JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
I have not made an entry to the Strange Things in the Sky department in a while, though I'm happy to have made my way to this one this morning. While many entries in this category truly are strange and actually in the sky, many are not--they are strange and unexpected, though appearing 'in" the sky by virtue of placement in an image, which is what we have here.
Giovanni Piranesi's collected works on the antiquities of the Roman empire are astonishing in form and function, and scope and breadth, and sometimes all of the above plus the placement of the represented objects on a piece of paper. In this case we have the plan of the sepulcher of the last Roman Emperor of the Severi dynasty, Alessandro Severo, who reigned at age 13 from 222-235 in a bitter part of 3rd century Roman history. The bumpy plan appears to float in the sky above unindexed ruined bits, while in the far background (lettered "F") is the building/construction itself, occupying perhaps only 5% of the image space.
And the next etched plate in Piranesi's book gives a fuller appreciation of the tomb:
[Source: http://www.wikiart.org/de/giovanni-battista-piranesi/the-roman-antiquities-t-2-plate-xxxi-fragment-of-stucco-gouged-by-the-time-of-nicchioni-is-one-1756#supersized-artistPaintings-262291 The Roman antiquities, volume 2, Plate XXXII. "Plan and external view of the tomb of Alexander Severus located outside Porta S. John about a mile from the aqueducts", 1756.]
Piranesi is filled with treasures of all shapes and descriptions, but what I find to be among the most sensational in the gigantic work are the arrangements of the found bits and the unexpectedly-placed objects.