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.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Baiae - the Las Vegas of ancient Rome resurfaces

Baiae was a mineral springs and coastal resort on the northwest shore of the Gulf of Naples in ancient Italy. It was fashionable for centuries during antiquity for the super-rich. It was notorious for its hedonistic offerings, corruption and scandal. It later formed part of Port Julius, the base of the western fleet of the Imperial Roman Navy. Its ruins largely submerged by local volcanic activity by the time of the Renaissance.

Baiae was built on the Cumaean Peninsula in the Phlegraean Fields, an active volcanic area.
The bathhouses of Baiae were filled with warm mineral water directed to its pools from underground sulfur springs.

Roman engineers constructed a complex system of chambers that channeled underground heat into facilities that acted as saunas.
'Rome’s Sunken Secrets' follows a series of dives involving historians and scientists from across the world. They revealed vast villas, priceless statues and breathtaking mosaics, as well as heated spas, cobbled streets and even a nymphaeum – a grotto of pleasure.

The chambers of volcanic molten rock that lay beneath Baiae, providing the hot water that served the spas, were eventually its undoing. The chambers emptied as the lava found a way to escape, causing the resort to sink beneath the waves.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Coins of the Jewish War

Rome terminated the rule of its Jewish client dynasty, the Herodians, in 6 CE, establishing Judaea as a province governed by an appointed praefectus (until 41 CE) or procurator (44 – 132 CE). The most famous of these was Pontius Pilate (26 – 36 CE)

Gessius Florus (64 – 66), appointed by Nero and one of the worst procuratores, did much to provoke a revolt known as the Jewish War.

The “prototype” shekel of the first year of the revolt is one of the great rarities of Jewish coinage – only three are known.
In the Autumn of 66, Florus seized 17 talents from the Temple treasury in Jerusalem, claiming it was due for back taxes. That would be 969 pounds of nearly pure silver. This provoked a riot in the city, which was suppressed with Roman brutality. Florus fled to the coast, and the rebels besieged his troops in the Antonia fortress, the citadel of the city. One of the first acts of the rebels was to assert their independence by issuing silver coins.

Jewish War. 66-70 AD. Shekel, 14.08g. Year 5
Year 1 shekels are scarce; Years 2 and 3 are more common; Year 4 is very rare; and Year 5 is extremely rare, with only about 25 examples known. The supply of silver for fractional coinage may have run short during the long siege of Jerusalem. Bronze emergency coinage was issued in denominations of half, quarter and eighth shekel.
Vespasian. Æ Sestertius, AD 69-79. 'Judaea Capta' type
On August 3, 70 CE, the Romans breached the last defenses of Jerusalem, massacred the starving rebels and destroyed the Temple. Defeat of the Jewish revolt gave Rome an opportunity for massive looting and enormous profits from the sale of slaves. The spoils of Jerusalem funded construction of the Roman Colosseum. The Romans commemorated their victory with extensive coin issues proclaiming IUDAEA CAPTA (“Judaea Captured”).

Coins of the Jewish War have been in high demand with collectors for centuries and there are many fakes, ranging from cheap trinkets to highly deceptive professional forgeries.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Gold Treasure of Nagyszentmiklos

The Gold Treasure of Nagyszentmiklos is the largest known hoard of early medieval gold vessels. The Treasure of Nagyszentmiklos was discovered accidentally in the Banat region of the Habsburg Empire in 1799. Its total weight is about 10 kg. It is remarkable for its quality and precision of craftsmanship.
Studies over the last few decades have revealed that the treasure was gathered over a long period of time, from the late 7th to the late 8th century AD, and seem to confirm its links to the Avar culture.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Treasures of Thrace

Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe, centered on the modern borders of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. In antiquity, it was also referred to as Europe, prior to the extension of the term to describe the whole continent.

Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east. The areas it comprises are southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace), and the European part of Turkey (Eastern Thrace). The biggest part of Thrace is part of present-day Bulgaria. The population of Thrace was a people called the Thracians, divided into numerous tribal groups. The region was controlled by the Persian Empire at its greatest extent, and Thracian soldiers were known to be used in the Persian armies. Later, Thracian troops were known to accompany Alexander the Great when he crossed the Hellespont.
Some of Bulgaria’s famous Thracian treasures were part of a major new exhibition at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 2015.

The exhibition brought together more than 1,600 objects from 17 Bulgarian museums and several international museums including the Louvre and the Prado Museum, giving visitors an opportunity to see in one place some of the most significant Thracian artifacts that have ever been discovered.
The Odrysian kingdom was mostly on the territory of present-day Bulgaria but also included parts of modern Greece and Turkey. It was a regional power which was involved in the struggle with the Macedonian kingdom and with Athens and Sparta. One of the exhibition highlights is the bronze head of Seuthes III.

Hilt with gold inlay of Seuthes III's sword. ca. 331 BC.
Another highlight was the Panagyuriste gold treasure, which was excavated in 1949 and consists of gold drinking vessels that are elaborately decorated with mythological scenes and images, showcasing the artistic skills of the Thracians.

Rare gold hemidrachm from Thasos, Thracian islands.
Gold and silver greave (knee-piece)