Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Salem’s Lost Gallows - Proctor’s Ledge

A rocky outcrop called Proctor’s Ledge has been confirmed as the site where 19 people accused of witchcraft were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Salem witch trials were a series of prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693.
The trials resulted in the executions of twenty people, fourteen of them women, and all but one by hanging. Five others (including two infants) died in prison. The episode is one of Colonial America's most notorious cases of mass hysteria.

Hundreds faced accusations of witchcraft; dozens languished in jail for months without trials.

Sometime in February of 1692, Betty Parris became strangely ill. She dashed about, dove under furniture, contorted in pain, and complained of fever. The cause of her symptoms may have been caused by a disease called "convulsive ergotism" brought on by ingesting rye infected with ergot. Convulsive ergotism causes violent fits, a crawling sensation on the skin, vomiting, choking, and hallucinations. LSD is a derivative of ergot.

Talk of witchcraft increased when other playmates of Betty began to exhibit similar unusual behavior. Everyone began to believe that the devil was real and close at hand.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Octavian and the Battle of Actium

Octavian was the son of Julius Caesar's niece. Octavian was only 20 years old when he learned of Caesar's assassination. Caesar had adopted him as his son posthumously, and Octavian returned to Italy to avenge his murder.

He leveraged his association with Caesar to gain power. In 43 BCE, he formed the Second Triumvirate with Marc Antony and Lepidus. They defeated Brutus and Cassius and divided the empire, with Octavian holding most of the West and Antony the East.
Antony grew progressively closer to Cleopatra while Octavian worked to restore Italy. In 33 BC, the Second Triumvirate ended, leaving Antony without any legal authority. Octavian then began a campaign against Antony, declaring war against Cleopatra.
Octavian’s admiral Marcus Agrippa held Antony’s fleet back in the bay of Actium in Greece. On September 2, Antony and Cleopatra managed to escape and break free, accompanied by a small squadron, leaving the rest of his men to surrender to Octavian. Antony fled to Alexandria where he and Cleopatra eventually took their own lives in August, 30 BCE after being cornered by Octavian; this marked the end of the Roman civil wars. Rome was officially transformed from a Republic to a Principate in January, 27 BCE. Octavian renounced his old name and only used “Augustus”.
Over the next 40 years, Augustus shared his authority with the Senate. It would not be until Augustus’ coinage reform in 23 BCE that the gold aureus would come into standard use. In addition to his reorganization of the state and institutions of Rome, Augustus introduced a formal system of fixed ratios between denominations of coins.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Hydra

The Lernaean Hydra was a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology. Its lair was the lake of Lerna. Lerna was reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld. In myth, the monster is killed by Hercules, using sword and fire, as the second of his twelve labors.

According to Hesiod, the Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. It possessed many heads. Later versions of the Hydra story add a regeneration feature to the monster: for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow new heads. The Hydra had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly.

He then confronted the Hydra, wielding either a harvesting sickle, a sword, or his famed club.
Eurystheus sent Hercules to slay the Hydra, which Hera had raised just to slay Hercules. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Hercules covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes. He shot flaming arrows into the Hydra's lair, a deep cave from which it emerged only to terrorize neighboring villages.
The weakness of the Hydra was that it was invulnerable only if it retained at least one head. Realizing that he could not defeat the Hydra, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps. Seeing that Heracles was winning the struggle, Hera sent a giant crab to distract him. He crushed it under his mighty foot. The Hydra's one immortal head was cut off with a golden sword given to Heracles by Athena.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Newly discovered Egyptian carnivore hunted our ancestors 40 million years ago

A new species of long extinct carnivorous mammal from Egypt has been identified by scientists. The animal, known as Masrasector nananubis, was once near the top of the African food chain and lived in the same ecosystem that was home to our earliest monkey-like relatives. Researchers suggest that our ancient ancestors could have once been hunted by Masrasector.
Masrasector was a small mammal that ate large rodents and other mammals.
The species name, nananubis, means 'tiny Anubis,' because it resembles the jackal-headed Ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife. Masrasector nananubis was part of an extinct group called hyaenodonts. Hyaenodonts were the only meat-eating mammals in Africa for over 40 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs, lasting until around seven million years ago. The specimens were discovered in a quarry called Locality-41, one of the most fossil-rich places from the beginning of the Age of Mammals in Africa.

