Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Ancient gold found in Staffordshire

A hoard of gold jewellery – which could be the oldest Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain – has been found in Staffordshire. The find was made in December 2016 on farmland in the parish of Leekfrith in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
The stash contained four torcs – three necklaces and one bracelet – which experts believe would only be worn by elite and powerful women. The decoration on the bracelet is thought to be some of the earliest Celtic art from Britain.

This latest discovery was found just 45 miles north of the famous Staffordshire Hoard.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to 15 March. It became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. The death of Caesar made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history, as it marked the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.
According to Plutarch, a seer had warned that harm would come to Caesar no later than the Ides of March. On his way to the Theatre of Pompey, where he would be assassinated, Caesar passed the seer and joked, "The Ides of March are come", implying that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied "Aye, Caesar; but not gone." Caesar's death was a closing event in the crisis of the Roman Republic, and triggered the civil war that would result in the rise to sole power of his adopted heir Octavian.
One of the most famous coins of all time is the EID MAR denarius issued by Brutus in 43/42 BC. Unfortunately for Brutus, the populace was very fond of Julius Caesar. Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony) took advantage and loudly condemned Brutus' actions. Brutus was forced to flee Rome with his soldiers. After several military encounters, Brutus's forces fell to Mark Antony and Octavian. Brutus committed suicide before he could be taken prisoner.
About 60 examples of Brutus's coin are estimated to exist in silver, with only one genuine example in gold. Silver specimens in fine condition have sold at auction for $120,000. Lower grade silver coins occasionally come on the market for around $50,000.

In 2011 a exceptional example fetched a record-shattering $546,250.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Grave of ‘Griffin Warrior’ at Pylos

The grave of a Mycenaean warrior uncovered last year in Pylos in the southwest of Greece was that of a warrior in his mid-30s who died around 1500 B.C. Buried with him were some 2,000 objects, including silver cups, beads made of precious stones, ivory combs, a sword and four intricately decorated solid gold rings.

The discovery of the “Griffin Warrior” offers evidence that Mycenaean culture recognized and appreciated Minoan culture. The man's rings are made of multiple sheets of gold and depict very detailed scenes and iconography straight out of Minoan mythology. The rings probably come from Crete where they were used to place seals on documents or objects.
Archaeologists digging at Pylos, an ancient city on the southwest coast of Greece, discovered the rich grave of a warrior who was buried at the dawn of European civilization.

Archaeologists expressed astonishment at the richness of the find and its potential for shedding light on the emergence of the Mycenaean civilization, the lost world of Agamemnon, Nestor, Odysseus and other heroes described in the epics of Homer.
The tomb is said to be the the most complete Greek find of its kind since the 1950s. The find includes gold, silver, ivory, and bronze artifacts, as well as engraved gemstones and an ornate ivory-and gilt-hilted sword.

The warrior was buried around 1500 B.C., next to the site on Pylos on which, many years later, arose the palace of Nestor, a large administrative center that was destroyed in 1180 B.C., about the same time as Homer’s Troy.

The palace was part of the Mycenaean civilization; from its ashes, classical Greek culture arose several centuries later.

A bronze mirror with an ivory handle

An ivory comb

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Accidental Discoveries

Lascaux Cave. In 1940, four French teenagers were roaming the forests near Montignac when their dog began sniffing around a hole in the ground. After shimmying down a stone shaft, the boys encountered a vast underground cavern whose walls were adorned with some 2,000 ancient paintings and engravings. Before long, word of the Lascaux cave’s exquisite collection of animal drawings and abstract symbols spread across Europe, and it became known as the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art.”

Historians later placed the age of its paintings at around 15,000-17,000 years old, and many believe the cave was once the site of religious and hunting rites among the Upper Paleolithic.
In 1974, a group of Chinese farmers found the tomb of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. The seven-man team was digging a well near the city of Xian when one of their shovels struck the head of a buried statue. When archeologists conducted further excavations, they found it was one of some 8,000 life-sized terra cotta soldiers, horses and chariots constructed to guard the 3rd century B.C. Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife.

