Saturday, 22 July 2017

Ifrit Monsters

Ifrit are supernatural creatures in some Middle Eastern stories. In Islam, this term refers to the most powerful and dangerous Jinns.

The Ifrits are a class of infernal spirits, classified as a jinn and also held to be a death spirit drawn to the life-force (or blood) of a murdered victim seeking revenge on the murderer. As with ordinary jinn, an Ifrit may be either a believer or an unbeliever, good or evil, but it is most often depicted as a wicked, ruthless and evil being; a powerful Shaitan (demon).

According to Islamic sources, the ifrit has a fiery appearance with leaping flames from his mouth. In early folklore, the ifrit is said to be formed from the blood of a murder victim. Driving an unused nail into the blood was supposed to stop their formation. The creatures were reported as being able to take the form of Satan, the murder victim, or even a sandstorm. Ifrits are believed to inhabit the underworld, or in desolated places like ruins or caves.

Crack China’s ancient riddle of the bones for big cash rewards

A picture may be worth a thousand words but one mysterious ancient Chinese character could be a 100,000 yuan (US$15,000) payday for anybody who can definitively say what it means. The National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan province, has issued a worldwide appeal for help to decipher thousands of esoteric characters cut into bones and shells dating back more than 3,000 years to the Shang dynasty.

The inscriptions are the earliest written records of Chin­ese civilization and shed light on life and society at the time. They were carved by fortune-tellers on turtle shells and ox shoulder blades known as oracle bones, and record questions on everything from weather to taxes.
So far, scholars have managed to crack the code to less than half of the roughly 5,000 characters found on excavated oracle bones. Around 3,000 of them remain a mystery. The museum is encouraging researchers to use cloud computing and big data to generate breakthroughs. The museum started offering the rewards because progress on deciphering the characters had stalled in recent years. For researchers studying the ancient Chinese texts, making sense of one character can be a career-defining achievement.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Peru reconstructs face of Lord of Sipan

Peruvian authorities have revealed the reconstructed face of the Lord of Sipan, a pre-Columbian ruler whose remains were discovered in 1987 and hailed as one of the country's most stunning archaeological finds. A full body representation of the ancient ruler, believed to have died around the year 250, was unveiled Thursday at the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan in the northern city of Chiclayo.

The Moche culture ruler's face was reconstructed by anthropologists based on the skull and facial bones of the man's mummy. Archaeologists discovered the mummy buried with a large cache of gold and silver in the Huaca Rajada adobe pyramid complex.

Experts believe the Lord of Sipan was between the age of 45 and 55 when he died.

Tomb of the Lord of Sipan in Chiclayo, Peru
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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Gold Coins of the Kushans

Little is known about the Kushans, a dynasty that controlled much of India nearly 2,000 years ago. Written records of the era, where they exist at all, are all from others and are imprecise and lacking in detail. The Kushans emerged from western China and swept into the Indian subcontinent in the second century BCE.
They are believed to be a branch of the Yuezhi, fierce nomadic horsemen.

Kushan Empire, Huvishka, gold dinar, c. 155-190 CE
Kushans first swept through Bactria, occupying modern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, where they assimilated native forms of dress, a slightly modified Greek alphabet, and a mixture of Iranian and Greek religion.

Kushan king Huvishka

Vima Kadphises. Circa AD 100-128
Kushan coins favoured the Hindu pantheon. Kanishka the Great was a vocal proponent of Buddhism. Impressive Kushan gold coins marked the apex of the Kushan empire. By the the fifth century AD Hunnic rulers and later, the Muslims, incorporated Kushan lands into their own territories.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Perfectly preserved gilded body of 1,000-year-old Buddhist Master Ci Xian

The mummified body of a Buddhist Master from 1,000 years ago still has healthy bones and a complete brain, a CT scan has revealed. Master Ci Xian was said to be a respected monk who had travelled from ancient India to ancient China to promote Buddhism.
According to historic records, Master Ci Xian was originally from India. He travelled to the Kingdom of Khitan (916-1125) in north-east part of modern China near the Korean Peninsula to spread Buddhist philosophy.

The respected monk's remains were varnished before being gilded
After Master Ci Xian passed away, his disciples had his body preserved but it later went lost over the years. His remains were re-discovered in 1970s inside a cave. Master Du from the Dinghui Temple said Buddhist Master Ci Xian's preserved body had been worshipped at the Dinghui Temple since 2011. The temple decided to have the remains gilded last year. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

‘Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia’ at British Museum

The British Museum in London is displaying the history of Scythians. ‘Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia’ reveals the history of nomadic tribes who thrived in lands from southern Russia to China and the Black Sea. The Scythians were horsemen warriors and feared adversaries of the ancient Greeks, Assyrians, and Persians between 900 and 200 BC. The Scythians developed fearsome weapons: pointed battle-axes and short swords for close combat and powerful bows for long-distance archery. Painted wooden shields, armor and a helmet have survived from ancient tombs.

