Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin; this was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea; the Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire. Classical Greek culture philosophy, had a powerful influence on ancient Rome, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean Basin and Europe.
For this reason, Classical Greece is considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern Western culture and is considered the cradle of Western civilization. Classical Greek culture gave great importance to knowledge. Science and religion were not separate and getting closer to the truth meant getting closer to the gods. In this context, they understood the importance of mathematics as an instrument for obtaining more reliable knowledge. Greek culture, in a few centuries and with a limited population, managed to explore and make progress in many fields of science, mathematics and knowledge in general. Classical antiquity in the Mediterranean region is considered to have begun in the 8th century BC and ended in the 6th century AD. Classical antiquity in Greece was preceded by the Greek Dark Ages, archaeologically characterised by the protogeometric and geometric styles of designs on pottery. Following the Dark Ages was the Archaic Period, beginning around the 8th century BC.
The Archaic Period saw early developments in Greek culture and society which formed the basis for the Classical Period. After the Archaic Period, the Classical Period in Greece is conventionally considered to have lasted from the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 until the death of Alexander the Great in 323; the period is characterized by a style, considered by observers to be exemplary, i.e. "classical", as shown in the Parthenon, for instance. Politically, the Classical Period was dominated by Athens and the Delian League during the 5th century, but displaced by Spartan hegemony during the early 4th century BC, before power shifted to Thebes and the Boeotian League and to the League of Corinth led by Macedon; this period saw the Greco-Persian Wars and the Rise of Macedon. Following the Classical period was the Hellenistic period, during which Greek culture and power expanded into the Near and Middle East; this period ends with the Roman conquest. Roman Greece is considered to be the period between Roman victory over the Corinthians at the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC and the establishment of Byzantium by Constantine as the capital of the Roman Empire in AD 330.
Late Antiquity refers to the period of Christianization during the 4th to early 6th centuries AD, sometimes taken to be complete with the closure of the Academy of Athens by Justinian I in 529. The historical period of ancient Greece is unique in world history as the first period attested directly in proper historiography, while earlier ancient history or proto-history is known by much more circumstantial evidence, such as annals or king lists, pragmatic epigraphy. Herodotus is known as the "father of history": his Histories are eponymous of the entire field. Written between the 450s and 420s BC, Herodotus' work reaches about a century into the past, discussing 6th century historical figures such as Darius I of Persia, Cambyses II and Psamtik III, alluding to some 8th century ones such as Candaules. Herodotus was succeeded by authors such as Thucydides, Demosthenes and Aristotle. Most of these authors were either Athenian or pro-Athenian, why far more is known about the history and politics of Athens than those of many other cities.
Their scope is further limited by a focus on political and diplomatic history, ignoring economic and social history. In the 8th century BC, Greece began to emerge from the Dark Ages which followed the fall of the Mycenaean civilization. Literacy had been lost and Mycenaean script forgotten, but the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, modifying it to create the Greek alphabet. Objects with Phoenician writing on them may have been available in Greece from the 9th century BC, but the earliest evidence of Greek writing comes from graffiti on Greek pottery from the mid-8th century. Greece was divided into many small self-governing communities, a pattern dictated by Greek geography: every island and plain is cut off from its neighbors by the sea or mountain ranges; the Lelantine War is the earliest documented war of the ancient Greek period. It was fought between the important poleis of Chalcis and Eretria over the fertile Lelantine plain of Euboea. Both cities seem to have suffered a decline as result of the long war, though Chalcis was the nominal victor.
