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Silver drachm of Hormizd II (303-309 AD).

This Sasanian king’s crown is adorned with a bird holding an incandescent pearl in its beak, echoing earlier images of the Veragna bird delivering the khvarnah. The coin’s reverse shows a central fire holder with the king emerging from the sacred flames. Fire was considered to be the son of Ahura Mazda and was a sacred symbol of the Zoroastrian religion. During the Parthian and Sasanian periods, a regnal fire was lit when a new king ascended the throne.

© Trustees of the British Museum

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Marble statue of Mithras slaying the bull, found in Rome (2nd century AD)

In the 1st-4th centuries AD, the Mithraic Mysteries seeped into Roman culture from the East. This secretive religion was inspired by the Zoroastrian Mithra, divinity of Contract and Oath. This statue displays Roman Mithras in a Parthian-like costume powerfully pinning down a bull for ritual slaughter. It is thought that Mithras appealed to the martial identity of Roman soldiers serving in the East. A Zoroastrian hymn describes an armed Mithra victoriously smashing the skulls of the Daevas or evil spirits.

© Trustees of the British Museum

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Painted manuscript showing the hero Rostam piercing an enemy, made in Shiraz in southern Iran (1435-1440 AD).

This illustration shows a scene from the Shahnameh, an epic work that recounts Iran’s historical and mythological past. Elements from Roman, Greek and Zoroastrian sources are echoed in the depicted central hero, Rostam. A feline skin covers Rostam’s helmet and jacket, mirroring the Greek hero Herakles’ famed lion pelt. As seen in Commagene, Herakles was associated with Verethragna, the Zoroastrian divinity of Victory who appeared as a gold-adorned horse and warrior. Golden details also decorate Rostam’s illustrated weapons and armour.

© Trustees of the British Museum

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(c) Katarina Kelsey, no title, translation of Auriol's image, 18-25 March 2015:

“I was given some contextual background to Auriol’s translation of Sam’s piece that I initially thought I would base my translation on. However I felt unable to translate her narrative and realised I would only be interpreting it. Ultimately I turned to a material translation to translate some of the key themes of her work. Taking inspiration from translations such as Hölderlin's Antigone and Christian Hawkey’s Ventrakl, I hope my material translation can convey Auriol’s piece to you.” 
http://katarinakelseybookarts.tumblr.com/

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(c) Matt Rowe, no title, translation of Briony's image, 6-13 May 2015:

“My translation into a three-dimensional ceramic object continues the core narrative of the resampling of the environment and the suggested ownership of a natural object. I constructed a chalice-like ceramic vessel and fired it using combustive fuel harvested from the seashore, which leaves a carbon imprint on the body of the ceramic. Within the temple-like structure of the kiln I attempted a reprocessing of materials abundant within the seascape of my hometown Folkestone.” http://mattroweportfolio.co.uk 

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The Yup'ik Homeland from the Air

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is low-laying braided river system, and has supported the Yup'ik people and their ancestors for millennia. This landscape is dependent on permafrost for its stability, and its topography renders this region highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly coastal erosion and flooding. The Western Rim of Arctic North America has been called the 'miner's canary of climate change'.

© This image is credited to Rick Knecht, and is made available under Creative Commons BY

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A New Day in Quinhagak

The village of Quinhagak lies close to the Bering Sea coast in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The village is home to around 700 people, and is 60 miles from the nearest other village and only accessible by light aircraft.

© This image is credited to Kate Britton, and is made available under Creative Commons BY

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Catch of the Day

Quinhagak resident Michael Smith prepares fresh salmon using an uluaq, a traditional Yup’ik tool. Subsistence hunting and fishing remain economically important in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta today, and are a key source of community pride, personal and group identity, and cultural resilience. Contemporary ecosystem disruption, and political and social change, are threatening subsistence activities and, through this, community well-being.

© This image is credited to Renee Ronzone, and is made available under Creative Commons BY

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A Perfect Storm

Climate change is leading to increasingly unpredictable and unseasonable weather in Western Alaska. Increasing storminess, coupled with melting permafrost, has created ‘a perfect storm’ for rapid coastal erosion – erosion which is now threatening both modern infrastructure and archaeological sites all along the Bering Sea.

© This image is credited to Renee Ronzone, and is made available under Creative Commons BY

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A Race Against The Rising Tides

The remains of the Nunalleq archaeological site (AD 1350-1700) cling precariously on the eroding edge of the Bering Sea. Archaeological teams from University of Aberdeen were first invited to investigate the site in 2009, after locals found artefacts eroding onto the beach. Since excavations first began, the coastline here has retreated more than 10 meters. 

© This image is credited to Rick Knecht, and is made available under Creative Commons BY

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