Horse headgear. Mound 1, Pazyryk, Altai. Late 4th–early 3rd century BC.
Horses providing milk, meat and hide and were the main mode of transport and the driving force behind the Scythians’ military might. Scythian horses were buried with warriors, dressed in masks and other components that transformed them into fantastic mythical animals. As hoofed griffins, they were believed to carry their rider into the afterlife.

Scythians believed sacrificing a hare brought victory in battle. From the late 5th century BC onwards, hares often feature on Scythian gold plaques, demonstrating the animal’s importance.

Gold plaque with hare hunt. Kul’ Oba, northern Black Sea region, first half of the 4th century BC.
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Monday, 17 July 2017

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone was the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. The inscribed black granodiorite stone was the first ancient Egyptian bilingual text to be discovered in modern times. The stone was unearthed in 1799 during Napoleon's campaign in Fort Saint Julien, El-Rashid in Egypt and has been housed in the British Museum since 1802.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

2.6 billion year-old rock on display in London

A rock formed 2.6 billion years ago and found in a Rio Tinto mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region will be displayed at London’s Natural History Museum. The 2.5 tonne rock sourced from the Mt Tom Price Mine will be part of an exhibition celebrating the natural world. The colourfully layered rock is a piece of banded iron formation created when bacteria in the earth’s young oceans began to produce oxygen through photosynthesis.
That oxygen combined with iron in the water to form iron oxide and sank to the sea floor.

Layers of it developed between layers of silica-rich sediment and played an essential role in oxygenating the ocean and supporting the evolution of more complex life.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Roman Gold found in Netherlands

The coins were likely deposited during or immediately following Majorian’s reign.
A hoard of 41 ancient Roman gold coins was discovered in an orchard in the Netherlands. The coins may have been buried in the second half of the fifth century C.E. by a Frankish military leader who had been paid by the Romans for help dealing with local Germanic tribes. The region at that time was part of the Frankish Kingdom on the north end of Gaul.

Several of the coins depict Roman Emperor Majorian on the obverse.
A prominent general of the Late Roman army, Majorian deposed Emperor Avitus in 457. Majorian was the last emperor to make a concerted effort to restore the Western Roman Empire. Possessing little more than Italy, Dalmatia, and some territory in northern Gaul, Majorian campaigned rigorously for three years against the Empire's enemies.

Majorian sought to reform the imperial administration. This made him unpopular with the senatorial aristocracy. The powerful general Ricimer deposed and killed him in 461 CE.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Tomb of Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan (c. 1162 – 18 August 1227), born Tem├╝jin, was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest empire in history.

His empire lasted a century and a half and eventually covered nearly a quarter of the earth's surface. His murderous Mongol armies were responsible for the massacre of as many as 40 million people. Even today, his name remains a byword for brutality and terror.
The location of the tomb of Genghis Khan has been the object of much speculation and research. The site remains undiscovered.

In 2004, Genghis Khan's palace was discovered. The complex was found on a grassy steppe 150 miles east of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. Genghis Khan built the palace in the simple shape of a square tent attached to wooden columns on the site at around 1200.
Khan asked to be buried without markings. His body was returned to his birthplace in the Khentii Aimag, where many assume he is buried somewhere close to the Onon River.

According to one legend, the funeral escort killed anyone that crossed their path. After the tomb was completed, the slaves who built it were massacred, and the soldiers who killed them were also killed. Folklore says that a river was diverted over his grave to make it impossible to find.

Thursday, 13 July 2017


Cerberus is a well known creature in ancient mythology. Hades’ loyal guard dog, Cerberus was a massive hound with three heads that guarded the entrance to the underworld. It was said that the beast only had an appetite for living flesh and so would only allow deceased spirits to pass, while consuming any living mortal who was foolish enough to come near him. It is said that the three heads were meant to symbolize the past, present and future.

Cerberus is probably best known as the twelfth and final labor that Heracles performs.
Heracles must enter the underworld, wrestle the beast using no weapons, and then bring Cerberus to the surface world, alive, to present to the Mycenaean king Eurystheus. Heracles tackled the beast; then using his great strength, throws the animal over his shoulder and drags him to the mortal world. Upon seeing Cerberus, Eurystheus was so terrified that he hid in a large vase and begged Heracles to return the hell hound back to Hades.
The domain of Hades in Greek mythology was not only hell, but was the whole of the afterlife. The realm was Tartarus (hell), the Asphodel Meadows (nothingness), and the Elysian Fields (paradise).
Agostino Carracci (1557–1602)