Saturday, 30 July 2016

Carthage


The bitterly fought Punic Wars (“punicus” being Latin for Phoenician), waged between 264 and 146 BCE when Carthage was finally defeated. The city was razed to the ground and the very earth salted by vengeful Romans.
At its peak, the ancient North African city of Carthage rivaled the city of Rome for military and economic control of the western Mediterranean.

Carthage was one of the largest cities of the Hellenistic period and was among the largest cities in preindustrial history. Today, its ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the suburbs of the Tunisian capital.
Tanit served as the special protector deity of the city of Carthage.
Carthage was a Phoenician colony and they were related to the Hebrews and the Canaanites. They shared much in common, including the use of the shekel as the primary unit of money. Likewise, the Carthaginians worshiped a variety of deities from the ancient Middle East.

One in particular was the goddess Tanit. A Phoenician goddess of war Tanit was also a virgin mother goddess and a fertility symbol.

The horse was a symbol of power and was greatly revered by the Carthaginians. It was found on almost all of the city’s coinage.
The ancient city was destroyed by the Romans in the Third Punic War in 146 BC then re-developed as Roman Carthage, which became the major city of the Roman Empire in the province of Africa.

The Roman city was occupied by the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb in 698. The site was abandoned until the early 20th century when it began to develop into a coastal suburb of Tunis. It was incorporated as Carthage municipality in 1919.

Pharaoh Ramesses III killed by multiple attackers

The New Kingdom Pharaoh Ramesses III was assassinated by multiple assailants — and given postmortem cosmetic surgery to improve his mummy's appearance. Researchers used CT Imaging of royal mummies from the 18th to 20th dynasties of Egypt, spanning from about 1543 B.C. to 1064 B.C. Rulers during this period included famous names like Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Tutankhamun, Seti I and the murdered Ramesses III.

Ramesses III's throat was slit, likely killing him instantly. Now researchers say the pharaoh's toe was hacked off, likely with an ax, suggesting he was set upon by multiple assailants with different weapons. Ancient papyrus documents refer to a plot to assassinate Ramesses III, who ruled Egypt from 1186 B.C. to 1155 B.C. Court documents outline the tale of a harem conspiracy to take Ramesses III's life, hatched by one of his wives, Tiye. Her son Pentawere was in line for the throne after his half-brother, Ramesses IV. Tiye and other members of the royal household meant to kill Ramesses III and then oust Ramesses IV to install Pentawere as ruler.
They seem to have succeeded in killing Ramesses III, but were brought to trial for that murder under the rule of Ramesses IV. Tiye, Pentawere and their conspirators were convicted and executed. A mummy thought to be Pentawere's has been studied, and Egyptologists believe he died of suffocation or strangulation.

The new book adds detail to this lurid tale, suggesting that Ramesses III's attackers outnumbered him. Part of his big toe had been hacked off and had not healed, meaning the injury happened around the time of death. Embalmers had fashioned a sort of postmortem prosthesis out of linen to replace it when they mummified him. It seems ancient Egyptian embalmers deliberately poured large amounts of resin to glue the layers of linen wrappings to the feet.
A second mummy found in the same tomb is known as the Screaming Man. Screaming Man is an anomaly. Although found in a royal tomb, he was buried in an unmarked coffin devoid of proper ritual markings and with his hands and feet bound. He was also covered with a goatskin, a “ritually impure” element that would prevent him from reaching the afterlife. Screaming Man is probably Pentawere. Genetic testing has confirmed that Screaming Man and Ramesses III were directly related to each other in the paternal line.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Amazing Shipwrecks


A bronze sword is among the artifacts. The 18-inch-long (45-centimeter) sword is of a style dated to between 950 and 850 B.C.
The Salcombe Wreck. Between 1200 and 900 B.C., a ship sank off the coast of Devon in England. Divers have so far uncovered 300 artifacts that weigh over 185 lbs combined, including copper and tin ingots (used to make bronze), weapons, and several pieces of jewelry. The wreck is significant because of its age and because the artifacts have proven that a trade network existed during the Bronze Age.
Golden adornments called torques which date to between 1300 and 1100 B.C.
The Belitung Shipwreck. The Belitung shipwreck was the first Arabian ship to be discovered and excavated. Found off the coast of Indonesia in 1998, it has yielded the richest and largest assortment of early ninth century Tang Dynasty gold and ceramic artifacts ever found–bowls, spice jars, inkwells, funeral urns, crystals, and gilt-silver boxes. Items included pearls from the Gulf, rubies and sapphires, a gold cup, and a silver flask.
The Antikythera Treasures. In 1900, divers discovered an ancient shipwreck just off the island of Antikythera. Another expedition in 1976 recovered the most significant part of the cargo. The massive haul of artifacts from the wreck included the Antikythera mechanism.

