Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Art of the Ancient Near East

Fertile Crescent

Copper Age     5000 BCE - 3000 BCE
Bronze Age     3000 BCE - 1400 BCE
Iron Age     1400 BCE - 1 CE

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Plaster Skulls
7000 BCE
Form:  The skulls of people were separated from their bodies and covered over with plaster.  They were sculpted to look like a  person before he or she had died.  The eyes were then inlayed with shells and hair was painted onto the head and sometimes face in the case of a man having a mustache.Iconography:  They may have been icons of ancestors and used as fetish objects.  They may also be an icon of the people of Jericho's belief in an afterlife.  They were an icon of wisdom because they were consulted on serious matters.
Context:  These heads mark the beginning of larger sculpture in the Near East.  They were found under the floors of the houses in Jericho and were supposedly looked to for values and wisdom.

Catal Huyuk
6,500 BCE - 5,700 BCE
Anatolia, Turkey
Form:  This city has no streets.  The buildings are all attached and the entrances to the rooms were on the ceiling.  The houses were made of timber frames and mud brick, the insides were plastered.  There were platforms along the walls and shrines in many of the houses.  In these shrines were bulls horns, plastered breasts, wall paintings and animal heads.Iconography:  The plaster breasts found in the shrines are symbols of fertility and the bulls horns also found in the shrines are symbols of virility.  The style that the city was built in is iconographic of the need of the people for protection.  The shrines and dead people are an icon of the heavy influence of religion and possible ancestor worship.
Context:  Catal Huyuk's wealth was in the trade of obsidian which was a stone that was very useful in the making of weapons because it could easily be made into a sharp point.  The buildings being attached, with no doors or windows, formed a very protective outer wall that allowed the people to better protect themselves.  The ceiling entrance also provided the rooms with chimneys that allowed the smoke from the fire to escape.  The houses were all of similar construction even though there sizes vary.  The platforms in the houses were used to perform the days activities and to sleep upon at night.  Dead people were buried beneath the floors and shrines were in one out of three houses.

Cuneiform Writing
Process:  Developed around 3100 BCE, it was original an accounting system.  They started as pictographs, simple pictures, that were carved into damp clay.  Between 2900 BCE and 2400 BCE they developed into phonograms, representations of syllable sounds.  At the same time scribes, the people who wrote the text, began using a stylus, pictured on the bottom left.  This instrument is pushed into damp clay rapidly to form the characters in the diagram.  The illustration on the top left shows the development of the language from pictographs to later cuneiform signs.  Not many people were literate during this time.

Early Cuneiform Tablet (left)
Later Cuneiform Tablet (right)
both approximately 3"x5"
- made of clay.

Stele of Hammurabi
1780 BCE
Susa, Iran
Form:  The Stele depicts Hammurabi on the right and the sun god, Shamash on the left.  Shamash is handing the measuring rod to Hammurabi.  It is made of black basalt and has a picture on the top and writing on the bottom.  The figures are in composite view.  In a composite view, the face, feet and arms are in profile but the torso is depicted in the frontal view.  Sometimes the eyes are a frontal view although the face is in profile. Iconography:  The three steps upon which the god rests his feet are iconographic of this meeting taking place on a mountain top.  The larger seated figure is the god Shamash.  (The use of size to indicate importance is referred to by Stokstad as hieratic scale.)  Both Shamash’s size and the flames surrounding his represent his larger than life divine status.  The flames surrounding his head are icons of his role as god of light or enlightenment and they symbolize power and ideas in much the same way our comic books represent figures with a lighbulb above their heads to represent a good idea.  This meeting is symbolic of Hammurabi’s divine right to rule and pass judgment.  Shamash hands over a staff of rule or rod.  This represents Hammurabi’s divine right to act as Shamash’s earthly representative.
Context:  This is a stele that was used to ensure even treatment of people throughout the kingdom.  The punishments were set in stone so that there could be no confusion as to how to deal with a situation.  The punishment varied depending upon race, wealthy, and class.  It was one of the first documents that we have that described a legal system.

