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News Article | February 6, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

There's a new conspiracy theory out there, but instead of invoking big government or aliens, it questions whether there's a laptop carved into an ancient Greek statue. That's right — there's a theory out there saying that a funerary statue of a woman, dated to about 100 B.C., shows her looking at a modern laptop or a handheld digital device. The theory, proposed by the anonymous YouTube user StillSpeakingOut, ventures that the ancient Oracle of Delphi may have foreseen the invention of laptops, and told people about it. "Just so we are clear, I'm not saying that this relief was depicting an ancient laptop computer," StillSpeakingOut said in the 100-second-long video. [Supernatural Powers? Tales of 10 Historical Predictions] But "Greek tales about the Oracle of Delphi, which was supposed to allow the priests to quote-unquote connect with the gods and retrieve advanced information of various aspects," made him wonder whether the statue represented a prediction, StillSpeakingOut said. In fact, the object depicted on the statue does look something like a laptop, said Jeffrey Spier, the senior curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California, which owns the statue. But, of course, it's not, Spier said. Instead, the object may be a jewelry box, a shallow chest or possibly a hinged mirror, as "we have hinged mirrors from this time period," Spier said. Perhaps it's a box containing incense, although there's no incense burner in the scene, so that may be a stretch, he added. Another historian debunked StillSpeakingOut's idea that the so-called laptop has USB ports in its side. "The 'USB ports' are drill holes for the attachment of a bronze object, or perhaps a separate piece of marble," said Jeff Hurwit, a professor of art history and classics at the University of Oregon. The statue, officially called "Grave Naiskos of an Enthroned Woman with an Attendant," depicts a well-dressed woman lounging on a cushioned armchair and reaching out "to touch the lid of a shallow chest held by a servant girl," according to the J. Paul Getty Museum. Funerary reliefs, fashioned out of marble like this one, were common in ancient Greece, going in and out of style over the years, Spier told Live Science. Such reliefs start occurring in the archaeological record in the sixth century B.C. and continue until about the first century B.C. These funerary statues would have sat above graves of the deceased, and are called naiskos, which are small temples dedicated to the deceased, Spier said. This one would have likely had a triangular top, and probably had the departed woman's name painted on top, he said. "We have a number [of naiskos] in the museum," Spier said. "They show young girls with their toys or with pets. They are very nostalgic and sympathetic." However, guests won't see the "enthroned woman" naiskos anytime soon at the Getty. The museum lent the statue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where it will go on display April 18 for an exhibit called, "Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World." Guests visiting the Met can decide for themselves whether they think the statue shows a laptop, but the experts have already made up their minds. "Seriously?" Hurwit said. "The 'laptop' is in fact a shallow box or lidded tray from which the woman is about to select a piece of jewelry, as is commonly shown in grave reliefs like this one." However, this isn't the only conspiracy about modern technology showing up in yesteryear. In 2010, a similar flurry arose concerning a woman in a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film holding an object that looked like a cellphone. But that mystery object was likely an ear trumpet, used to help the woman hear, experts said. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Cianchetta I.,Getty Conservation Institute | Trentelman K.,Getty Conservation Institute | Maish J.,J. Paul Getty Museum | Saunders D.,J. Paul Getty Museum | And 11 more authors.
Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry | Year: 2015

XANES spectroscopy was used to complement the results previously obtained with Raman spectroscopy by the same group to determine the firing conditions used in the production of a single vessel painted by the Berlin Painter in the 5th century B.C. The vessel, part of the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, presents a complicated layered architecture of black and red gloss, with different stratigraphies present on the interior and exterior surfaces. The study of two samples, one each from the interior and exterior surface of the vessel, was performed with the complementary analytical techniques of X-ray nano- and micro-spectroscopy (X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and full-field transmission X-ray micro-spectroscopy (FF-XANES) across the Fe K edge), and supported by a replication study. The replicates, made in a laboratory furnace providing complete control over the firing temperature and oxygen partial pressure, provided a paradigm for the comparison of the mineralogical phases observed in the ancient samples, which led to a deeper understanding of the firing conditions necessary for the production of the Berlin Painter's vessel. Our results confirm the necessity of multiple firings and painting applications to obtain the Berlin Painter's architecture and provide a further example of the multiplicity of techniques and practices employed by the potters of the Kerameikos in ancient Athens. © 2015 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Cianchetta I.,Getty Conservation Institute | Trentelman K.,Getty Conservation Institute | Walton M.S.,Northwestern University | Maish J.,J. Paul Getty Museum | And 2 more authors.
Journal of the American Ceramic Society | Year: 2016

