Austria: Salzburg Carnival/Salzburger Fasnacht

The European history never ceases to surprise me. Based on the information presented at the museum of Schloss Hellbrunn. I found out how some 17th century Europeans entertained themselves with their animals. During the annual Salzburg Carnival, which incorporated elements from Venice,

1. bulls and bears were hunted to death.

2. geese were beheaded. According to the following placard, “[i]n 1613, members of the Court, on the horseback and armed with sabres, tried to cut the heads off suspended geese. In 1616, servants had to strike at geese blindfolded.”


3. pigs were beaten and slain in play. For a reconstructed scene, watch the video (attached above) at 00:36-01:20 and 02:17-02:30.

4. cats were trapped in boxes and their tails were tied to the keyboard to play the piano. To quote the placard for the following picture, “[t]his reconstruction shows a cat piano, an instrument that was used in the 1618 parade in Salzburg. There is no known pictorial representation from the 17th cnetury. Living cats were confined in boxes and their tails maltreated using a keyboard (piano) with sharp metal spikes. The ‘music’ threfore consisted of the howling of the cats.” For a reconstructed scene, watch the attached video at 02:56-03:26.


The commentator on the audioguide reminded us that our [I think he meant “the modern European”] standard toward the animals is different from the previous standard. I wonder since when the attitude change has begun in Europe.


Despite the aforementioned dark history, I am still impressed with the ingenious trick fountains at Schloss Hellbrunn. Human kindness and ingenuity sometimes just don’t march together, right? 😉

Resource: College de France Lecture on the Philistines by Aren Maeir

According to the biblical materials, the Philistines emerge primarily as an opponent, an archetype whom Israel should never emulate or get close to (see the multiple examples cited in P. Machinist, “Biblical Traditions: The Philistines and Israelite History,” in The Sea Peoples and Their World: A Reassessment [ed. E. D. Oren; Philadelphia: University of Pennysylvania Museum, 2000], 53-83, esp. 67-69).

But things can be a little bit more complicated from an archaeological point of view! In the stimulating lecture held at the College de France in paris on 25.02.2015, Prof. Aren Maeir shows us how entangled the Philistine culture can be with the Israelite and other cultures in the surrounding world. You can check out the lecture in the following video, which does remind me of my summer adventure at the 2013 Tel Burna archaeological excavation:

Three things from the video amaze me in particular:

1. On the basis of the ancient DNA tests, the Philistines were responsible for importing pigs from Europe into the Levant! (25:15 onwards)

2. There are oraganic residue of incenses from Sri Lanka in the Philistine Iron Age IIA chalices! (43:15 onwards)

3. Some Jerusalemites might have been attracted to the Philistine religion, such that a jar made in the Jerusalem area and inscribed with an Israelite name was found in a Philistine temple precinct! (51:38 onwards)

Interesting mixture of cultures, isn’t it? 🙂