Three-dimensional human images from the past

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

Sometimes the old books are the best.

Back in 1903—that’s over a century ago!—the second impression of Professor Cyrus Thomas’s 1898 book Introduction to the Study of North American Archaeology was published. Courtesy of Google Books and Harvard University’s library, you can download a copy.

Look on page 114 at the two stone sculptures shown there.

Thomas_figures_stone_sculptures.jpg

Compare them to the pair of stone sculptures that were recovered from the Etowah site (below). However, is comparing the figures valid if you do not know if they were made and used at about the same time?

Etowah_sculptures_in_color.jpg

What about if you compare these New World sculptures with a few from the Old World? What can you learn?

old-world-images_Alexander_Napoleon.jpg

Here’s a sculpture of Alexander the Great that’s in the collection at the Louvre (Wikimedia Commons file), on the left, and on the right, a coin showing Napoleon Bonaparte (b. 1769, d. 1821), struck during his lifetime (also a Wikimedia Commons file).

What do you see if you compare all six of these three-dimensional human images?