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Boris B. Piotrovsky Hermitage Memorial Readings
15 February, 2006

Program
Morning Session

Mikhail Piotrovsky. The Elephant and "Avian Flu" in the Koran.

I.V. Kalinina. On a Subject from the Collection of Shigir Antiquities.
The report is about the head of an elk cow from the Shigir peat bog which has been displayed in the permanent exhibition of the Department of the Archeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia and was included many times in exhibitions abroad. In the exhibition catalogues this masterpiece of primitive art is mentioned as a rod.
The form does not allow the head of the elk-cow to be viewed as an insert, the top of a staff, rod or similar object. Trasological analysis and indirect data allow us to imagine that this was part of the handle of a wooden mallet for stunning fish. However, such a subject can be sacral and used in religious practice.

L.A. Vaiman. An Urart cuneiform tablet from Karmir-blura on payment of tribute. Purpose - translation from one language to another.

M.M. Dandamaeva. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon - Legends and the Historical Names.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were a celebrated wonder of the world which to this day inspire architects to imitation, though they are an unexplained mystery: who created them; in which city were they found; and did they ever really exist? These questions were mixed up in the time of the Ancient Greeks, and 20th century scholars expressed contradictory hypotheses about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The objective of this report is to systematize the available data, to present a survey and comparative analysis of all the sources which have survived to our day: Greek, Babylonian, and archeological.

A.Ya. Kakovkin. The Excavations of Jean Claude in Bawit and the Reaction to them in Russia.
At the beginning of the 20th century, French archeologists near Bawit (Middle Egypt) discovered the ruins of a monastery of Apa Apollo and a necropolis. The excavations provided diverse material that was very valuable both in terms of science and art. The leader of the expedition Jean Claude (1871-1943) regularly published accounts of the course of the work which evoked huge interest in the scientific community. Russian scientists were also interested. In the period 1903-1905 the popular journals Historical Herald, New Journal and Foreign Literature, Art and Science and the scientific publication Byzantine Annals published information, reports and reviews of Claude's work (B.A. Turaev, L.B. Ainalov, V. Sonkin et al). Later the drawings of Bawit were widely used by N.P. Kondakov and V.N. Lazarev in their work.

M.R. Kramarovsky, V.D. Rukin. Glass with Polychrome Enamel in the Eastern Crimea (Archeological Context and Attibution).
The report analyzes a group of finds of rare European glass with polychrome enamel. Fragments of three beakers, of which one was assembled in full form, were discovered in a closed complex of the household waste pit of a potter in the rural settlement of Bokatash II, near the Golden Horde Solkhat. The complex can be dated by coins found there to the second half of the 13th - early decades of the 14th century. Typological and stylistic analysis allows us to attribute the vessels with three-color painting in enamel to the range of Venetian glass from the "group of Aldrevandino: (Murano (?), late 13th - early 14th century). The heraldry on one of the vessels links the beaker to the Genoese family Monelli, whose members are well known from documents (Kafy, 1289-1290). The "Monelli Beaker" is the first instance of European glass from the "group of Aldrevandino" in the Crimea.

N.V. Yankovskaya. Alexander the Great.

Afternoon Session

S.O. Androsov, N.Yu. Zharkova. Sculpture on the Attic of the Menshikov Palace.
The report is an attempt to recreate the image of six lost wooden statues that once were found on the attic of the Menshikov Palace and are depicted on A.F. Zubov's engraving "Entrance from the Sea in Triumph," 1714. In the opinion of the authors, the figure on the right can be interpreted as depicting Peter the Great. The adjacent figures are the Christian virtues of Prudence, Mercy and Moderation, and also the Antique gods Jupiter and, possibly, Dionysus. The movement of the hand of Prudence can be interpreted as a summons to turn one's gaze to heaven, and the gesture of the figure on the right indicates some sign which has appeared in heaven. Possibly in this way they turned the attention of the viewer to a flying eagle which would have embodied the authority over the territory. The entire sculptural group on the attic was intended to glorify the virtues of the Russian monarch and also the idea of the legitimate rule over the Neva estuary.
The engraving by Zubov does not give us the slightest idea of the artistic features of the statues and the manner of their execution. Practically no genuine work of carvers in wood who worked in Petersburg soon after its founding has been preserved. Therefore an attempt to recreate the statues on the attic of the Menshikov Palace in life size and cast them in bronze appears to be impractical.

