Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Dog from 3rd century Rome discovered during Subway Excavations

Fires were common in ancient Rome, where narrow streets were densely packed with wooden structures, cooking was done over open flames, and effective fire-fighting was non-existent. Archaeologists recently unearthed the charred remains of a building that was destroyed in one of the city’s conflagrations.

Buried within the ruins: the skeleton of a 1,800-year-old dog. The find appears to date to the reign of Septimius Severus, a despotic emperor who ruled from 193 to 211 A.D.
Some 40,000 artifacts have been found during the decade-long project to improve Rome’s subway network.

Monday, 26 June 2017

‘Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas’

It was a world where feathers were more valuable than gold. Fifteen hundred years ago, Peru’s Nasca culture knotted thousands of imported tropical feathers to strings, layering them thickly to create a garment of great power. The rarest feathers, including the iridescent green feathers of the quetzal, were reserved for the Aztec emperor himself.

The unprecedented exhibition features more than 300 works from 53 lenders in 12 countries.
The MET exhibition follows a specific historical and geographical path. It traces the development of gold-working in the Americas from its origins around 1000 BC in the Andes, to its expansion northward into Central America, and finally to Mexico, where gold-working comes into its own only after 1000 AD.
Jade plaque showing a seated king and palace attendant, 600–800 AD
‘Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas’ is at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, from 16 September–28 January 2018.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Caligula Coins

In 2014 a Caligula coin appeared on 'Pawn Stars'. The coin was a silver denarius that was struck in the last 24 days of Caligula's life.

Caius Caesar was born in 12 A.D., the son of Germanicus and Agrippina Sr. He was nicknamed Caligula, meaning "little boots," by the legions because as a child his mother dressed him in military uniforms (including little boots).

Initially he was very popular, succeeding Tiberius in 37 A.D. when he was 24 years old. For a few brief months he ruled well. His reign quickly degenerated into debauchery and murder. He was murdered by the Praetorian Guard in 41 A.D.
Caligula was sadistic, cruel and indulged in sexual aberrations that offended Rome and were considered insane. Caligula's power soon led him to believe himself a God. This led him to kill anyone that he thought surpassed him in something.

Declaring himself a deity caused a major backlash in Judea, because Jewish law said that they could only worship their God. His refusal to revoke the decree that the nations worship him caused the revolution in Judea. Caligula's hubris eventually destroyed him. He insulted his Roman military commanders, particularly Cassius Chaerea, who plotted against and murdered him on January 24, 41 at the Palatine Games.

Caligula was tall, with spindly legs and a thin neck. His eyes and temples were sunken and his forehead broad and glowering. His hair was thin and he was bald on top, though he had a hairy body.

During his reign it was a crime punishable by death to look down on him as he passed by, or to mention a goat in his presence.
Ancient accounts of Caligula’s reign focus on his cruelty, his excesses, and his clinical insanity – an unpredictable mixture of fits, anxiety, insomnia and hallucinations.

He often claimed to hold conversations with Jupiter and to sleep with the moon goddess. He was famous for his sadism.
In late 2012 an ancient Gold aureus of emperor Caligula was discovered underwater in the area between Limassol and Larnaca in Cyprus by a local amateur fisherman.

Roman gold went east in payment for spices and silk. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder (AD 23/4-79) tells us that, in his day, over 25 million denarii were spent each year on this trade, equivalent to one million gold coins.



Saturday, 24 June 2017

Treasure of Nimrud

The Royal Tomb of Nimrud was discovered in 1989. The tomb is located in the ancient city of Kalkhu (modern Nimrud). Ancient Assyrian tombs have been found in the past but the goods had all been plundered in antiquity. The sarcophagus in the tomb chamber contained hundreds of items including jewelry, vessels and seals.
The treasures belonged to:
Yaba, Queen of Tiglathpileser III, king of Assyria 744-727 BC
Banitu, Queen of Shalmanasser V, king of Assyria 726-722 BC
Atalia, Queen of Sargon II, king of Assyria 721-705 BC

The treasure of Nimrud survived 2,800 years buried in northern Iraq. It then spent 12 years tucked away in a vault. Until 2013 it was uncertain whether it had survived Saddam Hussein, a U.S. missile strike, looters, a flood and a grenade attack. But it was found intact in the dark basement of a bombed out central bank building.




Antikythera shipwreck yields ancient human bones


The cargo is considered the most spectacular ever found from antiquity.
After more than 2,000 years, archaeologists have recovered the bones of a young man they call Pamphilos. In his late teens or early 20s, he was on the ship sailing from Asia Minor to Rome when disaster struck off the Greek island of Antikythera between Crete and the Peloponnese.

The catastrophe in the first century BC scattered the ship’s cargo across the seabed. It lay there until 1900. Salvage operations have since hauled up stunning bronze and marble statues, ornate glass and pottery, gold jewellery, and an extraordinary geared device – the Antikythera mechanism – which modelled the heavens.

The Antikythera Mechanism
With the latest discovery of human bones, scientists have their first real hope of sequencing DNA from a victim of an ancient shipwreck. The remains include the petrous bone, the hard part of the skull behind the ear. Dense and impenetrable to water and microbes, this is the best hope for finding intact DNA.
Analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism show it to be more advanced than previously thought—so much so that nothing comparable was built for another thousand years.

Researchers used three-dimensional X-ray scanners to reconstruct the workings of the device's gears and high-resolution surface imaging to enhance faded inscriptions on its surface.
By winding a knob on its side, the positions of the sun, moon, Mercury and Venus could be determined for any chosen date. Newly revealed inscriptions also appear to confirm the device could also calculate the positions of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — the other planets known at the time. The device's construction date was radiocarbon dated to around 150 to 100 B.C.

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Crocotta

The crocotta is a mythical dog-wolf of India or Ethiopia, linked to the hyena and said to be a deadly enemy of men and dogs. Pliny variously described the crocotta as a combination between dog and wolf or between hyena and lion.

"its eyes have a thousand variations of color; moreover that when its shadow falls on dogs they are struck dumb; and that it has certain magic arts by which it causes every animal at which it gazes three times to stand rooted to the spot."
"In Ethiopia there is an animal called crocottas, vulgarly kynolykos [dog-wolf], of amazing strength. It is said to imitate the human voice, to call men by name at night, and to devour those who approach it. It is as brave as a lion, as swift as a horse, and as strong as a bull. It cannot be overcome by any weapon of steel."

Fossilized skull reveals the last 'Siberian unicorn' lived 29,000 years ago

For decades, scientists have estimated that the Siberian unicorn - a long-extinct species of mammal that looked more like a rhino than a horse - died out some 350,000 years ago, but a beautifully preserved skull found in Kazakhstan has completely overturned that assumption. Turns out, they were still around as recently as 29,000 years ago.

The real unicorn, Elasmotherium sibiricum, was shaggy and huge and looked just like a modern rhino, only it carried a mighty horn on its forehead.
The Siberian unicorn stood roughly 2 metres tall, was 4.5 metres long, and weighed about 4 tonnes. That’s closer to woolly mammoth-sized than horse-sized. The newly found skull was found in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan.