Archive for February 23, 2016

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

We left our story around the year 1200 BC with the collapse of the Late Bronze Age civilisations. This was a period of immense transition in the Aegean Region, Southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean that historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive. Indeed, this was such a traumatic event that some Historians have referred to it as the Ancient Dark Ages. The Historian Robert Drews describes this collapse as “the worst disaster in ancient history, even more calamitous than the collapse of the Western Roman Empire”

As I said last time the causes of this collapse have long puzzled historians. All-around it certainly seems as though it was a time of change and great population movements since at this same time we see the first evidence of the arrival of Iranian speakers east of the Zagros Mountains; these are the people who would later be known as the Persians and the Medes, the rise of the Chaldeans and Arameans in the central desert areas which are enclosed by the Fertile Crescent and the arrival of the Mushki in Anatolia.  It also sees the arrival in surrounding areas of a number of other new peoples. Theories include environmental causes such as climate change, volcanic action or drought. It may be that these are linked since it has been suggested that the migration of people seen at this time may well have been caused by environmental disasters in lands to the north of the area.

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The  Gift Horse by Hans Haacke is currently on display on the ‘fourth plinth’ in Trafalger Square, It depicts a skeletal horse, which is a reflection of the riding  statue of William IV originally planned for the plinth, mirroring that on King George IV which stands opposite.

The bow tied to the front leg is meant to represent the ticker tape of the London Stock Exchange, symbolising the inprtance of the financial market to both London and the UK.

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The pose of the horse is based on a sketch by the famous UK artist George Stubbs, renowned for his pictures of horses, examples of whose work can be seen in the nearby National Gallery.