Home > 2011 Posts > Cybele Didn’t Have an iPad

Cybele Didn’t Have an iPad

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

And neither did her priestesses. Back in the time when a Great Mother of the Gods headed most early pantheons in one form or another, what did people have?

And how did having that instead of something else affect how they thought about things. When you’re writing a novel or two set in those times, as am I, thinking about questions like these is homework.

But, similar questions can also be though-provoking for regular folks. Honest.

Think about the Classical Greeks: democracy, beauty, physical perfection, simplicity, clean lines…

Not so fast. What if the White House or the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. was decorated like the image at the left? Would you feel a bit differently about those buildings? Well, that is how Greek temples were decorated. This reproduction is in the museum at Paestum, a Greek and Roman ruin south of Salerno in Italy. The modern world sees simplicity in Greek ruins and sculpture becase the paint has worn off. They saw something else.

And, what message does the stuff at the right convey? This broken pot of coins was found buried under the marble flooring of someone’s ancient home. Why?

Probably because the owner thought he or some member of his family might have a chance of returning to dig them up after ‘the bad guys’ went away. In this case, for 2,600 years, no one came back.

With an iPad, of course, the homeowner could just have shifted his funds to an offshore account, and his heirs could have enriched many lawyers fighting over them.

And then there’s this guy. He’s from the late Bronze Age in Greece, the time around the Trojan War, well over 3,000 years ago. He used to be carrying something. A spear? Maybe he was wearing all kinds of finery as well. And fancy boots, or sandals?

Was he a God? An ancestor? The owner? He’s less than two feet tall, so he must have been on a shelf or table. Why?

I know! He wasn’t holding anything; he’s playing a Kinect game, or maybe PlayStation Move. That’s gotta be it. No one plays Wii games anymore.

Let’s see, a bronze fan with traces of gold foil decoration. Here we have the closest ancient equivalent of central air conditioning. But, everyone must have had fans of some sort, if they wanted them. A basic fan is cheap and simple to make. Did normal people fan themselves on hot days?

What else did they have to beat the heat? Rich Romans could have iced drinks in August if they wanted. And, thinking of keeping cool, Rome had public baths and more clean water per capita than New York City does today. In fact, it’s been said that one of the things that made a city Roman was having public baths.

There weren’t iEverythings way back when, but folks used a zillion tools and trinkets and other items that were long gone through deterioration before there were archaeologists to look for them. Just like the ‘net and iStuff shapes User/Addicts’ world view today, the ancients’ views were shaped by the things they had.

For me, it’s fun to think about that. OK, now you can go back to Angry Birds.

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