Deus Ex Machina: Depicting Cranes and Pulleys in the Ancient World

Within ancient theater, the phrase ‘deus ex machina‘ actually referred to a crane called a μηχανή (the Greek term from whence we get our “machine”) used to suspend and then lower individuals onto the stage during performances of tragic plays, particularly those written by Sophocles and Euripides. In nine of his plays, an epiphanic deus was loweredContinue reading “Deus Ex Machina: Depicting Cranes and Pulleys in the Ancient World”

Digitization ≠ Repatriation: When Digital Humanities Provides Access But Not Restitution

This week over at Hyperallergic, I wrote about new exhibits at the British Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum which both engage with the cultural heritage of ancient and medieval Ethiopia. An examination of the Ethiopian cultural heritage held in the libraries and museums of Britain can perhaps demonstrate a seminal point about digitization andContinue reading “Digitization ≠ Repatriation: When Digital Humanities Provides Access But Not Restitution”

The Gospel of Unicode: Digital Love Letter(s) and Art Through Numbers

Over at Hyperallergic this week, I discuss the proposed release of over 2,000 Hieroglyphs into Unicode by 2020 or 2021.  If you are a classicist then you know how important the Unicode movement has been in standardizing the visualization of Greek texts in particular. But the non-profit Unicode Consortium encodes many other ancient and endangeredContinue reading “The Gospel of Unicode: Digital Love Letter(s) and Art Through Numbers”

The Itinerarium Egeriae: Mapping Egeria’s Pilgrimage On Candlemas

In the Roman Catholic Church, the celebration held forty days after Christmas is the festival of Candlemas (February 2). Candlemas recognizes the presentation of Jesus in the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary forty days after giving birth (Luke 2:22-29). This was in accordance with Jewish purity law (Lev. 12:4) which required women whoContinue reading “The Itinerarium Egeriae: Mapping Egeria’s Pilgrimage On Candlemas”

The Midas Touch: Alchemy in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras

It has been a splendid week doing talks and research in southern California (you can see all my slides for the talks here). One of the highlights of this trip was a special visit to the Getty in L.A. to see two adjacent exhibits (one at the Getty Museum and the other at the GettyContinue reading “The Midas Touch: Alchemy in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras”