Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Trojan War’

Week Three: Hillforts, Herbs and Heritage

Timing didn’t quite work out to have this comic in the ‘Tizer two weeks ago (blame the election for disrupting the launch of the Oswestry Heritage Comics!). A fortnight ago Saturday, Natalie Morris lead a herb walk around the Hillfort, organised by the Oswestry Heritage Gateway group, pointing out all the native species up there and talking about their traditional uses as foods and medicines. Last summer, I was quite surprised to discover how much strong interest there way locally about the connection between “green heritage” and built heritage: the idea that sites, monuments and historic places can also provide much-needed ecological niches for endangered, rare or threatened species. The late Andrew Tullo, of the Cambrian Heritage Railway, was a keen advocate of this, and did a lot to ensure that the Cambrian Railway regeneration programme included provision for native species along the track right-of-way. He was also involved in projects like the Oswestry Community Orchard – again, demonstrating the close links that can exist between green and built heritage.

Natalie’s herb walk shows how that connection has historical and archaeological echoes, through the use of native plants as food and medical resources. Some wild flowers such as plantain, were known to the Romans, who wrote about their use in healing wounds. Medicine in the middle ages made extensive use of native herbs and wild plants – among other things! Some of these uses lasted into the Victorian period, particularly in remedies for coughs, aches and pains. Understanding these traditional uses for native plants gives us a glimpse into folk ways and traditions that rarely make it into the history books, but which were well-known to most people. Some of these traditions appear to have a very long pedigree across Europe and the Mediterranean: yarrow, which Natalie pointed out as a healing herb, has long been identified as the healing herb used by Achilles in the story of the Trojan War – a long way away from Old Oswestry hillfort!

Please don’t pick the wild plants on the Hillfort.

And please don’t eat or use wild plants unless you know what you’re doing.

Contact Natalie for more information about using native and wild plants for food or medicine.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Late Bronze Age Achaean Warrior, for DIG magazine issue 1710.

It’s not all comics, you know! I’m still providing illustrations for Cricket Media’s archaeology magazine, DIG. Every issue they have a “Let’s Go Digging” section, all about current archaeological projects. The splash page for the section is a big illustration based on the articles that follow. It’s often about sites and periods I know nothing about, which is both interesting and something of a challenge. But every so often the artwork is for a period or a site which I know well.

This month’s illustration was about the Trojan War – specifically, how interpretations and reconstructions of it have changed through time. The brief from the art director was to come up with an illustration that reflected this. So I decided I would use this as an opportunity to paint something I’ve wanted to for a long, long time: an Achaean warrior from the period of the Trojan Wars, as reconstructed by Peter Connolly. Like most other historical and archaeological illustrators, I’ve always been a huge fan of Connolly’s meticulous – but still highly imaginative – approach to evidence and data. He work manages to both convince and surprise in equal measure. He was a master of taking what survived and extrapolating a solid, practical but still inventive past from it. You can see his interpretations and conclusions echoed in so many current works (Osprey’s Roman series being an obvious example). Part of the reason for that was his hands-on approach to the evidence: “reconstructing” for him meant creating a physical replica, not just painting an image of one. And even when he did “just paint”, he took the same approach – his buildings always looked not just like places you could walk around in, but places that people had made: solid things of earth and stone, weight and presence; his armour always looked like something you would actually wear: sturdy, dependable, with lots of practical details like leather edging to stop wear. It’s no wonder that his work is often visible in the arms and equipment of re-enactors – Connolly’s illustrations always have the look of being drawn from “real life”, even if that was thousands of years ago.

So my illustration here is a homage to his work. I’ve tried to make this Achaean warrior’s armour and equipage look solid, practical, dependable – plausible, and, hopefully, real.

Read Full Post »

LGD Sept Oct 2015One of the best things about doing illustrations for Cricket Media’s DIG magazine is the breadth of subject-matter I get to draw.

Over the next year I’m drawing splash-pages for each issue’s Let’s Go Digging! section. The subject of their Sept-Oct issue is excavations at the ancient city of Buthrotum, modern Butrint, in Albania – and the archaeological evidence there (or not there) for the wanderings of Aeneas, the legendary Trojan war-exile and founder of Rome.

It’s been a chance for me to revisit on paper Mediterranean bronze-age: a time-period I haven’t worked on since my time at University (virtually back in the Bronze Age itself, now). But a chance to explore my own take on the white walls of Troy, the Trojan Horse, and even the legendary Aeneas himself. A bit of Peter Connolly-inspired Mycenean architecture there, a dash of Eric Shanower-inspired Hittite arms and armour here… Great fun. Surely this is what being an archaeological illustrator is all about. O Muse! –

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc’d by fate,
And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate,
Expell’d and exil’d, left the Trojan shore.
Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin’d town;
His banish’d gods restor’d to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.

                                                      Virgil (Trans. Dryden)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: