In Death They Gave Us Life: Introduction

You may have noticed that some of my posts about my visits to the Berlin museums were a little sparse on details of specific objects.  This is because I intend to use a lot of the artifacts I saw there in more detailed, individual posts, and wanted to avoid any repetition where possible.  This is the start of a short (this may not be the best adjective to use, as I have a tendency to get carried away when doing projects such as this) series of such detailed, individual posts.

For a while since my visit to the Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition at the British Museum, I’ve been thinking about the ways in which death in the Ancient World provides the modern historian with a window into the lives led by ancient people.  I thought it might be interesting to consider a variety of sources, ranging from Egyptian reliefs and Sudanese jewellery to Greek pottery and Roman epic poetry, and test the idea that in death, the ancients gifted us with snapshots of life.  I'll be looking not only at objects which give an indication of what life was like on a day to day basis, but also at sources which require consideration of just how the concept of life was perceived in the Ancient World.

I hope to post something in this little series on a weekly basis, so if this sounds like it might interest you, stay alert!

Mummy portraits from Roman tombs in Egypt, 150-160 AD, Altes Museum, Berlin.


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