The tomb and its highly detailed soldiers—each has its own unique face—are now regarded as some of the most important treasures in China.
The Venus de Milo spent centuries buried on the Greek island of Melos. The armless statue was found in 1820, when a peasant accidentally discovered its top half while trying to salvage marble building blocks from a pile of ancient ruins. The find caught the attention of a French naval officer and in 1821 it was presented to King Louis XVIII and donated to the Louvre. Art historians have since speculated that the Venus is meant to represent the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Napoleon Bonaparte's soldiers stumbled upon a large basalt slab while knocking down ancient walls to make improvements to a French fort near the town of Rosetta. Once deciphered, the glyphs provided scholars with the tools they needed to begin the first in depth studies of ancient Egyptian language and literature.
The Dead Sea Scrolls contain some of the earliest known pieces of the Bible. In 1947 a band of sheepherders were tending their flock near the ancient city of Jericho. While looking for a lost goat, one of the boys tossed a stone into a nearby cave and was shocked to hear what sounded like a shattering clay pot. When he went in the cave to investigate, he found several jars containing a collection of ancient papyrus scrolls.

When the Declaration of Independence was originally issued, 200 copies were printed. Only a few have ever been found and verified. One of those was discovered in 1989 after a Pennsylvania man went into a thrift store looking for a picture frame. His $ 4 frame and picture hid copy number 25 of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It sold for nearly $2.5 million.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Ancient Egyptian Sculpture at Sotheby's

$ 60k to $ 90k
The December 8th sale of Ancient Egyptian Sculpture and Works of Art totaled a strong $8,986,500, over the high pre-sale estimate. The top lot was the monumental Granite Figure of Sekhmet, which sold for $4.17 million.

Highlights included a fine small-scale basalt bust of King Tuthmosis III, an imposing over-lifesize fragmentary red granite head of King Amenhotep III from the last ten years of his reign, and an elegant steatite statuette of the Lady Iset , priestess of the god Sobek, dating to the early 19th Dynasty.

Black Basalt Head Of Tuthmosis III, 18th Dynasty, 1479-1426 B.C. $250k

Wood mask with inlaid eyes, 25th/26th Dynasty. $ 1.4m

Limestone mask, 30th Dynasty/early Ptolemaic Period. $200k to $ 300k

Granite enthroned figure of the goddess Sekhmet. $ 4.1m

Statuette of the Lady Iset , priestess of the god Sobek, dating to the early 19th Dynasty. $760k

A record for an ancient Egyptian work of art was set at Christie’s in 2012 when a 29 inch sculpture of the goddess, Isis, dating from the Late Period Dynasty, c 664 - 525 BC, sold for £3.7 million.
A 30-inch statue representing the god Sekhemka broke the world record for highest auction price of an Egyptian artwork in 2014. The statue was estimated to sell for $7 to $11 million, but sold for $27 million. The Sekhemka statue is a tomb model of a high official, wearing a short kilt and tight-fitting wig, surrounded by his wife, son and seven offering-bearers. He holds a papyrus on his knees on which are inscribed a list of offerings designed to serve the needs of the dead, including beer and cakes.

An Egyptian Green Peridotite Head of a Man

Egyptian blue-glazed steatite figure of Taweret, goddess of childbirth

Block statue of a man and the sacred baboon of Thoth, Egyptian, serpentine, 26th/30th Dynasty, 664-342 B.C. Sold for $856,000 in 2006

Sphinx of Egyptian queen, green porphry, Roman Imperial, circa A.D. 81-96. $5,234,500.

Egyptian steatite figure of Sobek

Djehuty-Mose (Tothmes), polychrome limestone ushabti, Egyptian 19th Dynasty,1292-1190 B.C. $1,314,500

Black granite or basalt relief fragment from the 30th Dynasty/Early Ptolemaic Period, reign of Nectanebo II /Ptolemy I, 360-282 B.C. $211,500 in 1998

Limestone figure of lion, 30th Dynasty/Ptolemaic Period, 380-30 B.C. $154,250 in 2001.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

UK cave opened for first time after 1,400 years

A discovery has been made in an unearthed Scottish Highlands cave. Archaeologists found a skeleton of a man brutally murdered. He was placed in an cross-legged position with stones holding up his legs and arms. He died between 430 and 630 AD, referred to as the Pictish period.
The bones were found in a cave in the Black Isle by a team of researchers based at the University of Dundee. They believe he suffered five blows which killed him – causing fractures to his skull and face. Forensic anthropologist Sue Black digitally reconstructed what he looked like.

Volunteers believe the cave was used for iron-smithing during the Pictish period. The discovery of the skeleton has baffled experts.