A mercantile class arose in the first half of the 7th century BC, shown by the introduction of coinage in about 680 BC. This
Onyx refers to the parallel banded variety of the silicate mineral chalcedony. Agate and onyx are both varieties of layered chalcedony that differ only in the form of the bands: agate has curved bands and onyx has parallel bands; the colors of its bands range from white to every color. Specimens of onyx contain bands of black and/or white. Onyx, as a descriptive term, has been applied to parallel banded varieties of alabaster, marble and opal, misleadingly to materials with contorted banding, such as "Cave Onyx" and "Mexican Onyx". Onyx comes through Latin, from the Greek ὄνυξ, meaning "claw" or "fingernail". Onyx with flesh-colored and white bands can sometimes resemble a fingernail; the English word "nail" is cognate with the Greek word. Onyx is formed of bands of chalcedony in alternating colors, it moganite. Its bands are parallel to one another, as opposed to the more chaotic banding that occurs in agates. Sardonyx is a variant. Black onyx is the most famous variety, but is not as common as onyx with colored bands.
Artificial treatments have been used since ancient times to produce both the black color in "black onyx" and the reds and yellows in sardonyx. Most "black onyx" on the market is artificially colored; the name has commonly been used to label other banded materials, such as banded calcite found in Mexico and other places, carved and sold. This material is much softer than true onyx, much more available; the majority of carved items sold as "onyx" today are this carbonate material. Artificial onyx types have been produced from common chalcedony and plain agates; the first-century naturalist Pliny the Elder described these techniques being used in Roman times. Treatments for producing black and other colors include soaking or boiling chalcedony in sugar solutions treating with sulfuric or hydrochloric acid to carbonize sugars, absorbed into the top layers of the stone; these techniques are still used, as well as other dyeing treatments, most so-called "black onyx" sold is artificially treated. In addition to dye treatments and treatment with nitric acid have been used to lighten or eliminate undesirable colors.
Onyx is a gemstone found in various regions of the world including Yemen, Argentina, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, India, Madagascar, Latin America, the UK, various states in the US. It has a long history of use for hardstone carving and jewelry, where it is cut as a cabochon or into beads, it has been used for intaglio and hardstone cameo engraved gems, where the bands make the image contrast with the ground. Some onyx is natural but much of the material in commerce is produced by the staining of agate. Onyx was used in Egypt as early as the Second Dynasty to make bowls and other pottery items. Use of sardonyx appears in the art of Minoan Crete, notably from the archaeological recoveries at Knossos. Brazilian green onyx was used as plinths for art deco sculptures created in the 1920s and 1930s; the German sculptor Ferdinand Preiss used Brazilian green onyx for the base on the majority of his chryselephantine sculptures. Green onyx was used for trays and pin dishes – produced in Austria – with small bronze animals or figures attached.
Onyx is mentioned in the Bible many times. Sardonyx is mentioned in the Bible as well. Onyx was known to the Ancient Greeks and Romans; the first-century naturalist Pliny the Elder described both type of onyx and various artificial treatment techniques in his Naturalis Historia. Slabs of onyx were famously used by Mies van der Rohe in Villa Tugendhat at Brno to create a shimmering semi-translucent interior wall; the Hôtel de la Païva in Paris is noted for its yellow onyx décor, the new Mariinsky Theatre Second Stage in St. Petersburg uses yellow onyx in the lobby; the ancient Romans entered battle carrying amulets of sardonyx engraved with the god of war. This was believed to bestow courage in battle. In Renaissance Europe, wearing sardonyx was believed to bestow eloquence. A traditional Persian belief is. Sardonyx was traditionally used by English midwives to ease childbirth by laying it between the breasts of the mother. List of minerals – A list of minerals for which there are articles on Wikipedia The dictionary definition of onyx at Wiktionary Rudler, Frederick William.
"Onyx". Encyclopædia Britannica. 20. P. 118
Athena Parthenos is a lost massive chryselephantine sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena, made by Phidias and his assistants and housed in the Parthenon in Athens. Despite the dynamic architectural characteristics of the Parthenon, the statue of Athena was designed to be the focal point, its epithet was an essential character of the goddess herself. A number of replicas and works inspired by it, both ancient and modern, have been made, it was the most renowned cult image of Athens, considered one of the greatest achievements of the most acclaimed sculptor of ancient Greece. Phidias began his work around 447 BC. Lachares removed the gold sheets in 296 BC to pay his troops, the bronze replacements for them were gilded thereafter. An account mentions it in Constantinople in the 10th century; the ancient historian Pausanias gave a description of the statue:... The statue is created with gold. On the middle of her helmet is likeness of the Sphinx... and on either side of the helmet are griffins in relief....