L.K. Kuznetsova. The Russian Order of the last Crimean Khan.
In 1777 the Russian protege Shagin-Girei (Shakh-in Girei, circa 1748-1787) became Khan of the Crimea, a position independent of Ottoman Turkey. When he was still heir to the throne, he visited Petersburg in 1771. However, a pro-European minded ruler could not long remain on the throne and on 17 April 1783 he voluntarily abdicated and his former subjects took an oath of allegiance to Russia. In the summer of 1783, Shagin-Girei wanted to become a Russian general. On the order of Catherine the Great, the Petersburg jeweler Jean-Pierre Adore made specially modified symbols of the highest Russian Order - St Andrew - for Shagin-Girei conferring on him general's rank: an oval medallion covered in diamonds (instead of a cross) and a star with the motto "Loyalty", as well as epaulettes.

M.E. Ilina,S.A. Matsenkov. The Design and Decoration of the Multi-Story Ceilings of the New Hermitage (Based on Archival Materials and On-Site Inspection).
The report uses the examples of the Aura (N 108), Dutch Painting (N 248), Athena, Īval (N 112, 113) and Twelve-Column (N 244) rooms, where on-site investigation was made. The specific features of the design of the ceilings between the first and second stories and decorative finishing of the ceilings and floors are discussed.
Detailed description is provided on the flat riveted T-beam which is part of one of the first Russian iron building elements in the first half of the 19th century and was the basis for the ceiling of the halls, and also the flat iron caisson ceiling.
During their research in the archives and on-site observations made as preparation for scientifically based restoration work, the authors set for themselves the main task of preserving the historic building elements and genuine decorative finish of the interiors of the New Hermitage.

E.V. Pavlova. "Socialist Reconstruction" under B.V. Legran and I.A. Orbeli. From the History of the Hermitage Exhibition. 1932-1937.
The period 1932-1937 was one of "Socialist Reconstruction" of the museum. It was a time when changes were made to the works on display in keeping with the new principles of the country's life and new policies. The "Socialist Reconstruction" of the Hermitage began in 1932. The was the start of the second Five Year Plan - a period when a new country was being created, a time of new ideology, the "new man' and "new society. The second Five Year Plan in the museum can be divided into two parts: the time of the "reign" of B.V. Legran (1931-1934) and the time of I.A. Orbeli (1934-1937). The role of Boris Vasilievich Legran is usually disparaged. He is mostly accused of failing to oppose the sale of museum treasures and of creating a "vulgar" exhibition imbued with ideology. In fact, the museum was turned into an instrument of propaganda and re-shaping the masses. However, the huge task of reorganizing the palace space and turning objects of art into "evidence of the oppression of peoples" was never achieved in any world museum.

Among all the work carried out in the State Hermitage during the 1930's, it is especially worth mentioning the "musical exhibitions." That they appeared in the museum was due exclusively to B. Legran and S. Ginzburg.
A separate part of the work is devoted to the propaganda of the achievements of the Hermitage in the 1930's. This was the little-known special exhibition of 1934 entitled "Our achievements in scientific research and exhibitions of the museum as the result of the first Five Year Plan and the first year of the Second Five Year Plan" and the film "Our Museum," which was especially created for the Paris exhibition of 1937.

T.F. Bolshakova, V.E. Alifirenko. Standards and Rules in Modern Requirements for Controlled Climate Installations in Museum Buildings.
The determination of the optimal values for parameters of the atmosphere which correspond to the various types of monuments, technical possibilities of air conditioning installations and the climate of the region where one or another museum is located is a task that is highly complex and has more than one solution.
Existing regulations, instructions and rules cannot be taken as unconditional guides to action. Often they are adopted without special discussion and understanding of the physical processes that occur in museum monuments, and sometimes they can appear to be not only inadequate but even harmful. Thus, for example, the international standard of 50% relative humidity of the air is too high for heated premises in a cold climate (the middle zone of Russia, Canada) and can be inadequate for unheated premises existing in a natural temperature regime.
The basic norms on lighting exist in world museum practice since the middle of the last century. They are based on measurements of illumination depending on the light sensitivity of the human eye. The use of modern systems of lighting makes it possible to reduce the destructive action of light, influencing changes in the visible part of the spectrum, and high-technology measuring and control apparatus allows us to evaluate the intensity of a light source by the energy characteristics of the source. In the future this can serve as a reason for reviewing existing standards on lighting art objects.

The choice of an optimal microclimate in museum buildings and choice of materials should be strictly individual to each separate museum. The right approach makes it possible to have conditions of microclimate that approximate a natural background, and this in turn facilitates reduction of the energy intensive system of air conditioning and simplification of its design. In some circumstances it makes it possible to achieve stabilization of the microclimate and use simpler means.

The readings take place in the Hermitage Theatre. Admittance is from the Small Entrance, Dvortsovaya Embankment, 34. The beginning of the morning session is at 10.30 and the afternoon session begins at 14.00.

 

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