Coins and jewelry, glassware, pottery, statues, and even copper couch beds were found. One statue is a classical bronze statue made sometime from 340 to 330 B.C. named Statue of a Youth.
The Bom Jesus. The Bom Jesus was a Portuguese ship which sailed in 1533 and disappeared off the coast of West Africa. Geologists working for De Beers discovered the shipwreck buried in the beach. After uncovering several copper ingots, the mining operation was stopped and archaeologists were called in. It is the oldest shipwreck ever to be found off Africa’s coast and contained more than 22 tons of copper ingots, 6 cannons, swords, thousands of gold coins traced back to King João III, and more than 50 elephant tusks.
The Ghost Ship was accidentally discovered in 2003 by a crew searching for a Swedish plane shot down in WWII on the Baltic Sea. A full-scale expedition was launched in 2010, and researchers were able to confirm that the ship was built around 1650.

It is believed to be a type of Dutch ship known as a fluyt (a sailing cargo ship). The waters of the Baltic Sea have almost no tidal movement and the low salinity means shipworms are not able to inhabit it. That’s why the Baltic houses some of the most ancient and well-preserved vessels in the world.
The Vasa. The most exquisite shipwreck ever to be found in the Baltic Sea was the Swedish royal warship, the Vasa. Built between 1626 and 1628, it sank on its maiden voyage, less than a nautical mile from the harbor.

During a recovery operation in 1961, thousands of artifacts and human remains were removed. The wreck was so well-preserved that the smallest details could still be discerned on its artwork. It took more than eighteen months and 1,300 dives to salvage the Vasa. The Vasa museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sweden.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Sisyphus

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action for eternity.

Sisyphus promoted navigation and commerce but was avaricious and deceitful. He also killed travelers and guests, a violation of xenia, which fell under Zeus's domain. He took pleasure in these killings because they allowed him to maintain his iron-fisted rule.

Persephone supervising Sisyphus in the Underworld.

Hades with Cerberus - Pluto Carricci painting
Sisyphus was notorious for his cunning. His greatest triumph came at the end of his life, when the god Hades came to claim him personally for the kingdom of the dead. Hades had brought along a pair of handcuffs, and Sisyphus expressed such an interest that Hades was persuaded to demonstrate their use - on himself.

The high lord of the Underworld was kept locked up by Sisyphus, a circumstance which meant nobody could die.
As a punishment for his trickery against the Gods, King Sisyphus was made to endlessly roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. The maddening nature of the punishment was reserved for him due to his hubristic belief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus. Zeus displayed his own cleverness by enchanting the boulder into rolling away from King Sisyphus before he reached the top which ended up consigning Sisyphus to an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustration.

Pointless or interminable activities are described as Sisyphean.


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Israel displays ancient mummy with modern-day afflictions

Israel's national museum is set to display a 2,200-year-old Egyptian mummy of a man who was afflicted with modern-day illnesses such as osteoporosis and tooth decay.

The illnesses, discovered using a CT scan, indicate that during his lifetime, the man was largely sedentary, avoided manual labour in the sun and probably ate a carbohydrate-heavy diet.
Thanks to Egyptian embalming processes and Jerusalem's dry climate, the mummy's bones, teeth and remnants of blood vessels were found largely intact. The mummy was also found to have had tooth cavities.

Researchers studied the mummy's remains earlier this year using a CT scanner, technology that allowed them to discover the diseases and determine the mummy was a man who lived to what was at the time a relatively old age of 30 to 40 years. He was originally 167 centimetres (5-foot-6) tall but that either in his lifetime or afterward, he had shrunk to 154 centimetres (5-foot-1). His apparently sedentary lifestyle, as well as inscriptions on his coffin, indicates he was a priest.