The statue of Athena is upright, with a tunic reaching to the feet, on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a statue of Victory, approx. Four cubits high, in the other hand a spear; this serpent would be Erichthonius. On the pedestal is the birth of Pandora in relief; the general appearance of the Athena Parthenos, although not its characteristics and quality, can be assessed from its image on coins from its reproductions as miniature sculptures, as votive objects, in representations on engraved gems. This statue is a depiction of Athena after winning a combat. With her left hand she supports a shield with carvings of an Athenian battle against the Amazons. On her right, rests the winged Goddess of victory Nike, her left knee is bent, her weight shifted to her right leg. Her peplos is cinched at the waist by a pair of serpents. Locks of hair trail onto the goddess's breastplate; the Nike on her outstretched right hand is winged. The exact position of Athena's spear omitted, is not determined, whether held in the crook of Athena's right arm or supported by one of the snakes in the aegis, as N. Leipen restores it, following the "Aspasios" gem.
The statue stood on a pedestal measuring 4 by 8 metres. The sculpture was assembled on a wooden core, covered with shaped bronze plates covered in turn with removable gold plates, save for the ivory surfaces of the goddess's face and arms. According to Ian Jenkins in The Parthenon and Its Sculpturees "Athena was portrayed as a warrior resting after successful combat. A figure of winged victory alighted on the palm of her outstretched right hand, while her left hand supported a round shield. A spear rested against her left shoulder; the goddess was draped in the simplest form of tunic, the peplos, her shoulders and chest hung with the aegis, the snake fringed, fish-scaled poncho, the gift of her father Zeus and had protective powers". A number of ancient reproductions of all or part of the statue have survived; the Varvakeion Athena, a 3rd-century CE Roman copy in marble is housed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. This is considered the most faithful version; the Lenormant Athena, a small unfinished copy of the 1st century CE, is in the National Museum, Athens.
Another copy is in the Louvre. Another copy is in the Museo Nazionale Romano in Rome. A 3rd-century BC copy is housed in the National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade. A 3rd-century BC Roman marble reduced-scale copy of the statue's shield, from the Strangford Collection, is conserved at the British Museum. A modern copy by Alan LeQuire stands in the reproduction of the Parthenon in Tennessee. LeQuire, a Nashville native, was awarded the commission to produce the Parthenon's cult statue, his work was modeled on descriptions given of the original. The modern version took eight years to complete, was unveiled to the public on May 20, 1990; the Nashville Athena Parthenos is made of a composite of gypsum ground fiberglass. The head of Athena was assembled over an aluminum armature, the lower part was made in steel; the four ten-inch H beams rest on a concrete structure that extends through the Parthenon floor and basement down to bedrock, to support the great weight of the statue. LeQuire made each of the 180 cast gypsum panels used to create the statue light enough to be lifted by one person and attached to the steel armature.
Nashville's Athena stands 41 ft 10 in tall, making her the largest piece of indoor sculpture in the Western World. It stood in Nashville's Parthenon as a white statue for twelve years. In 2002, Parthenon volunteers gilded Athena under the supervision of master gilder Lou Reed; the gilding project took less than four months and makes the modern statue appear that much more like the way that Phidias' Athena Parthenos would have appeared during its time. The 23.75-karat gold leaf on Nashville's Athena Parthenos weighs a total of 8.5 pounds and is one-third the thickness of tissue paper. Bruno, Vincent J. ed. 1974. The Parthenon. New York: Norton. Cosmopoulos, Michael B. ed. 2004. The Parthenon and its sculptures. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press. Harris, Diane. 1995. The treasures of the Parthenon and Erechthei
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age Aegean civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean Islands which flourished from c. 2700 to c. 1450 BC, before a late period of decline ending around 1100 BC. It represents the first advanced civilization in Europe, left behind massive building complexes, stunning artwork, writing systems, a massive network of trade; the civilization was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. The name "Minoan" derives from the mythical King Minos and was coined by Evans, who identified the site at Knossos with the labyrinth and the Minotaur; the Minoan civilization has been described as the earliest of its kind in Europe, historian Will Durant called the Minoans "the first link in the European chain". The Minoan civilization is notable for its large and elaborate palaces, some of which were up to four stories high, featured elaborate plumbing systems and were decorated with frescoes; the most notable Minoan palace is that of Knossos, followed by that of Phaistos.
