell of ma’at, Goldsmith contends. In his welcoming hymn, Ramses VI got a friendly reminder to make Egypt politically strong & olfactorily fresh.

Explicit beliefs connecting isfet with evil smells & ma’at with sweet smells throughout ancient Egyptian history haven’t yet been established but deserve closer scrutiny, says UCLA Egyptologist Robyn Price.

Price thinks that, rather than being fixed, values that were applied to scents fluctuated over time. For instance, some ancient texts describe the “marsh,” where fish & fowl flourished, as a place of divine creation, she says. And documents from southern Egypt often spoke negatively about northern Egyptians, perhaps influencing claims that northern marshes stunk of isfet during periods when the two regions were under separate rule.

So, even if the ancients tagged the same odors as pleasurable or offensive as people do today, culture & context probably profoundly shaped responses to those smells.

Working-class Romans living in Pompeii around 2,000 years ago — before Mount Vesuvius’ catastrophic eruption in A.D. 79 — provide one example. Archaeological evidence & written sources indicate that patrons of small taverns throughout the city were bombarded with strong smells, says archaeologist Erica Rowan of Royal Holloway, University of London. Diners standing or sitting in small rooms & at outdoor counters whiffed smoky, greasy food being cooked, body odors of other customers who had been toiling all day & pungent aromas wafting out of nearby latrines.

The smells & noises that filled Pompeii’s taverns provided a familiar & comforting experience for everyday Romans, who made these establishments successful, Rowan suspects. Excavations have uncovered 158 of these informal eating & drinking spots throughout Pompeii.

Roman cities generally smelled of human waste, decaying animal carcasses, garbage, smoke, incense, cooked meat & boiled cabbage, Classical historian Neville Morley of the University of Exeter in England wrote in 2014 in a chapter of Smell & the Ancient Senses. That potent mix “must have been the smell of home to its inhabitants & perhaps even the smell of civilization,” he concluded.

Ramses VI undoubtedly regarded the perfumed world of his palace as the epitome of civilized life. But at the end of a long day, Egyptian sandal-makers & smiths, like Pompeii’s working stiffs, may well have smelled home as the air of city streets filled their nostrils.

See:

A. Arshamian et al. The perception of odor pleasantness is shared across cultures. Current Biology. Published April 4, 2022. 

D. Goldsmith. Smellscapes in ancient Egypt. In K. Neumann & A. Thomason, eds., The Routledge Handbook of the Senses in the Ancient Near East. New York, September 2021.

D. Goldsmith. Fish, fowl & stench in ancient Egypt. In A. Schellenberg & T. Krüger, eds., Sounding Sensory Profiles in the Ancient Near East. SBL Press, 2019.

B. Huber et al. How to use modern science to reconstruct ancient scents. Nature Human Behavior. Published March 28, 2022. 

B. Huber et al. An archaeology of odors: Chemical evidence of ancient aromatics at the oasis of Tayma, NW Arabia. 11th International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Munich, April 3–7, 2018.

R.J. Littman et al. Eau de Cleopatra: Mendesian perfume & Tell Timai. Near Eastern Archaeology. Vol. 84, September 2021.

N. Morley. Urban smells & Roman noses. In M. Bradley, ed., Smell & the Ancient Senses. New York, December 2014.

J. La Nasa et al. Archaeology of the invisible: The scent of Kha & Merit. Journal of Archaeological Science. Vol. 141, May 2022. 

E. Rowan. The sensory experiences of food consumption. In R. Skeates & J. Day, eds., The Routledge Handbook of Sensory Archaeology. New York, November 2019.

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Monday, April 18, 2022

Voting Rights in the USA: A Short History

“Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States,” by Howard Chandler Christy, depicts the Constitutional Convention, held in 1787 in Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution.

The struggle for equal voting rights dates to the earliest days of U.S. history. Now, after a period of bipartisan efforts to expand enfranchisement, Americans once again face new obstacles to voting

Challenges to voting rights in this country...are hardly a 21st-century invention. Entrenched groups have long tried to keep the vote out of the hands of the less powerful. Indeed, America began its great democratic experiment in the late 1700s by granting the right to vote to a narrow subset of society — white male landowners. Even as barriers to voting began receding in the ensuing decades, many Southern states erected new ones, such as poll taxes & literacy tests, aimed at keeping the vote out of the hands of African American men.