Athenian pottery, the ceramics produced in the Attica region of Greece between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C., is considered a benchmark technological achievement of the preindustrial world. This work advances our understanding of the firing protocols employed by the ancient Greeks to produce their black-on-red designs by characterizing replicates painted with a refined illite clay and fired under oxidizing/reducing/reoxidizing conditions (three-stage firing). Systematically varying the temperature, atmosphere, and duration of each firing stage within the three-stage firing scheme allowed the conditions necessary to obtain black and red gloss, both of which are observed on ancient vessels, to be determined. The morphology and elemental distribution of particles formed within the gloss thus formed were characterized using transmission electron microscopy and spectrocolorimetric measurements. Comparison of the results obtained from ancient sherds with those obtained from the replicate samples provides a means of estimating the firing conditions used to create the ancient vessels. © 2016 The American Ceramic Society.


Walton M.,Getty Conservation Institute | Trentelman K.,Getty Conservation Institute | Cummings M.,Getty Conservation Institute | Poretti G.,Getty Conservation Institute | And 5 more authors.
Journal of the American Ceramic Society | Year: 2013

The production of Athenian fine ware pottery, produced between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C., required alternating the high-temperature kiln between oxidative and reductive environments during a single firing to create the iconic red and black decorative scenes. Here, we show that the production of this pottery was even more complex, with vessels subjected to two, or possibly more, firings in the kiln, with applications of slip between each firing. On a representative sherd, we compared three painted black decorative features - relief line, contour line, and background slip. Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) of the slips revealed that the relief line had a more melted microstructure than either the contour line or background slip. By characterizing the chemistry and micromorphology of the slips, we find that the relief line microstructure could only be produced through a separate firing, at a hotter temperature, than the other two decorative features. © 2013 The American Ceramic Society.


Cianchetta I.,Getty Conservation Institute | Maish J.,J. Paul Getty Museum | Saunders D.,J. Paul Getty Museum | Walton M.,Northwestern University | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Raman Spectroscopy | Year: 2015

The black and red coloration of ancient Athenian pottery is due to the different oxidation states of iron oxide: reduced Fe2+ (black) and oxidized Fe3+ (red). It has long been thought that a single, three-step firing - oxidation-reduction-oxidation - was used to manipulate the Fe valence state and achieve different degrees of vitrification between the slip and the body to produce the high contrast black and red images. However, complex and layered structures, with slips of different color overlaying each other, are sometimes found, raising the question of the adequacy of a single three-step firing to produce complex architectures. The firing conditions used in the production of an ancient vessel in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, in which a red glossy layer is found between the black gloss and the body, were investigated. The ancient specimen was compared to a set of replicates produced and fired under a series of controlled temperatures and oxygen fugacities. Raman spectroscopy was used to identify the mineralogical phases present in both the ancient and the replicate samples, and the shape and position of the Eg mode in hematite provided a measure of the temperatures at which the minerals were formed. The results suggest the ancient vessel was produced using at least two separate firings: a high temperature firing under oxidizing conditions to create the underlying red glossy layer, followed by a three-step firing to create the surface black gloss decoration. Raman spectroscopy was used to identify the mineralogical phases present in a fragment from an ancient Greek vessel. The shape and position of the Eg mode in hematite provided a measure of the temperatures at which the minerals were formed. The results suggest that the ancient vessel was produced using at least two separate firings: a high temperature firing under oxidizing conditions to create the underlying red glossy layer, followed by a three-step firing to create the surface black gloss decoration. This finding suggests the firing of ancient Athenian pottery was more complex than previously thought. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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