The Minoan period saw extensive trade between Crete and Mediterranean settlements the Near East. Through their traders and artists, the Minoans' cultural influence reached beyond Crete to the Cyclades, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, copper-bearing Cyprus and the Levantine coast and Anatolia; some of the best Minoan art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini, destroyed by the Minoan eruption. The Minoans wrote in the undeciphered Linear A and in Cretan hieroglyphs, encoding a language hypothetically labelled Minoan; the reasons for the slow decline of the Minoan civilization, beginning around 1550 BC, are unclear. The term "Minoan" refers to the mythical King Minos of Knossos, its origin is debated, but it is attributed to archeologist Arthur Evans. Minos was associated in Greek mythology with the labyrinth, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos. However, Karl Hoeck had used the title Das Minoische Kreta in 1825 for volume two of his Kreta. Evans read Hoeck's book, continued using the term in his writings and findings: "To this early civilization of Crete as a whole I have proposed—and the suggestion has been adopted by the archaeologists of this and other countries—to apply the name'Minoan'."
Evans said. Hoeck, with no idea that the archaeological Crete had existed, had in mind the Crete of mythology. Although Evans' 1931 claim that the term was "unminted" before he used it was called a "brazen suggestion" by Karadimas and Momigliano, he coined its archaeological meaning. Instead of dating the Minoan period, archaeologists use two systems of relative chronology; the first, created by Evans and modified by archaeologists, is based on pottery styles and imported Egyptian artifacts. Evans' system divides the Minoan period into three major eras: early and late; these eras are subdivided—for example, Early Minoan I, II and III. Another dating system, proposed by Greek archaeologist Nikolaos Platon, is based on the development of architectural complexes known as "palaces" at Knossos, Phaistos and Zakros. Platon divides neo - and post-palatial sub-periods; the relationship between the systems in the table includes approximate calendar dates from Warren and Hankey. The Minoan eruption of Thera occurred during a mature phase of the LM IA period.
Efforts to establish the volcanic eruption's date have been controversial. Radiocarbon dating has indicated a date in the late 17th century BC. Although stone-tool evidence suggests that hominins may have reached Crete as early as 130,000 years ago, evidence for the first anatomically-modern human presence dates to 10,000–12,000 YBP; the oldest evidence of modern human habitation on Crete is pre-ceramic Neolithic farming-community remains which date to about 7000 BC. A comparative study of DNA haplogroups of modern Cretan men showed that a male founder group, from Anatolia or the Levant, is shared with the Greeks; the Neolithic population lived in open villages. Fishermen's huts were found on the shores, the fertile Messara Plain was used for agriculture; the Early Bronze Age has been described as indicating a "promise of greatness" in light of developments on the island. The Bronze Age began on Crete around 3200 BC. In the late third millennium BC, several locations on the island developed into centers of commerce and handiwork, enabling the upper classes to exercise leadership and expand their influence.