Ziggurat of King Ur-Nammu 2100 BCE
mud brick with facing of red fired clay, each level 25' to 50'
Ur, Iraq
SumerianForm:  Overall the temple is built in two levels entirely of mud brick: in the lower level the bricks are joined together with bitumen, in the top level they are joined with mortar.
According to the Brittanica, "The ziggurat was always built with a core of mud brick and an exterior covered with baked brick. It had no internal chambers and was usually square or rectangular, averaging either 170 feet square or 125  170 feet (40  50 metres) at the base. Approximately 25 ziggurats are known, being equally divided in number among Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria."  The walls angle slightly outward and there are three staircases of one hundred steps each.
Iconography:  Ziggurats symbolize a connection between the heavens and the earth.  The monumental size and shape suggest that ziggurats are a type of man-made mountain.  In many cultures, religious leaders and figures often ascend mountains as a means to connect with a god or goddess.  In the ancient Greek faith there was Mount Olympus where the gods lived and in the Judeo Christian faith, Moses was given the tablets of the law on Mount Sinai.  Monuments of such a massive size most probably represent the power of the secular and religious rulers who commissioned them but in a more general sense they are also evidence of the organized cohesive nature of Mesopotamian civilization.
Context:  The temple was dedicated to the moon god Nanna and possibly used to communicate with him.  There used to be a temple at the very top of the ziggurat.  People would wait in the temple for the god to communicate with them.  The structure was used to intimidate enemies as well.  The shape of the ziggurat may have arisen from the building on top of older buildings until it found this height but this ziggurat did not find it's shape that way.  The walls were slanted probably to prevent rain water from ruining the brick work.
According to the Britannica,
No ziggurat is preserved to its original height. Ascent was by an exterior triple stairway or by a spiral ramp, but for almost half of the known ziggurats, no means of ascent has been discovered. The sloping sides and terraces were often landscaped with trees and shrubs (hence the Hanging Gardens of Babylon). The best-preserved ziggurat is at Ur (modern Tall al-Muqayyar). The largest, at Chogha Zanbil in Elam, is 335 feet (102 m) square and 80 feet (24 m) high and stands at less than half its estimated original height. The legendary Tower of Babel has been popularly associated with the ziggurat of the great temple of Marduk in Babylon.The city of Ur, modern Tall Al-muqayyar, or Tell El-muqayyar, important city of ancient southern Mesopotamia (Sumer), situated about 140 miles (225 km) southeast of the site of Babylon and about 10 miles (16 km) west of the present bed of the Euphrates River. In antiquity the river ran much closer to the city; the change in its course has left the ruins in a desert that once was irrigated and fertile land. The first serious excavations at Ur were made after World War I by H.R. Hall of the British Museum, and as a result a joint expedition was formed by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania that carried on the excavations under Leonard Woolley's directorship from 1922 until 1934. Almost every period of the city's lifetime has been illustrated by the discoveries, and knowledge of Mesopotamian history has been greatly enlarged.


Standard of Ur
2700 BCE
Ur, Iraq
Sumerian/MesopotamiaForm:  It is made of wood, shells and stone.  The Standard of Ur is broken up into the war side, middle left, and the peace side, top left.  The war side, on the bottom, features horse drawn chariots running over people.  In the middle, the prisoners have been captured and are being lead.  On the top, the prisoners have been striped naked and are being presented to a king figure.  He is the largest figure in the piece and he is also centered on the band.  On the bottom, of the peace side, men carry provisions.  In the middle they lead animals, and on the top a banquet takes place where the king figure is present again.  At this banquet there is a lyre player and a singer, they are shown in detail on the bottom left.
Iconography:  These pieces are iconographic of the morals of the culture.  Long hair is iconographic of a singer.  The hieratic scale and placement of the king figure are an icon of his power.  The standards are icons of peace and war.
Context:  Anthropologist Edmund Leach thinks that we see the world in a binary way so that is why they have the peace and war standards.  More meaning can be created, if it is used for demonstrative purposes, if there is something to compare an image against.  Scholars disagree as to weather the peace side banquet is a victory celebration or part of a cult ritual.

Sumerian Billy Goat and Tree from Ur
20" Tall
Wood, gold, lapis lazuli 
Form:  It is made out of wood, gold and lapps lazuli.  Great attention to detail has gone in to the making of this piece.  Each of the flowers have eight points and each little ruffle in the goats wool is depicted.Iconography:  Goats are symbols of fertility, power, and mans struggle with his animalistic side.  The tree may be a symbol for the tree of life.  The goat may also represent the fertility god Tammuz.
Context:  This is a tiny statue that was recovered at a royal burial site at Ur.  This statue is part of a pair that were found, both were crushed.  They may have been used as supports for an offering table.

