Thursday, 19 September 2019

The First Circulating Coins

Ionia, Circa 650-600 BC. Hekte (one-sixth stater)Little is known about this electrum (natural alloy of gold and silver) coin. It was minted in Ionia, somewhere in central Western Anatolia on the shores of the Aegean, but the precise city-state that produced it is unknown. It could have been minted in Miletus, a city often referred to as the origin of the modern world.

This type likely represents the first true coins which circulated in everyday use. This type are small 1/24th staters which represented about a day’s pay. Larger denominations are rare. Even fewer trites (one-third stater) are known, and only three full-size staters have ever been found.
During the excavation of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (present day Turkey near the Black Sea), a group of coins was found which are thought to be its 'foundation deposit', a custom that supposedly prevented the building from falling into ruin. The largest type in the group, a stater, had an inscription stating, 'I am the badge of Phanes'. It's meaning has been lost to antiquity.

Coins revolutionized commerce, offering an accessible, neutral medium through which transactions could be processed quickly and fairly.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Scottish gold ring found by metal detectorist brings £17k

Dating from the 17th century, the ring was discovered by a novice metal detectorist on the shores of Loch Lomond. Before the sale, experts managed to discover the ring’s history.

The crest belonged to the Colman family of Brent Eleigh, Suffolk, who made their fortune in the mid 16th century from the cloth trade. It's thought to have belonged to Edward Colman, who became an ardent convert to Catholicism. The inside of the ring bares an engraved “I” for Jesus, a personal symbol that could indicate that the owner was a member of the Jesuits, an undercover society of Catholics which was illegal in England at that time. In September 1678, Jesuits were accused of involvement in plots to assassinate the king and restore Charles II. Edward was listed as a plotter. He was found guilty of treason and hung, drawn and quartered. Considered to be a Catholic martyr, he was beatified by the Pope in 1929.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Ancient Humans interbred with Neanderthals

Neanderthal child
In 1997, scientists found the first scrap of Neanderthal DNA in a fossil. Since then, they have recovered genetic material, even entire genomes, from a number of Neanderthal bones. Their investigations have yielded a surprise: Today, 1 to 2 percent of the DNA in non-African people comes from Neanderthals.

That genetic legacy is the result of interbreeding roughly 50,000 years ago between Neanderthals and the common ancestors of Europeans and Asians. Recent studies suggest that Neanderthal genes even influence human health today.
The DNA extracted in 1997 was from the original specimen of Neanderthals, found in the Neander valley near Dusseldorf, Germany. It suggested that the Neanderthal lineage is four times older than the human lineage, meaning that Neanderthals split off much earlier from the hominid line than did humans.

Humans and Neanderthals split from a common ancestor in Africa some 600,000 years ago. At some point afterward, the ancestors of Neanderthals spread to Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Along the way, Neanderthals took on a distinctive anatomy — a stocky, powerful build — and became impressive hunters.
Now scientists have found that the genes flowed both ways. In a study published in Nature, a team of scientists reported that another instance of interbreeding left Neanderthals in Siberia with chunks of human DNA. In 2010 scientists recovered about 60 percent of a Neanderthal genome from fossils found in a Croatian cave.

A toe bone from a male Neanderthal dating back at least 50,000 years.
Neanderthals shared certain mutations with living Europeans and Asians, but not with modern Africans. They concluded that humans must have interbred with Neanderthals after leaving Africa.

Three years later the complete genome of a male Neanderthal was recovered from a toe bone dating back at least 50,000 years, which had been discovered in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. Comparing the Altai genome to modern human DNA confirmed the interbreeding.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Ingot find reveals UK’s ancient trade routes

Similar ingots, dating from around 1,300 BC, were also found at archaeological sites in Greece and Turkey.New evidence suggests Britain had trade routes with the rest of the world as far back as the Bronze Age. Researchers have revealed 3000-year-old tin ingots found in Israel actually originated from Devon and Cornwall.
Commodities such as tin, amber and glass were highly prized in the ancient world and were the catalysts of international trade routes. The origin of tin has long been an enigma in archaeological research. Bronze was used to make weapons, jewellery, and daily objects. Tin ingots are valuable for research because they can accurately point to their exact origin.

Around 3,000 BC, ancients began smelting copper with tin in order to create a stronger metal; bronze. The Bronze Age witnessed the development of many innovations. Societies around the world grew faster and more advanced and trade was the reason.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Mosaics of Pompeii

Pompeii has provided invaluable insight to the Roman world and most agree it is the richest archaeological site in the world. Fine mosaics were a common feature in the villas of the town and depicted scenes from mythology, the owner’s business interests or animal scenes.

They are of the highest artistic merit.

Plato's Academy Circle
Detail of Musician with tympanon, Villa del Cicerone
House of Neptune

Detail Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus

Head of Medusa

Detail Satyr and nymph

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Aureus of Hadrian - 67k

A gold aureus of Hadrian (A.D. 117 to 138). The reverse shows the river god Nilus reclining, half draped, with one arm supporting his weight on a sphinx and the other holding a cornucopia.