It is that the original hierarchies of the local elites were replaced by monarchies, a precondition for the palaces. At the end of the MMII period there was a large disturbance on Crete—probably an earthquake, but an invasion from Anatolia; the palaces at Knossos, Phaistos and Kato Zakros were destroyed. At the beginning of the neopalatial period the population increased again, the palaces were rebuilt on a larger scale and new settlements were built across the island; this period was the apex of Minoan civilization. After around 1700 BC, material culture on the Greek mainland reached a new high due to Minoan influence. Another natural catastrophe occurred around 1600 BC an eruption of t
A gemstone is a piece of mineral crystal which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments. However, certain rocks and organic materials that are not minerals are used for jewelry and are therefore considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their luster or other physical properties that have aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic. Apart from jewelry, from earliest antiquity engraved gems and hardstone carvings, such as cups, were major luxury art forms. A gem maker is called a gemcutter; the traditional classification in the West, which goes back to the ancient Greeks, begins with a distinction between precious and semi-precious. In modern use the precious stones are diamond, ruby and emerald, with all other gemstones being semi-precious; this distinction reflects the rarity of the respective stones in ancient times, as well as their quality: all are translucent with fine color in their purest forms, except for the colorless diamond, hard, with hardnesses of 8 to 10 on the Mohs scale.
Other stones are classified by their color and hardness. The traditional distinction does not reflect modern values, for example, while garnets are inexpensive, a green garnet called tsavorite can be far more valuable than a mid-quality emerald. Another unscientific term for semi-precious gemstones used in art history and archaeology is hardstone. Use of the terms'precious' and'semi-precious' in a commercial context is, misleading in that it deceptively implies certain stones are intrinsically more valuable than others, not the case. In modern times gemstones are identified by gemologists, who describe gems and their characteristics using technical terminology specific to the field of gemology; the first characteristic a gemologist uses to identify a gemstone is its chemical composition. For example, diamonds are made of carbon and rubies of aluminium oxide. Next, many gems are crystals which are classified by their crystal system such as cubic or trigonal or monoclinic. Another term used is habit, the form the gem is found in.
For example, which have a cubic crystal system, are found as octahedrons. Gemstones are classified into different groups and varieties. For example, ruby is the red variety of the species corundum, while any other color of corundum is considered sapphire. Other examples are the emerald, red beryl, goshenite and morganite, which are all varieties of the mineral species beryl. Gems are characterized in terms of refractive index, specific gravity, cleavage and luster, they may exhibit double refraction. They may have a distinctive absorption spectrum. Material or flaws within a stone may be present as inclusions. Gemstones may be classified in terms of their "water"; this is a recognized grading of the gem's luster, transparency, or "brilliance". Transparent gems are considered "first water", while "second" or "third water" gems are those of a lesser transparency. There is no universally accepted grading system for gemstones. Diamonds are graded using a system developed by the Gemological Institute of America in the early 1950s.
All gemstones were graded using the naked eye. The GIA system included a major innovation: the introduction of 10x magnification as the standard for grading clarity. Other gemstones are still graded using the naked eye. A mnemonic device, the "four Cs", has been introduced to help the consumer understand the factors used to grade a diamond. With modification, these categories can be useful in understanding the grading of all gemstones; the four criteria carry different weight depending upon whether they are applied to colored gemstones or to colorless diamonds. In diamonds, cut is the primary determinant of value, followed by color. Diamonds are meant to sparkle, to break down light into its constituent rainbow colors, chop it up into bright little pieces, deliver it to the eye. In its rough crystalline form, a diamond will do none of these things. In gemstones that have color, including colored diamonds, it is the purity and beauty of that color, the primary determinant of quality. Physical characteristics that make a colored stone valuable are color, clarity to a lesser extent, unusual optical phenomena within the stone such as color zoning and asteria.
The Greeks, for example valued asteria gemstones, which were regarded as powerful love charms, Helen of Troy was known to have worn star-corundum. Aside from the diamond, the ruby, emerald and opal have been considered to be precious. Up to the discoveries of bulk amethyst in Brazil in the 19th century, amethyst was considered a precious stone as well, going back to ancient Greece. In the last century certain stones such as aquamarine and cat's eye have been popular and hence been regarded as precious. Today such a distinction is no longer made by the gemstone trade. Many gemstones are used in the most expensive jewelr
Bronze is an alloy consisting of copper with about 12–12.5% tin and with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability; the archeological period in which bronze was the hardest metal in widespread use is known as the Bronze Age. The beginning of the Bronze Age in India and western Eurasia is conventionally dated to the mid-4th millennium BC, to the early 2nd millennium BC in China; the Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age starting from about 1300 BC and reaching most of Eurasia by about 500 BC, although bronze continued to be much more used than it is in modern times. Because historical pieces were made of brasses and bronzes with different compositions, modern museum and scholarly descriptions of older objects use the more inclusive term "copper alloy" instead. There are two basic theories as to the origin of the word.
