It’s time again for the Association of Temporal Anthropologist Annual Meeting and Ball. (For those of you who don’t remember last year’s explanation, here is a link to that blog.)
This year the event is being held at the Palace of Versailles. We will all be staying at the fairly new Versailles Hotel across the street, but the meeting and the ball are held at the historic palace itself. The current French government (the 28th Republic) has pulled out all the stops, closing the building this weekend to the public.
|Palace of Versailles|
Dr. Matilda Warwick joked that perhaps a female T.A. could become the mistress of Louis XV, since he had so many no one, including Louis, would notice her. I pretended to be horrified that a woman who spends all her time in Medieval convents would even think of such a thing.
This weekend several Temporal Anthropologists have put on presentation, some with ideas of how to survive in the field, others just showing off their latest findings. (For instance, did you know Neanderthals had a great sense of humor and loved to sing?)
I gave a presentation on how to wile away lonely hours at night by making shadows on the wall by just using your hands. One problem is that every room is stuffed full of artwork. They put me in the Salon de Mars which has paintings on the walls and ceiling. Very distracting, even with the lights off. I’m not sure if anyone paid too much attention to me. (Of course, the last time I gave this presentation in a normal classroom, it went just as well.)
|Salon de Mars|
After that the Palace of Versailles became the property of the new French Republic, and every other French Empire and Republic that followed. Let’s just say changes were made to the building from time to time and only stopped when some valiant art or history lovers fought to protect what remained. Even so, what does remain is jaw dropping.
The ball will be held in the Galerie des Glaces or Hall of Mirrors, perhaps one of the most famous rooms in the world. Built by Louis XIV, it is 239.5 feet by 34.4 feet by 40.4 feet. It got its name from the mirrors covering the walls, built at a time when even a hand mirror was very expensive. The Venetian Republic held a monopoly on mirror manufacturing, so Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the minister of finances, enticed several Venetian workers to come work for France.
|Hall of Mirrors|
I would like to say that having nearly a hundred Temporal Anthropologists in their very finest period attire would be the most opulent event to every be held here, but we aren’t even close. That distinction would probably go to the Siamese Embassy when they presented themselves to the Louis XIV in 1686. Ambassador Kosa Pan pulled out all the stops. King Narai of Siam not only wanted an alliance, he wanted to empress France. The exotic costumes and lavish gifts had the court buzzing for years.
|Siam Embassy in the Hall of Mirrors|
(Note the mirrors in the back reflecting the windows)
Palace of Versailles homepage
Photos, videos, virtual tours
Make your own Hand Shadows
(Hours of fun if you are stuck by yourself in the Victorian Age)