Lyre of Queen Puabi
(Bull Lyre from the
tomb of
King Abargi)
2700 BCE
Ur, Iraq
Form:  This is a musical instrument that is made of wood, gold, lapis lazuli. and shell.  The head of the bull is very naturalistic despite the beard.  The top register of inlayed shell, directly beneath the bulls beard, depicts an athletic man holding two bulls with human faces.  The second register shows animals, walking like men, bringing food for a feast.  The third register shows the animals making music.  Finally, the fourth register shows a scorpion man being offered cups from a gazelle.Iconography:  The panels on the Lyre are iconographic of the humanization of animals.  It is iconographic of the after life and the animals might be icons of the ones that guard the gate to heaven.  It is a symbol of death because it was played at Queen Puabi's funeral.
Context:  Harps like this one were used in the funerary rights of the dead person and then buried with them.  There were songs that were chanted during these burials and copies of them have been found on cuneiform tablets.  The theme of this piece is the civilization of our wild nature.  See Summary of the Epic of Gilgamesh
The title of this work is open to a bit of debate.  Gardener's Art Through the Ages refers to this work as the "Bull headed lyre from the tomb of Puabi, Royal cemetery."  Stokstad refers to it as "Bull Lyre from the tomb of King Abargi."  You may use either one.

Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
2300 BCE
limestone 6'6"
Susa, Iran
Form:  This is a low relief carving on limestone. The figures are all in composite form.Iconography:  Proportionately the main figure of the king Naram Sin is exaggerated to emphasize his status.   When a figure's scale is emphasized in this manner it is referred to as hieratic scale.  (You will also see this in Egyptian art.  Naram-Sins helmet is adorned with bull horns.  Since bulls are powerful and virile creatures the horns are associated with his physical power as warrior. horns on his head are also an icon for power and virility, also symbols of a king.  The stars or sun in the right hand corner are symbols of divine support.  He's also holding a newer kind of weapon in his left hand called a composite bow which could also represent the Akkadian armies innovative battle technology.
Context:  This commemorates Naram Sin's defeat of the Lullubi.  It is inscribed twice, once in honor of this event and again when it was taken as booty when someone captured the city where it stood.
"Originally this stele was erected in the town of Sippar, centre of the cult of the Sun god, to the north of Babylon. lt was taken as booty to Susa by an Elamite king in the 12th century BC. lt illustrates the victory over the mountain people of western lran by Naram-Sin, 4th king of the Semite dynasty of Akkad, who claimed to be the universal monarch and was deified during his lifetime. He had himself depicted climbing the mountain at the head of his troops. His helmet bears the horns emblematic of divine power. Although it is worn, his face is expressive of the ideal human conqueror, a convention imposed on artists by the monarchy. The king tramples on the bodies of his enemies at the foot of a peak; above it the solar disk figures several times, and the king pays homage to it for his victory." - Louvre 
Head of an Akkadian Ruler
(Sargon of Akkad?)
bronze 12" 2200 BCE

Head of an Akkadian Ruler
(Sargon of Akkad?)
2200 BCE
Nineveh, Iraq
Form:  Made from bronze, this portrait head was probably part of a larger work.  Perhaps a full figure.  The shape and proportions of the face and head are naturalistic but the shape and texture of the eyebrows and hair are stylized in a geometric fashion.  Other stylizations or distortions occur in the exaggerated size of his eyes and nose.  These stylizations and exaggerations are attempts to idealizethis ruler and make him more handsome or beautiful than he probably was according to the ideals of physical perfection in the ancient near east. Iconography:  In most cultures, beauty and goodness are equated as being one in the same thing.  Certainly the cultures of Mesopotamia felt this way as well.  Therefore the portraits beauty is also equated with Sargon's inner beauty and or virtue.  His "virtuous" nature is symbolically enhanced by his beard.  Beards are icons of wisdom and because in order to grow a beard one needs to have matured to appoint beyond childhood.  (This same idea is evidenced in several versions of the Arthurian legends in which although King Arthur was able to pull the sword from the stone, his brothers still refer to him as "beardless"  and therefore too inexperienced or young to rule.
Context:  This statue is not in its original state.  This head was once part of a complete statue that was vandalized.  The ears were mutilated, the eyes gouged out, and the ears and part of the beard broken off.  It has been vandalized (literally defaced) in order to dishonor the ruler it once represented.  Originally the eyes in this head would have been inlayed with precious and semiprecious stones.
The tearing down of effigy monuments to symbolize the destruction or change in a regime is common to every era.  When US troops "liberated" Iraq in 2004 many of the statues of Sadam Hussein were either defaced or torn down from there pedestals.  In ancient Egypt, often older monuments constructed by previous pharaohs were recarved to resemble the newer rulers.