Over time, voting rights became a bipartisan priority as people worked at all levels to enact constitutional amendments & laws expanding access to the vote based on race & ethnicity, gender, disability, age & other factors. The landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed by Congress took major steps to curtail voter suppression. Thus began a new era of push-&-pull on voting rights, with the voting age reduced to 18 from 21 & the enshrinement of voting protections for language minorities & people with disabilities.

Greater voter enfranchisement was met with fresh resistance & in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in its ruling on Shelby County v. Holder, paving the way for states & jurisdictions with a history of voter suppression to enact restrictive voter identification laws. A group of 23 states created new obstacles to voting in the decade leading up to the 2018 elections, according to the nonpartisan coalition Election Protection.,,

1700s: Voting generally limited to white male property holders

Despite their belief in the virtues of democracy, the founders of the United States accepted & endorsed severe limits on voting. The U.S. Constitution originally left it to states to determine who is qualified to vote in elections. For decades, state legislatures generally restricted voting to white males who owned property. Some states also employed religious tests to ensure that only Christian men could vote.

1800s: Official barriers to voting start to recede

During the early part of the 19th century, state legislatures begin to limit the property requirement for voting. Later, during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which ensured that people could not be denied the right to vote because of their race. The amendment was ratified by the states in 1870. However, in the decades that followed, many states, particularly in the South, used a range of barriers, such as poll taxes & literacy tests, to deliberately reduce voting among African American men.

1920: Women win the vote

Early in the 20th century, women still were only able to vote in a handful of states. After decades of organizing & activism, women nationwide won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. 

1960: Southern states ramp up barriers to voting

The struggle for equal voting rights came to a head in the 1960s as many states, particularly in the South, dug in on policies—such as literacy tests, poll taxes, English-language requirements, & more—aimed at suppressing the vote among people of color, immigrants & low-income populations. In March 1965, activists organized protest marches from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery to spotlight the issue of black voting rights. The first march was brutally attacked by police & others on a day that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.” After a second march was cut short, a throng of thousands finally made the journey, arriving in Montgomery on March 24 & drawing nationwide attention to the issue.

1964: The 24th amendment targets poll taxes

Poll taxes were a particularly egregious form of voter suppression for a century following the Civil War, forcing people to pay money in order to vote. Payment of the tax was a prerequisite for voter registration in many states. The taxes were expressly designed to keep African Americans & low-income white people from voting. Some states even enacted grandfather clauses to allow many higher-income white people to avoid paying the tax. The 24th amendment was approved by Congress in 1962 & ratified by the states two years later. In a 1966 case, the Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes are unconstitutional in any U.S. election.

1965: The Voting Rights Act passes Congress

Inspired by voting rights marches in Alabama in spring 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. The vote was decisive & bipartisan: 79-18 in the Senate & 328-74 in the House. President Lyndon Johnson signed the measure on August 6 with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, & other icons of the civil rights movement at his side. In addition to barring many of the policies & practices that states had been using to limit voting among African Americans & other targeted groups, the Voting Rights Act included provisions that required states & local jurisdictions with a historical pattern of suppressing voting rights based on race to submit changes in their election laws to the U.S. Justice Department for approval (or “preclearance”). In the ensuing decades, the preclearance provisions proved to be a remarkably effective means of discouraging state & local officials from erecting new barriers to voting, stopping the most egregious policies from going forward, & providing communities & civil rights advocates with advance notice of proposed changes that might suppress the vote.

1971: Young people win the vote

For much of the nation’s history, states generally restricted voting to people age 21 & older. But during the 1960s, the movement to lower the voting age gained steam with the rise of student activism & the war in Vietnam, which was fought largely by young, 18-&-over draftees. The 26th amendment prohibited states & the federal government from using age as a reason to deny the vote to anyone 18 years of age & over.