Spectacular Ancient Bronze

Dated to around 330 BC, the bronze Boxer at Rest is a Hellenistic Greek sculpture of a sitting nude boxer at rest, still wearing his caestus, a type of leather hand-wrap, in the collection of the National Museum of Rome.  The Boxer was discovered in 1885, possibly from the remains of the Baths of Constantine.
“Portrait of Seuthes III” (about 310-300 B.C.), Greek. Bronze, copper, calcite, alabaster, and glass. Seuthes III was a ruler of the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace from 331 BC to ca. 300 BC. This bronze was found in his tomb.

“The Medici Riccardi Horse” About 350 B.C. Italian Bronze and gold.
The bronze "Chimera of Arezzo" is one of the best known examples of the art of the Etruscans. It was found in Arezzo, an ancient Etruscan and Roman city in Tuscany, in 1553.

Inscribed on its right foreleg is an inscription, TINSCVIL, showing that the bronze was a votive object dedicated to the supreme Etruscan god of day, Tin or Tinia. The statue is estimated to have been created around 400 BC.
The over-lifesize "Dancing Satyr" of Mazara del Vallo is a Greek bronze statue recovered from the sea floor at a depth of 500m (1600 ft.) off the southwestern coast of Sicily in 1998.

The satyr is depicted in mid-leap, head thrown back ecstatically and back arched, his hair swinging with the movement of his head. The figure is highly refined; the whites of his eyes are inlays of white alabaster.
Artemis and the Stag is an early Roman Imperial or Hellenistic bronze sculpture of the ancient Greek goddess Artemis. In June 2007 the statue fetched $28.6 million at auction, the highest sale price of any sculpture at the time.

The statue depicts Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting and wild animals. She stands in a pose that suggests she has just released an arrow from her bow. At some point in its history, the bow was separated from the sculpture and was lost.
Alexander the Great on Horseback, 100-1 B.C., bronze and silver.

Victorious Athlete, "The Getty Bronze" 300-100 B.C.
They are the 2,500 year-old Riace Bronzes - a pair of towering statues of naked Greek warriors.

With their rippling muscles, thick beards and manes of curling hair they are extraordinarily life-like. Their teeth are made of gleaming silver. Copper gives their lips and nipples a reddish tinge, and glass and ivory were used for their eyes.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Secret Crypt found in U.K. - Exploding Bishops

A forgotten crypt has been uncovered in an ancient church in London. Inside are the remains of some of England’s most influential churchmen. They will remain undisturbed for now — being sealed in a lead coffin can have explosive consequences.

The tomb was accidentally uncovered by workmen refurbishing the Garden Museum in a neighborhood of London. The Garden Museum is located in the deconsecrated St. Mary-at-Lambeth Church, which dates back to 1062
The tomb appears to be 400 or 500 years old. At least five of the 30 coffins contain the remains of former archbishops of Canterbury — the most senior clergyman in the Episcopal Church of England.
Clergymen have been identified by plates affixed to the coffins. They include Richard Bancroft, who was England’s No. 1 churchman from 1604 to 1610. He played a major role in producing the King James Bible.

A corpse in a coffin that’s undisturbed for 400 or so years would turn most of us into dust. But some turn into so-called ‘coffin liquor.’

When the tightly sealed coffin lets the anaerobic bacteria win the day, some coffins will be one third full of a viscous black liquid. These contents can burst out violently when the seal is broken.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Record Prices at Ancient Coins Event

Claudius II, the “Roman Savior”, is the emperor who led the revival of the Roman Empire during the great struggle of the third century. Claudius was hailed as a hero of the nation for his success in battle but he died just two years into his reign. Coins bearing his likeness are rare. The coin, graded NGC MS 5/5 – 3/5, sold for $94,000.
The 1684 Charles II Gold 5 Guineas is in Mint State. Graded MS61 by PCGS, one of just two Mint State pieces known, $82,250.

A 1831 William IV Proof Crown, graded PR64 Cameo by NGC. It brought $51,700.
Bavaria: 1640 Maximillian I Gold 5 Ducat, MS64 NGC – realized $49,350.

Japan – 1870 Meiji Year 3 Gold 20 Yen, AU55 NGC – $41,125.