Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Bar-Kokhba Revolt

In 2009 the largest cache of rare coins ever found in a scientific excavation from the period of the Bar-Kokhba revolt against the Romans was discovered in a cave by researchers.

Most of the discovered coins were overstruck as rebels' coins on Roman coins. The new imprints show Jewish images and words (for example: the facade of the Temple in Jerusalem and the slogan "for the freedom of Jerusalem"). Other coins that were found, of gold, silver and bronze, are original Roman coins of the period minted elsewhere in the Roman Empire or in Israel.
The coins were found near Betar. Ancient Betar was the site of the "last stand" of the rebels led by Bar-Kokhba in their struggle against Roman rule in Judea from 132-135 CE.

The discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean Desert.

Sextus Julius Severus
In 132, a revolt led by Bar Kokhba spread from Modi'in across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. The outbreak took the Romans by surprise. Hadrian called his general Sextus Julius Severus from Britain, and troops were brought from as far as the Danube.

The struggle lasted for three years before the revolt was brutally crushed in the summer of 135 AD. After losing Jerusalem, Bar Kokhba and the remnants of his army withdrew to the fortress of Betar, which also subsequently came under siege. The Jerusalem Talmud relates that the numbers slain were enormous, that the Romans "went on killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils"
In 2015 another hoard was found in the vicinity of Qiryat Gat, Israel. Archaeologists uncovered about 140 gold and silver coins along with gold jewelry in a pit in the courtyard of an exposed building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period. A wealthy woman likely stashed the hoard of coins and jewelry in the pit due to the impending danger of the Revolt.

A sela attributed to the third year (A.D. 134/5) of the revolt. It features on the obverse the fa├žade of the Temple of Jerusalem (the Ark of the Covenant can be seen, inside) and on the reverse, the lulav and etrog, along with an inscription "For the Freedom of Jerusalem."
The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 A.D.

“This hoard includes silver and gold coins of different denominations, most of which date to the reign of the emperor Trajan. This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it,”

In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea, Hadrian wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Spinel of Mahenge, Tanzania

Spinel is magnesium aluminum oxide with the formula MgAl2O4. The name "spinel" comes from either the Latin word "spina" meaning "thorn", due to its characteristic octahedral crystals having pointed ends, or the Greek word "spintharis" meaning "spark".

Although spinel occurs in a range of different colors, the pink to red variety is the one that is commercially important. Spinel is single refractive and doesn't have pleochroism. It belongs to the cubic crystal system with hardness of 8.0 on the Mohs scale.
Spinel offers a range of hues from orange to intense red, vibrant pink, and all shades between purple, blue and violet through to bluish green.
Historically, the most famous red spinels came from the Balas region of Afghanistan and were known as Balas rubies. Some of the most famous rubies in the world, such as the Black Prince's Ruby, part of the British Crown Jewels, are actually spinels. More recently, Sri Lanka and Burma has been the main source for fine spinel.

The highest quality transparent blood-red "ruby spinel" and hot-pink spinel has come from mines in Mogok, Upper Burma.
In 2007 several huge spinel crystals were discovered at Ipanko, near the town of Mahenge, in Tanzania. Miners unearthed spinel crystals weighing from six to 54 kg.
The crystal was highly included, but large chunks of top quality stone were able to be cobbed off.
The spinel crystal displayed the vibrant pink color that is now famous from Mahenge Spinel. Thousands of carats of gem quality gems were cut in Thailand and distributed into the world market.

From this point on Mahenge Spinel was thrust into the world spotlight.
Spinel is highly sought after by gem connoisseurs, and well-formed spinel crystals are in high demand among collectors. Red spinel range from orange-red to purplish red, with pure red considered the finest of all.

A top-quality 5 carat red spinel might sell for around a tenth the price of an equivalent-quality ruby, and pink spinel often sells for less than pink sapphire.
Tanzania is now the world's second largest supplier of spinel in the pink-to-red range. Spinel also has been found in Ipanko and Matombo.

Since the Mahenge spinel is still a recent discovery, there is still top quality material available for collectors.

Weathered marble outcrops tower over the spinel diggings of Ipanko, near Mahenge.
The Imperial Crown of Russia, also known as the Great Imperial Crown, was made for the Empress Catherine II the Great's Coronation in 1762. The crown is set with around 5000 diamonds from India arranged in a pattern of laurel wreaths and oak branches and a number of fine large white pearls.

It is topped with one of the seven historic stones of the Russia's Diamond Collection - a large precious red spinel weighing 398.72 carats. The Imperial Crown of Russia is currently on display in the Moscow Kremlin Armoury State Diamond Fund.
The Imperial State Crown is the most magnificent of all the Crown Regalia. It was made in 1838 for the Coronation of Queen Victoria, and then altered for the Coronation of George VI in 1937 and Elizabeth II in 1953. It is usually worn at the end of the coronation ceremony, when the newly-crowned monarch departs from Westminster Abbey. Although the crown is modern in design, it is set with very old gems.

The Black Prince’s Ruby (spinel), roughly 170 carats, is set into the central panel of the crown.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Ancient gold coins, gold plate, found in India

A total of 117 gold coins, a small gold plate and two silver anklets were found in an agricultural field in a village in Kadambur block in Sathyamangalam taluk in 2012.

The coins reportedly belong to the period of the Vijayanagara dynasty. A group of workers stumbled on a pot which contained the treasure when they were harvesting tapioca tuber in a field in Karaliyam, a village located inside the Kadambur forests.

The Vijayanagara empire was an Indian empire that existed from 1336 through 1660. It was founded by Harihara (Hakka) and his brother Bukka Raya.

The empire is named after its capital city Vijayanagara, now Hampi in modern Karnataka, India.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Gold-hilted sword found beneath a Scottish soccer field may be 4,000 years old

Excavations have revealed a trove of ancient artifacts, which could date back to the Bronze Age.

Diggers moved into the site in Carnoustie after relics were found while laying foundations for a new sports field.

Famed for its golfing heritage the small Tayside town could now hold the key to how Scots lived as early as 2000BC.

Facial Reconstruction Of Ava: 3,700-Year-Old Bronze Age Woman
Evidence for Bronze Age dwellers in Scotland is widespread. A recreation of a skeleton earlier this year indicated the people who inhabited the Scottish Highlands at this time looked similar to today's citizens.

Known as 'Ava', the Bronze Age woman died more than 3,700 years ago, but was brought back to life in a two-dimensional image in July.