1975: Voting Rights Act expanded to protect language minorities

Congress added new provisions to the Voting Rights Act to protect members of language minority groups. The amendments required jurisdictions with significant numbers of voters who have limited or no proficiency in English to provide voting materials in other languages & to provide multilingual assistance at the polls.

1982: Congress requires new voting protections for people with disabilities

Congress passed a law extending the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years. As part of the extension, Congress required states to take steps to make voting more accessible for the elderly & people with disabilities. 

1993: “Motor Voter” becomes law

Responding to historically low rates of voter registration, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act. Also known as “motor voter,” the law required states to allow citizens to register to vote when they applied for their drivers’ licenses. The law also required states to offer mail-in registration & to allow people to register to vote at offices offering public assistance. In the first year of its implementation, more than 30 million people completed their voter registration applications or updated their registration through means made available because of the law.

2000: Election problems spotlight need for reform

The extremely close Bush-Gore Presidential race led to a recount in the state of Florida that highlighted many of the problems plaguing U.S. elections, from faulty equipment & bad ballot design to inconsistent rules & procedures across local jurisdictions & states. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately intervened to stop the Florida recount & effectively ensuring the election of George W. Bush.

2002: Congress passes the Help America Vote Act

With memories of the problems of the 2000 election still fresh in everyone’s mind, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002 with the goal of streamlining election procedures across the nation. The law placed new mandates on states & localities to replace outdated voting equipment, create statewide voter registration lists, & provide provisional ballots to ensure that eligible voters are not turned away if their names are not on the roll of registered voters. The law also was designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to cast private, independent ballots...

June 2013: The Supreme Court strikes a blow to the Voting Right Act

In its June ruling in the case, Shelby County v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. Because of the Court’s decision, states & localities with a history of suppressing voting rights no longer were required to submit changes in their election laws to the U.S. Justice Department for review (or “preclearance”). The 5-4 decision ruled unconstitutional a section of the landmark 1965 law that was key to protecting voters in states & localities with a history of race-based voter suppression. In her dissent in the case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg famously stated, “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked & is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

August 2013: States ramp up barriers to voting

On August 11, North Carolina’s governor signed a voter identification law seen by many as an attempt to suppress the votes of people of color. The North Carolina law was just one of many similar laws passed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2013 Shelby ruling. Texas officials, in fact, acted on the same day of the Shelby decision to institute a strict voter identification law that previously had been blocked under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because of its impact in suppressing the vote of low-income people & racial minorities. After a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups & the U.S. Department of Justice, the North Carolina law was struck down by a federal judge who said it targeted African Americans with “almost surgical precision.”  Officials in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida & Virginia shortly joined the ranks of those intent on exercising their newly won power to turn back the clock to an earlier time when election laws & practices in many places were marked by blatant discrimination & racism.

2014: The voting rights movement coalesces to fight suppression

In response to post-Shelby assaults on voting rights, voting rights organizations across the country stepped up their work to protect & advance the right to vote & move us closer to the vision of a nation of, by, & for the people. This work includes litigation to challenge unconstitutional barriers to voting, on-the-ground advocacy to advance pro-voter policies at the local & state levels, & nonpartisan efforts to register, educate & mobilize historically underrepresented populations so they can participate more actively in elections & civic life. The State Infrastructure Fund began convening a cohort of nonprofit public interest litigation groups with the aim of streamlining & coordinating the field’s response to a fresh wave of policies to suppress the vote. Coordinated by the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF), the collaborative of 12 organizations has played an essential role in pushing back against strict voter identification laws, racial gerrymandering, & other tactics aimed at reducing the voting rights of underrepresented populations.

2016: Presidential election & claims of fraud

After President Trump was elected despite losing the popular vote, he & his supporters made claims that large numbers of people voted illegally. A Washington Post analysis was able to find only four documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election out of 135 million ballots cast. The narrative about fraud ultimately resulted in President Trump convening the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, which disbanded in January 2018 without presenting any evidence or findings. Continued false claims of rampant voter fraud have added fuel to the fire & prompted even bolder efforts to suppress the vote. Adding to the problems, government at all levels has largely failed to make the necessary investments in elections (from technology to poll worker training) to ensure the integrity & efficiency of the electoral system.