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Sargon the Great of Akkad is the first in a long (and possibly ever-extending) line of people whose life is driven by conquest. He was the first emperor of the world’s first empire. However, like most of the people who followed him, his empire didn’t last long.According to legend, Sargon’s mother was “changeling,” meaning a demon or a prostitute. He was probably born around 2350 BCE. He served as the cup-bearer of a king of the Sumerian city-state of Kish, but the king, sensing something divine in him, had Sargon killed. Sargon escaped the plot, rallied some tribesmen to his cause, and built a new city north of Sumer – Akkad. Sargon’s career has soared ever since. From Akkad, his armies blazed southward to conquer Sumer, Kish and all. From the Persian Gulf, he made a northwestward sweep to Lebanon.
The Akkadian Empire was a very wealthy empire; it derived its wealth not just from plunder but also from trade. Sumer was smack in the middle of the trade routes that connected the Indus Valley, Egypt, and Mediterranean civilizations. Akkad wasn’t actually the first city to enjoy the benefits of trade in the Mesopotamian region, and it wasn’t going to be the last.
Sargon tried to keep his empire in the hands of his sons, but his successors lacked Sargon’s power; the city-states of Sumer rebelled against Akkad, destroying the Akkadian Empire.

Statues from Tell Asmar
2,900 BCE - 2,600 BCE
made from painted gypsum
Tell Asmar, Iraq
SumerianForm:  The statues are made of gypsum and inlayed with shell and black limestone.  The men have long hair, beards, belts, and fringed skirts.  The women wear dresses that leave the right shoulder bare.  The eyes are exaggerated, while the hands are downplayed.
Iconography:  The figures are iconographic of real people not deities.  The large eyes may symbolize eternal wakefulness or the need to approach a god with an attentive gaze.  They are iconographic of the early religious practices of the Sumerians.
Context:  The were buried beneath the floor of a temple.  Donors may have commissioned these statues to be built in their image so that their prayers are forever being said to the gods.

Reconstruction of Statues from Tell Asmar
2,900 BCE - 2,600 BCE
made from painted gypsum
Tell Asmar, Iraq
Museum of Natural History, NYC
Web ArtLex n [ME bithumen mineral pitch, fr. L bitumin-, bitumen] (15c) 1: an asphalt of Asia Minor used in ancient times as a cement and mortar 2: any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons (as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivatives that occur naturally or are obtained as residues after heat-refining natural substances (as petroleum); specif: such a mixture soluble in carbon disulfide -- n -- bi.tu.mi.nize vt composite view     A view of the human body in Egyptian and Mesopotamian art in which several points of view of the human body are merged into one.  Often the figure is depicted with the head, legs and arms in a profile point of view while the torso of the figure is depicted in a frontal view.  The head which is depicted in a profile view often depicts the eyes in a frontal view.  This is especially so in Egyptian art but in Mesopotamian art it is less consistent.  The purpose of the this point of view is probably both symbolic and formal.  In terms of form, it is often easier to depict parts of the body in profile.  This is certainly so in prehistoric art. n, pl -gies [MF effigie, fr. L effigies, fr. effingere to form, fr. ex- + fingere to shape--more at dough] (1539): an image or representation esp. of a person; esp: a crude figure representing a hated person -- in effigy : publicly in the form of an effigy 
gyp.sum n [L, fr. Gk gypsos] (14c) 1: a widely distributed mineral consisting of hydrous calcium sulfate that is used esp. as a soil amendment and in making plaster of paris adj [ME ydeall, fr. LL idealis, fr. L idea] (15c) 1: existing as an archetypal idea 2 a: existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only; broadly: lacking practicality b: relating to or constituting mental images, ideas, or conceptions 3 a: of, relating to, or embodying an ideal b: conforming exactly to an ideal, law, or standard: perfect --compare real 2b(3) 4: of or relating to philosophical idealism ²ideal n (15c) 1: a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence 2: one regarded as exemplifying an ideal and often taken as a model for imitation 3: an ultimate object or aim of endeavor: goal 4: a subset of a mathematical ring that is closed under addition and subtraction and contains the products of any given element of the subset with each element of the ring syn see model -- adj 
pro.file n [It profilo, fr. profilare to draw in outline, fr. pro- forward (fr. L) + filare to spin, fr. LL--more at file] (ca. 1656) 1: a representation of something in outline; esp: a human head or face represented or seen in a side view 2: an outline seen or represented in sharp relief: contour 3: a side or sectional elevation: as a: a drawing showing a vertical section of the ground b: a vertical section of a soil from the ground surface to the underlying unweathered material 4: a set of data often in graphic form portraying the significant features of something ; esp: a graph representing the extent to which an individual exhibits traits or abilities as determined by tests or ratings 5: a concise biographical sketch 6: degree or level of public exposure syn see outline ²profile vt pro.filed ; (1715) 1: to represent in profile or by a profile: produce (as by drawing, writing, or graphing) a profile of 2: to shape the outline of by passing a cutter around -- n 

