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Helena Heroldová

Abstract

The study based on the preparation of Příběh Tibetu [The Story of Tibet] exhibition in the Náprstek Museum focuses on the de-contextualisation of Tibetan Buddhism objects in the museum setting. It deals with the stages of the decontextualisation process from the removing of the original material environment and social context to creation of new meanings in the museum. Namely it discusses aestheticisation and its relation to the art-gallery style exhibition.

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Gabriela Jungová

Abstract

J. V. Daneš (1880–1928) was not only an outstanding figure of his time in the international scientific community, but also a diplomat and a traveller. Two of his overseas trips led him to Australia and the Pacific region, where he assembled a remarkable collection of ethnographic objects and photographs. This collection, now kept in the National Museum – Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures in Prague, has been mostly neglected and unpublished for decades. This paper provides a basis for its further study by introducing Daneš’s journeys around the region and comparing them to the proveniences of the ethnographic objects.

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Vlastimil Vrtal

Abstract

A group of six specimens of Late Roman pottery from the region of North Africa forms part of collections of the Náprstek Museum. The group comprises of vessels from several different functional types, forming a representative sample of the pottery production of the region. The paper discusses the setting of the individual vessels in the North African ceramic production, their dating, and provenance.

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Gabriela Jungová and Jakub Pečený

Abstract

This paper reports conclusions from an anthropological analysis of a mummy bundle from the Azapa Valley in northern Chile. The mummy was acquired by Dr. Václav Šolc in 1966–1967. The bundle was examined with the use of computed tomography (CT) and the results were compared to unpublished findings from 2009. The remains are that of an infant that died of unknown causes. The possible presence of Harris lines suggests that the individual suffered from stress during their life. The mummification process was in all probability spontaneous.

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Eddie Duggan

Abstract

In 2010 a Roman token was discovered in the mud of the Thames near Putney Bridge in London. When the token was discovered to have an erotic image on one side and a Roman numeral on the other, and was identified in a Museum of London press release as a rare Roman “brothel token”, the press reported on the story in the expected manner, for example: “A Roman coin that was probably used by soldiers to pay for sex in brothels has been discovered on the banks of the River Thames” (Daily Telegraph, 4 Jan 2012) and “Bronze discs depicting sex acts, like the one discovered in London, were used to hire prostitutes-and directly led to the birth of pornography during the Renaissance” (The Guardian, 4 Jan 2012). Even before this particular spate of media interest, these curious tokens have generated confusion, speculation and prurience-often simultaneously. They are of interest to games scholars because the speculation often includes the suggestion these objects may have had a ludic function, and were used as game counters. This paper will look at some of the proposals that have been offered by way of explanation of these peculiar objects.

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Stephen Kidd

Abstract

A great deal of the literary evidence surrounding the ancient Greek board game pente grammai has to do with its central and proverbial ‘holy line’. Although it seems that the goal of the game was to reach this holy line, the proverb always refers to ‘moving away from’ this holy line not toward it. But why would players move away from the line which is the goal? This paper argues that there was a strategic element to the game: just like in modern backgammon and in Zeno’s ‘table’ game from late antiquity, in pente grammai a player could knock an opponent’s ‘blots’ (azuges) off the board. This explains why a player might make the odd move of leaving the holy line: the aggressive and risky act might bring an advantage if the opponent has left a number of vulnerable pieces exposed. At the end, a possible reconstruction of the game is offered.

Open access

Georgi Markov

Abstract

A note by A. Chernevski in the 1877 Shakhmatny Listok described two chess variants played in Samarkand, present-day Uzbekistan. One, the “Bukharan game”, is a slightly modified version of shatranj, similar to Rumi chess as described in Murray’s History of Chess. The other, the “Persian game with a queen” resembles to some extent the Persian chess described in 1846 in the Chess Player’s Chronicle but differs from it in several important aspects. Chernevski’s information, which includes recorded games by native players, is absent from later sources on chess history. A summary of Chernevski’s report is provided, with a discussion of several other historical chess variants, and various errors that have crept into their description in the literature.

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Jean-Marie Lhôte

Open access

Lubica Oktábcová, Gabriela Jungová, Jiří Bučil, Jakub Pečený and Pavel Onderka

Abstract

The paper presents results of CT and external examination of seven ancient Egyptian mummified isolated human heads from the collections of the National Museum – Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures. It is the first preliminary outcome regarding isolated parts of mummies from a multi-disciplinary project that aims to map all ancient Egyptian mummified material in public collections of the Czech Republic. The heads are well preserved and exhibit a variety of mummification techniques and materials.