Introducing the African rock art image project

British Museum blog

Roof of a painted rock shelterElizabeth Galvin, curator, British Museum

This is the first of a series of posts that we – the Rock Art team – will be writing over the coming 4 years. Through generous support from the Arcadia Fund, the British Museum has been able to work with the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) in Nairobi to document and disseminate 25,000 images of African rock art. We will be spending the next four years cataloguing and integrating these images into the Museum’s collection online database so people throughout the world can explore and learn more about African rock art. This week, we launch the project with the first images visible online – specifically rock art images from Egypt.

Roof of a painted rock shelter with various animals and human figures. Karkur Talh, Egypt. 2013,2034.6 Roof of a painted rock shelter with various animals and human figures. Karkur Talh, Egypt. 2013,2034.6 David Coulson/TARA

The TARA team has spent the last three decades photographing and documenting rock art from…

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More than just gold

British Museum blog

Jaguar lime flask with nose ornament, Calima Malagana (Yotoco Malagana), 200 BC - AD 1300. Elisenda Vila Llonch, curator, British Museum

Gold glitters in our exhibition, Beyond El Dorado, power and gold in ancient Colombia. To our modern eye those pieces convey ideas of richness, wealth and a fascinating world that disappeared a long time ago. Exquisitely crafted, they are testimonies of the complexity and sophistication achieved by those pre-Hispanic people. Objects that seem at first glance made of gold are much more complex and are in fact made of metal alloys. In most instances they combine, in different degrees, gold, some natural occurring silver, and copper, a combination known as tumbaga. These metals were symbolically charged in pre-Hispanic times, being associated with the sun and the moon respectively. Their combination produced a microcosm, a balance between opposites in the rendering of each object.

Gold alloy disc, Late Nari Gold alloy disc, Late Nario, AD 600-1600. Museo del Oro (O21220)

The creation of alloys also allowed for differences…

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Today in History: A Presidential Plea to Close America’s Racial Divide

Sheeple: People unable to think for themselves

In 1905, President Roosevelt asked whites to adjust their attitudes toward minorities
Getting his message across.
Getting his message across. (CORBIS)

Feb. 13, 1905: In a speech focusing on America’s wide racial divide, President Theodore Roosevelt said whites should adjust their attitudes towards minorities. Roosevelt said whites were the leading race in the United States and therefore had a responsibility to preserve American civilization by working to improve the status of all minorities.

Quote of the Day

“Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.” —Theodore Roosevelt

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A Biography of Carter G. Woodson Father of Black History


When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.
Carter G. Woodson


We must continually give thanks to the ancestors

Who was the father of black history? Carter Godwin Woodson created the field of African-American history at the turn of the twentieth century. Born on December 19, 1875, Woodson was the son of two former slaves who had nine children; Woodson was the seventh. He rose from these modest origins to become a respected historian and is known today as the father of black history.


Woodson’s parents owned a 10-acre tobacco farm near the James River in Virginia, and their children had to spend most of their days doing farm work to help the family survive. This wasn’t an unusual situation for farm families in late 19th-century America, but it did mean that young Woodson had little time to pursue his studies.


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Hiram Rhodes Revels


Image: Wikipedia

Hiram Rhodes Revels (September 27, 1827– January 16, 1901) was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church(AME), and a politician. He was the first person of color to serve in the United States Senate, and in the U.S. Congress overall. He represented Mississippi in 1870 and 1871 during Reconstruction.

During the American Civil War, he helped organize two regiments of the United States Colored Troops and served as a chaplain.

Revels was born a free man in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to free parents of African and European ancestry. He was tutored by a black woman for his early education. In 1838 he went to live with his older brother, Elias B. Revels, in Lincolnton, North Carolina, and was apprenticed as a barber in his brother’s shop. After Elias Revels died in 1841, his widow Mary transferred the shop to Hiram before she remarried.

Revels attended the Union County Quaker Seminary in Indiana, and studied at a black seminary in Ohio.

In 1845 Revels was ordained as…

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Collecting Ancient Coptic / Byzantine Textiles

Clio Ancient Art & Antiquities

Coptic Textile

The colorful textile above is a fragment from a Coptic Egyptian ecclesiastical garment depicting saints and biblical figures and dating to the 7th Century AD, now in The British Museum. Thanks to exceptionally dry conditions, many types of artifacts made from perishable materials that would not survive elsewhere are common finds on Egyptian archaeological sites. Between the late 18th and early 20th Century great numbers of ancient Egyptian textile fragments from all periods were retrieved by local Egyptian treasure hunters and artifacts dealers for sale to foreign visitors, by foreigners conducting their own ad-hoc “excavations” and by archaeologists, often excavating using methods that would by today’s standards be considered little more than treasure hunting.

While textiles of all types, from the most humble garments to the most elaborate, and from every period of Egypt’s long history have been preserved in the dry environment, Coptic textiles are a class unto themselves…

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Clio Ancient Art Valentine’s Day Sale


The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day

The Tale Of Bitter Truth

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty. But the origins of this festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled.

A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.

A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, one good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by, well, hitting them.

Those Wild And Crazy Romans

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of…

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Lawrencium (Lr), Element 103, Born on St. Valentine’s Day 53 Years Ago; February 14, 1961.