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Drawing a Sphere

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Dear friends,

I am writing to let you know about several workshops I have coming up around the US. Please find more info about class content and how to register below. I hope you'll be able to join me for a workshop this fall!

* September workshop at The Art Studio Workshops in Cleveland, OH
* October workshop in my Studio, NYC
* October workshop in the Art Students League, NYC
* November workshop at Sourthern Atelier in Sarasota, FL
* December Class Concentration Class  in the Gage Academy in Seattle, WA

I am happy to let you know about my new website . On this site you will find workshop information, as well as a selection of paintings by Max Ginsburg and by his father Abraham Ginsburg available for sale.

All the best,
Max Ginsburg 


Traditional Oil Painting from Life with Max Ginsburg - Chagrin Falls, OH  

September 16-20th, 2019 
The Art Studio Workshops
5187 Cheswick Drive Chagrin Falls, OH, 44040  (map)
$795. plus $75 model fee
Working from the live model, Max encourages careful observation of and attention to form, lighting, proportion, drawing, composition and design, values, temperature, depth and atmosphere.  Painting demos and individual attention at each easel throughout the week.

Space is Limited.  Enroll now with a 50% deposit:
An Afternoon with Max Ginsburg
Sunday, September 15th, 2019  2-6pm
*free for workshop participants
($35. fee for non-participants. Public welcome!) 
This highly esteemed New York artist will paint a 2 hour portrait from life in the Alla Prima tradition of the Old Masters. He will discuss his procedure, the observation of form and color and his techniques while he is painting. You will see the development of the figure on his canvas while having the opportunity to ask questions and take photographs.  After the painting demonstration, Max will treat us to a retrospective powerpoint presentation on his painting and the influence of the Old Masters on his work. 

Alla Prima Studio Workshop in New York City

Wednesday to Friday, October 23 - 25
9am - 4:30pm
Max Ginsburg Studio
44-02 23rd Street, Long Island City, NY 11101 (map)
Fee: $720

Max Ginsburg will teach a three-day Alla Prima Painting from Life workshop in his skylit Long Island City studio. Students will paint the live model every day and receive daily critiques from Ginsburg. Figure studies will be for the purpose of developing multi-figure compositions. Limited to 7 students. 
Contact to register

Painting from Life - Alla Prima in Oils, Art Students League of New York, NYC 
Monday - Friday, October 28 - November 1
9am - 4pm
Fee: $920 
DAY 1 & 2 - Painting Head & Figure Studies (Short Poses)
DAY 3, 4 & 5 - Painting to compose Multifigure Composition (Long Poses)
This workshop will concentrate on painting from life in a traditional realistic manner. The objective will be to see the unique forms of the models and not rely on preconceived formulas. Attention will be given to perspective, foreshortening and the relationship of shapes, values, color and textures, as well as painting techniques.

