Mercurial Essays

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Article Summaries

Article 1- Excavating Egypt (Newsprint)
This article tells of a typical working day for an
archaeologist in Egypt. It tells of an experienced
archaeologist named, Dr. David O’Connor. He speaks of his
working site, Abydos, and tells of what he has discovered
since he started working on the site. In his 30 years of
working there, he has uncovered 12 wooden boats, each about
60 feet long encased in 96-foot graves. He has also found
the remains of an entire settlement covering about 16 acres.
He annually spends up to $150,000 to pay of his fellow
archaeologists and his laborers. He does receive funds from
private institutions and government agencies to help
support his effort in Abydos.

In reading this article, I have become puzzled as to
how so many people working there can split $150,000. It says
that 20-25 scientists and 30-60 laborers are employed. I
understand that he does receive funds from institutions,
but I would not think that it would be upwards of enough
money to support so many people. I have always respected
archaeologists for what they do but now I have a deeper
respect for Egyptian archaeologists. I do hope to visit
Egypt someday though and experience what it is like

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Article 2- Cosmetic Surgery Discovered on Ancient Roman
Portrait (Newsprint)
This article tells of artists in the modern day
performing work on damaged ancient artifacts. It specifies
on a head statue that was received as a gift by the
Nelson-Atkins Museum. Scientists noticed some unusual
features on the statue’s head and investigated it to
discover that somebody had fixed it up before it was given
to them. They used gamma-radiographs to find that somebody
had fixed the head’s broken neck with metal dowels and

I found it pretty remarkable that some people may get
away doing this without anybody knowing of it. It makes me
wonder if some of the great artifacts that we have on
display today have been tampered with and that they may not
be 100% ancient. I don’t see that there is anything wrong
with this. I’d rather look at a fixed up display than view
one that has been badly damaged and is hard to make out.

Article 3- Faking It: A Forger’s Biography (Newsprint)
This article tells of a modern day man, Alceo Dossena
(1878-1937), and his ability to create artificial art pieces
of ancient civilizations. He created sculptures in almost
every style: Greek, Etruscan, Gothic and Italian
Renaissance. He would sculpt them, then age them by giving
them acid baths and then would proceed to bury them,
allowing them to age. He was able to fool some of the
greatest historians and scientists in the world. One of his
art pieces was sold to a dealer who then sold it for
$225,000, the highest price of any of Dossena’s artworks.

Dossena claimed that he did not make his art to cheat people
out of their money. He then sued his dealer and won.
When reading this article, I began to wonder if some of
the great artworks today might be fake. Perhaps someone
painted or sculpted them earlier in the century, and sold it
off as an ancient work of art. I am reluctant to think that
it happens more often than not. It probably doesn’t work on
the level of great museums, but it might work on
unsuspecting dealers looking to get rich.

Article 4- Joined by a Bridge
This article is really interesting for it tells of a
man, William Cochran, and is efforts of painting a bridge.

When the subject came up of covering a small stone bridge in
Frederick, Maryland, Cochran ran this suggestion by and it
was approved. Many residents rejected the idea at first and
would vandalize the work that had been done up to date. As
soon as his efforts came to an end, the bridge was seen as a
tourist attraction for the city. Since its completion, there
have been many other paintings added onto the bridge by
suggestion of the townspeople.

Before reading this article, I had no clue that
something like this could be done. I am interested in how he
went about doing this. I am also interested in whether or
not this bridge is allowed to have cars pass over it.

Someday if I make it to Frederick, Maryland, I’ll head over
to the bridge and find out for myself.

Article 5- Walking Encyclopedia
This article tells a small town, Columbus, in Indiana
and its claim to fame through architecture. The town is
nationally known for its buildings as many famous architects
have come in through the years and developed such
fascinating buildings. Columbus has even been declared as
one of the most important towns in the U.S. architecturally
by the American Institute of Architecture. The article goes
on to tell that some of the towns buildings are not so
popular, for they clash with the beauty of the exquisite
ones or else they are seen just as insulting.

When reading this article, I became interested in the
town of Columbus, Indiana. Many cities and towns have their
claim to fame through something, but for one town to have so
many different exhibits seems preposterous. I am like any
fellow man, I enjoy a good scenic visit when I travel. This
summer I am traveling to Indianapolis for the Olympic Trials
so when they are done, perhaps I will drive down and visit

Article 6- Mass-Produced Masterworks From the Ancients
This article talks about ancient Roman art. It tells of
many artifacts being sent to the Newark Museum, for an
exhibit. The exhibit will be displaying some of Romans means
of creating shortcuts and streamlined technologies that
enabled them to mass-produce goods without sacrificing
quality. Some of the other objects on display include marble
tombstones and votive reliefs that provide portraits and
pictorial information about the artisans’ tools and dress
and the interiors of their workshops. The objects in the
exhibit are divided into three categories: domestic goods,
tools and public art. In addition to all of the above
listed, there are many other items to view at the museum.

What I found interesting about this article was that
the Romans had produced somewhat of an assembly line. I had
no prior knowledge of anyone doing this before Henry Ford. I
think that is really neat that they could create such an
effect some 2000 years ago with the technology that they


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