Weekend Reading is a collation of 3-5 articles that have caught my attention, published on Saturday mornings. Previous editions can be found here.
She told me over email that she draws heavily on material culture in both her teaching and her research. She continuously confronts a preconception about the past as monochrome or, at best, sepia-toned. Luckily, that’s a vision that’s easy enough to dispel.
One of her favorite images to teach with is the 15th-century Kilcoe Castle in Ireland, now home to the actor Jeremy Irons, restored using an authentic style of limewashing to seal the exterior from the water. And there it stands once again, now a majestic salmon-pink.
2. Clothes in Medieval England (Ancient History Encyclopedia)
Clothing was usually made from wool, although silk and brocade items might be saved for special occasions. Outer clothing made from goat or even camel hair kept the rich warm in winter. Fur was an obvious way to improve insulation and provide decorative trimmings, the most common were rabbit, lambskin, beaver, fox, otter, squirrel, ermine, and sable (the latter three became a standard background design in medieval heraldry such was their common use). More decoration was achieved by adding tassels, fringes, feathers, and embroidered designs, while more expensive additions included precious metal stitching and buttons, pearls, and cabochons of glass or semi-precious stones. The taste for colours was the brighter the better, with crimson, blue, yellow, green and purple being the most popular choices in all types of clothes.
3. The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture (The New Yorker)
In the nineteen-nineties, Brinkmann and his wife, Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, who is an art historian and an archeologist, began re-creating Greek and Roman sculptures in plaster, painted with an approximation of their original colors. Palettes were determined by identifying specks of remaining pigment, and by studying “shadows”—minute surface variations that betray the type of paint applied to the stone. The result of this effort was a touring exhibition called “Gods in Color.” Versions of the show, which was launched in 2003, have been seen by three million museumgoers in twenty-eight cities, including Istanbul and Athens.
The replicas often deliver a shock. A Trojan archer, from approximately 500 B.C., wears tight pants with a harlequin pattern that is as boldly colored as Missoni leggings. A lion that once stood guard over a tomb in Corinth, in the sixth century B.C., has an azurite mane and an ochre body, calling to mind Mayan or Aztec artifacts. There are also reconstructions of naked figures in bronze, which have a disarming fleshiness: copper lips and nipples, luxuriant black beards, wiry swirls of dark pubic hair. (Classical bronze figures were often blinged out with gemstones for the eyes and with contrasting metals that highlighted anatomical details or dripping wounds.) Throughout the exhibition, the colored replicas are juxtaposed with white plaster casts of marble pieces—fakes that look like what we think of as the real thing.
4. America in Color (Smithsonian/YouTube). No excerpt to publish here since these are films — but they are super neat.