Register online at or call 212-247- 4510 (ext. 0)

Alla Prima from Life Workshop at Southern Atelier, Sarasota, FL 
Monday - Wednesday, November 4 - 6
9:00am - 4:30pm
Southern Atelier, 7226 21st St. E. Sarasota, Florida 34243

More information to come.

Contact Southern Atelier to register:
Phone: 941.753.7755

Studio Concentration: Painting from Life with Max Ginsburg, Seattle, WA 
Monday - Friday, December 2 - 13
9:30am - 4:30pm 

Gage Academy of Art, 1501 10th Ave E. Seattle, WA 98102
Two-week painting workshop at Gage Academy of Art, Seattle, WA
Fee: $1050 
Ginsburg will discuss concepts, expression of concepts, contemporary realism, and the painting of the Old Masters. This Studio Concentration will cover: Head Studies, Figure Studies, the Portrait, Painting the Figure, and a Multi-Figure Composition from life with two models, for which Ginsburg is renowned and highly regarded.
Registration information to come.
About Max Ginsburg: 
Ginsburg's paintings are in many museums and private collections including the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Butler Institute of American Art, New Britain Museum, Society of Illustrators, Salmagundi Club, Art Renewal Center, and Martin Luther King Labor Center 1199. He has exhibited his fine art since 1953 and from 1980-2004 he painted illustrations for major publishing companies. Ginsburg has taught painting for over 50 years. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Why are the skulls from Jericho important?

Jericho, Skulls, c8,000-7,000 BCE Neolithic, Near East, (Palestine)

There were seven skulls found at a burial site in the Neolithic city of Jericho located now in referred to as Palestine. Probably, the most important things about studying these skulls is not necessarily the skulls themselves but the context surrounding the discovery of these skulls.

In 1953 and archaeologist named Kathleen Kenyon was excavating a “Tell” which is a large mound or hill, called Tell es-Sultan. You will see the term “Tell,” used to describe various archaeological sites throughout the ancient world such as a place called Tell Asmar.  Kathleen Kenyon, who is one of the first archaeologists, and also has the distinction of being one of the first female archaeologists, was excavating in the ancient site of Jericho mainly to prove that the Bible could be considered an accurate historical document. This is also the motivation for many of the excavations and archaeological studies that began in the early 20th century and late 19th centuries.  The main thesis for many archaeologists was to prove that the Christian Bible was inaccurate document and they were searching for historical artifacts to prove that.

The story of Jericho from the Old Testament or Hebrew Torah is probably based in an oral history that notes or describes some of the major landmarks from the Neolithic city of Jericho. For example, the biblical story describes how Joshua laid siege to the town of Jericho and for three successive days marched around the tall thick walls surrounding the city. On the third day, Joshua sounded the horn whose vibrations or sound shook the walls of Jericho and make them fall. Excavations have found large thick walls built and rebuilt over various centuries surrounding the town of Jericho. Some of the walls are simple stone and brick while others, later in their periods were made with herring bones of brick. Early archaeologists assumed that the location of the city as well as the evidence of the walls were evidence that this was the ancient site described in the Bible.

Another motive that Kathleen Kenyon had for excavating the site was that she was an advocate for training historians and archaeologists in a new scientific method that is referred to as stratigraphy. In stratigraphy, archaeological sites are divided up into grids that are both on the surface of the site and extend down into the layers beneath the site. Basically, archaeologists started using a more scientific method of graphing out and documenting the exact layer, stratum, and place where various artifacts were discovered. This detailed record allowed and allows archaeologists to be able to create a more complete record of the places where the objects were found as well as providing an accurate chronology or date as to when the objects were created and buried. Kenyon, would take students to Jericho and train them in this method. In the last stages of an excavation one of these skulls, which the excavator spotted first was a piece of pottery sticking out of the side of one of the walls of their dig was a piece of pottery. After further examination they excavated into that quadrant and discovered seven more skulls.

the branch of geology concerned with the order and relative position of strata and their relationship to the geological time scale.
the analysis of the order and position of layers of archaeological remains.
the structure of a particular set of strata.
"you can find materials at the surface which are samples from the deeper stratigraphy"

Kathleen Kenyon described these skulls is being placed in an important part of an early dwelling. Later on, the site collapsed and another later structure was built atop it. It’s possible that Kenyon’s observations are accurate, however, it is not conclusive evidence of how and where the skulls were placed so we’re not necessarily able to use the placement of the skulls to interpret what they might’ve meant.  Other skeletons and skulls were found in the same area. It seems as if some of the skeletons had skulls that were altered or had their lower mandibles remove and often the skeletons were dis-articulated. This also led Kenyon and other archaeologists to believe that these bodies and skeletons were preserved for honorific reasons, however, none of the other skulls or skeletons found were plastered over. Further evidence, that the skulls were used for honorific purposes seems to be that other skulls were found arranged in circles in other structures from an earlier date on the site.