Part of Hadrian’s famed “Travel Series” where he celebrated his travels including an extended visit to Egypt in 130 to 131.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Ancient Nubia Now

Between 2400 BCE and 300 CE, a series of kingdoms flourished in what is today the Sudanese Nile Valley. Nubian kings and queens controlled vast empires and trade networks yet are forgotten to history. “Ancient Nubia Now” features more than 400 items, many never before exhibited.
Among the highlights are the jewels of Nubia’s queens, the statue of Senkamanisken from the sacred mountain of Gebel Barkal, the army of funerary figurines from the tomb of King Taharqa, the gold and silver treasure of King Aspelta, and the stele of King Tanyidamani.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Tutankhamun's dagger made from Meteorite

Analysis of a dagger found within Tutankhamun's sarcophagus has found the blade was made of iron from a meteorite. The dagger has a finely embossed gold handle with a crystal pommel. It was encased within a golden sheath decorated with a floral motif, feather patterns and a jackal's head.

The blade contained high levels of nickel, along with traces of cobalt and phosphorus. Researchers were able to match the chemical composition to a meteorite which was found in 2000 on the Maras Matruh plateau in Egypt, 150 miles west of Alexandria.
Ancient Egyptian royal archives from 1,400BC mention royal gifts of iron in the period immediately before Tutankhamun's reign. Tushratta, King of Mitanni – a kingdom in northern Syria and Anatolia – sent iron objects to Amenhotep III, the grandfather of Tutankhamun.
Hieroglyphic term used to mean iron, it literally translates as “iron from the sky”.
The high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun's dagger blade suggests a mastery of iron-working in his time. The 13 inch long (34.2cm) dagger was found lying beside the right thigh of King Tutankhamun's mummy.

Studies suggest the ancient Egyptians believed iron from meteorites had magical powers that could usher souls into the afterlife. To the ancient Egyptians, meteorite finds were gifts from the gods.

Kamil crater in southern Egypt
Egyptians considered the sky divine, so anything that fell from it would have been seen as a gift from the gods – if not a physical piece of one. They believed that the gods had bones made of iron. (as well as having flesh of gold, skin of silver and hair of lapis lazuli)

There’s no evidence of iron smelting in the region until nearly 1000 years later, so there is no argument over where the metal came from.
Tutankhamun’s daggers

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Burgess Shale yields first spiders/scorpions

Burgess Shale have yielded another ground-breaking fossil find. This time its the oldest known ancestor of today’s spiders and scorpions.
Mollisonia plenovenatrix is over 500 million years old. It had large eyes to spot prey. Long limbs propelled it across the sediments. Its head was like a modern multi-tool with limbs that could sense, grasp, crush and chew.

The tiny pair of structures in front of its mouth are the same pincers on all members of the family Chelicerata. That’s 115,000 different species, and here is the one that started it all.

See ----->Theft from Burgess Shale

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Poodle from Hell

In 2015 scientists unearthed a spectacularly preserved, nearly complete fossil in northeastern China of a feathered dinosaur with wings like those of a bird, although they doubt the strange creature could fly.

The researchers said the fast-running meat-eater was about 6 feet (1.8 meters) long and covered with simple hair-like feathers over much of its body, with large, quill-like feathers on its wings and long tail.

Finding the dinosaur raises questions about why wings evolved in the first place.
The largest-known dinosaur with wings, it lived about 125 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. Paleontologists dubbed the dinosaur, named Zhenyuanlong suni, a "fluffy feathered poodle from hell."

Birds evolved from small feathered dinosaurs. The oldest-known bird, crow-sized Archaeopteryx, lived about 150 million years ago.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Ancient Greek gold crown kept for decades in a box of old newspapers under bed

A rare gold crown believed to be more than 2,300 years old was discovered last year under a bed in a Somerset cottage. The delicate Greek myrtle wreath, which is thought to date to 300BC, was found in a cardboard box in a modest Taunton property.

Its elderly owner was stunned when he found out the artifact is worth at least £100,000. Stylistically it belongs to a rarefied group of wreaths dateable to the Hellenistic period and the form may indicate that it was made in Northern Greece. It is eight inches across and weighs about 100 grams. It's pure gold and handmade and it would have been hammered out by a goldsmith.
Gold wreaths like the one found were meant to imitate the wreaths of real leaves that were worn in Ancient Greece in religious ceremonies and given as prizes in athletic and artistic contests. They usually depicted branches of laurel, myrtle, oak and olive trees, which were symbolic of concepts such as wisdom, triumph, fertility, peace and virtue.

Due to their fragile nature, they were only worn on special occasions. Many were dedicated to the Gods in sanctuaries or placed in the graves of royal or aristocratic people as funerary offerings.
The current owner's grandfather was a collector who was fascinated by the ancient world. Although his family do not know how or where he acquired it, it is likely he bought it sometime in the 1940s.

A gold wreath similar to this one sold at auction in 2012 for almost £200,000.

See ----->