October 2018: State, local officials keep erecting new barriers to voting continue

A 2018 USAToday analysis found that election officials recently have closed thousands of polling places, with a disproportionate impact on communities of color. The polling place closures are just one example of how states & localities have continued to try to suppress the votes of targeted populations. In 2018, for example, the Georgia Senate passed bills cutting voting hours in Atlanta (where African Americans are 54 percent of the population) & restricting early voting on weekends. The latter measure was seen by many as a not-so-subtle attempt to target nonpartisan “Souls to the Polls” events organized by black churches to get their parishioners to vote on Sunday after church. Both Georgia measures were subsequently defeated in the state Assembly.

November 2018: Election draws record number of voters but problems remain

According to early estimates, 116 million voters—nearly half the eligible voting population (49.7 percent)—cast ballots in the 2018 elections. Not only did voter turnout set a 100-year record for midterm races, but the election saw record numbers of women & candidates of color running at all levels. In addition, voters approved a number of important state ballot measures aimed at expanding the electorate & making it easier to vote, including a law in Florida that lifts the permanent ban on voting for people with a felony criminal record. The numbers for 2018 were especially impressive given that many states continue to take aggressive steps to make it harder for people to vote. According to the nonpartisan coalition Election Protection, 23 states created new obstacles to voting in the decade preceding the 2018 election.

2019: Voting rights groups prepare for the 2020 Census & redistricting

In the same way that partisan interests & those in power have used voting rights laws & policies to suppress the vote, they also have attempted to use the U.S. Census & the subsequent congressional redistricting process to advance their political goals. The Trump administration, for example, fought unsuccessfully for two years to add a question to the 2020 census asking if someone is a citizen of the United States. Voting rights & civil rights groups said this was a transparent attempt to instill fear in immigrant communities, with the result of undercounting the immigrant population & reducing its political power & voice. 

See: Voting.  Carnegie Corporation of New York November 18, 2019

16C Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers

Ulysses Aldrovandus, De Quadripedibus Aldrovandus(1522-1605) The flower is: Dens Canis (Tooth of a dog) 

Ulysses Aldrovandus, De Quadripedibus. Aldrovandus (1522-1605) helped build Bologna’s botanical garden & collected thousands of plant & animal specimens. Aldrovandus included sketches of 15 dogs in the over 100 pages he wrote about dogs, dividing breeds according to function & finishing with dogs that were inutile, useless—i.e. pets. ("They bark very readily & their only occupation is devouring food.") 


Canis bellicosus Anglicus, “English war dog,” a term for mastiffs. When Mark Antony invokes Caesar's ghost to "let slip the dogs of war," this is likely the dog Shakespeare had in mind. Julius Caesar, Act III, scene 1. Shakespeare did not see them in battle, however, but rather at the Bear Garden near his house, where bear & bull bating with dogs occurred on Thursdays.

Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Spring - Flowers, Fertility, Sensuality, & Delight.

1620 Lady as Spring, by Follower of Abraham Janssens, also called Abraham Janssens Van Nuyssen (Flemish, 1573-1632)  Spring brings flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.  

Spring is the perfect time to celebrate Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.



Sunday, April 17, 2022

Jesus as Gardener - Christ Reveals Himself to Mary

1368-70, Probably by Jacopo di Cione(c 1325-after 1390) an Italian painter in the Republic of Florence. - Resurrection Noli me tangere.   Jesus holds a hoe.

