This Baltimore Sun article describes a museum exhibit on recycling in the Roman world, featuring a gold medallion repurposed as
decoration on a belt. Interesting. -Editor
Though he lived nearly 17 centuries ago, it's easy to imagine the man who wore the fancy gold belt strolling today through the halls
of Congress or, possibly, the Department of Defense. He might even have deliberately tossed his jacket back over his shoulders to let the
belt's shiny surface reflect the sun.
The visible sign of his favored status — a big, whomping honorary medallion handed out by fourth-century Roman Emperor Constantius II —
would have been as conspicuous as the stars on any general's shoulder. It's an impression heightened by a second decoration, an old
coin from the second century bearing the image of the Roman Empress Faustina.
"This was serious name-dropping," says Lynley Anne Herbert, who curated a new exhibit on medieval recycling that opens June 25
at the Walters Art Museum.
"He was wearing the emperor's image around town. He was all blinged out, and he was completely wanting everyone to recognize
who he was connected to."
The belt fragment is just one of about two dozen objects on display in a small but charming exhibit running through the summer called
"Waste Not: The Art of Medieval Recycling."
Nearly every artwork on view is an example of repurposing, from a 13th-century Limoges cross that used melted Roman glass to achieve its
intense blue enamel, to the makeover given to a massive stone head of Hercules designed to transform the Greek hero into a Roman Catholic
There's even a 12th-century fragment from the Talmud used to bind a 15th-century copy of "Aesop's Fables" — an example
in which the covering became far more valuable than the manuscript it was intended to protect.
"Today we think we're really trendy because we're recycling to save the planet," said Herbert, the Walters'
assistant curator of rare books and manuscripts. "Well, people have been recycling for thousands of years. They just didn't have
little blue bins outside their back doors."
To read the complete article, see:
Exhibit on medieval recycling opens at
the Walters Art Museum (www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/arts/bs-ae-walters-recycle-20160618-story.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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