Romance theoryThe Romance theory holds that the word bronze was borrowed from French bronze, itself borrowed from Italian bronzo "bell metal, brass" from either, bróntion, back-formation from Byzantine Greek brontēsíon from Brentḗsion ‘Brindisi’, reputed for its bronze. Proto-Slavic theoryThe Proto-Slavic theory reflects the philological issue that in the most of Slavonic languages word "bronza" corresponds to "war metal" while at the early stages of the Bronze working it was used exclusively for military purposes; the discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were harder and more durable than possible. Bronze tools, weapons and building materials such as decorative tiles were harder and more durable than their stone and copper predecessors. Bronze was made out of copper and arsenic, forming arsenic bronze, or from or artificially mixed ores of copper and arsenic, with the earliest artifacts so far known coming from the Iranian plateau in the 5th millennium BC, it was only that tin was used, becoming the major non-copper ingredient of bronze in the late 3rd millennium BC.
Tin bronze was superior to arsenic bronze in that the alloying process could be more controlled, the resulting alloy was stronger and easier to cast. Unlike arsenic, metallic tin and fumes from tin refining are not toxic; the earliest tin-alloy bronze dates to 4500 BC in a Vinča culture site in Pločnik. Other early examples date to the late 4th millennium BC in Egypt and some ancient sites in China and Mesopotamia. Ores of copper and the far rarer tin are not found together, so serious bronze work has always involved trade. Tin sources and trade in ancient times had a major influence on the development of cultures. In Europe, a major source of tin was the British deposits of ore in Cornwall, which were traded as far as Phoenicia in the eastern Mediterranean. In many parts of the world, large hoards of bronze artifacts are found, suggesting that bronze represented a store of value and an indicator of social status. In Europe, large hoards of bronze tools socketed axes, are found, which show no signs of wear.
With Chinese ritual bronzes, which are documented in the inscriptions they carry and from other sources, the case is clear. These were made in enormous quantities for elite burials, used by the living for ritual offerings. Though bronze is harder than wrought iron, with Vickers hardness of 60–258 vs. 30–80, the Bronze Age gave way to the Iron Age after a serious disruption of the tin trade: the population migrations of around 1200–1100 BC reduced the shipping of tin around the Mediterranean and from Britain, limiting supplies and raising prices. As the art of working in iron improved, iron improved in quality; as cultures advanced from hand-wrought iron to machine-forged iron, blacksmiths learned how to make steel. Steel holds a sharper edge longer. Bronze was still used during the Iron Age, has continued in use for many purposes to the modern day. There are many different bronze alloys, but modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin. Alpha bronze consists of the alpha solid solution of tin in copper.
Alpha bronze alloys of 4–5% tin are used to make coins, springs and blades. Historical "bronzes" are variable in composition, as most metalworkers used whatever scrap was on hand; the proportions of this mixture suggests. The Benin Bronzes are in fact brass, the Romanesque Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège is described as both bronze and brass. In the Bronze Age, two forms of bronze were used: "classic bronze", about 10% tin, was used in
Ivory is a hard, white material from the tusks and teeth of animals, that consists of dentine, one of the physical structures of teeth and tusks. The chemical structure of the teeth and tusks of mammals is the same, regardless of the species of origin; the trade in certain teeth and tusks other than elephant is widespread. It has been valued since ancient times in art or manufacturing for making a range of items from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans and joint tubes. Elephant ivory is the most important source, but ivory from mammoth, hippopotamus, sperm whale, killer whale and wart hog are used as well. Elk have two ivory teeth, which are believed to be the remnants of tusks from their ancestors; the national and international trade in ivory of threatened species such as African and Asian elephants is illegal. The word ivory derives from the ancient Egyptian âb, âbu, through the Latin ebor- or ebur. Both the Greek and Roman civilizations practiced ivory carving to make large quantities of high value works of art, precious religious objects, decorative boxes for costly objects.
