Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Have we learned anything new in the last 2,500 years?

I know the answer is a resounding, "Yes," but last week, standing among the ruins and shards of civilizations that existed at least two millenia ago, I marveled at the knowledge that these ancient people already possessed. Mathematics, architecture, metal-working, physics, medicine, etc. All of this would have been important for the survival and comfort of the people but what really struck me was the value and appreciation of artistry. They weren't just surviving, they were thriving and enjoying the "finer things."

Sure, they needed bowls and pots for cooking and carrying water, but they were not only aesthetically pleasing in form; they were decorated with elaborate designs and depictions of gods, humans and animals. And how do you explain jewelry? It serves no functional purpose- it is simply for adornment. They had gold, silver and bronze, amber, amethyst, ivory and glass.

There was theater and music. They were playwrights and actors. They built stadiums with such amazing acoustics that 17,000 spectators could hear the actors' voices without microphones. They knew comedy and tragedy, sarcasm, irony and parody.

And for me maybe the most amazing of all were the sculptures. They were perfectly proportioned and lifelike. Some even seemed to be in motion. The faces were expressive, showing joy, fear, annoyance. The sculptors must have had tremendous knowledge of the human form. Imagine the skill it took to carve stone to look like flowing fabric and to see the subtle outline of a leg beneath the gown.

It was truly remarkable and I am so grateful for the experience of seeing it.

1 comment:

Merley95 said...

It was amazing to see how the architectural feats were achieved without computers or machinery. The precision of the Parthenon construction was within 1/64 of an inch. And some of the marble used was brought from over 60 miles away to the top of the Acropolis. How did they do this?