Πέμπτη, 29 Μαρτίου 2012

Unbelievable surgical operations in ancient times

Archaeologists in the Burnt City have discovered what appears to be an ancient prosthetic eye. What makes this discovery exceptionally awesome is the striking description of how the owner and her false eye would have appeared while she was still alive and blinking:
[The eye] has a hemispherical form and a diameter of just over 2.5 cm (1 inch). It consists of very light material, probably bitumen paste. The surface of the artificial eye is covered with a thin layer of gold, engraved with a central circle (representing the iris) and gold lines patterned like sun rays. The female remains found with the artificial eye was 1.82 m tall (6 feet), much taller than ordinary women of her time. On both sides of the eye are drilled tiny holes, through which a golden thread could hold the eyeball in place. Since microscopic research has shown that the eye socket showed clear imprints of the golden thread, the eyeball must have been worn during her lifetime. The woman’s skeleton has been dated to between 2900 and 2800 BCE.
So she was an extraordinarily tall woman walking around wearing an engraved golden eye patterned with rays like a tiny sun. What an awesome sight that must have been.

earliest evidence of ancient dentistry we have is an amazingly detailed dental work on a mummy from ancient Egypt that archaeologists have dated to 2000 BCE. The work shows intricate gold work around the teeth. This mummy was found with two donor teeth that had holes drilled into them. Wires were strung through the holes and then around the neighboring teeth.

Neolithic skull and its prosthetic seashell ear, found at Roque d’Aille.
It’s not even the fact that the skull, upon examination, turned out to be trepanned. It had been carved open, apparently, with the aid of a rough flint—a primitive crown saw—and the brain had been operated on for an estimated period of three hours. The whole intervention had left a cicatrice nine centimeters long. No, it’s neither the black skull nor the jagged scar that runs like some kind of virulent root about one side of the skull plate that so fascinates us today, but the ear, the artificial ear, that once locked into the left side of that hollow, black receptacle. Carved from a seashell, the spondylus Graederopus, its artisan had used the shell’s thick hinge to replicate the earlobe and its shallow vault to imitate the concavity of the ear’s outer whorl. Ironically enough, the external ear is also known, anatomically, as a concha . We’re left examining, finally, a delicate prosthesis, one of the earliest artificial members ever discovered. It measures sixty-five by thirty-six millimeters: approximately the measurements of an average human ear. Paleopathologists have determined that the subject of this conchate device was almost certainly a woman, a young woman. Furthermore, these specialists are convinced that the woman had not only survived that harrowing “open brain” operation, but had gone on to live for many years, for they’ve detected on the underside of that artificial organ tiny microscopic traces of patina due, unquestionably, to wear. Was this the result of simple abrasion (the mechanical rub of one surface against another) or the deliberate toying, on the young woman’s part, with her curious appendage? Had she fondled its slick underside so often that specialists—peering through electromagnetic microscopes five thousand years later—would pick up traces of the infinitesimal luster left there by the play of her fingertips? By the roll of her thumb and forefinger over its nacreous lip?….
More in University of California Digital LIbrary

Greville Chester toe
Tabaketenmut toe
Earliest functional toes prosthetics
 Two false mummy big toes may have been the world’s earliest functional prosthetics, according to a study which has successfully tested replicas on volunteers. Discovered in the necropolis of Thebe near present-day Luxor, the two artificial toes — the so-called Greville Chester toe  housed in the British Museum and the Tabaketenmut toe  at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo –- date back to before 600 B.C. They predate by a few hundred years, a Roman leg made out of bronze and wood in around 300 B.C, known as the Capua leg. The leg was destroyed by Second World War bombings.

Acquired by the British museum in 1881, the Greville Chester toe comes in the shape of the right big toe and a portion of the right foot. It was made from cartonnage — a type of papier mâché made of linen, soaked with animal glue and coated with tinted plaster. “It is skilfully crafted and at one time carried a false nail,” Jacqueline Finch, a researcher at the University of Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, wrote in the British medical journal The Lancet.

The other false toe, now in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, was found attached on the right toe of a mummy identified as Tabaketenmut. A priest’s daughter who lived sometime between 950 and 710 B.C., Tabaketenmut might have lost her toe following gangrene triggered by diabetes. Her false big toe was a three part wood and leather artifact which also included a hinge, possibly intended to mimic the flexibility of the joints.

Both artificial toes had holes for lacings to either attach the toes onto the foot or fasten it onto a sock or sandal. However, finding a false toe fastened onto an amputee mummy toe doesn’t necessarly prove the artifact was used as a prothesis. “There is plenty of evidence from mummified remains to show that the ancient Egyptian embalmers made every attempt to reinstate the completeness of the physical body before burial,” Finch said. Indeed, missing limbs, eyes, noses, limbs and even genitals were often added to help a person properly enter the afterlife.