Ivory was used to form the white of the eyes of statues. There is some evidence of either walrus ivory used by the ancient Irish. Solinus, a Roman writer in the 3rd century claimed that the Celtic peoples in Ireland would decorate their sword-hilts with the'teeth of beasts that swim in the sea'. Adomnan of Iona wrote a story about St Columba giving a sword decorated with carved ivory as a gift that a penitent would bring to his master so he could redeem himself from slavery; the Syrian and North African elephant populations were reduced to extinction due to the demand for ivory in the Classical world. The Chinese have long valued ivory for utilitarian objects. Early reference to the Chinese export of ivory is recorded after the Chinese explorer Zhang Qian ventured to the west to form alliances to enable the eventual free movement of Chinese goods to the west. Southeast Asian kingdoms included tusks of the Indian elephant in their annual tribute caravans to China. Chinese craftsmen carved ivory to make everything from images of deities to the pipe stems and end pieces of opium pipes.
The Buddhist cultures of Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, traditionally harvested ivory from their domesticated elephants. Ivory was prized for containers due to its ability to keep an airtight seal, it was commonly carved into elaborate seals utilized by officials to "sign" documents and decrees by stamping them with their unique official seal. In Southeast Asian countries, where Muslim Malay peoples live, such as Malaysia and the Philippines, ivory was the material of choice for making the handles of kris daggers. In the Philippines, ivory was used to craft the faces and hands of Catholic icons and images of saints prevalent in the Santero culture. Tooth and tusk ivory can be carved into a vast variety of objects. Examples of modern carved ivory objects are okimono, jewelry, flatware handles, furniture inlays, piano keys. Additionally, warthog tusks, teeth from sperm whales and hippos can be scrimshawed or superficially carved, thus retaining their morphologically recognizable shapes.
Ivory usage in the last thirty years has moved towards mass production of souvenirs and jewelry. In Japan, the increase in wealth sparked consumption of solid ivory hanko – name seals – which before this time had been made of wood; these hanko can be carved out in a matter of seconds using machinery and were responsible for massive African elephant decline in the 1980s, when the African elephant population went from 1.3 million to around 600,000 in ten years. Prior to the introduction of plastics, ivory had many ornamental and practical uses because of the white color it presents when processed, it was used to make cutlery handles, billiard balls, piano keys, Scottish bagpipes, buttons and a wide range of ornamental items. Synthetic substitutes for ivory in the use of most of these items have been developed since 1800: the billiard industry challenged inventors to come up with an alternative material that could be manufactured. Ivory can be taken from dead animals – however, most ivory came from elephants that were killed for their tusks.
For example, in 1930 to acquire 40 tons of ivory required the killing of 700 elephants. Other animals which are now endangered were preyed upon, for example, which have hard white ivory prized for making artificial teeth. In the first half of the 20th century, Kenyan elephant herds were devastated because of demand for ivory, to be used for piano keys. During the Art Deco era from 1912 to 1940, dozens of European artists used ivory in the production of chryselephantine statues. Two of the most frequent users of ivory in their sculptured artworks were Ferdinand Preiss and Claire Colinet. Owing to the rapid decline in the populations of the animals that produce it, the importation and sale of ivory in many countries is banned or restricted. In the ten years preceding a decision in 1989 by CITES to ban international trade in African elephant ivory, the population of African elephants declined from 1.3 million to around 600,000. It was found by investigators from the Environmental Investigation Agency that CITES sales of stockpiles from Singapore and