The skulls physical properties are possible clues or evidence which may aid in our interpretation of the skulls use or purpose in Neolithic society.

Each skull was covered in a type of skin of plaster that roughly resembles a human face. The eyes were covered with seashells and the interior of the skull was stuffed with grasses and vegetable matter. There are no other objects associated with a layer or level that is nearby the skull, however, most of the artifacts found in Neolithic Jericho from this era, were made from stone. The Neolithic people of Jericho did not have clay pots or implements made from clay.


We are only able to guess or extrapolate some theories as to why the skulls were made and how they were used by comparing similar effigies or sculptures from other cultures. Similar skulls to this were found at a later site called Catal Huyuk which is located in modern Turkey. Another site called Tell Ramad in South Syria.

Other examples of human heads and effigies of people can be found in ancient Rome in the first two or three centuries as well as in Africa as late as 1600 common era. The uses of effigy heads like this were basically to honor and remember ancestors. This is probably what these heads represented. Further evidence for this could also be the fact that they were well preserved and well-crafted. If they were trophies of enemies’ heads they most likely would not have taken the time to sculpt them and preserve them.

A good source for more detailed info.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019



Headlands Friends,
Along with heat waves and foggy days, the summer season at Headlands brings a new cohort of Artists to our Affiliate and Graduate Fellows programs. On behalf of the staff, board, and the rest of the Headlands community, I am delighted to extend them a warm welcome!
As the cost of living in the Bay Area continues to skyrocket, Headlands’ Affiliate and Graduate Fellows programs fulfill a critical need within the region’s art ecosystem by providing more than 25 local artists with the space and support needed to maintain a robust and thriving creative practice. 
Please join me in welcoming these artists to an exciting year with Headlands:

Affiliate Artists

Graduate Fellows  
I am also also thrilled to announce that artist Troy Chew is the recipient of the 2019 Tournesol Award. A graduate of California College of the Arts, Troy first came to Headlands as a 2018-19 Graduate Fellow. During that time I had the immense pleasure of watching Troy hard at work, making the most of his fellowship. I know that the Tournesol Award—a yearlong residency with a $10,000 cash prize—will help propel his practice to the next level. 

On a final note, as these artists head into summer at Headlands, I'd like to send you off into your summer with a bit of reading: a New York Times Op-Ed titled, "You are Doing Something Important When You Aren't Doing Anything." At Headlands, we champion what the author terms "fallow time"—time to disconnect, experiment, and let the mind wander into fresh territory. Not just for artists, but for everyone. I hope you take some time to be "fallow" this summer. Hike. Read. Tap into your own creativity. I guarantee it will be time well spent.
Wishing you a restorative and creative summer,
sharon maidenberg
Executive Director

P.S. Be sure to join us Sunday, July 14 for our Open House to meet these newly arrived local artists as well as our Summer Artists in Residence!

*Continuing Headlands Affiliate Artist
**Former Headlands Affiliate Artist
Former Headlands Artist in Residence
Headlands Center for the Arts is an unparalleled environment for the creative process and the development of new work and ideas.
Images, clockwise starting from top left: Sholeh Asgary (Affiliate Artist 2019-20), Anahita, 2019; Bailey Anderson (Graduate Fellow 2019-20), Untitled, 2019; Kira Dominguez Hultgren (Graduate Fellow 2019-20), Crossed in Parts, 2018; Sherwin Rio (Graduate Fellow 2019-20), FOOTWORK, 2017; Troy Chew (Graduate Fellow 2018-19, Tournesol Awardee 2019-20), The Grass is sometimes Purple on the Other Side, 2017; Beatriz Escobar (Affiliate Artist 2019-20), Breathe With Me I, 2019
Copyright © 2019 Headlands Center for the Arts, All rights reserved.
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