Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Written in Stone

Thanks to the always wonderful BibliOdyssey I have some stone books for you today. The first is a mysterious artifact donated to the University of Newcastle (Australia) recently.

A cursory glance over the various interpretations of “stone books” garnered the following insights. As a symbol in the paintings of Bosch a ‘closed book’ represents ‘the futility of knowledge in dealing with human stupidity’. In Christian symbolism a ‘book’ most commonly represents the Bible.

If open, it portrays truth or revelation, if closed, ‘it may be presumed to contain the names of the elect, and so may symbolize the Last Judgment and the inheritance of the saints’. We also learn that “The book is the physical representation of knowledge and wisdom. It is the container of intellect; open books depict the book of life, learning, and the spirit of wisdom. Closed book is in the hands of God, Divine Mystery.”

It could have been a stone missal that acted as a substitute for a bible. It was possibly blessed by a priest and then took the place of a Holy Bible as spiritual protection for someone who couldn’t read.

Or, it may have been a memorial for the dead. Just as a person’s life is said to be written in a ‘book of life’, meaning that as you live your life your book is written with the events, in death your book has come to an end and is closed. The closed book could be a memorial of one’s life.

Of more modern origin are the sculptures of Wolfgang and Anna Kubach-Wilmsen whose "stone book series" features some magically floppy marble tomes. Here is Ikarus Marokko, fallen from the sky:

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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