We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
To support the ancient history course we are doing with the Teaching Company, we had to go to the City to see some Assyrian stuff close-up.
Interestingly, there were Christian groups going through the ancient rooms with guides making all the relevant references to the Old Testament. Wonderful to overhear them. Ur of the Chaldees. Abraham. Captivity in Babylon.
These pics are actually Neo-Assyrian carvings from the acropolis at Nimrud, palace of Ashurnasipal ll, 880 BC. Note that one of the guardian gods or genies has hooved feet, the other lion's paws. They also have 5 legs, so that from the side they are walking, but from the front, standing firm. Cool.
Readers know my personal Museum Rule: Just go to see one group of things, and leave before becoming a victim of Museum Brain. An hour and 20 minutes is my limit.
More pics below the fold -
From the same palace, another guardian genie. Lots of cuneiform writing on it about how wonderful the king was. I said loudly to Mrs. BD "Look - he has a Rolex on, and a pocketbook. What's up with that?"
I tried to stick with the the Assyrian, but it's tough. This a street decoration from Babylon, reign of Nebuchadnezzar ll, c. 600 BC. Babylon was already a 1000 year-old metropolis then.
I like to take our New York-ophobe readers on my little NYC jaunts.
Note on left one of the handful of grand old houses still left on 5th Avenue -
Prix-fixe lunch at a favorite cozy nook down the street. Those $25. prix-fixe lunches have become a NY fixture for top-ranked restaurants, and always a favorite adventure for us. Giovanni Venti Cenqui, with 5 stars from somebody:
I had the mussel appetizer - perfect, plump, and not overcooked - and the veal spezzatino with a glass of really nice Barbera, but Mrs. BD had the best: the Fegato al Balsamico - seared calves liver, rare, with a Balsamic and onion sauce. "Possibly one of the tastiest meals I've ever had. Better than foie gras."
When I was studying Neo-Assyrian art and archaeology at the University of London in the 1970s the combination was known as "bucket-and-cone" and was assumed to be a fertility ritual involving (perhaps) sprinkling water, or pollen, from the bucket onto plants, as a sign of the king's ability to ensure fertility. But that was thirty-odd years ago, so perhaps there are new ideas. And even then people wondered about the apparent multiplication of wrist watches.
Abraham was wayyyy before 850 BCE. So I don't know what the Christian guides were talking about. Some of the artifacts in the Met and elsewhere can be matched to the captivity in Babylon, although there is some dispute about which king corresponds to Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther.
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpets unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!