The Gospel of John 20:1-13 (NIV) contains a narrative of an empty garden tomb including the appearance of Jesus:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb & saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter & the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, & said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, & we don't know where they have put him!" 
So Peter & the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter & reached the tomb first. He bent over & looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived & went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw & believed. 
Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb & saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head & the other at the foot. They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "& I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around & saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, & I will get him."  Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him & cried out, "Rabboni!" ("Teacher"). Jesus said, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, & say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, & your Father; & to my God, & your God." 
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.
13C Fresco - in Lower Basilica in Assisi Noli Me Tangere

Giotto di Bondone (c. 1267 - 1337). Resurrection Noli me tangere - on North wall of Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, Padua. 1305-1306
1460 The Meister des Göttinger Barfüßeraltars Resurrection Noli me tangere. Jesus holds a shovel. The wattle fenced flowery mead follows Boccaccio's model.
Fra Angelico, Noli Me Tangere 1440-42 Jesus and Mary Magdalene in a walled Garden
1460-90s Master of the Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (German; 1460 - 1470; fl. c.) Christ appearing as a gardener to St Mary Magdalene within a garden with wattle fencing.Jesus holds a shovel.
1469 Noli me tangere in Prayer Book of Charles the Bold, Lieven van Lathem. J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 37, fol. 46v. Jesus holds a shovel in a wattle-fenced mead.
Martin Schongauer German, c. 1450-1491. Noli me tangere. Here Jesus holds a staff but the garden is surrounded by a wattle fence.
1473 Martin Schongauer (1450–1491) Noli Me Tangere. This garden appears to be enclosed with a wattle fence, and roses grow in the background. Birds perch in the trees.
c 1500 Perugino, Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci 1445-1523) Resurrection Noli me tangere. Here Jesus holds a garden tool.
1506 Fra Bartolomeo (1472–1517) Noli Me Tangere. Depicted at the tomb with Christ holding a garden tool.
c 1500 by Master of the Chronique scandaleuse, illuminator (French, active about 1493 - 1510), Noli me tangere, French. Here Jesus & Mary Magdalene meet on a garden path.
1512 Titian (1490–1576) Noli Me Tangere. Christ appears holding a garden tool.
1500s Greek Icon Μη μου άπτου Crete Resurrection - Noli me tangere. Here Jesus & Mary Magdalene are in a flowery mead.
Alessandro Magnasco (Italian (Genoese), 1667 - 1749), Noli Me Tangere, Italian. Jesus with a hoe stands in a formal garden ground.
1526 Hans Holbein the Younger (1498–1543) Noli Me Tangere. Depicted at the tomb on a flowery mead.
1534 Antonio da Correggio (1489-1534) Noli Me Tangere. Christ appears as a gardener holding a hoe.

1539 Hans Baldung (c.1484 - 1545) Resurrection Noli me tangere.Jesus holds a garden shovel.
1548-53 Lambert Sustris (Dutch artist, c.1515-1520-c.1584) Noli Me Tangere
This image includes formal gardens used as the background for a Biblical scene. These gardens are primarily from the Italian Renaisance.  The trellis walkways & arbors were built to provide both shade & privacy. Planners raised beds to prevent plants becoming waterlogged. Gardens were used for recreation, relaxation, & sport. The garden consists of geometric beds of interlacing patterns designed to be seen from windows & hills above & is filled with herbs & favorite flowers. A fountain sits in the farthest parterre. Statues & symbolic ornaments are spread throughout the grounds.
1560-70 Unknown German artist. Christ appears here as a gardener to Mary Magdalene; part of a town beyond the garden & three crosses on the hill behind at left. Jesus holds a garden shovel in a bedded garden surrounded by a wooden fence.
Agnolo di Cosimo usually known as Bronzino or Agnolo Bronzino, Italian Mannerist painter, 1503-72) Resurrection, Noli Me Tangere Jesus holds a shovel, and a walled garden of flowers blooms just behind them.
1581 Lavinia Fontana Resurrection Noli me tangere. Jesus holds a shovel in a defined garden area.
1620 Abraham Janssens (1567–1632) painted figures & Jan Wildens (15841586–1653) painted the landscape Resurrection Noli me tangere.Jesus holds a shovel & the fruits of the garden are on the earth.
1630-35 Pedro Núñez del Valle (Spanish, 1597-1649)Noli me tangere. A garden of formal beds defined by a wattle wall appears to be growing food.
Ciro Ferri 1670-80s (1634-1689) Resurrection Noli me tangere. Jesus holds a shovel in a garden protected by a wood fence.