But while the limbs added by the embalmers were poor imitations, the Greville Chester and the Tabaketenmut toes bore distinctive signs of wear. Moreover, they appeared “far more sophisticated in both design and appearance,” said Finch. In order to find out whether the false toes were added for cosmetic purposes or used to help in walking, the researcher created two reproductions modelled as the Greville toe and the Tabaketenmut digit. “The big toe is thought to carry some 40 percent of the bodyweight and is responsible for forward propulsion, although those without it can adapt well,” Finch wrote. “My own research used two volunteers with similar amputation sites and suggested that replicas of both ancient Egyptian false toes performed extremely well,” she said. Wearing the toes with replica Egyptian sandals, the volunteers found the wooden Tabaketenmut digit to be especially comfortable. In particular, one of the volunteers was able to walk extremely well with both artificial toes. “Perhaps now attribution for the first glimmers of prosthetic medicine should be firmly laid at the feet of the ancient Egyptians,” Finch said.

And about Thephination I have dealt some years ago:

Trephination is a medical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater in order to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases. Trepanation is perhaps the oldest surgical procedure for which there is forensic evidence, and in some areas may have been quite widespread. Out of 120 prehistoric skulls found at one burial site in France dated to 6500 BC, 40 had trepanation holes.

Παρασκευή, 23 Μαρτίου 2012

Bryan Kent Ward

He is a contemporary surreal-horror artist. We read in his bio some interesting personal views:

I've been doing visual art since I can remember, influenced by the Surrealists and the discovery of Entheogens at a young age. More recently finding an affiliation with the ongoing and ever burgeoning Fantastic/Visionary art movement, through this I have been making connections and expanding my horizons.

Since I was a child I have always been fascinated by the fantastic, surreal, the strange and the weird, and also have been drawn to the shadow side of expressing myself. In my work I have a tendency to visualize death and darkness, sometimes obvious, other times more subtle. I feel I try to capture the duality of this existence, the paradox of love and hate, light and dark. I feel with some of my darker work I am drawing and painting the beauty of a lamentation. For me this includes the mourning but without the regret: that sorrow, sadness, suffering and tears should be embraced as a part of a beautiful human experience and not be wholly shunned. This process in creating my art is transformative, and reflects an evolution towards something within and yet beyond myself. I think through my art I am trying to communicate my experience to others, and I have some kind of need to express this "beauty in lamentation."

As for any absolute meaning in my work I think the power of visual art is that it's open to the individual's interpretation. Question what you see, consider what you don't, draw your own conclusions. Visit his SITE for more of his work

Σάββατο, 17 Μαρτίου 2012

Brian Smith

Brian Smith is a contemporary painter with surealistic dark and macabre themes. Biomechanical, post apocalyptic and zombified forms decaying in agony, with vivid almost illuminecent colours in dark space and background. Visit his BLOG and his SITE to see more of his works.

Δευτέρα, 12 Μαρτίου 2012

"The Disasters of War" by Francisco Goya

The Disasters of War (Spanish: Los Desastres de la Guerra) are a series of 82 prints created between 1810 and 1820 by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya (1746–1828). Although Goya did not make known his intention when creating the plates, art historians view them as a visual protest against the violence of the 1808 Dos de Mayo Uprising, the subsequent Peninsular War of 1808–14 and the setbacks to the liberal cause following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814.

During the conflicts between Napoleon's French Empire and Spain, Goya retained his position as first court painter to the Spanish crown and continued to produce portraits of the Spanish and French rulers. Although deeply affected by the war, he kept private his thoughts on the art he produced in response to the conflict and its aftermath. He was in poor health and almost deaf when, at 62, he began work on the prints. They were not published until 1863, 35 years after his death. It is likely that only then was it considered politically safe to distribute a sequence of artworks criticising both the French and restored Bourbons. In total over a thousand sets have been printed, though later ones are of lower quality, and most print room collections have at least some of the set.

The name by which the series is known today is not Goya's own. His handwritten title on an album of proofs given to a friend reads: Fatal consequences of Spain's bloody war with Bonaparte, and other emphatic caprices (Spanish: Fatales consequencias de la sangrienta guerra en España con Buonaparte, Y otros caprichos enfáticos). Aside from the titles or captions given to each print, these are Goya's only known words on the series. With these works, he breaks from a number of painterly traditions. He rejects the bombastic heroics of most previous Spanish war art to show the effect of conflict on individuals. In addition he abandons colour in favour of a more direct truth he found in shadow and shade.

The series was produced using a variety of intaglio printmaking techniques, mainly etching for the line work and aquatint for the tonal areas, but also engraving and drypoint. As with many other Goya prints, they are sometimes referred to as aquatints, but more often as etchings. The series is usually considered in three groups which broadly mirror the order of their creation.

The first 47 focus on incidents from the war and show the consequences of the conflict on individual soldiers and civilians.

The middle series (plates 48 to 64) record the effects of the famine that hit Madrid in 1811–12, before the city was liberated from the French.

The final 17 reflect the bitter disappointment of liberals when the restored Bourbon monarchy, encouraged by the Catholic hierarchy, rejected the Spanish Constitution of 1812 and opposed both state and religious reform.

Since their first publication, Goya's scenes of atrocities, starvation, degradation and humiliation have been described as the "prodigious flowering of rage" as well as the "work of a memory that knew no forgiveness." The serial nature in which the plates unfold has led some to see the images as similar in nature to photography.

Read more about this work in WIKIPEDIA and see all 82 pictures with Goya's quotings in WIKIMEDIA COMMONS