Sunday, November 28, 2021

More really old time travellers

Standing stones at Ballymeanoch
Watercolour and crayon
©2021 Charlene Brown

The tallest of this group of standing stones in Kilmartin Glen is four metres high.  Two of them are deeply carved with cup and ring marks.

Cup and ring marks are a form of pre-historic art found on the Atlantic seaboard of Europe and on the Mediterranean coast. And, of course, in the mid-twentieth century paintings of Friedensreich Hundertwasser 

Like the Druid’s Stone I wrote about last week, these cup and ring markings were likely made many centuries after the stones were originally placed more than four thousand years ago. But not as recently as the mid-twentieth century.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

When time travel is measured in Millennia

Druid’s Stone on the Island of Gigha
Watercolour, crayon and gouache
©1995 Charlene Brown

The Standing Stones of Scotland were likely erected in the third millennium BCE during the Neolithic Period.  Many, including this one, were associated with the Celts’ Iron Age priests in the early first millennium BCE.  

Some of these pre-historic stones were inscribed much later, in the fifth and sixth centuries of the first millennium CE, using an alphabet created specifically to represent the Gaelic language.  Then in the ninth century a few had Celtic crosses added.

The Druid’s Stone, shown here with the Paps of Jura in the distance, doesn’t have any of these inscriptions, so I’ve overlaid a few on the painting.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Finally getting out and about

Mt. Baker from Mill Hill
Watercolour and crayon
©2021 Charlene Brown

 As you may have noticed, I’ve been on lots of virtual hikes and camping trips in the mountains with my daughter and her family in the last 20 months. At long last, they’ve come out to Vancouver Island and I climbed Mill Hill with them!  So – Mill Hill at 200 metres is not what anyone would call a challenging hike, but it was Real!

My son-in-law took lots of pictures and I used one of them to paint the view from the top.  In order to identify some of the other features (Mount Douglas, Esquimalt Harbour, Cadbora Bay) in my reference  photo, I drew a line from Mill Hill to Mt Baker on a Google map of the area.  I’d always thought Mt. Baker was straight east from Victoria, but discovered it’s more like ENE, so a bit further north than we are. 

And, as Google helpfully added the distance, only 128 kilometres away! This also led to the discovery that the distance from where I live in Victoria to Mill Hill is only 10 kilometres.  Not only was our elevation gain only 200 metres, I wasn’t out and about very far. But for me it was still a Big Deal!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Time Travel in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

St George’s Monastery in Wadi Qelt
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

Wadi Qelt, said to be the valley of the shadow of death mentioned in Psalm 23, parallels the old Roman road to Jericho, the backdrop of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

St George’s Monastery was originally built in about 500 CE, destroyed by the Persians 140 years later, then rebuilt by Crusaders but abandoned after their defeat.  Restored by Greek monks in the twentieth century, it is now a site of intense Greek Orthodox pilgrimage.

This picture was originally published on this blog two years ago, in anticipation of a Travel Study program in Israel I planned join in November 2020.  Like most plans for 2020, the program was ‘postponed’ to 2021, then 2022.  I’m hoping it will happen in 2023.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Time travel in the 12th century with a 21st century solar clock

Garden at the Sorkh Dome
Watercolour and crayon
©2021 Charlene Brown

The Gonbad-e Sorkh, or Sorkh Dome, the red brick structure on the right in this painting, is an important historical building in Maragheh, Iran. It is one of the oldest buildings of the Islamic Period in the East Azerbaijan Province.  In typical Razi style, the north-facing entrance to the tower is adorned with intricate brickwork and exquisite turquoise tiles. Built in 1147 CE, it is now set in a garden with pools and floral landscaping featuring Islamic designs.  

A huge vertical solar clock on the East-West wall of the garden was set up on the occasion of the World Year of Physics (2005) in a collaborative project of the Maragheh Astrology Research Centre (dating from 1259) and the office of the cultural attaché of the French Embassy in Teheran.  BTW, although this clock is pretty new, the concept of the sundial was understood as early as the 15th century BCE. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Time Travelling with a Very Old Computer

15th century Incan agricultural research
Watercolour and crayon
©2021 Charlene Brown

The Incas and other Andean cultures had no alphabetic writing system – they used the quipu to keep records and communicate information.  This device, composed of knotted string, was truly ingenious, easily carried, and surprisingly accurate and flexible – though calling it a computer is a bit of a stretch. It was widely used throughout the Andean region from 1400 CE until 1532, when Spanish writing systems took over.

The colourful quipu above was overlaid on a painting of the Moray Agricultural Terraces, a location developed by the Incas. The terraces simulated a broad range of microclimates and were used to find the ideal strains of vegetables for different mountain regions.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Time travelling again

Akrotiri, Santorini
Watercolour and crayon
©2021 Charlene Brown

Santorini, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Greek Cyclades, changed suddenly with the volcanic eruption of the island in about 1600 BCE and more gradually, but completely, in the 3650 years since, as shown in the painting on the left.

The top portion shows present day Santorini, looking north from Akrotiri to the densely populated cliff-top town of Oia.  The lower portion shows the ash-covered ruins of Akrotiri, the excavation of which began in 1967. The landscape painting pulling the two views together is based on one of the Akrotiri frescoes which were carefully removed from the site and are now on the display in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.





Sunday, October 17, 2021

Time Travel with a bag of crayons

Diptych in the fourth dimension
Watercolour and crayon
©2013 Charlene Brown

This is the beginning of one of the projects in my ‘Plan for 2021’   Creative archaeology: reinterpreting some of the photos and sketches I accumulated in past archaeology-related travel with the University of Victoria travel study program.

I’ll be painting some new pictures, and recycling some old ones, such as ‘Diptych in the fourth dimension’ using one of my favourite sketching techniques: Drawing with crayons as a resist before painting with watercolour.  I’m going to call this series ‘Time travel with a bag of crayons’ because there are usually at least two different time periods combined in each picture.

If you’re interested in the detail of this diptych The right panel is based on a photograph I took on a UVic trip to Egypt in 2008. It shows a relief sculpture (reassembled from shards) on a wall in Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri, across the river from Luxor. The mural illustrates an expedition to the Land of Punt, an exotic country on the Red Sea coast in what is now Northern Sudan. Because I think any picture of the Upper Nile has to include the pyramids of the Black Pharaohs, they are shown on the left side. They are smaller, more sharply pointed and far more numerous than the more famous pyramids near Cairo. The fact they were built in about the 5th century BCE nine hundred years after the gardens of Punt were sculpted at Deir el-Bahri in the 14th century BCE, and are near the Nile, rather than the Red Sea, stopped me briefly…  until I thought of presenting the time/space divide as a diptych.