This IS the exhibition you’re looking for!

Earlier this afternoon, when I was doing research for a possible work trip to Naples, Italy, I came across this exhibition at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli:

The exhibition is about the mythology of heroes from Antiquity to Star Wars. (Brilliant, if you ask me…. the kid who thought that Alexander the Great was sort of an ancient Luke Skywalker–see an old post on the subject HERE.)  Unfortunately, the exhibition will be over by the time I make it to Naples in November, should the trip be possible (like said, exploring possibilities). The show closes on September 16.

Still, I was in stitches looking through the various photos of ancient art featuring Star Wars characters (some are more successful than others). Imagine, they used the same work of art I featured in my ‘Alexander Skywalker’ post… and added R2-D2 and BB8 to it. The MANN even had the guts to use some of the erotic art from Pompeii!!  (Talk about voyeuristic droids! These are not the droids you are looking for…)

My favourite are the two below. The geeks amongst you will enjoy the fact that you can download all these fun images from the exhibition website.

Alexander the Great and Star Wars

If you’ve been following my blog for while, you should know what’s going to happen in this post.  I’m going to make a crazy link between ancient history and Star Wars… You know that, right?  (I’m very tempted to quote Simply Red here…)

It’s probably not the link you have in mind, though…  If you’re thinking about Samurais, you’re on the wrong track (even though you’re right). In fact, it’s something a little bit more personal, an idea I came up with when I was young: a weird connection between Alexander the Great and Luke Skywalker…

One of three things I absolutely wanted to see at the Archaeological Museum of Naples when I was there in 2014: the famous Alexander Mosaic, representing the Battle of Issus, between Alexander and Darius III.

In my head, Alex was like Luke, a young a man of convictions, fighting an enemy in order to free his universe.  He had the Greek philosopher Aristotle as mentor (Jedi master Obi-wan Kenobi) and his father, Philippe II, was assassinated (Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were killed by the Storm Troopers)… Then, all you need to do is replace the Achaemenid Persian Empire by the Galactic Empire and Darius III with Emperor Palpatine… Needless to say, I had loads of imagination and even if the comparison might be a tad flawed, you get the drift! (Hey, I was just a kid!) Sometimes, one needs to find cool ways of remembering historical facts and people and if Star Wars can help you figure it out, go for it!  Even if you can’t quite make Darth Vader fit in there…

While one of the best military commanders in history and a general never defeated on the battlefield, Alexander failed to fill in the infrastructure vacuum after the fall of the Persians. As as result, at his untimely death in 323 BCE, his vast empire was divided amongst his generals and soon chaos and strife took hold of the Hellenistic world, a world he had fought so hard to unite.

Now what remains to be seen is whether something similar happened in that beloved galaxy far, far away… Were the Jedi able to build a peaceful universe…. or did it go to Hades in a hand basket? I’ll find out tonight…

May the False Door be with You

I have just posted my most recent adventures to my (other) blog, La Vida Aegyptiaca.  You find there a description of my trip to Italy in the second half of July (especially my activities in Rome, Naples and Florence), but I did want to show you some pictures and share some anecdotes of my time in Montepulciano, working with my colleague Egyptologist Francesco Tiradritti. Francesco and I are writing an article concerning two false doors (the first in the Egyptian collection in Raleigh, the other in a private collection in Rome), each belonging to men from the same family involved with the funerary cult of King Pepy I.

Last year, Francesco came to look at our false door and give the Weinberg Lecture. We started planning the article, but I still had to see the false door in Rome. After lots of scheduling problems we managed to find time when we were both available and that’s how I spent a week in Montepulciano with the Tiradrittis (I was actually staying at a lovely farm house, but spending the day with them). Working with Francesco is always great fun (we laugh a lot), but this trip was beyond hysterically funny. His adorable young son is obsessed with Star Wars and our writing of the article was done to the Imperial March and the Star Wars theme (sung by Leonida, of course) and the sounds of ‘pistolina’ firing at enemies and battle droids accepting orders.

On rainy days (there were quite a few), I worked with Francesco in his library and we listened to the Star Wars soundtrack (courtesy of my iPod this time around). We even staged a photo of us working, surrounded by Star Wars figurines. (I say staged because I sat at the desk in the photo, but his was in a different nook.) I had lunch with Darth Vader, who agreed to cut the pecorino with his light saber (actually, it’s Obi-Wan’s light saber; Darth lost his a long time ago).

When the weather was nice, I escaped the cats—Sakura and the newly adopted and unbelievably cute kitten, Perseo (renamed El Tigre by yours truly)—and sat on the veranda overlooking the Tuscan valleys and Montepulciano to breathe some fresh air (which helped a bit with my allergies). I had to clear the table when Maria had to set it so we could eat. It was so lovely outside that we gathered there to partake of Olivia’s fabulous cooking.

It’s quite astounding that with all these distractions that Francesco and I got any work done, but we did. Getting away from the office is actually when I’m most productive in writing articles: there is only one project on which to work and working in a team forces you to get things done to keep up with your colleagues. Oh! Don’t go thinking that the article is completely finished, not by a long shot; but at least we actually started writing—which is a very good start! Now, we just need to keep the momentum.

May the False Door be with You!