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Proceedings Paper

Ancient lenses in art and sculpture and the objects viewed through them dating back 4500 years
Author(s): Jay M. Enoch
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Paper Abstract

The early history of lenses is controversial. The author has sought to address the problem by identifying lens elements (mainly convex/plano) which remain associated with objects intended to be viewed through them (i.e., in their original context). These are found in museums in sculptures, rings, pendants, etc. A number of outstanding examples will be illustrated in the talk; these sophisticated pieces of art are certainly not first constructs. Most are of rock crystal, rose quartz, or glass. Lenses have origin among artisans rather than scientists. Clearly, skills were often lost and rediscovered. Early lens-like objects have been found broadly in the eastern Mediterranean area/Middle East, in France, in Italy (Rome), and possibly in Peru and Scandinavia, etc. To date, the earliest lenses identified in context are from the IV/V Dynasties of Egypt, dating back to about 4500 years ago (e.g., the superb `Le Scribe Accroupi' and `the Kai' in the Louvre; added fine examples are located in the Cairo Museum). Latter examples have been found in Knossos (Minoan [Herakleion Museum]; ca. 3500 years ago); others had origin in Greece (examples in the Athens National Archeological Museum and the British Museum equals BM), in Rome (Metropolitan Museum, NY; BM; Vatican Museums; Bologna Archeological Museum), etc. Also. of great interest is the study of possible lens applications. This is a fascinating scientific, artistic and intellectual project.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 July 1998
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 3299, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging III, (17 July 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.320132
Show Author Affiliations
Jay M. Enoch, Univ. of California/Berkeley (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3299:
Human Vision and Electronic Imaging III
Bernice E. Rogowitz; Thrasyvoulos N. Pappas, Editor(s)

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